Folks, believe it or not; but we are halfway through the regular fantasy season. This is, of course, assuming that your league starts playoffs in week 14. In which case, we aren’t exactly halfway, but you know, we’re pretty close. This year continues to baffle, frustrate, and ultimately delight owners. The inconsistency is frustrating, but the variance has made for some really good times. We still have the mix of consistent/inconsistent players, but at least the cream is starting to rise to the top across most positions. Let’s take a quick look at the Top 5 per position!
QB: Luck, Rivers, Rodgers, Cutler, Manning – Nothing stands out as being too surprising about this list. Rivers is a bit of an odd inclusion, but he was elite last season, so why not this season?
RB: Murray, Forte, Foster, Lynch, Bell – There is no one who would have predicted DeMarco Murray to be the lead back in the NFL, and most people wrote off Foster. However, I happily predicted Foster to have a great year (he’s an on/off type player) and Forte/Lynch are understandable. Bell continues to delight owners, and Giovani Bernard is only a few points behind. Once you get past the top 5, things really get wild (Bernard, Bradshaw, Foresett, Sproles, A. Smith, Jennings). Running back continues to be a struggle!
WR: Brown, Nelson, Steve Smith, Jones, D. Thomas/Cobb – I have no qualms about any of those, with the exception of Steve Smith Sr. That guy deserves a medal.
TE: J. Thomas, Olsen, Gates, Bennett, Walker/Gronk – No Jimmy Graham (I know he had a BYE) and Gates + Walker are mind-blowing.
Defense: Eagles, Lions, Patriots, 49ers, Texans – Raise your hand if you predicted the Eagles to be the #1 defense in fantasy. Crazy, crazy
To further illustrate my point, let’s take a look at my hits vs. misses from Week 6.
Jordan Cameron – Well, at least I got one. Jordan Cameron had a breakout game, albeit on the back of a one big play; but regardless he finished as the #2 fantasy tight end. I don’t have many concerns about his long-term value, despite his low targets(5) from week 6. The Browns have been running the ball very effectively, and Brian Hoyer simply needs to manage the game intelligently. Cameron remains his favorite target, so he remains a must start.
Predicted: 61 yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions
Actual: 102 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions
Misses: Good god, this is embarrassing to type…
Jay Cutler – I missed big on the touchdowns, but was close on the yardage. After lambasting the Falcons for two street weeks, I must eat some crow and admit their pass defense is not as terrible as I imagined. Well, ok, allow me to clarify. They give up a ton of yards, but they’ve only surrendered 6 touchdowns, which actually is pretty solid. Cutler missed by a touchdown, but I can accept that. I really want to put this in a hit, as my statistical prediction was damn close, but I said top 5 and he was not a top 5 QB.
Predicted: 335 Yards, 2 TD, 0 Int
Actual: 381 Yards, 1 TD, 0 Int
Nick Foles – I feel like he’s laughing at me right now. I knew going into my week 6 prediction that I wouldn’t feel great about hyping up Nick Foles, and those concerns were easily justified. He finished well outside of the top 15 and had a pretty lack luster performance considering they shut their opponents out 27-0. It’s not to take anything away from the Giants, but simply a learning lesson for myself. Stay away from Foles!
Predicted: 297 yards, 2 TD, 1 Int
Actual: 248 Yards, 2 TD, 2 Int
Brian Hoyer – Ugh, I really was feeling this one too. I didn’t think the Browns would beat the Steelers as handedly as they did, nor did I expect them to run quite as effectively as they did. Hoyer managed to be a perfect game manager who didn’t need to do very much at all. If you take away the big play to Cameron, this would have been an uninspired effort. Maybe I’m stretching too far on these players?
Predicted: 289 Yards, 2 TD, 0 Int
Actual: 217 Yards, 1 TD, 0 Int
Austin Davis – Not exactly a hit or a miss, but he was simply a player worth watching. I did, however, miss my predictions by a nice margin so he falls into the “miss” category. Davis looked very good in the first half, but started to struggle against a superior team. I stand by my belief that he has a lot of value going forward, but he is very matchup dependent.
