Last week I was posed with the question of which quarterback to start between two studs in Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers, and this week a question has been tossed my way regarding which WR3 to start: James Jones or Terrance Williams?
While I am buying Williams as more than a flash in the pan (he had 97 catches for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final season at Baylor in 2012), I’m sticking with the Green Bay Packers‘ touchdown monster this week. The Packers travel to face the Baltimore Ravens this week, a defense that has looked better (more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed) since getting run out of its own building in Week 1 by Peyton Manning (seven touchdowns). But is the growth a trend or a mirage? The statistical improvement has come against the likes of Brandon Weeden, Matt Schaub, E.J. Manuel, and Ryan Tannehill, not exactly a murders row when it comes to signal callers. While I don’t expect Aaron Rodgers to rewrite the record books like Manning did in Week 1, his talent level is certainly closer to that of the four time MVP than the quartet of unproven quarterbacks that the Ravens have shut down since opening day.
In addition to the unproven revamped Ravens defense, the guaranteed playing time is a big plus for Jones. While both Jones and Williams played in 91 percent of their teams offensive snaps last week, Jones has played at least 96 percent of the Packers’ snaps in the other three weeks while Williams has been on the field for just 63 percent of the Cowboys’ snaps this season. Williams has seen his playing time spike with Miles Austin (hamstring) sidelined, but Austin has returned to practice (albeit in a limited fashion) and is currently scheduled to at least suit up for this game (directly affecting Williams’ opportunities).
There are a few other trends that favor Jones when comparing him to Williams for Week 6. The Packer wideout has scored 15 times in his last 15 games (minimum one target), and when you’re deciding which player to plug in as a WR3, touchdown upside plays a big role. While Green Bay tends to have success when Rodgers is rolling, the Dallas Cowboys’ two victories this season have come when DeMarco Murray is heavily involved (28-plus touches in both victories and under 20 touches in their three losses, including a total of 32 touches over the last two weeks). While the gaudy numbers from Tony Romo have been nice for his fantasy football owners, they haven’t resulted in real life wins, and that is all the Cowboys are concerned about. This trend tells me that Dallas is likely to seek balance in this one, thus limiting the potential for a strong encore performance from Williams. Romo has shown flashes of great variation in statistics before, so expecting another elite performance is risky. He averaged 14.06 yards per pass attempt last week against the Denver Broncos after averaging only 6.69 yards per attempt through the first four weeks (a nearly impossible to repeat 110.2 percent increase).
Last, but not least, don’t overlook the fact that the Washington Redskins are much more familiar with the Cowboys than the Ravens are the Packers. Yes, Williams is a rookie, so the Redskins have never seen him, but they have faced this quarterback, this coaching staff, and the majority of this personnel many times. The Redskins’ pass defense has been as bad as any (five 100-yard receivers in only four games and the fifth most fantasy points surrendered to wide receivers), but with a bye week to prepare for a divisional rival, this isn’t your ordinary game.
When it comes down to it, I prefer the week to week consistency of Rodgers over Romo and the player who is likely to be on the field for a higher percentage of his team’s offensive plays. Keep an eye on the status of Miles Austin as the week progresses, but even if he’s inactive, I’ll take my chances with Jones because of his proven ability to save fantasy owners with a touchdown more often than not.
Fantasy questions or a weekly dilemma that you’d like me to take a deeper look at? Get at me @unSOPable23.