Fantasy Football: Studs, Duds and Surprises at the Halfway Point
For some of you, this is the halfway point in the fantasy football regular season. For most, there is no halfway point since it is a 13-game schedule, so we'll consider that to be close enough.
No doubt there have been some shockers in your league. The team that you drafted and probably thought was unbeatable has been completely torn apart. Or the team you drafted that you thought would put up 40 points a week is suddenly blowing up for three times that on a weekly basis.
Whichever boat your in, the topic of discussion is the same around every league. It's always, "This player has been amazing," or "This player sucks," or "I didn't even draft this guy now I want him to come over to my house so I can make him a nice dinner."
Fantasy football does some strange things to guys (and gals...I didn't forget you).
Here are some of those players that you have undoubtedly discussed throughout this season in what I like to call the "Studs, Duds and Surprises of 2012."
Aaron Rodgers: Green Bay Packers QB
When the average draft position of a quarterback is in the top three, you expect him to be the leading scorer since he is, well, a quarterback. Rodgers hasn't been the highest scorer but is just six points behind Robert Griffin III (more on him later), which is good enough for second among all fantasy scorers.
Certainly, that six-touchdown and no-interception performance against the Houston Texans this past Sunday did not hurt his value at all.
He has immediately raised the value for every single one of the Green Bay targets, and all of his top four receivers (Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, and when he gets back, Greg Jennings) should be owned in all leagues.
Peyton Manning: Denver Broncos QB
Other than the dud performance in Week 2 against Atlanta, Manning has been on fire and has eclipsed 20 points in each week (in standard scoring).
Expect the good times to roll as all of the worries about his neck have been put to rest. Much like Rodgers, he raises the value of the receivers on his team and should be on a roster in everyone's league. Even Joel Dreessen has some value with Manning at QB.
Matt Ryan: Atlanta Falcons QB
You have your top tier of drafted quarterbacks in fantasy leagues (Rodgers, Brady, Manning, Brees), then the second tier likely began with Matt Ryan.
So far this season, he has thrust himself into that upper echelon with one solid performance after another. He's coming off a tough game against the Raiders, but even studs take a day off, as mentioned above with Peyton Manning against the Falcons.
Arian Foster: Houston Texans RB; Ray Rice: Baltimore Ravens RB
If Aaron Rodgers was indeed drafted third in your league, like the averages suggest, then these two were probably the first and second overall picks in one order or the other.
Apparently they both got the memo that they deserved to be picked that high since they are the top two RBs in fantasy (Foster first, Rice second).
Between the two of them, they have played 12 games, and Ray Rice's eight-point performance against Cleveland in Week 4 was the only time either one has gone under double digits.
If you played it safe with either one (especially Foster) with the top pick, you're probably pretty happy with the results so far.
AJ Green: Cincinnati Bengals WR; Victor Cruz: New York Giants WR; and Roddy White: Atlanta Falcons WR
Ladies and gentlemen, I present your top three scorers in fantasy football at the wide receiver position.
They may be more of a surprise to you than a trio of studs since their average draft position was 30 amongst all three, but if you paid attention to fantasy football at all last year, you would have known that Green and Cruz were going to be good again this season.
Do you have Cruz, White or Green?
Or in White's case, the last half-dozen seasons.
Many people worried that Green and Cruz would be flashes in the pan after having big first years, but they have been just as good, and probably better, this season. If you weren't afraid of drafting them, you're probably in the top half of your league at the halfway point.
Tony Gonzalez: Atlanta Falcons TE
At this point, I don't think it would be a good idea for him to ever retire. Not when he's been this good.
Phillip Rivers: San Diego Chargers QB
Rivers was considered to be in the second tier along with Matt Ryan when it comes to quarterback draft waves, but Rivers hasn't been anywhere near as productive as Ryan.
Rivers now ranks 22nd among all quarterbacks in fantasy and hasn't even had his bye week yet. Another ugly performance came last night as he only put up five points against the Broncos defense.
And that was actually after he had crossed the double-digit mark. Yes, he did turn the ball over that much. There's a chance that he could bounce back and get himself into the Top 15, but his value is waning at this point.
Josh Freeman: Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
Freeman had a great game this past Sunday against the lowly Chiefs, but chances are you didn't start him because of how unimpressive he had been leading up to that game.
He ranks well into the bottom half of all QBs, and it looks like it will stay that way. He doesn't make the plays with his legs like some owners had hoped for. And any quarterback that can't even exploit the Redskins' defense makes you wonder if he's worth having on your team.
Jay Cutler: Chicago Bears QB
He may not be awful, but he is way too inconsistent to be considered anything less than a dud. Sure, he could get you 20 in a week, but why take that chance when there's an equal possibility that he could put up five.
Brandon Marshall has put up a fine year with Cutler at the helm, but the receiver's value far outweighs that of his quarterback's at this point.
The good news for Cutler is that he has the Lions, Panthers and Titans all coming up for him so the season may not be lost. Don't expect him to be in this section at the end of the season.
Have You Traded Away Chris Johnson Yet?
Chris Johnson: Tennessee Titans RB
In Fantasy Football lore, it is rare that a first-rounder becomes an absolute dud without being injured.
