RotoExperts: Danny Woodhead’s Increasing Fantasy Value

  • Jake O'Donnell

It’s crunch time for Fantasy owners. Sure, the end of the season is months away, but for those of you staring down a 0-4 start; something needs to change – and fast. Owners at 1-3 or even 2-2 need to seriously look at their team, and try to figure out what they can do to turn their season around. A big part of success at this point of the season isn’t the best waiver wire pickups: it’s trading. Look long and hard at your team. Where are your weak spots? Where are your strengths? Look at other teams and figure out what they need. Sure, there’s the buy low and sell high strategy, but in most leagues, owners know who to buy low and they surely won’t sell low.

Here’s another part of trading that people don’t like to hear: you may have to sell at a discount. I was chastised on Twitter for saying that C.J. Spiller could be traded for guys like DeSean Jackson or Anquan Boldin. “That’s my first round pick!” someone said. Another person responded complaining of selling Spiller for 50 cents on the dollar. Both are true statements; but unfortunately, that’s what happens. If you’re ready to bail on Spiller (and no one would question that decision at this point), you have to come to terms with the fact that your first-round pick was a bust. Heck, plenty of real-life NFL teams know about that. It happens. And if your team has other running backs that can carry you through, why not get 50 cents for the dollar? It’s not like you’re reaping the benefits of that dollar.

That’s my weekly advice. But this isn’t a trade evaluation column. It’s a prediction column. (which you could use to help with trades!)

1. Ryan Broyles will be Fantasy relevant by the end of the season. Just be patient.

I made a bad call last week. I made some good calls as well, but I made a really bad call. I started Broyles in just about every league I had him in (and it was a lot). In every single league, I stared at a big zero on my roster on Sunday night. It hurt. I read the reports. I loved Broyles in the preseason. As soon as Nate Burleson was injured, I thought Broyles would have his chance. I didn’t expect a monster game, but in PPR leagues especially, I figured he’d have a 7/50/0 kind of day; a solid 12 points in a PPR format. A touchdown would have been a bonus.

Ironically, that day went to none other than… Brandon Pettigrew. Detroit did what I thought they would do – throw a bunch of short passes to move the chains to give Reggie Bush a break from tearing it up. Only the passes inexplicably went to Pettigrew for his best game of the season. Just for the record, Pettigrew’s stat line in Week 3: 0/0/0. He had two targets for zero catches. Burleson, in Week 3, had six receptions for 116 yards. How could you not think that Broyles would step in to that role, and not that Pettigrew would take those receptions and Broyles would end up with the donut?

Here’s the thing: Pettigrew won’t match that stat line for the rest of the season. Matthew Stafford is going to keep slinging the ball. Broyles will become relevant. Perhaps he’s not healthy enough just yet and it wasn’t revealed to us. Perhaps Stafford doesn’t trust him. Perhaps he hasn’t had enough practice time with the first-team offense. I don’t know the answer. But I do know that Detroit needs him. He’s a talented player and he can make big plays when given the opportunity. Week 4 was not that opportunity. The game plan did not include him. Perhaps Week 5, he’ll come out of nowhere and have a monster game on everyone’s bench (or waiver wire). It’s hard to trust him after last week, but know that the big game is coming. Be patient and hold on to him if you have the roster space. Detroit has a bye in Week 9. I predict that for the end of the Fantasy season – Week 10 and beyond, Broyles will be a WR2. And no, I don’t care that the Lions signed Kevin Ogletree.

2. Start your Giants this week (and yes, it’s ok to cringe).

It’s do or die week for the Giants offensive players this week. Here’s looking at you, Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle, Brandon Myers and David Wilson. These guys have all been borderline droppable in most Fantasy leagues. This is the week that they can turn things around. The Eagles pass defense is ranked 31st in the league in terms of yards allowed (1300, only four yards ahead of Minnesota for last place). The most passing touchdowns a team has allowed so far this year is 10. Philadelphia has allowed nine. The moral of this story: if you can’t throw the ball successfully against Philadelphia, you can’t throw the ball successfully. The Eagles rank 26th in terms of rushing yards allowed.

Sure, we can look at who the Eagles played: Denver last week, with Peyton Manning’s four touchdowns. But RG3 threw for two touchdowns against them and Philip Rivers threw three (Alex Smith did not throw any). So far this year, the Eagles have given up the second-most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They have given up the most points to wide receivers. As for running backs, the Eagles have given up the 10th most points. That average is brought down because of the San Diego game in which Ryan Mathews struggled.

The Giants are 0-4 and need a win in order to stay competitive in the terrible NFC East. With a divisional game on the slate, expect the Giants to come out strong. With four teams on a bye this week, roster decisions get more difficult. Take the risk and start not only Eli Manning, but also start Nicks and Randle as WR3 options. Myers is still a risk as well. However, I am predicting David Wilson to have the breakout game that we’ve been waiting for. I do own Wilson in one league and I’ve started him every week (full disclosure). I take the Giants cutting Da’Rel Scott as a positive sign for Wilson. It looks like they trust him more and maybe he’ll now be in on third downs and passing downs. This is truly his week to shine. He has some good matchups ahead (after Chicago, he faces Minnesota and Philadelphia again) before Andre Brown returns from his injury. He’s able to return in Week 10, but that will depend on how his rehab goes.

3. An overreaction and an underreaction: Nate Washington just had his best game of the season and Danny Woodhead should be owned in all PPR leagues.

In Week 4, Nate Washington looked like a Fantasy stud because he found the end zone twice. He’s had two 100-plus yard games so far this season… and two games with 50 yards or less. Washington had his best season in 2011, where he had 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s on pace so far this year to exceed that, but I don’t see it happening. Washington has never had more than two games with over 100 receiving yards. Is it going to happen with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback? I doubt it. One good thing about Washington is that he’s typically healthy. He doesn’t miss games. He’s on the field and he catches the ball. He’s certainly worth starting in a flex role or during the bye weeks, but don’t pick him up off the waiver wire expecting a hot WR to put up these numbers week after week (see: Eddie Royal).

Through four games, Danny Woodhead has 22 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, he has 90 rushing yards, but Woodhead’s value is in PPR leagues. Those 22 receptions are second-best in the league for running backs (behind Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Darren Sproles – all with 23 receptions). For the record, Calvin Johnson only has 21 receptions. Now, I’m not saying to bench Johnson for Woodhead, but if you’re in a situation where you have Woodhead, don’t hesitate to start him. If you look at the matchup against Oakland this week, Oakland does defend running backs well, but they don’t defend wide receivers well. Woodhead isn’t your typical running back, so don’t be scared of the matchup. Woodhead is a must-start this week and in other weeks moving forward. If you’re looking at the San Diego running backs, feel free to drop Ryan Mathews for Danny Woodhead in a PPR league.