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Why isn’t Orleans Darkwa getting more love?

He just ran all over the best defense in football, yet still owned in less than 15 percent of leagues.

New York Giants v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Running back committees scare everyone. You’re never sure who’s going to get the most touches and it always seems that whomever you start, it’s the other guy that has a big game. The Patriots, Bengals and Seahawks have been fantasy nightmares this season as no one knows which running back will be the guy any given week. Will it be Dion Lewis or Mike Gillislee or Rex Burkhead; Will it be Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard or Joe Mixon; Will it be Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls or C.J. Prosise. It’s anyone’s guess.

The Giants’ backfield has also fallen into a committee ever since Paul Perkins went down with an injury—though to be honest, it was a committee even when he was healthy because he simply wasn’t playing well—and it has people spooked.

So spooked in fact, people aren’t noticing what’s right in front of their eyes.

Let’s play the hypothetical. Here are the stat lines of two different running backs over the last two weeks. You tell me which running back you’d rather have:

  • Running back A: 29 carries, 186 yards, 6.4 yards per carry, 1 touchdown
  • Running back B: 37 carries, 159 yards, 4.3 yards per carry, 0 touchdowns

I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn that Darkwa is running back A. Running back B is Todd Gurley. (I was going to have Kareem Hunt as my RB B since he’s only 128 yards on 38 carries the last two weeks, but he’s done some damage through the air. Gurley hasn’t been doing that the past two weeks.)

Want to extend it across the full season?

  • Running back A: 42 carries, 239 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, 1 touchdown
  • Running back B: 56 carries, 180 yards, 3.2 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns

Running back B is Ty Montgomery. I understand Montgomery missed part of a game due to injury but he’s started every game so far for the Packers. Darkwa has started two for the Giants.

My point with these hypotheticals is not to say that Darkwa is leaps and bounds better than these other running backs, it’s more to put my amazement at how available he is in context. Darkwa is currently owned in 12% of Yahoo! leagues and only 4.5% of ESPN leagues.

How?

How is it possible that the man who just put up 117 against the best run defense in the NFL (per DVOA)—a run defense mind you that hadn’t given up anything more that 54 yards to a running back this season, let alone 100 yards—isn’t being added across every league?

It could be the remnant hauntings of a running back committee still floating over New York, despite the fact that Darkwa vastly out carried Wayne Gallman (his perceived challenger) Sunday night 21 to 9 against the Broncos. Since taking the starting job, Darkwa has 29 carries to Gallman’s 20, but that number is skewed slightly as Darkwa missed most of Week 5 against the Chargers with an injury (he still managed to carry the rock eight times for 69 yards and a touchdown).

It could be you want to see more out of Darkwa to insure that he’s for real. Just don’t wait too long though as three of the Giants’ next four games are against run defenses ranked in the bottom half in terms of DVOA (Seahawks 23rd, Rams 18th and Chiefs 24th).

It could be that you don’t trust the Giants to run the football. Which makes sense since Eli Manning has plenty of weapons to throw to in Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Roger Lewis. This was the first game in which head coach Ben McAdoo surrendered play calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. It was also the first time the Giants won a game this season. Coincidence? I don’t think it was a fluke that the Giants looked to establish the run and get the ball out of Eli’s hands quickly. I’d expect that trend to continue.

Whatever your reason for not going out and getting Darkwa this instance, ignore it. The Giants are currently out of receivers and their offensive line offers about as much protection as a condom with a hole in it. Unless McAdoo and Sullivan want to get Eli killed, they’re going to look to run the ball and Darkwa looks to be the guy.

People were crazy for Paul Perkins because he was the Giants’ starting running back. Now it’s time to get crazy for Darkwa: the Giants’ actual starting running back.