As is the case with every NFL season, several unexpected and unpredictable trends have sprung out of nowhere this season. This article is a snappy look at twenty such trends --- surprising highs, ignominious lows, brave predictions and nuggets of wisdom for fantasy geeks ( such as, yours truly!).
So, without further do, here are some quick-pitch trends pertaining both to NFL in general and to fantasy football in particular:
- QB no one saw coming: Cam Newton... averaging 32 points a game, a few decimals behind Aaron Rogers as the top-ranked fantasy QB.
- QB who was underrated to start with but is now vastly overrated (as a fantasy option): Ryan Fitzpatrick... total of 25 fantasy points the last two weeks, after averaging 25 for the first three.
- Crappy reality QB who somehow hits pay dirt fantasy-wise: Eli Manning....has played a major part in his teams' mediocre start to the season; however, in fantasy terms, Lil Manning is up there as a Top-Five fantasy QB.
- QB still being underrated despite being in Top 10: Matt Hasselbeck...ok, so what does Hasselbeck need to do to convince the fantasy tribes out there? Owned in almost 85% of CBS Sports' leagues, but started in a mere 19%!
- QB with easiest schedule next 3 games: Ben Roethlisberger (JAC, ARI, NE). Big Ben annihilated the mighty Titans on one leg; owners can rejoice at the prospect of his next three games.
- Top-10 RB no one saw coming: Darren Sproles....Mr. Do-it-All is ranked #10 in fantasy points scored, and is surprisingly being used frequently in 1st- and 2nd- down running plays by the New Orleans Saints.
- RB sure to go from barely-Top-20 to Top-5 by end of season: Arian Foster...order restored in Houston. After dalliances with Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, the Texans are delighted to have Super-Arian back at full tilt.
- RB sure to go the other way: Beanie Wells...one hamstring tweak away from Larod Stephens-Howling!)
- RB sure to join Injured-Reserve by mid-season: Matt Forte...along with his QB, thanks to the O-line.
- WR who has rocketed from 78th after Week Two to Top-7 now: Pierre Garcon...Curtis Painter has at least one vociferous supporter --- Pierre "Frenchman" Garcon. He is averaging 30 points a contest in Painter's two starts.
- WR most likely to flame out as quickly: Pierre Garcon...he has always been blow-hot and blow-cold, and this season appears to be following the same wave.
- WR who deserves to blame his QB for his wretched showing thus far: Mario Manningham...projected Top-10 pick among WRs has been anything but an ownable option. For what its worth, he is getting no love from Eli, who is a lot happier throwing to Victor Cruz. Hope is eternal, though, for Mario as well as for his fantasy owners.
- WR who absolutely should not be blaming his QB for his wretched showing thus far: Santonio Holmes....the Jets veteran seems to have lost a step or two, and is not getting the separation he used to while with the Steelers. Mark Sanchez has been below-par at QB, but Holmes' mediocre fantasy showing is as much about his own deficiencies as well.
- TE who wouldn't be in any of our wish lists but currently sits 3rd: Tony Gonzalez...who says dinosaurs are extinct? Tony the T-Rex has been absolutely dynamite, and arguably the first-quarter fantasy MVP for the otherwise-disappointing Falcons.
- Early season TE darling who is finally back to who we through he was: Scott Chandler....after scoring four TDs in the first three games, he has a grand total of three catches in the last two weeks. His fortunes have nosedived along with that of his QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- Top of the Kicker leaderboard, who we thought was literally dead (at least, fantasy-wise): Jason Hanson...Kickers' performance is almost always a direct by-product of the efficiency of their team's offense in moving between-the-twenties, and their inefficiency in punching it from inside the Red Zone. The Lions are a definite testament to that, and Hanson is a clear benefactor.
- Worst disparity in projections versus actual ranking: Antonio Gates....the TD-monster was ranked #44 among all players in Yahoo Sports' pre-season fantasy rankings (needless to say, he was rated the #1 TE). Where is he in actual rankings at this stage? #2217.
- AARP's Favorite Fantasy team: Matt Hasselbeck (QB), Steve Smith (WR), Santana Moss (WR), Reggie Wayne (WR/Flex), Cedric Benson (RB), Willis McGahee (RB), Tony Gonzalez (TE), John Kasay (K), Baltimore Ravens (D)
- All-undrafted Fantasy Team: Alex Smith (QB), Victor Cruz (WR), AJ Green (WR), Pierre Garcon (WR/Flex), Darren Sproles (RB), Daniel Thomas (RB), Scott Chandler (TE), Jason Hanson (K), Detroit Lions (D).
- Fantasy MVP, according to me: Calvin Johnson...first receiver in history to record nine TDs in the first five games of the season. Enough said!!
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