Fantasy football roundtable: Future bright for Wilson, unclear for others
David Wilson may be Giants' No. 1 RB next year but will share carries for now
Years of disappointing play has soured fantasy owners on DeAngelo Williams
Chris Johnson's increasing age may deprive him of the long TD runs he relies on
The NFL fantasy season is filled with tough decisions. Join SI's roundtable of fantasy experts each week to help sort through the lineup choices, injuries and waiver wire options that can make or break a season. Check in each Thursday night and all day Sunday on the @SInow Twitter feed for SI's real-time fantasy analysis of each week's games.
1. After David Wilson's breakout performance versus the Saints, what can fantasy owners expect from him and Ahmad Bradshaw in the fantasy season's last few weeks?
Mike Beacom: Right now it's not much of a debate. Bradshaw is nursing a bad knee, so Wilson suddenly looks like a fantasy winner. The rookie will see plenty of reps this week against a Falcons team giving up 4.9 yards per carry. When Bradshaw is healthy everything will be back up for grabs, no matter how well Wilson performs. We're talking about Tom Coughlin's mind here -- and like Bill Belichick, no one knows what Coughlin will do with his backfield week to week.
Will Carroll: A split was expected a lot earlier than now, with Wilson on par with Doug Martin in many preseason guides. Wilson's early season fumbles put him in Coughlin's doghouse, though. Maybe his Week 14 performance got him out, but it still seems too early to predict a take-over for Wilson, unless Bradshaw's knee injury is much more serious than it looked. I would think that Wilson can establish himself as a possible RB1 for next season in these last few weeks, but I would have a hard time recommending him as a keeper even though I like his potential.
Eric Mack: It will be a week-to-week thing. Wilson is still Bradshaw's caddy, so Wilson's chances hinge on opportunity. Bradshaw needs to be (more) banged up or the Giants need to be ahead and in need of a change of pace for Wilson to see consistent carries. The matchups against the Falcons, Ravens and Eagles are especially favorable for Wilson to star, but his potential alone makes him someone to own right now. Bradshaw has never been 100 percent and he has always had a productive sidekick. No matter his role moving forward, Wilson is one serious long-term keeper prospect.
David Sabino: Although the Giants control their own playoff destiny, nothing is assured yet, so I'm sure there's been little thought of severely limiting Bradshaw's touches between now and the playoffs. Instead, I think you'll see more of what Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride have done the past few seasons and again on Sunday, going with whoever has the hot hand. More often than not the answer will be Bradshaw, but I can see Wilson having some usefulness as a flex play.
2. Which players are you concerned might sit for large stretches of the next few games?
Beacom: This is an odd year in that it appears nothing will be settled until the final week. The top seed in the AFC is up for grabs, as are three of the four NFC divisions. The Falcons may be in a position to rest the stars of their passing game in Weeks 16 or 17, but that team needs momentum as much as rest heading into the postseason. If anything, fantasy owners ought to be concerned about teams that are no longer in contention shutting down injured players. With only a few weeks left, it seems unlikely we'll see LeSean McCoy or Maurice Jones-Drew again this season, even if medically cleared.
Carroll: It looked like the Falcons were already sitting out Week 14. Their performance next week will be key to how they finish. I think Houston will rest its older, injury-prone players in Weeks 16 and 17, though beating the Colts next week would lock up positions and establish Houston over the upstart young Indy team. The Broncos and Pats will be jockeying for the bye and likely will keep their players active. The same can be expected for the Niners and Packers, though I'm curious if we'll see less Frank Gore and even more Alex Smith there.
Mack: None yet, especially since the Falcons and the Texans each picked up their second loss. Outside of the Eagles wanting to get longer looks at Nick Foles and Bryce Brown in lieu of Michael Vick and McCoy, fantasy owners should operate under the assumption that everything will be status quo through the next two important playoff weeks. The McCoy situation is interesting, because he was cleared to practice Monday, and Andy Reid has not granted Brown any "starter for the rest of the season" title.
Sabino: Injuries could keep Dez Bryant and Robert Griffin III out of important games, but luckily for fantasy owners there really is little decided for this week and next in terms of playoffs. There will be jockeying for position and byes in the final three weeks, so there's not likely to be too many significant fantasy casualties. Some to worry about next week are the Texans' trio of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, especially with Ben Tate needing some reps to get back up to speed; and in Atlanta, should the Falcons ice a bye next week, it wouldn't be shocking to see Julio Jones get some much needed rest.
3. DeAngelo Williams has pieced together a series of promising performances. Can he be trusted again in fantasy circles?
Beacom: Is this the April Fools' Day edition of the Roundtable? DeAngelo Williams to be trusted? I'll admit he has looked good the past two weeks, but he beat up on a pair of teams (Kansas City and Atlanta) that rank near the bottom of the league in yards allowed per attempt. Carolina's next opponent (San Diego) allows just 3.8 yards. Plus, fantasy owners should know better than to fall for Williams. He's a fantasy tease, and even at his most tempting he's not worth getting worked up about.
Carroll: Never. Jonathan Stewart will be back, Cam Newton will steal touches and touchdowns, and the coaching situation could flip the whole thing on its head going into next year. Trying to pick which one and which week one will go off is the fantasy version of Powerball. Someone wins, but it's usually not you.
Mack: Trusted, no way. Years of disappointment have destroyed any potential trust in him. He can be used as a stopgap, but only if Stewart remains questionable or worse. Williams has a relatively tough matchup against an underrated Chargers run defense in Week 15, but the Panthers finish up with the Raiders and Saints, the two worst teams in fantasy versus running backs.
Sabino: Not really because it's tough to overlook his long touchdown drought without a touchdown that ended with a reception against Atlanta, but for those hard-pressed for someone to plug into their flex spot, you could do worse than Williams against the Chargers.
4. What disappointing player will you swear off in drafts next season?
Beacom: My pledge for 2013: I will not get sucked in by Ryan Mathews again. I will not ignore his injury-riddled past, nor will I forgive him for failing to average 4.0 yards a carry for much of November and December. I will remind myself of how he disappointed me week after week, and of how he scored one lousy touchdown. I will let someone else draft him in 2013, and I will laugh when his name is called, no matter in what round. I am powerless to Ryan Mathews' untapped potential no more.
Carroll: Never say never again, James Bond taught me. There was no one player or one situation that cost me this year, and even though my fantasy seasons were far from perfect, I'm pretty happy with how the teams were constructed. I made good drafts based on solid evaluations. Where I had injuries, I also had depth. I'll focus more on the symbiosis of QB/WR/O-Line, which caused me some issues with both Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown.
Mack: Chris Johnson is lost as an elite performer for me. He was just too reliant on long touchdown runs and his age and wear figures to take those away from him as we move forward. Also, Darren McFadden is a bad risk to take because he's never healthy. But, and this will come as a shock, I can already guarantee I won't have Robert Griffin III on any of my rosters next season -- for better or for worse. One, he will go off the board before I would select a non-Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady quarterback; and two, he is someone of slight stature, a la Michael Vick, whose play puts him in danger to miss parts of games or parts of seasons. He is a great talent, but I am going to go with less risky talents in the area RGIII will be drafted next year.
Sabino: There are so many. By position my all "let someone else worry about them" team for 2012 are Philip Rivers, Reggie Bush and Matt Forte, the Steves (Smith and Johnson) and Vernon Davis.