RB Danny Woodhead, Free agent
HT: 5-7, WT: 195, Born: 1-25-1985, College: Chadron State, Drafted: ---
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Return Projections (see all)
Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: B Cooks (95), D Sproles (96), Danny Woodhead (97), W Welker (98), P Rivers (99)
Position: F Jackson (93-RB34), D Sproles (96-RB35), Danny Woodhead (97 - RB36), B Pierce (100-RB37), K Moreno (102-RB38)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: T Romo (90), S Ridley (91), Danny Woodhead (92), J Cutler (93),
Position: M Jones-Drew (89-RB31), S Ridley (91-RB32), Danny Woodhead (92 - RB33), F Jackson (95-RB34), D Sproles (96-RB35)
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Danny Woodhead had been a productive role-player for the Patriots for the three seasons preceding 2013, but he had his best season last year with the Chargers. Woodhead is a versatile back who can run inside effectively despite his small size (or perhaps because of it, if his diminutive stature makes him harder for defenders to find), but is at his best in the open field. He is a tough, smart runner who earned the coaches' trust last season, getting playing time in important situations and even leading the team in goal-line opportunities. While Woodhead finished 2013 as a top-twenty fantasy RB, however, his role in the offense this season is less certain. It is possible that Ryan Mathews will grow into more of a workhorse back, and will not come out of the game as often on third downs, around the goal line, or in the two-minute drill. It is also possible that Donald Brown, not Danny Woodhead, will be Mathews' primary backup. Finally, there is a small chance that rookie Marion Grice, whose skills are similar to Woodhead's, will earn the third-down role at Woodhead's expense. Woodhead is a dependable, versatile running back whom the Chargers' coaches grew to trust last season, but with the increased competition for playing time this season, consider Woodhead more of a borderline RB3-RB4 in standard leagues this season, rather than the solid RB2 he was last year.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Woodhead had an extremely quiet performance. After much preseason hype over his expanded role in the San Diego offense, he took a third seat behind both Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown in this one. His first touch came late in the first quarter as he leaked out of the backfield for a quick first down. He looked very spry and quick on the play, but San Diego didn’t really go back to him.
Week 2 - Perhaps feeling he was a bit underutilized in the Week 1 loss to Houston, Woodhead was on the field in multiple scenarios in this game. Woodhead led both teams with 17 offensive touches (tied with Ryan Mathews and one ahead of Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy). There wasn’t a great deal of space for Woodhead to work in, although it should also be noted that a great majority of his touches came in situations in which the team only needed a few yards. And more often than not, Woodhead seemed up to the challenge of getting what the team needed. On the team’s eventual game-winning drive, Woodhead hauled on an enormous third down reception on third down and 4 to pick up the first down and enable them to continue the possession. That led to the eventual game-winning field goal. One other note of interest for Woodhead owners is that starting halfback Ryan Mathews lost a fumble in the game. Although the team went back to Mathews right away on the ensuing possession, it is something for Woodhead owners to keep in mind. Mathews hasn’t had the best success protecting the ball in his career, and if his fumbling problems become more chronic, it would stand to reason that Woodhead could see an increase in activity.
Week 3 - Woodhead had a nice workload in the game, with 12 offensive touches to 16 for Ryan Mathews. Nearly all of Woodhead’s touches were the same result. He catches a ball in the flat short of the first down, he makes a defender miss, he dives at the sideline marker to pick up the first down, rinse, repeat. Woodhead has already carved out a nice niche as a reliable target in the short passing game, and even picked up a handful of rushing attempts in this one, averaging a team high 6.2 yards per carry. He frequently made the first defender miss and consistently gets more yardage than what it seems is available. It’s been said before, but Woodhead just has that veteran savvy about him and always seems to know where the first down marker is.
Week 4 - Woodhead’s ten offensive touches were second on the team behind RB Ryan Mathews, but Woodhead was much more efficient with his activity. Averaging over 10 yards per reception and over six yards per rush, Woodhead also managed to find the end zone twice. The two plays were similar routes, except on the first one he was very well-covered and did a nice job to run underneath the ball. On the second one, he leaked out into the left flat and was basically uncovered, waltzing in for the score. Woodhead also showed very nice hands on a laserbeam pass thrown right near his feet. He went down and picked it almost off the turf, and turned upfield for a nice gain. Even on the ground, he was effective. He slithered his way through a mass of would-be tacklers to pick up nine tough yards, and later found a gaping hole off the left side after a misdirection handoff to the left side. Woodhead had a shot at a third score when he was given a red zone carry up the middle, but he was hit just as he reached the second level of the defense. It would appear that Mathews is still going to get the majority of the carries, but Woodhead is certainly going to have a significant role in the offense the rest of the way.
