Can Paul Perkins Maintain a Stranglehold on the Starting Job?
Paul Perkins can be a three-down back—or at least that's what Giants running backs coach Craig Johnson suggested. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen is finally healthy after suffering a torn triceps injury. Do either of these guys have fantasy relevance? Perhaps rookie Wayne Gallman will even steal carries. What a mess.
Perkins failed to convert any of his nine red zone carries into touchdowns in 2017. He spent most of the year battling with Rashad Jennings—who is on his couch right now. For some reason, the Giants coaching staff seems comfortable giving Perkins the keys to the ride after just the slightest hint of improvement down the stretch last season. This whole situation seems very 2016-Jeremy Langford-esque. Perkins is hardly a talent that can transcend poor offensive line play.
Vereen accepted a pay cut, which should secure his roster spot. But I don’t see a clear front-runner that's going to take over the lion's share of touches and actually keep that role the entire season.
Can Perkins hold on the the feature-back role? Or is this a situation to avoid completely? Does pass-catching volume make Vereen an intriguing PPR flier? Will Gallman be a factor in his rookie year?
Perkins’ and Vereen’s Rushing Expectation charting, which balances metrics with film evaluation (one of the toughest things to do in fantasy football), will provide some clues as to how to attack the Giants backfield in 2017 fantasy drafts.
Rushing Expectation: Paul Perkins
While Perkins doesn’t jump off the film as more than an average talent, he does possess positive traits: rare mental processing skills, good burst, ability to set strong angles, and above-average vision.
In charting Perkins, I saw a running back with good finishing ability and above-average balance through contact.
But I won’t sugar coat it: Perkins' season in 2016 was well below average in every major category.
Numbers-wise, Perkins struggled with overall efficiency, as well as in key metrics such as yards before/after contact.
Perkins’ limited efficiency may be due to poor offensive line play. The Giants were a bottom-third unit last year in regards to overall Expected Success Rate on rushing attempts (41.6 percent).
Frequent readers of this series know that I will continue to stress that Expected Success Rate is an insanely useful metric because it does a great job of separating a running back's performance from that of his blocking—which is relevant in Perkins’ case because he doesn’t create much for himself outside of what is blocked for him.
When taking the Giants' weak run blocking into account, Perkins still performed very close to expectation. Reliability is fine, but if you are chasing upside, I'd prefer a running back who can create in poor situations—or at the very least exceed expectations in good situations. Perkins faced eight or more in the box at a below-average rate, however, but was still inefficient: he finished with just a 31st percentile rushing Expectation Score.
Just when you think it couldn't be worse, you dig deeper and realize Perkins' receiving Expectation Score was in the 2nd percentile. Despite average hands, Perkins was less efficient at catching passes than every running back in my entire 60-player sample except C.J. Anderson in 2015 (min. 15 targets).
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