Cash In Carries 2021 Edition: New York Giants
In our first article for the ‘Cash In Carries’ series, we look at the blue side of New York. Who will be getting the rushing attempts for the G-Men?
One thing that makes this article easier to write is the relative lack of Running Backs left in New York. After all, the management released a lot of those who saw significant carries last year.
Chief among them was the primary stand-in, Wayne Gallman. He saw 136 carries, equivalent to 36% of the total last season. Sadly for Gallman, the coaching staff avoided installing him as the team’s consistent RB1. As such, there were other Running Backs who also took a share of the carries as well. Devonta Freeman, a very questionable signing, ended up with 54 carries (13.53%) during a brief spell of 5 appearances.
But he too has been shown the door. Alfred Morris also leaves after 50 carries (13.78%), as does Dion Lewis after 28 carries (7.27%).
With backup Quarterback Colt McCoy’s 9 carries making up an extra 2.43%, that leaves a sizeable total. And ball carriers who were responsible for 74.66% of carries have now left the team.
So who comes in to take these carries? The first answer is obvious.
Barkley is back!
That disastrous Week 2 injury ended a season holding so much promise. And that led to the significant backfield timeshare. Even so, Barkley’s one and a half games still had him ending the season with a 4.76% share of carries! Sure, 15 of those 19 attempts made just 6 yards against a dominant Steelers rush defense. But the fact remains that Barkley was the volume player.
This was also the case in 2019. Barkley missed three games during that season with a high ankle sprain. But, once he returned from the injury in Week 7, that volume came back instantly. He ended up with a 59.94% carry share on the season, despite that injury. And in the period between the two injuries, there was only one instance of another player getting more than 5 carries in a game.
Based on what we have seen so far, this could well continue. And, when he returns to the field, we should quickly see Barkley as the bell-cow.
However, rumours persist that Barkley may not be ready for a Week 1 return. And, if he does, there may be snap-count restrictions. As such, I have been quite conservative when it comes to ranking. But even in the face of these reports, I have him as a very high-end RB2 with some solid RB1 upside.
Should his health concern the management, another player has been brought in to help out…
After the huge backup clearout, the depth chart behind Barkley looked very thin. Step forward new signing Devontae Booker, who comes in from Las Vegas. Last season, Booker was one of the backups behind Josh Jacobs.
While he split some time with Jalen Richard for the role, the new Giants signing ended the season with 88 attempts. That equaled 22.86% of the Raiders’ carries. As such, New York has a capable and tested backup sitting behind their bell-cow.
If the Giants choose to ease Barkley back into the ball-carrying, then Booker stands a decent chance of seeing early-season volume. And there have been rumours of management continuing to restricting Barkley’s late-game snaps as a way of keeping him healthy. Keeping Barkley away from unnecessary game-time may lead to Booker seeing a similar amount of carries to last year.
It is also very likely that he will be on waivers should Barkley pick up another injury during the season.
Rather than massively restock their backfield, the Giant’s draft picks focused on other areas – primarily defensive positions. However, they did pick up one Running Back to help pad out the room.
The first of the Giants’ sixth-round pick went on Gary Brightwell, a Running Back from the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats went 0-5 in the 2020 season, culminating in a 70-7 destruction from their in-state nemesis, Arizona State.
Sadly, Brightwell’s stats do not do anything to brighten up such a dismal season. The Running Back ended up with 88 carries for 390 yards and 1 TD, and only 53 yards off 13 receptions.
The small positive here is that Brightwell’s 2020 stats were from his shortest season, and previous years have seen better outputs. And we have seen players taken in earlier rounds end up doing far worse in the NFL. But, equally, we have seen sixth and seventh-round picks get cut before season starts.
So either the Giants are hoping for some insane value at this pick…or we won’t see Brightwell make the roster. Based on last season, we know the Giants don’t mind signing veteran free agents to fill roster spots when players are injured. And it’s likely that ball carries will go to Booker should Barkley pick up an injury.
As such, I wouldn’t advise taking him in rookie drafts, even in later rounds.
Join me next time when I talk about another team who will be filling those vacated carries!