Week 5 - Some observers will look at the stats in the game, hear about the concussion suffered by Ryan Mathews, and conclude that the increase in Woodhead's usage was due to the Mathews injury. In reality, Woodhead was getting more action even before that. In fact, he got the start and handled a carry on the very first play of the game, so he was clearly being thought of as more than just a third down guy already. In the early going, the Raiders swarmed to him every time he touched the ball. As the game went along, they loosened up a bit. Woodhead powered through most tackles, typically getting extra yardage beyond first contact. He had a chance to score in the first half, getting a handoff from just inside the 5-yard line. But he tripped as he got the ball and was only able to dive down to the goal line, otherwise he may have scored. He did get the call on the ensuing 4th and goal handoff from the 1-yard line. It was a curious decision to run the diminutive Woodhead on an inside run at the goal line, and Oakland sniffed it out, stonewalling him about half a yard shy. In the second half, with momentum starting to swing back towards San Diego, Woodhead made a critical error. He was met by Oakland defenders and fumbled it away. Oakland recovered and returned it for a defensive touchdown, putting the Chargers in a deep hole. Woodhead somewhat made amends for that on the next drive, picking up 17 tough yards on a 1st and 20 screen pass up the gut and then capping that drive with an inside shovel pass for the score. As he neared the end zone, Woodhead dove and then reached out to extend the ball over the plain at the end of the run, showing he wasn't afraid to get inside and play his game despite the fumble.
Week 6 - Woodhead took something of a back seat to Ryan Mathews on the ground, picking up less than half the carries Mathews did. But as usual, he did a lot of his damage through the air. As usual, he rarely got tackled by the first defender he met. On a couple of occasions, defenders even had him squared up on designed screens and swing passes, but after the catch he just shook them free and ran right by them. On one particular reception, he did a great job of snatching the ball out of mid-air. He knew exactly where the defender was and was able to adjust right after the catch to make a quick cutback inside to pick up about eight additional yards. He was given a couple of scoring chances late in the first half, getting two handoffs inside the ten yard line. The first run he took down to about the 5, but the Colts completely sniffed out the next play and met him in the backfield for a loss. Late in the game on an inside handoff, he was nearly met in the backfield by a defender. But he managed to side-step his man at literally the same moment he was handed the ball, and almost just as quickly he was able to get to top speed. He goes from a side-step to full speed as quickly as any back in the league, which enabled him to turn a possible loss into a 10-yard gain. He's got great awareness of everything going on around him, and simply refuses to go down on first contact.
Week 9 - Woodhead was the busiest receiving option on either team, with a whopping nine receptions mostly out of the backfield. His first catch of the game went for twenty yards, beating a linebacker down the sideline on a play that had QB Philip Rivers salivating. Woodhead made a nice adjustment on the back shoulder fade to turn back towards the outside as he hauled it in. He made a number of receptions that either converted first downs or set up manageable ones for San Diego. He even lived to tell about the vicious hit by S Brandon Meriweather who hit him low (though it did not draw a flag and was not a dirty play, it was a big hit). As usual, Woodhead typically knew exactly where the line to gain was and did a great job of getting to top speed in a hurry on more than one occasion. He also showed his toughness, diving ahead to stretch for a first down as his helmet popped off. Actually, he appeared to have fumbled on the play but the helmet coming off just before he lost the football ended up bailing him out (helmet comes off = play is dead). Late in the game with the Chargers driving for what they hoped would be the go-ahead score, it was Woodhead and not Ryan Mathews or Ronnie Brown who saw the field. He even looked to have scored that game-winning touchdown for San Diego. He took a short pass up the right side and dove at the pylon. Defenders knocked him up in the air and spun him, so that his foot knocked into the pylon as he made a play for the goal line. Officials initially ruled that he had broken the plan for the touchdown, but after consulting replay it was determined that his foot and not the ball had struck the pylon. He was eventually ruled down at the 6-inch line. After play resumed, Woodhead was given another crack at getting into the end zone but ended up getting stuffed. Two plays later, the Chargers had to settle for the game-tying field goal. They eventually lost in overtime.
