Fantasy Football 2012: 5 Players Primed to Explode in Second Half of Season
In fantasy football every season there are players who exceed expectations, such as running back Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins, who has gone from the end-of-the-draft flier to weekly starter and valued contributor in 2012.
Conversely, some players haven't lived up to their billing or price tag, leaving their fantasy owners grumbling as the losses pile up while the stats do not.
However, for some of these players, all hope is not lost, and here's a look at a handful of players for whom the second half of the 2012 NFL season should unfold much better than the first.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2012 season with Super Bowl aspirations (as they usually do), but an inconsistent Dallas team has pitched and lurched its way to a .500 record through its first six games.
That inconsistency has also trickled down to quarterback Tony Romo, who has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (eight) and ranks outside the top 20 in fantasy points at his position.
However, the 10th-year veteran should pick things up in the season's second half, as Romo has a proven track record of production, a talented cadre of receiving options at his disposal and an offensive line that has given him time to throw the football this year.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte was a top-10 selection in many fantasy drafts over the summer, with teams expecting the 26-year-old to build on a 2011 season in which Forte gained nearly 1,500 total yards in 12 games.
An ankle injury has hampered the fifth-year veteran through the early part of the 2012 season, but Forte appears to be back to 100 percent after gaining 100 total yards against the Detroit Lions a week ago.
Forte remains a focal point offensively for the 5-1 Bears, and as the weather turns chilly in the Windy City, his role (and statistical production) will only grow.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have struggled this season, winning only one game to this point due in no small part to a rushing attack that ranks a mediocre 13th in the NFL despite the presence of a pair of high-priced tailbacks in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Head coach Ron Rivera is taking steps to address the ground game. Via Andy Behrens of Yahoo! Sports, those steps include moving away from the committee attack the Panthers had been employing and making Stewart the bell cow in the Carolina backfield.
The uncertainty at running back for the Panthers robbed both players of much of their fantasy value, but if Stewart does emerge as the featured back in the Carolina offense, the fifth-year pro should be in for a huge uptick in fantasy value in the season's second half.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions was the first wide receiver taken in the vast majority of fantasy football drafts this year after a 2011 season in which the 27-year-old racked up nearly 1,700 receiving yards and 16 scores.
The sixth-year veteran's yardage totals have been solid so far this year, with Johnson averaging just under 100 yards a game, but to this point in 2012 "Megatron" has reeled in only a single touchdown pass and ranks outside the top 10 fantasy options at his position.
If the 2-4 Lions are going to right the ship and save their floundering season, then they have to get their best offensive player more involved, especially in the red zone, and Johnson is simply too talented a player to be kept out of the end zone like this all season long.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Once upon a time San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was the top fantasy option available at his position, with five seasons of over 70 receptions and 900 yards in a six-year span (2004-2009).
However, the 10th-year veteran has seemingly been missing in action in 2012, failing to catch more than four passes or score a touchdown in any of the Chargers' first five games.
Things could be looking up in the second half of the season for Gates' fantasy owners, however, as the 32-year-old had by far his best game of the season two weeks ago, hauling in six passes for 81 yards and two scores against the Denver Broncos.