Danny Woodhead: Why the New England Patriots RB Is a Must-Sit in Week 4

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent ISeptember 27, 2012

FOXBORO, PA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the game on September 16, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The New England Patriots field one of the NFL's most explosive offenses, but Danny Woodhead hasn't contributed much through three games in 2012.

And because of his insignificant fantasy football impact, sitting him is the safer move in Week 4.

Facing a Buffalo Bills defense that has improved through each week, New England must get back to a traditional attack and set up Tom Brady off play-action. The Bills also have confidence, as they have won two straight and the Pats have two consecutive losses.

With that said, let's break down New England's Week 4 approach, along with the Buffalo defense, to see why Woodhead must get the fantasy bench on Sunday.


Patriots Offense

Compared to Stevan Ridley, Woodhead is not a between the tackles ballcarrier. This, however, is how the Patriots must attack the Bills up front. Although Buffalo has won two straight, the Bills' front seven is vulnerable against the run.

The New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs combined for an average of 134 rushing yards against the Bills in the first two weeks. So, taking the physical game to the Bills is needed for a more relevant play-action pass.

Brady still has the obvious ability to spread a defense and he did just that against the Baltimore Ravens. There, Brady threw for 335 yards and five different players had two or more receptions.

Unsurprisingly, the Pats put up 30 points against a stellar Ravens defense. That said, Ridley only compiled 37 rushing yards as he was given just 13 carries.

Through Weeks 1 and 2 the Pats gave Ridley 39 attempts and he collected 196 yards.

Brady still put up impressive numbers and New England was in position to win against the Arizona Cardinals. Considering that Buffalo's offense is more explosive than they're credited for, the Pats simply increase their odds of winning by feeding Ridley on the ground and utilizing Brady thereafter.

In short, Buffalo becomes more vulnerable against the pass, and New England hits another gear, as the game progresses.

Bills Defense

The Bills may seem more susceptible against the pass than the run, but they were more exposed in Week 1 against the Jets than anyone else. What New York did was isolate Buffalo's pass rush with a strong ground game, which helped keep the Bills honest.

On the other hand, what went wrong for the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns was pass protection. In the past two games the Bills have accumulated nine sacks, five turnovers and forced 15 punts.

That's from quarterback pressure more than anything else, which ultimately prevented any one running back from dominating in the trenches. New England, however, has the potential to control the line of scrimmage with Ridley and the offensive line.

Because of Brady's passing threat the Bills aren't going to load the box and focus on stopping the run. If anything, Buffalo will blitz early to try and fluster Brady. In that case, quicker-developing passing plays and spread formations will occur.

What the Pats do best is spread opponents out, and doing so opens running lanes for Ridley. Woodhead isn't the same type of back and Buffalo will have a slightly easier time in slowing the Pats down if he gets more snaps.

The Bills simply won't respect the ground game as much and blitz to get more pressure on Brady. Well the best way to negate a pass rush is with a formidable rushing attack, so anticipate more production from Ridley in Week 4.


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