With half the season behind us, we’re looking in the rear-view through the first nine weeks of action in an effort to acknowledge the fake contributions of our fake players with fake hardware. Now that the exciting intro is out of the way, enjoy the midseason fantasy football awards discussion below.
Zero to Hero
The player who started the season as a free agent in most leagues that has had the biggest impact on the fantasy football season.
Esten: Easy. Julius Thomas. With the TE position being fairly weak behind Graham, Gonzalez, Witten and Gronkowski, many people were left looking for productivity out of this roster spot. Thomas made his presence known right off the bat in week one and has been a consistent performer ever since. He went mostly undrafted because people were unsure if the Denver offense could produce four viable receiving options, people who picked him up have likely had great seasons thus far, having addressed their weakest position at no cost.
Jon: This nod has to go to Knowshon Moreno. We spent much of the offseason debating which back was going to take the job in Denver, but, as draft day approached, Moreno wasn’t even on the radar – at least, he wasn’t on mine. Despite not establishing himself as a true workhorse until October (19 touches or more in each of the last four games, with an average of under 14 in the first month) he is fantasy’s second leading RB and a top 15 overall player – not bad for a guy you picked up off the wire in most leagues.
Chris: Philip Rivers. Rivers is 91 percent owned in Yahoo! Leagues and he was less than 10 percent owned to start the fantasy football season. He is inside the top 10 quarterbacks at the midway part of the season. He has had games of 41, 37 and 31 fantasy points.
Mike: Definitely have to go with Julius Thomas. Ignored in Fantasy drafts for the most part. He came onto the scene in the season opener with a bang and has been unstoppable ever since. He has the 4th most fantasy points for TE’s in standard leagues to go along with 8 touchdowns which is tied for most. Pretty incredible.
Ryley: Jordan Cameron. Cameron is on a Browns team that has no QB stability, yet he’s got 50 catches for 600 yards and 6 TDs. He’s more than doubled his stats from his first two seasons combined and he leads his team in targets, receptions and touchdowns. He is literally the hero of Cleveland and it’s tantalizing to think what he would be like with a QB like Rodgers or Manning throwing to him.
All underperforming team
One player at each position who has disappointed our writers.
QB: Colin Kaepernick. Big things were expected of the sophomore and although he’s winning games for the 49ers without his top receiver in Michael Crabtree, fantasy owners have had to live with three weeks of under ten points.
RB: David Wilson. Once again tempted by the irresistible talent, owners were more than happy to get David Wilson in the second round. After putting up negative points in week one, he went without a touchdown until week week five. Unfortunately he was injured shortly after and with no timetable for a return, Andre Brown will have first shot at the starting job upon his return after the Week 9 bye.
WR: Roddy White. Playing injured for the first five weeks, he failed to eclipse five points once. He hasn’t played since and has no concrete timetable for return.
TE: Brandon Myers. Big things were expected for Myers after a good couple of seasons in Oakland. After moving to New York, he has suffered the same fate as most of the Giants, in underperforming.
QB: Tom Brady. Count me among those with a legitimate belief that Brady would ‘make it work’ with his new crew of receivers. I know it isn’t all on #12 as there have been numerous drops and poorly run routes, but, Brady owns some of this mess and he’s well behind even my most pessimistic fantasy projection. With that said, this weekends performance heading into the bye suggests greater things are to come in the second half.
RB: Steven Jackson. I was all over Jackson during draft season, and, the early returns were reasonable… but, while the player himself hasn’t necessarily disappointed his situation has. We, as a fantasy community, should have known the risk we were taking with a 30 year old back. Now he’s been hurt for much of the season and hasn’t impressed in his return. Note: I’ve chosen Jackson because I’m purposely choosing to ignore the slow-moving-mess that is Trent Richardson‘s season.
WR: It’s either Marques Colston here and Dwayne Bowe as my ‘Rick Dees’ pick or the other way around, but, I think Colston the player has disappointed me more – Bowe’s situation is more about his use. Colston is still the lead option on a top flight offense but, in part because New Orleans is spreading the ball around, he hasn’t been getting it done for his owners. Colston, perhaps feeling the effects of his knee injuries after all, is on pace for career lows in just about every statistical category… including those that pay the fantasy bills with just one touchdown and 45 YPG.