Week 10 - Woodhead turned in what is fast becoming a typical Woodhead type of game. Ten total touches, several receptions out of the backfield, and a touchdown, is what owners have almost come to expect from him at this point. Woodhead showed his typical tough inside running each time he got the ball, and of course showed excellent hands and quickness in the open field in the passing game. His scoring play was a short reception over the middle, an excellent reception reaching out for a ball that was thrown a bit out in front of him. In addition, it got on him very quickly after he turned around, further illustrating his pass-catching abilities. Once he got the ball, he was at top speed almost immediately, diving in under the would-be tacklers to find the end zone. He came extremely close to adding a second score later in the game, after he caught a quick slant over the middle. He spun towards the defense, looking for the score, but was drilled by a defender just as he caught it. It was impressive that he managed to hang onto the football, but he was taken down where he stood.
Week 11 - Woodhead has been one of the most reliably consistent performers at the running back spot (particularly in PPR leagues), but he was nearly invisible in this game. With Ryan Mathews dominating the rushing duties by a 19-5 spread, Woodhead would typically be expected to be very active in the passing game. But even there, both players caught just two balls for 16 yards. The Chargers leaned heavily on their outside skill position players, and there was no real rhyme or reason to the usage pattern or targets on Woodhead. In fact, one of his two receptions came on a third and long play where they checked down to him to try and take what they could get to set up a better punt. He just wasn't a big part of the gameplan in this one, but considering the result and the struggles of the offense to move the ball, this may be looked back upon as an outlier.
Week 12 - Woodhead only had ten offensive touches in the game, but he sure made them count by finding the end zone on two of them. He had a handful of nice inside runs, but the one fantasy owners care about the most was the 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. Although starter Ryan Mathews hadn't been announced as being out for the game at that point, his last play came on the previous possession. So it stands to reason that if Mathews had been healthy, he would have been the one in the game for that play and not Woodhead. Still, it was telling that Woodhead got the call over the other effective short yardage runners on the roster. He took a delay handoff up the middle and plunged in over the pile, stretching out at the last moment for the score. But once again, it was Woodhead's work through the air that really put a stamp on his performance. He caught four more passes, one of them a short catch out in the flat that seemed destined to go out of bounds for a minimal gain. Instead, he hopped back inside to juke his defender and rumbled downfield for 19 more yards. It was an impressive display of athleticism from Woodhead, showing he's not just a solid pass-catcher but an elusive runner with more "wiggle" than people give him credit for. He also got a chance to showcase his athleticism on his touchdown reception. He run up the left sideline, and Rivers hoisted a pass along the end zone sideline for him. Woodhead did a good job of knowing where he was on the field, keeping both feet inbounds while bringing in the pass for an early touchdown.
Week 13 - Woodhead was nearly invisible for long stretches of game. Despite starter Ryan Mathews still apparently bothered by a sore hamstring, it was assumed that Woodhead might see an increased role. But he just wasn't an integral part of the offense whatsoever in the early going. He barely had positive yardage until about midway through the third quarter, and finished with less than half the offensive touches of Mathews. Interestingly, Woodhead was the back in the game on the team's late drive to try and mount a comeback, but the Chargers were primarily throwing to the receivers and tight ends by that point anyway. On one late catch, he picked up nine yards up the right sideline and was absolutely drilled along the sideline. The ball popped loose, but it was well out of bounds, and Woodhead didn't seem bothered by the hit in any meaningful way.
Week 14 - Woodhead has been a bit inconsistent lately, but rebounded with a big performance in this game. He was very effective on the ground, averaging six yards per carry. He made several strong inside runs, always picking up every possible yard as usual. Also as usual, he did the majority of his damage through the air. Unsurprisingly, he consistently picked up first down yardage on each. He nearly got into the end zone off a shovel pass from the 3-yard line, but it was stuffed right away for no gain. Woodhead found paydirt soon after, with an easy walk-in touchdown in the flat off a short pass from QB Philip Rivers. Rivers had loads of time, and Woodhead easily got in. His biggest gain of the game was one that you wouldn't normally expect from the diminutive Woodhead. He was targeted on what was essentially a "free play" after the Giants had jumped offsides. The pass turned into a jump ball, and the 5'8" Woodhead got high enough to bat it in the air. After it popped up again, Woodhead managed to maintain his concentration enough to bring it in for the long gain.
