By Thomas Harrigan, Contributing Writer, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – The threat New York Giants rookie fourth-round pick Andre Williams poses to Rashad Jennings’ fantasy value became more palpable Sunday night in Canton.
We’ve heard since the start of training camp that Williams, who led the NCAA with 2,177 rushing yards last season, has been handling the goal-line reps, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was our first chance to see him in action.
Williams rotated in with the first-team offense and ended up with five carries for 37 yards and a three-yard score, while Jennings started and had 43 yards from scrimmage (23 rushing) on 10 touches (seven carries).
On July 1, I listed Jennings, who at the time had an average draft position (ADP) of 45.5 in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts, as one of my undervalued running backs. My reasoning was that with only injury-prone David Wilson, Peyton Hillis and Williams behind him, Jennings would be in line for 15-20 touches per game for a team whose running backs produced 11 rushing touchdowns last season.
But the 10 touchdowns I projected Jennings would score this season now seem like a pipe dream. At 6-foot-1, 231 pounds, Jennings is more of a grinder than a home-run threat so his upside is reliant on him getting goal-line work.
Jennings still has a handle on a pretty sizable role, perhaps even more so now that David Wilson has had to retire after suffering another neck injury in practice, but Williams might be coming for that too.
ESPN’s Giants beat reporter Dan Graziano said that the Giants “already love (Williams) as a runner — and not just at the goal line” and thinks the fact that New York rotated the rookie in with the first-team is indicates that he could be a big part of the offense in between the 10s early in the year.
Williams’ limitations as a pass blocker and receiver (he had 10 total catches in four college seasons) likely will prevent him from taking Jennings’ job outright especially because Jennings is strong in those areas, so we could be looking at a dreaded timeshare situation.
Jennings’ ADP is 47.9 as of Monday, putting him 23rd among running backs. It’s an adequate spot for a player whose role has become a question mark and whose upside is suddenly lacking.
Williams, meanwhile, is on the board for the first time all summer at an ADP of 151.9 and he’s only going to rise from there.