TE: Ed Dickson. With Dennis Pitta suffering an injury in training camp the title of TE sleeper was up for the taking and Dickson failed to grab the opportunity. With a 50 catch, 500 yard, 5 TD season under his belt it was reasonable to assume that Dickson would be up to the task but he has underwhelmed the fantasy community and his coach. Through half a season Dickson is under 100 yards and hasn’t scored.
QB: Tom Brady. I’m not totally shocked with the lack of output from Brady in the first half of the season. I had him ranked as the 10th quarterback coming into the season and was ranked as the 23rd best fantasy quarterback heading into week 9, behind Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill and Geno Smith. A big week against the Steelers helped make his half-season standings look a little better (13th QB in standard leagues) but there hasn’t been a lot to be excited about.
RB: Ray Rice. Projected to be a top five pick going into your fantasy football draft and he has been far from an RB1. Strained hip flexor or not, Rice is averaging less than three yards per carry and has only 259 yards and three scores this season to go along with two fumbles. He has failed to get at least eight fantasy points in a game five times.
WR: Danny Amendola. More missed games than touchdowns this year? It is a good possibility. Hard to tell what he could do in an injury-free season, but yet again he has battled injuries. He broke out in Week 9, but, he still has just 296 yards and one score. Even with that big week he is currently ranked outside the top 200 in standard scoring leagues.
TE: Fred Davis. Davis recently admitted to ‘nodding off’ during Washington Redskin meetings. That explains his play this season, with only 25 yards. He has been a healthy scratch it his last three games and will only see the field again if Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen get hurt.
QB: Tom Brady. I know he started the season with missing a lot of weapons and all that. Rookie receivers, no Hernandez, no Gronk, but I still expected better from the future hall-of-famer. He’s outside the QB-top-12, and just hasn’t been getting the job done fantasy wise. In week seven and eight he posted back to back sub 10 point games. C’mon Brady light it up will ya!?
RB: Doug Martin. Martin was being drafted as high as 2nd in tons of drafts this year and might be the biggest disappointment. Not to mention his shoulder injury where he could miss the rest of the season. Prior to that was a disaster too. Before the injury he had three straight games under 10 fantasy points! Yikes! So sorry to all those who drafted him #2 or to all owners for that matter
WR: Marques Colston. Man, what has happened to Colston!? In standard leagues, he is the 65th ranked receiver. Who predicted that? His last three point totals have been 1.5, 1.1, and 1.8. That is some of the ugliest stats I think I’ve ever seen from a top wideout. Just gross. EW!
TE: Jason Witten. He’s had three monster weeks that skew his stats. He’s been a disappointment every other week. He’s failed to reach five points in five games. Romo has a new BFF in Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams is also a new pretty good friend for Tony.
QB: Robert Griffin III. I don’t know if it’s the ego, the injury or just a slump, but RG3 has been inescapably disappointing this year. He finished last year with 27 TDs (7 rush TD) and 5 INTs and is now “limping” through the first half of 2013 with 9TDs (0 rush TD) and 9 INTs. Andrew Luck has 3 rushing TDs Robert!
RB: CJ Spiller. Despite the anticipations that CJ Spiller would be vomiting on the sidelines because Nathaniel Hackett planned to “give him the ball until he throws up,” Spiller has only had one game with 20+ carries this season. Add that in with his nagging ankle injury, QB instability and difficulty finding the end zone, Spiller’s outlook doesn’t look great. Oh and Fred Jackson is on track to have the best season of his career. However, after his week 9 performance and the anticipatred return of EJ Manuel, Spiller could still turn it around.
WR: Tavon Austin. He may have been a bit overhyped, but Tavon Austin had enough talent to at least produce a respectable rookie season… so we thought. Instead we had one very promising glimmer of hope in week 2 where Austin hauled in 2 touchdown catches and then never broke the plane again, or 40 receiving yards for that matter. It doesn’t help that he lost Sam Bradford, but Austin isn’t even on the field for 50% of the team’s offensive snaps. He only saw 4 plays in week 6 alone, which happened to be the exact same week I dropped him.
TE: Brandon Myers. It’s hard to ignore the bit of potential we saw in Myers last year and, logically, he should’ve flourished in a place like New York where a stable franchise quarterback would be throwing to him. Except for the fact that Eli Manning has almost thrown as many completions to the opposing team as he has to Myers this year. We can’t expect Myers to do much in a situation like that but he hasn’t really done anything with the opportunities he’s been given either.
