Before looking ahead to week seven, it is important to address a serious concern. Last week, fantasy owners everywhere were handed the short end of the stick. The two biggest stories of Week 6 went virtually unnoticed. The second of these stories was Thad Lewis. This former Duke quarterback amazed coaches during the week with his stunning knowledge and preparedness. When E.J. Manuel was injured, Lewis was a member of the practice squad, and Jeff Tuel was the backup sitting on the bench.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was so impressed by Lewis’ ability, the quarterback was able to leapfrog Tuel for the starting role. A lot could be expected of Lewis, who threw over 10,000 yards in college. In his second career start Sunday, he threw for two scores and ran for a third while committing no turnovers. The Bills forced overtime against the Bengals’ ninth ranked pass defense, but lost on a field goal by Mike Nugent.
But the biggest story of the week was Stevan Ridley. Somehow it went unmentioned that the young New England running back just landed the best haircut in the NFL. Sources are unable to confirm the exact date of said cut, but the effects have been noticeable. During the offseason, Ridley was spotted in a wide array of styles, to varying degrees of success. He looked dapper in jeans for a photo shoot, and was super as the self-proclaimed “Black Clark Kent.” Not since Clinton Portis has such flair found its way to the running back position. Ridley’s preseason took a turn for the worse, though, when opponents caught up to him with his lime green backpack and matching pants. He began the year at 3.7 yards per carry for only 43.5 yards per game. Doubters were quick to point out Belichick’s spotty history with skill position players.
Reloaded with the new “‘do,” the former LSU Tiger ripped off 20 carries for 96 yards Sunday against the Saints. His yards per carry skyrocketed to 4.8, and he scored his first two touchdowns of the season. Now that his head is straight, the questions are swirling in the wake of Ridley’s impressive performance Sunday. What took so long? And how soon before his teammates follow suit? Certainly that receiving corps could use help.
Buy David Wilson
Six weeks are in the books, and some earlier “Hold” players are now likely to begin moving to optimal “Buy” or “Sell” situations. David Wilson owners were encouraged to hold him after week one. He was taken with the 33rd highest Average Draft Position in 2013 fantasy drafts. The season has certainly been disappointing so far. After fumbling in week one, Wilson was held to just fourteen carries through the first two games.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is widely known to employ a “doghouse” for his fumbling backs. Wilson faced this reality last year himself, when he fumbled week one as a rookie. Talk about deja vu all over again. After the lone fumble of 2012, Coughlin limited Wilson to seven carries or fewer in every game until Week 13. And when he was unleashed for the final four games, Wilson scored five total touchdowns and rushed 43 times for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. It’s worth mentioning that Wilson has never fumbled outside of those two week one games.
This year, the situation is different for multiple reasons. First, Wilson is the team’s starting running back. Though Brandon Jacobs and Da’Rel Scott were each given more opportunities as a result of Wilson’s mistake, Wilson will remain the lead back when healthy.
In Wilson’s last game in week five, he got off to a great start, scoring a touchdown from the five yard line. That put to rest the theories that Jacobs would take over goal line duties. Wilson was taken out of the game as a precaution, when he felt some tingling in his neck. He has since been cleared from needing surgery, and hopes to return as soon as week seven. Many expect him to miss the next two games through the Giants’ bye.
But the story grew more interesting after Wilson’s departure against the Eagles. Jacobs fumbled on his fourth carry of the game, an error that would otherwise send him to the bench. The doghouse roles have reversed. But without Wilson, Jacobs remained in the game and went on to start week six. Jacobs played a good game, rushing 22 times for 106 yards and two scores. Insert video of Wilson fans gnashing their teeth. Jacobs strained his hamstring, though, and missed practice Monday.
Wilson should inherit the earth when he returns to this reeling team. Owners may be looking for some production right now, especially when considering where he was likely drafted. This electric former first round draft pick has no concerns with his legs or lower body, and should be able to return to speed immediately. He could still develop into a 2014 first or second round talent for redraft leagues.
Sell Roddy White
Roddy White was once called the most consistent player in fantasy. Okay, the author will claim responsibility for that nickname. White has had as tumultuous a season as any player in 2013. He is still struggling with a high ankle sprain, an injury that is usually preceded by the word, “dreaded.”
White has mainly been used as a decoy to this point, while playing many games on a limited snap count. In week four, he led all Falcons receivers with 74 of 76 snaps. He suffered a setback during the game, though, saying afterwards that he felt worse than the week before. In the following game against the Jets, White pulled his hamstring and left the game early. Sometimes a player compensating for one injury will pull a muscle as a result.
Julio Jones will miss the remainder of the season with a fractured bone in his foot. White is expected to miss the first game of his career, when the Falcons play Tampa Bay week seven. In a limited state, he won’t be missing much, as replacement Harry Douglas will likely have the honor of lining up opposite Darrelle Revis. When the four-time Pro Bowler returns, the offense will revert to 2010 form, when Jones was still at Alabama and White was the lone elite target for Matt Ryan.
But contrary to some popular thinking, White’s numbers have been steadily elite, with or without Jones in the lineup. Since Jones joined the team, White has had seasons of 100 and 92 receptions in 2011 and 2012, respectively. White was still able to produce 1,296 and 1,351 yards in those years. Jones’ presence simply does not have the dampening effect on White’s production as some believe. The departure of the younger receiver actually should have little impact on White’s value moving forward. The focus for White’s worth should remain strictly on his ankle and hamstring. Once healthy, he can still be as good as any receiver in the NFL. But White’s recovery timeline is one of the biggest questions of the season. With owners potentially fawning over White’s alleged increased value, the time to sell has never been better. Move now before the painful reminder of his injuries resurface.
Hold Trent Richardson
Few players have been as polarizing in 2013 as Trent Richardson. The former third overall pick from Alabama was recently traded to the Indianapolis Colts for their 2014 first round pick. During his rookie year, Richardson averaged only 3.6 yards per carry during a 950 yard campaign. He also caught 51 balls for an additional 367 yards. This season, Richardson has run for 3.1 yards per attempt, and made only eight receptions.
On a positive note, the former Brown scored 12 total touchdowns as a rookie. Entering week six, Richardson was third in the NFL in missed tackles caused. The only two running backs with more? Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. That’s all well and good, and fantasy owners no doubt want actual yards and touchdowns.
It’s important to look beyond fantasy scores, though, to see the on-field potential of your players. Don’t ditch Richardson because of a slow start this year. He is still mastering the playbook, and will continue to improve as the season progresses. Remember that this is also the third playbook in his 22-game career. There are few, if any, players in NFL history of his caliber who can say that. And there is no doubt he will have more opportunities to score on an offense led by Andrew Luck. All we are saying is give Trent a chance.
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, myfantasyleague.com, and profootballfocus.com.
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