Orleans Darkwa tallied 117 yards on 21 carries plus a reception for 13 yards after the Giants announced running back Paul Perkins was among the inactives because of a rib injury. Darkwa was clearly the go-to back, with Wayne Gallman notching 27 yards on nine carries and Shane Vereen finishing with four yards on one carry.
The Giants were also without wide receiver Sterling Shepard in Sunday's contest and will be without Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall the rest of the season, so the opportunity is there for the running backs to make an impact.
With that in mind, here is a fantasy breakdown for each.
The best news for those relying on Darkwa outside of the actual production was the fact he was on the field much more than the others, as Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus noted:
Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke
Opportunity is key for Darkwa after a lackluster start to the season (14, 17 and 22 rushing yards in opening three games), and he earned additional playing time with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
If Giants head coach Ben McAdoo is going to reward productive showings with more playing time, Darkwa becomes more of an option for fantasy starts in a crowded backfield moving forward after Sunday.
His showing came against a stellar defense too, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN pointed out:
Jordan Raanan @JordanRaanan
Orleans Darkwa with 117 yards rushing against the league's top rushing defense. Tremendous performance by him and the O-line in Denver.2017-10-16 03:33:04
The biggest concern for Darkwa after his breakout is consistency, especially since he has never tallied more than 153 rushing yards in a season before 2017. Michael Fabiano of NFL.com hit on the worries for fantasy players:
Michael Fabiano @Michael_Fabiano
Orleans Darkwa with 19 touches tonight. So inevitably, he’ll have like eight next week.2017-10-16 03:21:18
That, along with the fact the 1-5 Giants will likely play from behind much of this season and have to turn to the air, means fantasy players shouldn't consider Darkwa a must-start at this point. But he is far more valuable as a flex player or depth on the bench than he was a week ago.
Darkwa's elevation is Gallman's loss, as the rookie didn't get much chance to build on his 57 rushing yards in his last outing.
Gallman struggled to gain any traction in Sunday's contest and was a nonfactor in the passing attack even with the wide receiver injuries (two catches for five yards). New York's backfield is dangerously crowded as it is before Darkwa's breakthrough Sunday, which limits Gallman's upside with a potential Perkins return looming.
Store him on the bench for the time being in case the Giants turn more toward the rookie as their lost season progresses to see what they have, but don't consider starting him anytime in the near future.
Vereen's value in fantasy football largely stems from his pass-catching, considering he has never tallied more than 391 rushing yards in a season but has campaigns of 59, 52 and 47 catches on his resume.
While he had nine catches for 51 yards in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Vereen is yet to tally more than 27 yards through the air since and went without a reception or target in Sunday's win.
If he isn't going to be a viable option in the passing game with no Beckham, Marshall or Shepard, he shouldn't even be on your fantasy bench.