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RotoViz wrote a guest post at The Sports Post, which you can check out here: Four Fantasy Football Tips for Your Next Draft – The Sports Post.

From that article:

The second year Giants running back is the subject of a lot of hand wringing among fantasy experts this year because they really don’t know what to expect out of him. I’m looking at Wilson as if he’s going to be pretty similar to C.J. Spiller in 2012. Both guys have a lot of explosiveness and can get a lot of yards on a small number of carries.

But if you recall, Spiller owners were often frustrated that he didn’t get on the field more last year. That’s what it’s going to be like owning Wilson this year. You might be frustrated when he doesn’t get a lot of carries, but Wilson is so talented that he should produce fantasy points when he does touch the ball.

Right now you have to take Wilson as about the 20th running back in drafts, which I think offers a little value. I don’t think he’s likely to finish lower than that this year, and he could finish much higher. The Giants usually produce starting level fantasy running backs and David Wilson is more talented than anybody they’ve had there in recent years. But don’t say I didn’t warn you ahead of time about the frustration involved in owning him.

The thoughts above probably fit more in the range of speculation than they do analysis. Shawn Siegele has raised some important reasons to be concerned about David Wilson. I’ll also admit that if both Wilson and DeMarco Murray are still on the board, you would be passing up a bunch of nearly certain touches to take Wilson over Murray. But I do believe that Wilson is a really high upside player in the range of C.J. Spiller.

David Wilson Final College Season (Jr. Season)

Rushing Receiving
Year School Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2011* Virginia Tech 290 1709 5.9 9 22 129 5.9 1
Career Virginia Tech 462 2662 5.8 18 37 363 9.8 5
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CFB: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2013.

CJ Spiller Final College Season (Sr. Season)

Rushing Receiving
Year School Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2009* Clemson 216 1212 5.6 12 36 503 14.0 4
Career Clemson 606 3547 5.9 32 123 1420 11.5 11
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CFB: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2013.

It’s true that Spiller ran a faster timed 40 yard dash, but I also think that the 40 yard dash is merely one piece of information we have on how fast a guy is. Some sites have Wilson timed as low as 4.39, which would be more consistent with how athletic he was on  other measures.  Wilson touched the ball 100 fewer times than Chris Johnson last year and yet Wilson ended up with the same number of touchdowns. The distances of Wilson’s touchdowns were: 97 yards (kick return), 52 yards, 40 yards, 16 yards (receiving), 14 yards, and 6 yards. From a probability standpoint, I think this comes down to the question of what are the odds that on a small number of touches, Wilson would end up with touchdowns of these distances if he was pretty close to a 4.5 40 yard dash? So I think those plays at least impact the odds that Wilson’s true 40 time is as reported.

If I’m weighing the evidence as to how fast Wilson truly is, on the “probably pretty fast” side I have:

On the “maybe not as fast as he looks” side I have:

  • Wilson’s official 40 time, as well as the fact that he didn’t choose to run again at his Pro Day
  • Related to the above point is the idea that he was comfortable leaving his 4.49 on the board and that probably creates problems for the idea that he’s actually faster.

When I said that I think owning Wilson will be a little like owning CJ Spiller, what I really meant is that it will be as frustrating. You’ll see flashes of the kinds of things that Wilson did last year and you’ll get angry that he isn’t on the field more. Maybe another example is Jamaal Charles in 2010. He ended up finishing in the top 5, but owning Charles was extremely frustrating that year. In fact in Jamaal Charles’ entire career he’s only carried the ball more than 20 times in 13 games. That’s 13 times in 65 career games. Further to the idea that Wilson might be a little Charles-ish, if you spot Wilson his unofficial 40 time of 4.39, he would basically be right on par with Jamaal Charles who ran a 4.38 coming out of college and weighed six pounds less than Wilson did.

Part of me says that if you draft Wilson at RB20, you’re getting a discount to the kind of upside that he provides based on a range of outcomes that includes some Jamaal Charles 2010s and some CJ Spiller 2012s. But it’s also true that the lack of certainty on touches is going to be frustrating and he might be on your bench during a 150 yard, 3 touchdown week. The most likely outcome for me is that Wilson is a guy that ends up on some, but not all of my teams. He’s not a lead pipe lock target, but there will be drafts where he’ll be out there in a place that makes sense for me to take him.

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