Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw led the team in rushing last year, but he finished with only 659 yards, a three-year low.
Not only did Bradshaw rank 29th in the NFL in rushing, but two quarterbacks (Cam Newton and Tim Tebow) both rushed for more yards than he did. As a team, the Giants rushing offense ranked last in the league.
Back in 2010, Bradshaw had a breakout season with 1,235 rushing yards, 47 receptions and 314 receiving yards, all still career highs. That season, the Giants ranked sixth in the league in rushing.
Although he missed four games last year, Bradshaw also averaged more than 20 yards less per game (77.2 YPG in 2010, 54.9 YPG in 2011).
In addition, he averaged less than four yards per carry (3.9) for the first season of his career. Compared to his first four seasons as a pro, he averaged nearly one yard less per carry. From 2007 to 2010, Bradshaw averaged 4.84 yards per carry.
On a positive note, Bradshaw set a career high in rushing touchdowns (nine) and total touchdowns (11) last year. With Brandon Jacobs signing with the 49ers this offseason, Bradshaw should have an opportunity to repeat or exceed those numbers.
Nobody should question Bradshaw's toughness, although everyone should be concerned about his durability.
Through five NFL seasons, he has played a full 16-game slate in only one season (2010). In many of the games he has played, Bradshaw has often been less than 100 percent as he always seems to be bothered by foot and/or ankle injuries.
Despite suffering a hand injury earlier in the preseason, Bradshaw practiced in full on Sunday (via Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger), which means he's likely to be ready for the season opener against the Cowboys on September 5th.
While Jacobs left via free agency, another concern with Bradshaw is the presence of rookie running back David Wilson, who set the Virginia Tech single-season rushing record last year. The Giants used their first-round pick on Wilson and he has impressed with a 4.7 yards-per-carry average through the preseason.
Assuming he stays healthy, which is not a lock, Bradshaw should get the larger share of the workload and the goal-line carries, but Wilson has the potential to increase his portion as the season progresses.
Throwing for almost 5,000 yards, Eli Manning and the team's passing offense should force opposing defenses to play them honestly and open up running lanes for both Bradshaw and Wilson.
Strength of Schedule
Based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed to running backs last year by all of the Giants' opponents this year, Bradshaw and the Giants' RBs have the 15th most favorable schedule from a fantasy perspective.
In addition, they also have the second least favorable schedule in the fantasy postseason (Weeks 14-16). If your team makes it to your league's championship game and you have Bradshaw, you'll have to face the stingy Ravens run defense.
In redraft leagues, Bradshaw will go much higher than Wilson. Using average draft position (ADP) from ESPN as an example, Bradshaw and Wilson are the 19th and 41st running backs off the board, respectively. Considering Wilson's upside and Bradshaw's durability, Wilson is a much better value on a relative basis. Bradshaw exceeding his draft status largely hinges on his health.
Projection: (Rushing) 1,005 Yards, 7 TDs; (Receiving) 35 Receptions, 275 Yards, 2 TDs
Also, check out: