Fantasy Football: 5 of the Most Shocking Stat Lines of the 2011 Season
We’re halfway through the 2011 NFL and fantasy football seasons, and if we have learned anything, it’s that names and reputations don’t mean much.
Fantasy owners everywhere are, perhaps more than ever, trying to play the chess match of who to start and who to sit on any given week. Some of the biggest names in football have done virtually nothing, while there are a slew of talented rookies and young, up-and-coming players who are starting to make a name for themselves.
We have all heard about the biggest surprises so far, like the Detroit Lions being playoff contenders after an entire decade of atrocity.
Here are five of the other biggest fantasy surprises in 2011.
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Rookie Wide Receivers
It's no surprise that Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe are among the league's best this year, and are all No.1 wide receivers. The rookies, however, have been the real story.
A.J. Green and Victor Cruz both lead their teams in touchdown receptions and are both in the top 12 for fantasy in most scoring formats, miles ahead of the likes of Roddy White and DeSean Jackson.
Green is probably the most impressive of the pair simply because he has rookie Andy Dalton throwing to him. Can you imagine his ridiculous stats if he played with Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers under center? Scary.
The chemistry between Dalton and Green is sure to yield fantasy owners plenty of scores going forward for the remainder of the season. Keeping in mind they have only played in seven NFL games together, there is no doubt that this pair has a bright future together in the NFL and for fantasy owners.
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Baltimore and Pittsburgh are no surprise at No. 1 and No. 2 in total defense so far. But Houston and Cincinnati, at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively in total defense, have each stunned a lot of good teams with smash-mouth defensive lines and quick, agile corners and safeties.
From a fantasy standpoint, both teams are among the league's elite this year, ahead of both Pittsburgh and Green Bay in fantasy points after both being mediocre at best the last few years.
Cincinnati is third in the NFL in points allowed, and while one could argue that both teams play in relatively weak divisions, they are still excellent bye-week replacements if not viable starters going forward as we get into the second half of the season
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The Disappearance of Sidney Rice
Rice has a total of 435 receiving yards and one measly touchdown through nine weeks. Aside from two 100-yard games, he’s been virtually invisible. Sure, he doesn’t have Favre to throw to him anymore, but he was a stud last year.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a fantasy player’s stock fall like Rice’s has, without being injured, simply by playing on a different team. Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst aren’t helping his cause, but he is a much better receiver than we’re seeing right now.
At least no one drafted him very high. So the surprise here isn’t that Rice is a bust this year but moreso that he doesn’t seem to care about proving his critics wrong (or catching touchdown passes for that matter).
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The quarterback with the most fantasy points so far isn’t Aaron Rodgers and it isn’t Tom Brady, but it is Cam Newton. If the trend continues, it will be the first time in fantasy history that a rookie QB has led his position in points (in my league he has 202).
It goes to show that most defenses in the league don’t know how to handle quarterbacks who can run the ball since there aren’t too many that do it on a regular basis (Randall Cunningham and Steve Young would feast on today’s defenses).
The worst part is that his team is 2-6 and in the cellar of its division. What does that say about the rest of the Carolina Panthers?
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Big Name Running Backs Putting Up Small-Time Stats
Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson are two of the biggest names in fantasy football and were both top five picks overall entering the draft. In 2010, both backs were in the top 25 in the NFL in fantasy points. So far through 2011, in my league, they are 68th and 98th of all offensive players so far.
Johnson has got to be the biggest overall fantasy disappointment and the biggest surprise in 2011, especially after just inking his four-year, $53 million contract extension. If you drafted Chris Johnson top five like most people did, chances are you’re in last place.
The problem is, how do you sit him? He’s bound to have a 30-point game at some point this year. The question all fantasy owners ask about every one of our players is: Which week will it be?