Things haven't gotten off to the best of starts for running backs in fantasy football this year.
With a few exceptions, many of the so-called big guns in the backfield are off to slow starts. Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns, Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins all rank outside the top 10 in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
However, if those players are off to a slow start, David Wilson of the New York Giants is off to a non-start. An un-start. His beginning has already ended.
And yet, fantasy owners should start him this week.
The second-year pro entered the 2013 season on the lists of many fantasy experts as a breakout candidate, especially after Andre Brown was lost to a broken leg in the preseason.
Wilson broke out all right. Right out of the huddle and onto the bench.
Two fumbles against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 landed Wilson squarely in the doghouse of head coach Tom Coughlin. If last week's 24 snaps and 17 yards (h/t Marc Sessler of NFL.com) are any indication, that doghouse is where Wilson now receives his mail.
Wilson's performance so far this year inspired Will Brinson of CBS Sports to unload this lovely little stat on fantasy owners:
Yeah, thanks, Will. I think I'm going to go throw up now.
Given Wilson's horrific start and the Giants' league-worst running game (which has averaged 36.5 yards per game through two weeks), Wilson should by all rights be glued to fantasy benches.
And yet, fantasy owners should start him this week.
Mind you, this isn't to say that Wilson should start over running backs like LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles, who is actually off to a good start in 2013.
I may be crazy, but I'm not nuts.
However, desperate times call for desperate measures.
These are desperate times for many of Wilson's fantasy owners. Odds are, if you started the season with Wilson as your RB2, these last two weeks haven't gone according to plan.
The number of teams in scramble mode only increased with the injuries that ravaged the running back position last week.
Steven Jackson of the Atlanta Falcons has already been ruled out for Week 3 with a thigh bruise, per The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens is very iffy this week with a hip flexor strain. The same goes for Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars and his gimpy ankle.
The running back spot isn't exactly overflowing with viable alternatives to Wilson right now.
These are desperate times for the Giants as well. After getting steamrolled by the Denver Broncos, the Giants sit at 0-2, their 2013 season already teetering.
One of the biggest reasons why is a complete lack of balance on offense.
Simply put, the Giants have to try to get the running game going, or their season is over. Eli Manning has shown over the last two games what's going to happen if he keeps throwing the ball 45 times a game.
Seven interceptions, zero wins.
Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN believes that Big Blue's best chance of turning things around on the ground lies with Wilson and that Coughlin needs to take his tailback out of the doghouse and remove his leash.
At 0-2, the Giants can't afford to wait. The running game has managed a total of 73 yards in two games, including just 23 yards in a loss to Denver on Sunday. The offense has become one-dimensional. Eli Manning and his receivers need a running game to open things up and bring play action back into the mix.
There's only one way to build Wilson's confidence -- and the coaches' confidence in him -- and that's to give him more than the seven carries he has received in each of the first two games. General manager Jerry Reese said before the season that Wilson can carry the load. Against Denver, though, Wilson received 24 snaps while Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott played a combined 53 snaps.
After watching Scott and Jacobs turn those 53 snaps into 14 touches for 36 yards, Coughlin has two choices: Turn Wilson loose, or watch New York's season go right down the toilet.
That brings us to this week's must-win matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
Through two games, the Panthers are allowing about 110 rushing yards a game, a nearly identical mark to what they gave up on the ground in 2012.
In last week's loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Panthers allowed well over 100 total yards to Buffalo's C.J. Spiller, including a 46-yard scamper.
Spiller's a superior between-the-tackles runner to Wilson, but up the gut isn't where Carolina was most vulnerable last week. Spiller did most of his damage around the edge, and Wilson is an equally dangerous runner in that regard.
All it would take is one long run for all the talk of Wilson's struggles to go up in smoke. Just...one...run.
This week, if Coughlin has any sense, Wilson will get that chance.
Fantasy owners need to give Wilson one more as well.
Is it risky? You bet your behind it is.
Even if Wilson's workload increases, he'll still lose passing-down and goal-line work to Scott and Jacobs. Fifteen touches may well be an optimistic outlook. If Wilson fumbles again, hell will freeze over, thaw out and freeze back over before he sees any more real action.
However, at this point, injuries and flat performances have left many 1-1 and 0-2 fantasy football teams looking at one of two options:
You can start Green Bay Packers tailback James "chasing last week's stats" Starks or Jason "my fantasy season has come to this" Snelling of the Atlanta Falcons, and hope for an OK game.
Or, you can roll David Wilson out there one more time and hope for a great one.
It's a hard call to make, but in the end, the decision's easy.
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