One hit wonder (the Lou Bega)
Esten: Kellen Winslow Jr. After a 13.90 point week one, Winslow has just one touchdown and surpassed 70 yards just once. Even when he returns from his suspension, there’s no reason to think he’ll be a factor again.
Jon: Brandon Jacobs left his couch, signed with the Giants, played one underwhelming game and then went off – scoring twice and finishing as the 4th highest scoring back in Week 6. I broke the bank on the veteran in a particularly ugly FAAB league and Jacobs hasn’t played a snap since. He likely won’t, given that Andre Brown appears ready to return after the bye. Even if Jacobs does return to the field, he won’t see anywhere near the touches we expected in Weeks 7 and 8.
Chris: Leonard Hankerson. 80 yards and two scores for Hankerson in Week 1 against the Eagles and even though he scored in Week 8 he hasn’t posted a relevant fantasy line since.
Mike: Leonard Hankerson! Remember that week 1 performance!? 80 yards and 2 touchdowns! The new #2 option in Washington perhaps!? Ummm nope! Hankerson has been completely irrelevant ever since and takes the Ice, Ice, Baby cake!
Ryley: Bilal Powell. 149 rushing yards in week 3? That was enough to at least get him on some people’s rosters, but by week 5 I know I was ready to cut him. He’s not guaranteed a hefty share of carries or targets and, in a league that operates on opportunity, that doesn’t cut it for many players.
The Anti Rick Dees
Jon: As mentioned above, this has got to be Bowe. Drafted right around 40 as the 13-16th wide receiver off the board in standard league’s we were projecting a return to 2011’s 80-1100-5 line or better, with Alex Smith bringing competent QB play back to KC. Bowe has looked fine on film, but, he’s not getting the looks with Alex Smith and Andy Reid in control of the offense. When he does get targets (like Week 9’s 12 look outing) he’s not giving us much to work with either.
Chris: David Wilson. I was thrilled to have David Wilson as a second or third back, but as it turns out he has had another tough season. Wilson was still in the negative after Week 2 of the season in terms of fantasy points. It sounds like he could miss the rest of the season with an injury. Don’t waste your time with him.
Mike: What’s wrong with Trent Richardson!? Picked in the top 10 in most drafts, this guy can not get any points. 1.7 in week 8?! Are you for real? And he’s only cracked 10+ points once! Willis freakin’ McGahee is putting up better fantasy numbers and he can’t even run. T-Rich has been a monumental bust and is booted from the Rick Dees weekly top 40. Just let Andrew Luck throw 50 times a game please.
Ryley: Ray Rice is still Ray Rice, however it doesn’t seem like the Ravens know that. If we remove week 5, Rice hasn’t even been given 12 carries per game. If we look back at week 5 though, Rice had 74 rushing yards and 2 TDs with 6 receptions for 28 yards. What was the variable? Rice had 27 carries and 7 targets in week 5. I’m pretty sure the Ravens won that week too. Without the carries, Rice has become one of the biggest fantasy busts of the season. For his part, Rice remains confident that things can turn around over the next eight weeks.
Rookie of the Year
Esten: Eddie Lacy. He broke ten points in just his first game with 72 total yards, a rushing touchdown and a fumble. He returned from a concussion sustained in week two, in week five with 9.7 points, and has since put together weeks of 15, 16 17 and 21 points. With a banged up receiving corps in Green Bay, and the short-term unavailability of Aaron Rodgers, Lacy should only continue to improve with an increased work load.
Jon: As the editor of this piece, looking around at all the Lacy propaganda above and below my paragraph it’s looking like I have to go with another player. That’s fine, there are plenty of deserving candidates. How about Gio Bernard? What is most impressive about Bernard is that his season is playing out just as we expected, a timeshare with BenJarvus Green-Ellis that is slowly progressing in his favor as the season wears on and one that leaves no question as to who the more productive back is. What I love most about Bernard, though, is that the kid is a gamer. He’s had his two biggest games of the year on the prime time stage finishing with two touchdowns in each of his evening game appearances, and as the 4th and 6th ranked RB in weeks 2 and 9. With six total scores, he leads all rookies.
Chris: Eddie Lacy. Lacy has given the Pack something they haven’t had in years. He has averaged over 100 yards on the ground over the past five games and is running over people like he did in Alabama last year.