Predicted: 274 Yards, 2 TD, 2 Int
Actual: 236 Yards, 1 TD, 1 Int
Tom Brady – <sigh> It may seem like I talk about Tom a lot, and that’s very much the truth! There isn’t a huge sample size to work with each week and polarizing fantasy players like Brady are whom I get to discuss. Brady, well…I don’t even know what to say about Tom Brady. No one expected him to have a second great game, especially when facing a top 3 fantasy defense. However, Brady silenced the critics in a big, big way after an amazing performance in week 6. Incredibly favorable match-ups, and a re-commitment to producing have placed Brady back in my top 10. It’s hard to not feel hypocritical, but thus is the nature of 2014 fantasy football.
Predicted: 241 Yards, 1 TD, 2 Int
Actual: 361 yards, 4 TD, 0 Int
Delanie Walker – Well, I can only be happy I traded Walker away, but he’s still a top 10 play. Yet again, the Jags show up and completely shut Walker out. Walker, on the day, had 8 targets and only 3 receptions. Some of this can be attributed to outstanding play by the Jags, but it’s also pretty troubling. The Titans continue to have QB issues, though a returning Jake Locker could help Walker in a big way.
Predicted: 83 Yards, 1 TD, 6 receptions
Actual: 57 yards, 0 TD, 3 receptions
Owen Daniels – Another week, another look at Owen Daniels. I really, really expected bigger things from Daniels (obviously), but it’s shocking he didn’t seem to benefit from Joe Flacco having a monster day. This week we’ll be avoid Daniels since he’ll face an Atlanta defense which consistently shuts down tight ends.
Predicted: 72 yards, 0 TD, 6 receptions
Actual: 34 yards, 0 TD, 2 receptions
Vernon Davis – I wasn’t too far off on this prediction, and maybe will need to re-work in a new category. Davis performed mostly as expected, and I expect/hope he continues to improve. This week, he travels to Denver where we expect the 49ers to be in a “catch-up” mode, thus resulting in more opportunities for Davis. Fingers crossed!
Predicted: 41 yards, 0 TD, 5 receptions
Actual: 30 yards, 0 TD, 3 receptions
Zach Ertz – It’s like the Eagles decided to give me the middle finger this week! I stand by my prediction based on the production that Ertz has seen each week. The Giants were one of the best against the position, but Ertz proved to be the outlier. If it wouldn’t be for that TD, I’d be a happy prognosticator.
Predicted: 32 yards, 0 TD, 3 receptions
Actual: 47 Yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions
All in all, this was the worst week I’ve had to date. It’s incredibly difficult to accurately predict these two positions, considering the small sample size, and also based on the somewhat TD dependent nature of the tight end. As such, I will be taking a little bit different of an approach in my predictions this week.
QB 1 (Top 5): Andrew Luck – It feels like cheating, but sometimes we have to state the obvious. I always wanted to avoid talking about the obvious plays, as you are obviously starting Andrew Luck if you own him. Instead, we’ll say it like this. Andrew Luck is currently the best quarterback in fantasy football AND the NFL. I love what he’s doing this year and love how the Colts are handling him. The once feared Bengals defense has been shredded to the tune of 80 points over the past two weeks and we have no reason to not see Luck repeating. He’s an easy top 5 call and the top QB of the week.
QB 2 (Top 10): Cam Newton – A hypocrite is me, I get it completely. However, Newton was firing on all cylinders against the Bengals, and will face an even worse defense in Green Bay. Green Bay has the absolute worst rush defense in the NFL, and Cam seemingly discovered that he is the best running quarterback in the NFL. Yes, I intentionally bold-faced that statement. Green Bay does have the 11th best pass defense, but my expectation is Newton able to keep them off-balance. The Panthers still struggle to have a true identity on offense (ie: pray Newton does something), but I still think they have a good showing against the Packers.
QB 3 (Top 10): Carson Palmer – Palmer was given some love on MLFS fantasy radio this Sunday, and rightfully so. The Cards like to throw deep, and Palmer is a QB that doesn’t mind putting the ball in the air. He had a great game against the terrible Redskins secondary, and we see no reason to not believe he’ll continue the trend. Another week of practice and removing the rust will result in a fine game for Carson Palmer. This may be somewhat on the cusp, but I have always believed in this guy. Here’s a non-fantasy question: Is he a hall of fame QB?
