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Danny Woodhead: Updated Fantasy Outlook and Analysis for Patriots RB

Oct 14, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead (39) carries the ball between Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) and defensive end Chris Clemons (91) during the 2nd half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated New England 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
Zach KruseSenior Analyst IOctober 15, 2012

New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead received his highest number of total touches Sunday since a Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens

Woodhead, part of a stable of running backs in New England, carried the ball four times for 25 yards and caught five passes for 46 against the Seattle Seahawks. His nine total touches nearly equaled the total from his previous two games combined (10). 

The diminutive running back has always been a puzzle for fantasy football owners to figure out. Are we starting to get a gauge on his fantasy value? We attempt to figure that out below. 

 

Outlook

Any fantasy outlook of Woodhead has to begin with the Patriots' running back depth chart. Limiting any ceiling for Woodhead are three other backs in New England capable of handling a big role: Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden

As long as a few of those three stay healthy, Woodhead will never be a featured player in the Patriots offense. His usage will be sporadic, and the results will follow. Fantasy owners typically avoid those kind of unpredictable players.

That said, Woodhead does have a history of staying on the border of fantasy relevancy, even in a stacked offense. 

In 2010, Woodhead rushed for 547 yards and five touchdowns while also catching 34 passes for 379 yards and another score. Nine hundred and twenty six total yards and six scores is probably the very best anyone could ever expect out of a player like Woodhead

A welcoming sign here is his production over the last two weeks. He has went over 70 yards in each of the Patriots' last two games, so his usage my be on the rise. 

 

Analysis

With the Patriots grasping to a lead in Seattle, Woodhead was used almost exclusively in the second half of Sunday's game. All but one of his nine touches came after halftime. 

But if there's any reason to consider Woodhead moving forward, it's the Patriots' use of the no-huddle offense. 

New England has run at least 80 offensive plays the last two weeks, which has meant increased opportunities and touches for players like Woodhead. There's no sign of the Patriots slowing down their break-neck pace, either. 

Woodhead has turned his opportunities into production in the no-huddle offense, rushing for 72 yards and receiving 71 more over the last two weeks combined. 

Still, few teams in football are more unpredictable with their running back usage than the Patriots, and there's always the chance that Woodhead gets 15 touches one week and zero the next. 

Woodhead's production in weeks where he gets touches is borderline fantasy relevant, but the unpredictability drops him off the radar for most leagues. Unless you're in a points-per-reception league, or injuries ravage the position in New England, continue avoiding Woodhead

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