With half of the fantasy football season under our belt, we now have a very nice sample size to analyze the marketplace. The season is too short for a wait-and-see philosophy at this point, so it's time to make some hard decisions. To make those decisions, you need to evaluate players’ actual values currently as opposed to what their values might have been before the season. Here are 10 truths of the 20112 fantasy football season.
Peyton Manning is Back
We were all worried about Manning’s health before the season and those concerns heightened after he threw three interceptions in the first half against Atlanta in Week 2. Since then, Manning has been quite amazing. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last four games. He’s thrown three touchdown passes in three of those games with two TDs in the other one. His upcoming schedule is also a cakewalk. The toughest defense he faces the rest of the season is the Ravens, who just lost their best corner and their inside linebacker/emotional leader. Otherwise the Panthers, 17th-best against fantasy QBs, are the toughest defense in the other nine remaining games. The stage is set for a huge second half from Eli's older brother. Good thing Archie has the grill fired up.
Matthew Stafford is in Trouble
The Lions haven't had a lead at halftime in any game this season, which should bode well for the fantasy aspirations of their QB. That hasn't really helped Stafford so far, who only has five passing TDs this season, all in the second half. His mechanics and footwork have been off this season. Defenses have been focusing on Calvin Johnson, forcing Stafford to be more patient and to look for his other receivers. He hasn't had success so far and his schedule doesn't get any better.
Arian Foster is the Only Elite RB
When you draft a RB in the first round, you expect consistency. Arian Foster should've been the #1 overall pick in your draft and he's living up to that status. He's scored a touchdown in every game this season. His lowest point total in any game this season is 14. Just ask how Ray Rice's owners feel about his effort last week or LeSean McCoy's owners how many touchdowns he has this season. Foster's also reached 20 points in 3 of his 7 games. The guy is a monster and he'll continue to produce as long as he's healthy.
The RB Position in General is Terrible
There are only 17 RBs who average 10 or more points a game. By comparison, 16 wide receivers do the same thing in non-PPR formats and that number grows to 34 when you adjust to even 1/2PPR. The days of relying on RBs to bring you to fantasy glory are over. Think about the top 30 RBs in drafts who have disappointed so far this season either due to performance or injury: Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, Steven Jackson, Fred Jackson, Jonathan Stewart, Shonn Greene, and Cedric Benson. You could even make arguments for Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Bush. It's not like great RBs have shown up on waivers either. So far we've seen Alex Green, Lerod Stephens-Howling, and Felix Jones receive high FAAB bids just because there's nothing else out there.
Alfred Morris is Legit
We never thought we'd see a Mike Shanahan coached RB be the fourth highest scoring RB through seven weeks. Shanahan dropped the “shenanigans” with his RB carousel to let the rookie RB take over. Morris' worst performance of the season was 47 yards, but he still scored a TD in that game. He's not fast, but he gets the job done and the Redskins have faith in him. I'm not sure if he'll finish the season as the #4 RB, but a top-10 spot is all but assured.
Neither Carolina RB is Startable
Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams signed $80 million dollars’ worth of contracts and yet neither of them is a factor in real football or fantasy football. For some reason Carolina insists on not using their overpaid RBs in games. Williams was decent when Stewart was injured, but now neither is productive with them both playing. It's a situation to avoid all together until one guy gets hurt.
Julio Jones isn’t a Top 3 WR
People expected this to be the breakout season for Julio Jones. Rotoworld for one was blowing him up big time in the preseason. Jones was somewhat over-hyped going into drafts that he went as a top-3 WR. He hasn't delivered at that rate through six games. He's had three dud games, two good games, and one great game. His problem is that there are too many good receiving options on his team. Matt Ryan still relies heavily on the trusted weapons of Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. There's only so many balls to go around. Three of the top 4 receivers through Week 7 are guys without much help around them (A.J. Green, Vincent Jackson, and Brandon Marshall) while the fourth, Victor Cruz, has played with an injured Hakeem Nicks for most of the season. Jones is good, but he's only a top-10 WR and those major expectations will not be met.
Denarius Moore Can Ball
If you're looking for a WR3, you could do a lot worse than Denarius Moore. He's scored touchdowns in three of his last four games, but most importantly he's gained the trust of Carson Palmer. He's a big play machine who's got a very friendly schedule ahead of him. If the offense was slightly better, Moore could really break out, but his owners will take what he's giving them right now.
Jeremy Kerley Can Also Ball
If the Jets have figured out anything on offense this year, it's that Kerley will be a piece of their puzzle for years to come. He's really improved his game since the injury to Santonio Holmes. Kerley has grabbed 15 balls in the last three games and has the confidence of Mark Sanchez. Dustin Keller's return may take some offensive focus away from Kerley, but it will also help Kerley not be the focus of defensive coverage.
Andre Johnson is Old
Gone are the days when Johnson was the most physical receiver in the league. He looks like a shell of himself through seven weeks, unable to get the burst down the field that we saw earlier in his career. The Texans have also been relying on their defense and running attack to win games, while taking a lot of risk out of their passing offense. Johnson's only exceeded 10 points in two of his seven games, which isn't production from a WR1. He's now a WR2 at best, possibly falling even lower if the Texans keep up their winning ways.
The Tight End Position is Frustrating
Last year marked a renaissance for TES. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski were so awesome that they were targeted in the first round of fantasy drafts this year. Gronkowski has been good for TEs this year, posting the second highest per game average, but he hasn't been as dominant a force as he was last year. Last week was the first week the Patriots looked to him most often in the red zone as they've been focusing on the running game more in that situation so far. Graham has had two games impacted due to injury and wasn't amazing before that happened. Vernon Davis and Kyle Rudolph, both performing reasonably well this season, put up bagels in their games last week. Dennis Pitta was an early season force who's become non-existent since. Aaron Hernandez and Jermichael Finley are both dealing with injuries. Finally, living legend Antonio Gates didn't have his first double-digit game until Week 6. That renaissance ended pretty quickly.