Mike: Eddie Lacy. Sorry, I’ll admit I was wrong about Lacy. I didn’t think the Packers could commit to the run but they have. Lacy has been awesome. He has averaged 109 rushing yards per game over his past five while getting the rock a ton. His stats would be pretty darn unreal if he didn’t get hurt but he’s come back strong and has been a difference maker for the Packers this season. Well done rook!
Ryley: Zac Stacy. Aside from that lone carry in week 1, Zac Stacy has only really played the last 5 weeks and he’s only gotten better. The kind of stride he’s hitting could put him at RB1 status, as long as he keeps it going of course. If week 9, where he recorded 178 total yards and 2 TDs, was any indication of what the rest of his season is going to be like, then Stacy could go in the top 10 RBs next year if not higher.
Top Performer team
QB: Peyton Manning. Hard for me not to put Peyton here. He has 30 more fantasy points in standard leagues than the second best player. Manning had seven touchdowns in the first game of the year and 29 in eight games. If you have him, you are sitting pretty.
WR: Jordy Nelson. Seven touchdowns from Nelson and with a couple wide receivers banged up in Green Bay, Nelson should be able to continue his pace. Only Welker and Dez have more touchdowns. Missing Rodgers hurts though.
TE: Jordan Cameron. I was high on Cameron coming into the season, but I didn’t think he would be this good. He has six touchdowns and has the second most fantasy points in standard leagues heading into Week 9. Even with as many as three quarterbacks throwing the ball in Cleveland this year, Cameron has been able to produce.
QB: Tony Romo. Romo is having another fantastic fantasy campaign despite being ignored in every fantasy draft. He was almost always the 12th QB taken in drafts, and is burning everyone with his 3rd ranked status. He’s third in the league with 20 TD passes, and 5th in yards passing. Tony will continue to pass a ton and tear it up for your fantasy teams. I expect even better numbers in the 2nd half for Romo!
RB: Frank Gore. Gore continues to defy the naysayers who says he’s too old and does nothing but produce week in and week out. He’s 7th in the league in rushing yards and has the 2nd most TDs. Despite losing touches when the 49ers wrap up the game early (which they do quite a bit), Gore is the 6th rank back in fantasy. Not bad for someone who was roughly the 20th one taken on draft day.
WR: Jordy Nelson. Good ol’ reliable Jordy Nelson. Nelson is another player who dropped in fantasy radars heading up to drafts and didn’t get the love he probably deserved. He’s the 5th ranked WR in fantasy and is having a phenomenal year as Aaron Rodgers‘ go to guy. Life is not bad when you’re living in Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood! Great year for Nelson and with the recent injuries on the Packers, expect amazing numbers for Nelson the rest of the way!
TE: Jordan Cameron. Jordan Cameron, proving white men CAN JUMP, has been a beast this season for the Cleveland Browns. He’s the #2 ranked fantasy TE this year behind only Jimmy Graham. The start of Cameron’s career was marred by injuries and didn’t earn any success. But Norv Turner’s offensive mind has come in and turned Cameron into one of the game’s best TE’s. Imagine if he had a Drew Brees as a QB. We might have been seeing records broken. Nonetheless, a great campaign so far for Cameron.
QB: Matthew Stafford. Stafford is continuing on the same track that he has for the past two years. He’s keeping his completions high, his yardage high and his TDs consistent. The difference this year? His interceptions are on track to be his lowest ever.
RB: Knowshon Moreno. It’s not difficult to list Moreno here. The high-powered passing attack of the Denver Broncos is enough to keep defenses completely overwhelmed, but when a talented runner like Moreno get’s a free open lane, the running game becomes just as powerful. That’s why Moreno leads all RBs in total touchdowns so far with 9 (1 receiving TD).
WR: Jordy Nelson. All of the injury woes of the Green Bay Packers seem to be strengthening Nelson because he’s currently #5 among fantasy WRs despite having the fewest targets in the top 10. However, the recent injury to Aaron Rodgers could mark the beginning of a difficult stretch for the six year veteran.
TE: Jimmy Graham. It seems silly to put him here because Jimmy Graham is obviously the best tight end in the league, but it’s worth it to note that he’s also the best receiver in the league. In fact, he’s #3 in fantasy points among FLEX (RB/WR/TE) players and he’s playing through a foot injury. That’s impressive.
Agree? Disagree? Nominations or awards of your own? Hit us in the comments.