Week 15 - Woodhead had a tough day running the ball, and got a far lighter workload than starter Ryan Mathews did. He just simply wasn't getting the same holes to run through that Mathews was, or at least wasn't picking the right lanes. Woodhead fought for yardage as much as he could, but his game is more based on quickness and elusiveness than power. So while Mathews had success with the smash-mouth running style, Woodhead found it difficult. He did do a nice job on a handful of inside rushes, but was mostly bottled up. And where he normally makes his way is in the short passing game, but in this contest the Chargers really took the air out of the ball and pounded it with the running game. Woodhead did do a nice job with a short catch out of the backfield early on that Rivers dumped off to him. He took off with a lot of space in front of him, and managed to make the first defender miss (as is often the case). Truth be told, the defender had him squared up for a minimal gain but Woodhead faked inside and hopped back outside to pick up enough for the first down.
Week 16 - Woodhead's usage was a little bit sporadic once again, but he did perform well with another limited workload on a per-touch basis (over six yards per touch). He nearly got on the scoreboard early on when he broke out into the flat wide open from the 9-yard line, but he slipped coming out of his break. QB Philip Rivers was looking in his direction and likely going to him for what may have been an easy score. But after Woodhead fell, Rivers had nowhere to go, and ended up taking a sack. On the next play, Woodhead caught a pass on the sideline that took a long time to get there. Since it took so long, the defender had a long time in order to make a break on the ball. And when he arrived, he greeted Woodhead with an incredibly vicious hit. Woodhead held his ground on the play and didn't appear injured, which is somewhat amazing considering how hard the hit was. In the second half, he was in on one particular drive where he had some very nice inside runs to help run some clock off. He did a nice job following his blocks and picking up chunks of yardage. He was likely getting a little more work in the running game because starter Ryan Mathews injured his foot or ankle late in the third quarter. After the game, Mathews was in a walking boot so Woodhead may be in line for a greater workload next weekend against the Chiefs depending on Mathews' status.
Week 17 - Woodhead didn't seem like he was terribly involved, but due to the sheer volume of plays the Chargers ran, Woodhead still ended up with an efficient performance (particulary in PPR leagues). He came in on most third down plays and also to spell starter Ryan Mathews whenever he reinjured his leg. But Woodhead wasn't just a backup in this one, as the team targeted him once again on several plays and made him the focus of entire drives. He wasn't picking up much after the catch through the third quarter, but he got a little bit more yardage later in the game with Mathews going in and out of the game. Woodhead's best run of the game was actually negated due to a holding penalty on a delayed handoff up the middle. Despite losing that yardage, Woodhead still finished with a respectable yardage total and came close to finding the end zone when he was the target of a quick slant down to the 5-yard line. In the fourth quarter and overtime session, he did a great job of hanging onto a quick double pump pass play that most players would have dropped simply due to a lack of timing. And he converted a huge third down pass play where Rivers tossed up a floater to him in the flat and he did the rest by turning the corner and beating the linebacker to the edge and converted for a critical first down. That kept the drive moving and eventually led to the field goal.
Week 18 - Woodhead continued his fine work with another strong game. Early on, Woodhead got the first TD of the game with a lightning quick 5 yard run up the middle, which ended with him plowing into two bigger defenders at the goalline and getting the TD. Usually Woodhead plays a big role in the passing game, but that didn’t occur too much in this game. In the second half, he took over as the primary RB due to the injury and ran tough. He had a tough 9 yard run, and then followed it with a short gain that gave the Chargers a first down in the third quarter. Then as the 3rd quarter was ending, he made a quick cut, and got a 7 yard gain down to the goalline on 2nd and 8. Woodhead has proven to be a surprisingly tough back, as he’s been given the opportunity to play a lot for San Diego. If Mathews doesn’t come back vs Denver, Woodhead will have a heavy load on his shoulders.
Week 19 - With Ryan Mathews playing only a single quarter, Danny Woodhead was forced to play a larger role in the running game than was typical, and Woodhead delivered an underwhelming performance against a stout Denver run defense. Woodhead had 9 carries for just 29 yards, as Denver’s defensive linemen and outside linebackers consistently shut down any open running lanes and limited any potential for big gains. Woodhead wasn’t very active in the passing game, drawing just four targets, which he converted into 3 receptions and 1 first down. Woodhead’s biggest play of the game wound up being one outside of his control, as a Denver defender grabbed his face mask on a tackle attempt, allowing the Chargers to convert on 3rd-and-17 via penalty.