QB 4 (Top 15): Andy Dalton – I’m trying to go a little outside the realm of obvious selections by choosing one of my favorite QB’s to easily crack the top 15. So, I have mixed feelings on Dalton as a whole. On one token, I predicted big things for the QB going into the season, despite having a run-biased offensive coordinator. He’s been performing well since the week 4 BYE, and I thought looked very good in a shootout with the Panthers. If there is one thing you can bet on in fantasy football, it is Andrew Luck putting up big points. Yes, I know…look at the Ravens game. I’m going to venture a guess that we won’t see a repeat of that low scoring output and instead we will see these two QB’s throwing the ball all over the field. I figure we’ll see some interceptions, but also 2-3 touchdowns and 300+ yards. It won’t be quite the return to form Dalton fans would like, but until Green comes back this is what we’ll have.
QB 5 (Outside Top 16): Drew Brees – I feel like I’m cheating on my wife by benching one of my literal favorite players. I came into this season praying that I could draft AP and Brees. Hurray and huzzah, luck was in my favor and I landed both players. Not much needs said about Peterson, but Brees has been such a huge disappointment. He’s certainly going in the right direction, but the Lions are the best defense in the NFL. I don’t expect Brees to throw three picks, ala Bridgewater, but I do expect him to throw up a pair. Brees is historically bad on the road and a lack of Graham will do nothing to support this first ballot HOF player. It feels insane to say this, but I am benching Drew Brees and would not suggest starting him unless you had to.
TE 1 (Top 5): Greg Olsen – I know, I know, more of the bounty man. Let’s be real though, he’s one of the best tight ends in fantasy football and continues to be the primary threat in the Carolina passing game. The Packers are one of the better defenses in the league vs. the tight end; but Olsen should be treated as a special talent and as such, not a big worry when facing strong opposition.
TE 2 (Top 10): Jordan Reed – Reed is a special kind of talent, and when healthy in 2013 was quite productive. He returned to form last week and had a huge rebound type game. He’ll face a Cardinals defense ranked 25th against the pass, and should benefit from the soft coverage. We know that Cousins is still the starting quarterback, which is a benefit for the young tight end. Reed was dropped in a number of leagues and, if available, should be drafted and started immediately.
TE 3 (Top 10): Jason Witten – I apologize for the same name references, but there isn’t too much variety at the TE position this week. I also believe that Witten could be a “bubble” type player and not an every week starter. Last week, he finally found the endzone, which is impressive considering he was facing the Seahawks in Seattle. A home game and a team surrendering the 8th most points to fantasy te’s (Giants) spell good things for Witten. He is my bubble top 10 player, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t become a believer in the Cowboys offense.
TE 4 (Top 15): Martellus Bennett – If there were a player I was most concerned about this week, it’s absolutely Martellus Bennett. There is an interesting stat to keep in mind when discussing Bennett: He had only 2 touchdowns from week 7 forward, and is the kind of player who is dependent on the touchdown. Because of this, and also Miami having the 2nd best pass defense in the NFL, I have Bennett way outside my top 10 and even a borderline top 15 play.
TE 5 (Outside top 16): Clay Harbor – A fine example of living in reality vs. the moment. Clay Harbor, go ahead and google him, had a crazy game against Tennesse, and very much benefits from the injury to Marcedes Lewis. Bortles and Harbor have developed a fine relationship, but don’t go into his week 7 match-up vs. the Browns expecting a similar performance. Harbor is a great player to keep your eye on, as the TE position has been nothing short of volatile outside of the top 5; but for now he should not be started in any league. I will say, I could be quite wrong on this one, but am willing to find a starter elsewhere.
Let me know what you think of the altered format of predictions this week in the comments or your preferred method. It’s much easier to rank this way, but even still this has been one hell of a season. Let’s be honest, it can’t get much worse than my week 6 performance (though I feel like I said that about week 6). Thanks for reading and good luck everyone!
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday October 19th from 11am-12pm EST for this weeks installment of Major League Fantasy Football Radio sponsored by theSports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596Our guests this week will be Bryan Robinson who is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com. Bryan’s article publishes every Thursday and he focuses on the running back/wide receiver position. He also does a weekly Q&A for us onreddit’s fantasy football section every Saturday. Jeff Nelson will also be joining us again. Jeff is the DB coach for White Hall H.S. in PA and is a two time Major League Fantasy Football Champion. Come join us for a very spirited conversation.Be sure and check out the Sports Palooza Radio Show every Thursday at 11am EST. Kerry Wood will be one of the guests this week.