The New York Giants have not had a quality rushing game for some time. 2015 was at first a time for optimism. A talented group of running backs had the potential to be similar to the 2008 Giants lethal rushing attack. What was destined to be Earth, Wind and Fire reborn, instead turned out to be Pebble, Gust and Spark. While the real life statistics have the running back group ranked league average with a 4.0 YPC, for fantasy purposes this group turned out to be a complete disappointment. With the previous season looking dismal, is there any hope for redemption for the 2016 fantasy season?
Rashad Jennings, the committee's leader
While the Giants geared up for a committee in the 2015 season, the projected lead back was never in question. Jennings had the talent of the lead back, but the only question was with his durability. Theoretically, the committee would have worked to keep Jennings fresh for each game thus raising his efficiency. Fantasy team owners had such high hopes that Jennings had an average draft position in the 60s -- roughly a sixth-round pick. As it turns out, Jennings did not improve with less carries and his production took a hit.
For next year, the biggest factor for determining fantasy success from Jennings is how Ben McAdoo will utilize him. It is well known that Jennings absolutely tore it up for the last quarter of the season. From Week 13, Jennings became the true lead back of the group, reaching 14 carries in a game for the first time. His workload only increased from there and his final numbers for these four games reached 432 yards and 2 touchdowns. Over a 1- game season, these numbers extrapolate into 1,700 yards and 8 touchdowns. Not saying that he would have those numbers if he had the carries, but this shows how torrid of a streak Jennings went on once he received the requisite carries.
While it is too soon to determine how the Giants rushing attack will look, the good news for fantasy owners is that Jennings stock has dipped. Compared to his ADP of 60 last year, mock drafts have him being taken at roughly 100 overall. If the Giants learn their lesson, then Jennings can provide solid value.
Andre Williams' Sophomore Slump
Andre Williams has the tools and the build for fantasy success. His combination of size and speed are ideal for any running back. With the Giants inclination of using him in goal line situations, his fantasy appeal was appetizing. His rookie season saw notable production, especially with seven scores in the end zone. Even though his efficiency numbers were mediocre, his production was good enough to be placed roughly top 20 for running backs -- a position scarce in talent.
The hope for 2015 was that Williams would improve his production as a running back while maintaining his nose for scoring touchdowns. Instead, with every carry, it seemed Williams would run into the offensive line for a one-yard gain. Even worse, Williams only managed one score for the entire season. While the Giants have not given up on the future for Andre Williams, for the short term purposes of fantasy football, it is pretty safe to abandon all hope with the Boston College product.
The Versatile Vereen
For fantasy purposes, Vereen can do it all. He is a capable running back in his own right, but he has been one of the elite pass catchers in his position. In 2015, he ranked fourth in receptions made by a running back. He had almost 60 receptions for nearly 500 yards in the air with four touchdowns to boot. Again, the problem is usage. He was never given more than six carries in a game for the entire year. His efficiency numbers rank just as well with anybody on the Giants, but it is clear he will not get the carries to be more of a productive back.
In standard leagues, Vereen can safely be ignored. Even in PPR, while the receptions are ideal, it is unlikely that Vereen is anything more than a role player. His ADP has him as the 48th running back taken, which makes him bench depth to most players. If Vereen replicates his 2015 season where he was good for a 26th overall ranking at the position in PPR leagues, then that is solid value for a flex position.
The Wild Cards
For training camp and the preseason, Orleans Darkwa and Paul Perkins should be players to keep an eye out for as they can drastically change the dynamic of the Giants running back group. Darkwa was pegged to be on the rise with his humble undrafted origins. His playing time increased in his sophomore year with 150 yards, a 4.3 YPC and one touchdown. Now, Darkwa looks to be in a roster battle against Andre Williams, though if Darkwa impresses he could find his way back on the team.
Paul Perkins is a dynamic running back from UCLA. What he lacks in straight line speed is made up for by avoiding tackles with his impressive cuts and change of direction. He is reminiscent of LeSean McCoy with all the missed tackles he creates. A Rotoworld writer called him the most talented back the Giants have. But as it stands, Perkins is only a rookie who has a lot of work to do. Still, he was drafted for a reason and if he progresses as the scouts think he can, Perkins can steal a lot of carries from the starters above. Not worth drafting just yet, but keep an eye out.