In The Spotlight: Danny Woodhead’s 2013 Fantasy Value in San Diego

In fantasy football, a players’ ability will only take them so far. Take Michael Bush, who had a superb year for Oakland in 2011 but took the option of sitting behind Matt Forte in Chicago. Good player, but not a great choice in fantasy. Another indicator may be the players situation, is this guy a WR1 for his team? Is he an every-down linebacker? Is he the unquestionable #1 RB? Again, this will only get you so much fantasy value. Shonn Greene got 2 full seasons of spearheading the Jets running game but his lack of ability let him (and us) down. What we’re looking for in fantasy football, are guys with both ability and opportunity who get on the field often enough and produce the goods when asked. Today I’ll shine the spotlight on San Diego running back Danny Woodhead, assessing his fantasy value in 2012 after leaving the New England Patriots in March.

1. Danny Woodhead is in a better situation in San Diego:

Woodhead was in a crowded backfield in New England, and he never really got the opportunity to shine. In San Diego he is the undoubted 2nd Running Back behind Ryan Mathews (I can’t see Ronnie Brown offering much this year). This means that he will get more carries in SD than he did in New England, and in giving the Chargers an extra dimension in the passing game with his ‘Darren Sproles-esque’ type of play, he will be utilised in the passing game too. Add to this that he is coming off his best season of pro football in his 5 year career (after playing 11 games in 2 years with the Jets during ’08 and ’09) and he will be bursting to show he that the Patriots made a mistake in showing him the door.

2. A fragile Ryan Mathews may give him even more opportunity:

Personally I’m a little sceptical as to whether Woodhead could run the rock 300+ times in a season, but if Ryan Mathews continues his calamitous tumble since the clavicle injury in 2012 pre-season then Woodhead will get even more looks in the Chargers offence. Mathews hasn’t had a 16 game season in his 3 year career and despite an excellent 2011 campaign, his rushing average dived to 3.8 last season, and he managed a solitary touchdown and two lost fumbles. Mathews has talent, but his injury has rocked him hard, and being benched in favour of Jackie Battle is akin to being dropped for Tim Tebow in fantasy leagues – you’d really like to avoid it. There’s no guarantee Mathews won’t explode back onto the scene, but given last years decline and his ADP of 49 – (below Chris Ivory, Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball) according to www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com – few have confidence in Mathews’ rushing ability this year.

Woodhead scored two rushing touchdowns in a week 15 loss to San Francisco. A team who allowed just five rushing touchdowns all year to opposing RBs.                                Photo by Nancy Lane (BostonHerald.com)

3. Woodhead is massively undervalued at his current ADP (127):

Given the frosty reception Mathews has got from fantasy owners – judging by his ranking and ADP – Woodhead is a big time sleeper with an ADP of 127, that’s higher than Ahmad Bradshaw who is a free agent, Knowshon Moreno who might be a free agent soon, and Bryce Brown who fumbles so often that his new-born baby holds him – not the other way ‘round. Given Woodhead’s obvious talent and an improvement to his situation, I can’t believe people would consider drafting some of those names ahead of him, and he’s flying under the fantasy radar presently. Here are the stats from Woodhead’s last three seasons at the Patriots:  

Rushing

Receiving

Season

Attempts

Yards

TD

Avg.

Target

Receptions

Yards

TD

2010

97

547

5

5.6

44

34

379

1

2011

77

351

1

4.5

31

18

157

0

2012

76

301

4

3.9

55

40

446

3

Statistics courtesy of www. MyFantasyLeague.com

Last year Woodhead scored 114.70 fantasy points… That’s more than Vick Ballard, Joique Bell and one Ryan Mathews. His targets and receptions may look low, but this was as a joint RB2 with Shane Vereen. The only year he was trusted with more carries and looks he had a 5.6 YPC and over 900 yards from scrimmage. The Chargers coaches know this and I can see him carving out a big role in their offence.

4. Patriots fans rate him highly, and were disappointed to see him go:

After talking about Woodhead to Patriots fans on the web, I can see they were sad to see him leave, and respected his hard work and the strong team ethic he showcased in his three years at Foxborough. Woodhead was regarded as a talented and elusive back who could have been a Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles type of running back in the right situation, which unfortunately wasn’t with the Patriots. His versatility in the passing game brought him plenty of praise, but his up-the-gut running should not be underrated. Standing at just 5 feet 8 inches, he is difficult to see in the backfield, and as such his decision making can earn him yards where others could not. Furthermore Woodhead was a casualty in New England not because of a lack of talent, but because keeping a young Shane Vereen was more cost effective, and as Kyle Love will testify, there is no room for sentiment in the Patriots organisation.

Conclusions?

Woodhead has had the talent, but not the opportunity to properly exercise it. In San Diego he’s been given that chance, and Mathews’ last season will draw question marks from pundits and coaches alike. If Woodhead can make the most of his reps, he may carve himself a big part in the Chargers offence. Ultimately, if you’re drafting Ryan Mathews I would definitely look to handcuff Woodhead to him – it’s a no brainer. And if you’re looking at a penultimate round flyer (assuming you draft kickers in the last round) then I’d prioritise Woodhead as one of the best second-string RBs that will be left out there at that stage in the draft.

One Comment

  1. asher curzon

    June 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I like the article. I will have to consider him late. I also like Michael Hill to be the backup to Matthews too.

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