Fantasy Football: 20 First-Half Busts Who Will Rebound In Second Half
Fantasy Football has the tendency to ruin some of my Sundays.
Yeah, I love the NFL, and I love watching every touchdown of the day on NFL RedZone.
But I often spend most of the day agonizing over poor performances from players I thought would carry me to a fantasy championship.
Chances are that you have one of those guys on your team, too.
Don't worry. There are plenty of players who had sub-par first halves of the season, but should perform well the rest of the way.
Let's take a look at 20 guys who've been busts—at least based on where they were drafted—but will rebound for big second halves.
20. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
I put Aaron Rodgers at No. 20 on this list so I could get the debate out of the way.
Aaron Rodgers has pretty good stats so far, but 12 touchdowns, nine interceptions and just two 300-yard games isn't great considering where he was drafted.
He was gone in the top six or seven picks in both of my drafts, and I know I wouldn't be happy with that pick if Rodgers only finishes the season with 24 touchdowns and four 300-yard games.
All that being said, Rodgers will most certainly rebound, with a friendly schedule against some defensively challenged teams remaining.
19. Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Chad Ochocinco probably isn't all that excited about teaming up with his buddy Terrell Owens anymore.
Because T.O. catches all the touchdowns.
He has five, all coming in Cincinnati's last four games.
But Ochocinco has just two touchdowns all season despite being on pace to top 90 receptions and 900 receiving yards.
The Bengals will probably continue to fall behind and have to throw the ball all over the place, so I'm expecting Ochocinco to catch a few more touchdowns along the way.
18. Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Brent Celek has all but disappeared from Philadelphia's offense.
The Eagles tight end has just 21 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns through the team's first seven games.
And Michael Vick—or Kevin Kolb, if the quarterback carousel keeps spinning—has a lot of weapons to choose from; he's not going to throw the ball to DeSean Jackson every time.
Celek will have 30-35 catches and three or four touchdowns the rest of the way.
17. Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints
With all due respect to Ladell Betts, Julius Jones and Chris Ivory, those guys are nothing more than a rental until a healthy Pierre Thomas returns.
Thomas hasn't played since Week 3 due to injury, but he should return soon and he can only improve upon his terrible stats from the first three games.
He had just 147 yards and a touchdown with 3.2 yards per carry.
That's not going to continue.
16. Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos
Excuse my language, but what the hell happened to Eddie Royal?
The guy was a fantasy waiver wire star last year, but he has been lost in the shuffle this year in Denver.
His numbers aren't bad for what he is (427 yards and two touchdowns), but I thought he would be the Broncos' star receiver, rather than Brandon Lloyd.
On really nothing more than a whim, I'm going to say Royal turns his season around and catches four or five touchdowns the rest of the way.
15. Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Cedric Benson looks like he's running through quicksand lately.
Benson actually has carried the ball 20 or more times in five of the Bengals' seven games, but he's topped 100 yards just once and scored three total touchdowns.
He does still have two meetings against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he also has very favorable matchups remaining against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Buffalo, which has the league's worst rushing defense.
14. Jason Campbell, QB, Oakland Raiders
Jason Campbell looked like the old Washington Redskins version of himself in his first four games as a Raider.
He threw four interceptions to just two touchdowns and found himself in the middle of a quarterback controversy.
But alas, Campbell seems to be rebounding with four touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last two games.
He's got a nice little schedule the rest of the way too, with games against Denver, Kansas City and Jacksonville, all of whom struggle against the pass.
13. Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals
After missing the first two games of the season, Beanie Wells has gradually worked his way into the Arizona Cardinals' offense.
And it seems like Wells will be the feature back for the Cardinals rather than Tim Hightower.
Wells has 50 carries in the team's last three games while Hightower has just 11.
Wells has gotten into the end zone in each of the last two games as well, which could be an indication that Wells will continue to be used as the team's primary back for the remainder of the season.
12. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler has started the season slowly, with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
But he is learning a new system under Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and the Bears will clearly be a pass-heavy offense.
