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Fancy fantasy football: Ryan Williams, Cincinnati Bengals defense

By Nicholas Minnix

Ryan Williams may very well have the first big game of his career on Thursday night against the St. Louis Rams.

In four contests, per game, Jeff Fisher's squad has yielded about 100 yards of real estate on the ground as well as 4.5 receptions and 30 receiving yards to running backs. Players at the position have scored five total TDs against St. Louis, whose defense has given it up at 4.5 yards a pop to RBs.

Cincinnati Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap
Dunlap helps to lead sack charge

But if Williams doesn't, please forgive him. His fantasy outlook seemed to be rosy when Beanie Wells (severe turf toe) hit the deck for about two months, but the Arizona Cardinals' game plan from week to week will dictate how much the Virginia Tech product is on the field.

Williams apparently faces a steep learning curve in his class covering the no-huddle offense. If Arizona expects to air it out frequently, in the short term, the explosive but raw rusher may not get the snaps. The second-year man is still learning the intricacies of things like blitz pickup, no matter the phase of the O.

That doesn't mean he won't learn, or that he won't be useful. Arizona hosts the Buffalo Bills in Week 6, so Williams owners should again expect him to begin that contest as a large part of the game plan.

The Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers grace the schedule after that, however. And in the no-huddle, or at least on passing downs, the Cards will probably lean on LaRod Stephens-Howling (strained hip flexor), once he's healthy.

Regardless, though, Williams is a hell of a talent. His owners may just need some patience. Even if he isn't trucking every week right away, he'll be learning, and within a few weeks, he could be rolling.

After his team's bye, in Week 10, he may have a real grasp of most of his offense's looks. If he's doing less thinking and more playing a month and a half from now, he and fantasy owners may not have to worry about him ceding much time to a potentially returning Wells.


My affinity for the Cincinnati Bengals' team defense has grown quite a bit since the preseason. Then, I simply had high hopes for them if they could carry into the regular season their pass-rushing performance in exhibition play.

The return of defensive end Carlos Dunlap from a knee injury in Week 3 helped - along with the schedule - this unit to produce 12 sacks in their past two games. They lead the league with 17 sacks.

The turnovers haven't come often, but that could change now that their secondary is getting healthy. Leon Hall and Nate Clements have each been banged up early on. Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall pick, 2012) hasn't made his NFL debut yet because of a knee injury.

There's a good bit of talent in that defensive backfield. Fantasy owners should jump on them to replace an underachieving D or to own an alternative.


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