Faceoff: Brandon Jacobs
Jeff Tefertiller: Brandon Jacobs is coming off an injury-plagued 2009 campaign. The Giants, and their grizzled head coach, desire a strong running game to anchor the offense. In 2008, the Giants totaled 2,484 rushing yards. The injuries to both Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw limited production on the ground. The rushing yardage dropped by over 25% in 2009.
Jacobs is being drafted as a fantasy RB3 (RB25 off the board) in non-PPR leagues. He finished as RB12 in 2008 and RB21 in 2007, all while splitting time in a committee. Unlike many backs, Jacobs does not need 300 carries in order to be a viable fantasy RB2, or even a low-end RB1 like in 2008. In each of those two seasons, Jacobs only carried the ball 219 and 201 times, respectively. Not many ball carriers offer so much upside without being his team's bellcow.
Bradshaw is a great change of pace back, but it is asking too much for him to compete for carries to be the lead ball carrier. The 163 rushing attempts in 2009 might have been more than he could handle. Coming into the year, Bradshaw's highest carry count was 67. Then, when getting roughly 100 more carries in 2009, the shifty ball carrier suffered through injuries. It is questionable whether Bradshaw can hold up under the workload needed to impact a healthy Jacobs. Many Bradshaw supporters are advocating the notion that he can be the primary ball carrier in New York. This is the same player who has been injured throughout his short career, even with a lesser workload. Does Bradshaw possess talent? Oh yeah. There is no doubt. He is a thrill to watch. But, that is a far cry from being the Giants' leading rusher ... or even impacting the carries of a healthy Jacobs.
Whether Jacobs can become a Top 20, or even Top 15, fantasy ball carrier again depends on his health. The talent is there. The situation is still intact. The Giants are a running team. Jacobs has proven his ability to carry the ball 200 times and produce very good fantasy numbers. At his current draft status, Jacobs is a steal. He is a proven commodity.
The New York Giants team as a whole suffered litany of injuries in 2009. Both ball carriers were limited, the offensive line was nicked up, and the defense suffered through injury. The Giants should be back to full strength this season. Even though Eli Manning and company threw the ball often last year, coach Coughlin likes to establish the ground game. Jacobs is the key to the New York running attack. He gives the team a physical presence. Jacobs is healthy and ready to rebound after the off year in 2009.