We are just over 25 percent through the 2012-13 NFL season, and it is a good time to take a look at some of the early fantasy awards winners and losers. John Cope and James Morris will look at who has been a bright spot, and who has been a black hole for fantasy football owners thus far.
James Morris: Robert Griffin III – QB Redskins: The Redskins rookie comes with plenty of hype, but he put his money where analyst’s mouths were by throwing for 1,161 yards, running for 252 yards and racking up 8 total touchdowns. His impressive stats put him #3 in overall fantasy standings, and the only thing that will keep him from a fantasy MVP title is his using his body as a human missile.
Jon Cope: Matt Ryan- QB Falcons- the Atlanta signal-caller wasn’t even one of the first 10 quarterbacks selected in most fantasy leagues, and yet he has outscored every single player not named Drew Brees in standard NFL.com leagues so far this year. Ryan is averaging over 300 yards a game passing and the Falcons offense has transitioned from a run-first unit under Mike Mularkey to an explosive pass-first offense under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Those fantasy owners who loaded up on the top running backs and receivers early and then grabbed Ryan late are more than likely feeling very good about their team after 5 weeks.
James Morris: Reggie Wayne – WR Colts: NFL.com had Wayne ranked #30 at WRs heading into the draft, yet the old man is currently #4 for WRs (98.60 points) and #14 overall. To put that in perspective, NFL.com was ranking him as a middle of the road WR2, and he is putting up top tier WR1 numbers. Wayne is 33-years-old and working with a rookie QB, yet he is coming off the best game of his career (13 catches, 212 yards and a TD), and that includes all the years he spent with future HOF QB Peyton Manning.
Jon Cope: Alfred Morris- RB Redskins: Before training camp nobody outside of FAU’s campus in Boca had heard of Alfred Morris, now a few months later he’s one of the top 15 fantasy running backs in the NFL. Even as fantasy drafts were taking place, Roy Helu and Evan Royster were the Redskins running backs getting the most attention. However, Morris emerged in the pre-season and has continued to impress, racking 491 yards rushing and 4 TDs thus far.
James Morris: Chris Johnson – RB Titans: The Titans employ the O-Lay style of blocking with their five turnstiles for offensive lineman, and CJ2K is the one suffering for it. Johnson is 17th in the NFL with 93 rushing attempts, but is averaging 2.9 YPC this season, which ties him for 81st in the NFL. Jon Cope and I have vastly different views on CJ2K, but for someone NFL.com had ranked #10 overall, and #4 for RBs, yet is currently ranked #32 at RB and #142 overall, I’d have to say he is a BUST!
Jon Cope: Greg Jennings- WR Packers: At least Chris Johnson had 1 good game (week 4 vs. Houston), meanwhile Jennings hasn’t a single productive game for fantasy owners. Most of Jennings’ issues have been due to a nagging groin injury, yet in the three games he has played, he only has 78 yards receiving- Brian Hartline had more than that on 1 play against Arizona! Jennings was one of the top 5 receivers drafted in most leagues, so with guys like Armon Binns, Eddie Royal and Michael Jenkins having more fantasy points than Jennings, I’m forced to put the Green Bay wide receiver atop this list
Best Rookie Performer
James Morris: Robert Griffin III – QB Redskins: When you consider that NFL.com pre-draft ranked him #79 overall, and he is currently #3 overall, the kid is well worth the hype. The next best rookie would be RB Trent Richardson (#15 overall) with 97.20 points. The next best rookie QB would be Andrew Luck (#13 for QBs) at 87.72 points. Granted, Luck had his bye week already, but numbers are numbers.
Jon Cope: Robert Griffin III- QB Redskins: RG III has been dynamite for fantasy owners who took the risk of starting him from week 1. RG III has outproduced 1st round fantasy selections such as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. As long as he stays healthy, RG III figures to one of the elite quarterback options in fantasy football for a long time.
Most Underrated (player not owned in nearly enough NFL.com leagues)
James Morris: James Jones- WR Packers: This is a really tough question because anyone worth owning has already been picked up by week 5. In between weeks 4 and 5, Brian Hartline saw roughly a 68 percent jump (from somewhere in the 5 percent owned range up to 73.3 as of right now) in NFL.com ownership. So, he would be my call if this article were last week.
But, since it is right now, I guess I would have to say James Jones. Jones is currently #18 in NFL.com PPR scoring (73.70 points) and is doing better than WR1’s like Miles Austin, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Andre Johnson. He is more of a short-term addition, but numbers are numbers.
Jon Cope: Kendall Wright- WR Titans: This shouldn’t come as a surprise for those of you that have been reading my Monday waiver wire blog here. Wright is in the league’s top 20 in receptions and in the league’s top 20 in targets and has a respectable 2 touchdowns. So why is he owned in only 2.8% of NFL.com leagues? Well, he only has 214 yards receiving on the year. One look at the stats and you see a possession receiver who’s only valuable in PPR league. However, I believe it’s only a matter of time before Wright starts breaking off big plays for the Titans- he was an explosive playmaker at Baylor, averaging over 15 yards per reception and possesses the 4.4 speed needed to make big plays in the NFL.
Most Overrated (player owned in too many NFL.com leagues and numbers don’t support it)
James Morris: C.J. Spiller – RB Bills: Fantasy football is a lot like the stock market; you have to know when to get in on a player, and when to get out before getting burned by a player. Spiller was a hot waiver wire addition for a lot of leagues after Fred Jackson went down in week 1 and he torched the Jets for 169 rushing yards and a TD.
The problem is that Jackson is now back and Spiller has logged just 19 carries over the last three games, and has managed a total of 73 yards in that span. That is a far cry from the 292 rushing yards he put up in weeks 1 and 2. The time has cut him loose and let him be someone else’s headache.
Jon Cope: Matt Schaub- QB Texans: This is one example where fantasy football owners see things completely different from non-fantasy owners. Matt Schaub is a very good NFL quarterback; however, he’s not a very good fantasy quarterback because he doesn’t have the opportunity to put up gaudy statistics on a consistent basis. The Texans have a great running game and tremendous defense, so rarely will he have the opportunity to throw 50 times and put up a 300 yard passing day as he tries to lead his team back from a deficit. Also, Schaub doesn’t help you with any rushing stats. I don’t know why he’s owned in over 95% of NFL.com leagues, there are at least 16, perhaps as many as 18 quarterback who are better fantasy options than Schaub.
Be sure to check back on Friday for James’ Week 6 “Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em” lineup advice.
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