I'm not sure that they have the greatest personnel for that, but Cutler won't have four more games with one or zero touchdowns like he did in the first half.
11. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Up until Week 7, Michael Turner had just one touchdown all season.
But against the Cincinnati Bengals, Turner topped 100 yards for the third time this season and reached the end zone twice.
That's the Michael Turner we've grown accustomed to seeing, and he's got two games remaining against Tampa Bay's horrific run defense to keep that going.
10. Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins
When Donovan McNabb went to Washington, a lot of people assumed that he and Chris Cooley would form one heck of a combination.
While they've been decent—they've hooked up 39 times for two touchdowns—I think the Redskins were expecting bigger things, at least touchdown-wise.
Without a whole lot of options in the passing game, it wouldn't be surprising to see Cooley emerge as McNabb's favorite target later in the season.
9. Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami Dolphins
Hey Miami, where's the end zone love for Brandon Marshall?
He has just one touchdown all season despite having at least eight receptions on three different occasions and five receptions in all but one game.
Marshall does have two 100-yard receiving games and is on pace for 1,200 yards, but Chad Henne has targeted Davone Bess a lot more lately.
I think that will change as the two get more familiar with each other. They've only played seven regular season games together.
Plus, it really has to change if Miami wants to win.
8. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten wasn't being targeted all that often with Tony Romo behind center for the Dallas Cowboys, but Jon Kitna has looked to his tight end early and often.
Witten has 19 catches for more than 190 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks with Kitna taking most of the snaps.
Though Witten only had one touchdown catch through his first five games, it looks like he's already busting out of his shell on his way to a big second half.
7. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
I almost traded for Ray Rice after my fantasy draft, but I'm incredibly happy I didn't pull the trigger.
Rice has just one 100-yard rushing performance and two touchdowns, both of which came in Week 5.
He does face some tough defenses later in the year, but I'd be willing to bet that he scores more than two touchdowns the rest of the way.
6. Steve Smith, WR, New York Giants
Steve Smith—the Giants' version, that is—was a fantasy football darling last year, but he's lost that title to teammate wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Nicks is tied for the NFL lead in touchdown receptions while Smith has just two touchdowns, although he does have two 100-yard receiving games.
That's all the more reason to expect big things from Smith.
With teams starting to key in on Nicks, that should open up some big play opportunities for Smith.
5. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles may have exploded for more than 230 all-purpose yards this week, but he'd been incredibly quiet up to that point.
Charles still has just two touchdowns on the season, and the Chiefs have loved screwing Charles out of carries by handing Thomas Jones the ball a bit too many times.
OK, I'll admit that I'm a bit sour because Charles is on my team.
Anyway, maybe Kansas City will finally realize that Charles' 6.5 yards per carry average isn't a fluke and start handing him the ball more often.
4. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
I'm not really sure you can call Matthew Stafford a bust because he hasn't played much this season, but I'll let that slide and put him on this list.
Stafford returned to the Detroit Lions this week and threw for 200 yards and four touchdowns.
With Calvin Johnson on his side and the Lions lacking the ability to run the ball, Stafford should be a huge waiver wire pickup this week.
3. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
How many fantasy football owners have been going nuts this season after jumping on the Ryan Mathews bandwagon?
He's disappointed, to say the least, with just 340 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Well, Mathews is finally getting double-digit carries and seems to be adjusting to the NFL the last couple of weeks.
He'll only get better as the season progress, and he has some favorable matchups down the road.
2. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
I've come to the conclusion that if you're injured and you miss a bunch of games in the first half of the season, you can be considered a bust.
So Michael Vick, you're a bust, albeit one who just happened to have six touchdowns and zero interceptions in less than four games' worth of action.
Obviously, Vick's health will be a big question mark, but the guy was on fire before going down.
He was running and passing effectively. Let's see if that continues.
1. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
Andre Johnson has been slowed by injuries all season and has just two touchdowns.
But he's still Andre Johnson and is arguably the best wide receiver in the game.
If he's fully healthy, look out.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Houston has two games remaining against Jacksonville's 28th-ranked pass defense.