Catch a rising star (USAT)Say this for David Wilson, he knows how to throw a coming-out party. Or maybe it's fairer to call it a welcome-back party.
The Giants expected big things from Wilson when they used the 32nd overall pick on him back in April, and he quickly made his mark during a splashy preseason. Logically, he showed up on a bunch of sleeper and breakthrough lists, including the ones here. Then it all went to hell in a hand basket when Wilson fumbled on opening night. All coaches hate ball-security issues, but Tom Coughlin is on the extreme end of that.
You know how the next few months played out. Ahmad Bradshaw stayed on the field for 12 of the first 13 games. Journeyman Andre Brown emerged as a dynamic No. 2 back and goal-line vulture. Wilson only had 18 carries through the first ten games, and even after Brown's season-ending injury, he was carefully used against the Packers (6-13 rushing) and Redskins (4-9). You can't blame anyone who spec-added Wilson prior to Week 12 only to drop him before this week. You can't wait forever for the photo to develop.
Wilson's monstrous game against the Saints on Sunday (327 total yards, three touchdowns) was wasted on a lot of fantasy benches and waiver wires. Short of a very deep format, there was no logical case for dialing up Wilson as a Week 14 play. He was used in just four percent of Yahoo! formats, a 28-point tree falling in the wilderness that nobody heard.
Some will look at Wilson's explosive highlight package and wonder how the Giants were limiting the talented rookie, but there were logical reasons for the team's stance. Wilson is a liability in pass protection, which presents a couple of problems - you can't use him on a lot of passing downs, and when you do commit Wilson to the field, you're telegraphing the likely play. You still can't run the full offense with him. And at 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, you face durability and running-style concerns.
But electric home-run hitters don't grow on trees. Wilson is one of those rare players who can score from anywhere on the field, and the Giants have to keep the cat out of the bag now. Bradshaw's health status might push Wilson into a featured role sooner rather than later: the veteran is getting an MRI on his left knee Monday, and he's also dealing with chronic foot problems. Wilson figures to have a meaty role, and maybe even a starting role, in the following two road games (at Atlanta, at Baltimore). The Eagles come to New Jersey in Week 17.
Fantasy owners catch a break with the Week 15 game slot: it's a 1 p.m. ET start. Even if the Giants play it coy with their backfield during the week, we should have a fairly clear picture before the first wave kicks off. If Bradshaw is scratched this week, Wilson might be tiptoeing into RB1 territory. At minimum, he'll be a high-upside RB2, the type of upside that's too dangerous to ignore.
Pinocchio, you're a real boy now.
Of course it's easy to talk about the current Wilson Story; it's harder to come up with them ahead of time. Who might be the hot free agent buzzing around this time next week? Robert Turbin is intriguing in Seattle, should anything ever happen to Marshawn Lynch. The Bernard Pierce/Ray Rice theme applies in Baltimore. Bilal Powell keeps cutting into Shonn Greene's workload on the Jets. I still don't trust Darren McFadden for 500 reasons, which means I'll stash Marcel Reece here and there.
Groundhog Day, Arizona style (USAT)• Go ahead, call me a Larry Fitzgerald Sympathizer if you want. Yep, I had him as a low-end WR2 or a high-end WR3 this week. I wanted to believe. I wanted to see it work. I know it's not his fault.
There's not much we can do now. In my dreams, I imagine a fake film company heading down to Arizona, bailing Fitzgerald out. Exfil that, Ben Affleck. But Argo 2 might not be worth the budget now that the CFL season is over.
I watched all 11 of Fitzgerald's targets on the game tape, just to torture myself I suppose. One throw was accurate and on time (that's how you complete a two-yard pass, campers). Two others were on target but late. The other eight were scattershot, a handful of outright air-mailings, skipped throws, and three Seattle interceptions. Fitzgerald's catch rate is the most misleading stat in the league right now. It's not his fault. (Things were even worse in New Jersey the previous week; thankfully, NFL Films destroyed all copies of that tape. Greg Cosell would rather stare into the sun than rewatch that abomination of a game.)
Fitzgerald can produce without a star quarterback, of course. He did it last year with Kevin Kolb and the 2011 version of John Skelton. But when the pocket play disintegrates to the level it has in Arizona, there's not much anyone can do. I regret holding onto the faith as long as I did.
• One of my toughest Week 14 calls didn't have anything to do with Week 14 at all. Aiming to stash a look-ahead defense, I opted for Miami over Detroit in one of my key leagues. The Dolphins host Jacksonville in Week 15, while Detroit heads to Arizona.
I'm starting to have some second thoughts. Arizona's offensive line has been a joke all year, and obviously the skill players aren't doing a thing either.
I'm not the type of owner who carries two defenses in the middle of the year, especially during bye-week season. But the shape and scope of our rosters needs to change now that we're at this stage of the dance. Defenses have a lot of matchup-based variability to them on a weekly basis, and some of the skill-player reserves that are essential in the first two months of the year aren't as valuable now.
Here are some of the Week 16 defensive matchups that I'm intrigued by, in no particular order. Again, these are looking an extra week ahead:
Indianapolis at Kansas City (Colts are five-percent owned in Yahoo!)
Carolina vs. Oakland (11 percent)
And while it's unlikely, perhaps these units were dropped in your pool:
Denver vs. Cleveland (90 percent)
New England at Jacksonville (86 percent)
Green Bay vs. Tennessee (82 percent)
New York Jets vs. San Diego (62 percent)
And while we're on the subject of pickups, let's pick the brain of Andy Behrens. The Yahoo! Fantasy Minute is ready to serve.