What if Ahmad Bradshaw is lost for the season?
By Matt Waldman
September 2nd, 2012

The Giants lead back Ahmad Bradshaw is a shifty, determined runner with slippery power and the explosiveness to turn a short gain into a long touchdown. With committee cohort Brandon Jacobs moving to San Francisco, Bradshaw is the odds-on favorite to see the majority of touches among the Giants backs. However, it is unlikely based on the Giants recent history with running backs that Bradshaw will be the bell cow in this offense. If Bradshaw is lost for the season, the Giants will likely rely on two or more runners to get the job done. The two factors to consider above all others when it comes to the backs replacing him are between the tackles decision-making and pass protection. If one back can perform both skills at a high level then this could be a strong fantasy situation. If not, the Giants running back situation could be too unpredictable to rely on.

BUY

Eli Manning, QB The Giants will throw the ball even more if Ahmad Bradshaw gets hurt and Manning could see enough attempts to have a top-five year. The Giants strength is its passing game. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride uses a lot of run and shoot concepts and this phase of the offense took off once Victor Cruz improved his conceptual approach to the game. The Giants could decide to spread defenses and move the ball with shorter passes as a compensatory move if the ground game doesn't adjust. Manning is an underrated player under pressure and will be the one reliable component of this team for fantasy owners.

David Wilson, RB Wilson entered camp as an immature runner who tended to use his terrific athleticism to bounce plays outside. He sunk to the bottom of the depth chart early in the preseason, but made excellent strides after admitting that he had to learn to take what the defense gave him and not attempt the home run play on every carry. Since that realization, he has looked like the back the Giants envisioned when they made him a first-round pick. Wilson might eat into Bradshaw's carries by year's end even if the lead runner stays healthy. He's a player you should consider buying before he earns a chance to blow up with a Bradshaw injury.

HOLD

Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, WR Don't expect Cruz or Nicks to see a significant jump or dip in their production if Bradshaw gets hurt. Both players might see fewer man coverage opportunities if the Giants running backs behind Bradshaw struggle, but New York could counter with more four-receiver and empty sets and find holes in opponents' zones.

SELL

None.

ADD

Da'Rel Scott, RB A Cecil Lammey favorite, Scott has amazing long speed and lead back size. Unfortunately, he doesn't make consistent decisions or always use his pads and feet as well as he should, and he leaves yards on the field. The addition of David Wilson after the subtraction of Brandon Jacobs is a damning argument that Scott is on the roster bubble. If Bradshaw gets hurt, Scott has the athleticism to contribute if the injury bug spreads.

Dominick Hixon, WR Hixon appears to be recovered from his injury-riddled seasons of the past few years and ready to assume the role of the No.3 receiver. He'll have to hold off Jerrell Jernigan during the season, who had a great start camp. Even if he loses the job, watch for the Giants to consider four-receiver and empty sets that could get Hixon more involved.

Jerrell Jernigan, WR The second-year receiver from Troy had a terrific start to camp. He's explosive, shifty, and tough. If he can demonstrate better skill as a pass catcher in the face of contact and protect the ball better as a ball carrier, he could eventually earn the No.3 receiver role in this offense. At worst, he could be a playmaker as a No.4 receiver and if Bradshaw gets hurt and the Giants feel four-receiver sets are the best way to get the best personnel on the field, Jernigan could be a nice flex-play.

DROP

Martellus Bennett, TE There's a good chance that Bennett might actually be a "buy," because the Giants might decide to use him as a moveable chess piece and emphasize that potential if the former Cowboys tight end demonstrates consistency. However, there's also a chance that the Giants need his size at the line of scrimmage as a blocker and limits his chances. Monitor this situation before dropping.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to waldman@footballguys.com.

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