This is one of those rare circumstances. Outside of two serviceable games, Johnson has been completely awful. He has three games this season where he actually got less than Chiefs unknown Nate Eachus did this past week against Tampa (three).
As I've said before, the time to trade him is two years ago, not now. Good luck trying to get anything for him now.
Darren McFadden: Oakland Raiders RB and Steven Jackson: St. Louis Rams RB
Between these two, McFadden had one explosive play against Pittsburgh (first series of the game) to get him a decent score, but other than that, these two have been miserable.
McFadden was considered to be a first-rounder and Jackson a second. Both have played like 15th rounders. Jackson even more so.
Jackie Battle, Andrew Brown and Michael Bush all have more points than Jackson.
Andre Johnson: Houston Texans WR and Steve Smith: Carolina Panthers WR
These two had a combined draft position of 35 (just five spots behind the Cruz, Green, White trio). They were deemed safe picks since they have been fantasy studs in the past, but their time is running out, and Cruz and Green are the go-to guys of the future.
Greg Jennings: Green Bay Packers WR and Jermichael Finley: Green Bay Packers TE
It seems like these poor souls are being phased out and the Aaron Rodgers train is still rolling along just fine without either one. Finley can't hang on to a pass and Jennings can't even get on the field with his injuries. Should've gotten Jordy Nelson or James Jones in your league instead.
Robert Griffin III-Washington Redskins QB
I'll start the surprises section with my favorite player in the NFL and quite possibly my favorite person in the world. Everyone expected big things out of RG3 in his first year, but not this big.
So far, he has been the highest-scoring player in all of fantasy football. Not bad for a rookie.
His average draft position amongst fantasy experts and players were in the eighth-round region. And even some said that was too early. He has only had one game where he wasn't amongst one of the best of the week, and that was against the undefeated Falcons when he left the game in the third quarter with a concussion.
After said concussion, it was thought that he may slide and hop out of bounds more often, but don't tell that to the Minnesota Vikings who were torched for 138 rushing yards.
I'm glad he doesn't listen to idiots like me who said he should be more careful.
Andy Dalton: Cincinnati Bengals QB
Pop Quiz: Who has the exact same amount of points as Andy Dalton in standard scoring after six games?
Answer: Perennial fantasy power Eli Manning.
Dalton was expected to be fairly good, but he has burst through after a weak performance in the season opener against Baltimore to sneak into the top 10 at his position. Having A.J. Green doesn't hurt, either.
Is Ponder Actually a Good QB?
Christian Ponder: Minnesota Vikings QB
Considered to be one of the worst quarterbacks in fantasy before the season started, Ponder has turned in a nice first half.
Right now, he sits at number 12 in scoring and has led the Vikings to a surprising 4-2 start. We'll see if he can keep it up in the second half with a few tough games and a bye week upcoming. But with only two games where he hasn't been stellar (Jacksonville and Detroit, of all teams), I expect him to be great as a fill-in if you have a stud on a bye.
Alfred Morris: Washington Redskins RB
Griffin is not the only Redskins rookie that is taking fantasy football by storm this year. And much like the Foster-Rice tandem, Morris has just one game where he hasn't eclipsed double digits.
And just like that tandem, he still managed to get eight that week (against St. Louis).
He ranks third in the position behind just Rice and Foster and has consistently provided points for owners. Many people were afraid to use him since he is a Shanahan running back, but it appears he is the closest thing to a feature back as you can get. And to think his average draft position was 0. As in, undrafted.
Stevan Ridley: New England Patriots RB
Sure, he splits carries and had a tough week against Seattle, but for someone who was drafted in the average position of 65, I would say he's a pleasant surprise.
He ranks sixth amongst all running backs, and although he may not be receiving every carry, he has made the most of his time on the field and is considered someone that you must start each week.
Because if you don't start him, you may have to play Steven Jackson or Chris Johnson. No thanks.
C.J. Spiller: Buffalo Bills RB
Take out the two-week span where he was shaken up, and Spiller has averaged 19.25 points per game. That's a studly number right there.
He was actually taken 20 spots behind Ridley, on average, and has been a monster with the ball this season. He moved back up to fifth in running back rankings after his big week against Arizona and should be expected to stay there.
Even with Fred Jackson back in the fold.
Percy Harvin: Minnesota Vikings WR
Considered to be no more than a good return man and above-average receiver, Harvin has been great this season in both categories.
He was expected to have a big year by some, but in our league, he wasn't taken until the eighth round. Who knew that he would be the fourth-best receiver at the halfway mark?
Put your hands down, you liars.
Reggie Wayne: Indianapolis Colts WR
I guess he's not done after all. He was going in the seventh round on average, but is now the sixth WR in fantasy.
Funny how good he is with an actual quarterback, isn't it?
James Jones: Green Bay Packers WR
Six touchdowns in three games? What is this, Bizarro World? I always knew this guy was decent, but not a fantasy gem. It was nice knowing you, Greg Jennings.
Well that about does it for this week, remember to catch me on my Facebook page for fantasy advice. Write on my wall anytime, I always respond promptly. And I don't bite, either.
I'll see you back here on B/R later this week for the return of the start/sit bonanza. Until then, good luck in the second half of the season!
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