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We’ve reached the halfway point of the fantasy football regular season. We’ve seen enough football to start drawing conclusions and it’s useful to take a closer look at each team around the league at this point. Doing this opens my eyes to buying/selling opportunities I may have otherwise missed and I hope it does the same for you. We’ll start with the NFC.
- Larry Fitzgerald is still an elite receiver. Despite catching passes from Kolb and Skelton, he is fantasy’s 14th ranked wide receiver.
- Andre Roberts – He’s flashed some dynamic talent while working as the #2 wide receiver in theArizonaand is on pace for 11 touchdowns and763 yards.
- Part of me wanted to just write “everything else” here, but that might upset some Cards fans.
- The Quarterback Play – Neither quarterback has been effective or healthy. Both quarterbacks are completing less than 60% of their passes and both are averaging less than seven yards per completion.
- The Running Game – Prior to injuries, neither Ryan Williams nor Beanie Wells were averaging over three yards per carry. Williams is the clubhouse leader with 164 yards…total.
What to Watch
- William Powell – Last week, Powell ran the ball for 70 yardson 13 carries in his debut as Arizona’s primary ball carrier. Normally I’d be pretty excited, but he did it against Buffalo’s last rank rushing defense.
- Michael Floyd – What can we expect from Floyd going forward? Can he carve out a niche in the red zone or earn his way into the team’s WR2 or WR3 role?
- Ryan Lindley – The only quarterback worth monitoring in the Desert is Lindley. With their sieve like offensive line, we may get to see him sooner rather than later. At the very least, I hope his ribs stay attached to his sternum.
San Francisco 49ers
- Frank Gore – At age 29, Frank Gore is still one of my favorite running backs to watch. Prior to the Thursday night game, he was fantasy’s 9th ranked running back and is averaging 5.8 ypc.
- Kendall Hunter – Unlike Jacquizz Rodgers inAtlanta, Hunter has displayed enough talent to be considered a future 3-down NFL back. He’s averaging 5.2 ypc.
- Michael Crabtree – While he will never reach elite status as some had hoped, Crabtree has been improved and healthy this year. He’s in the WR3 conversation, with a low end WR2 ceiling down the road.
- Alex Smith – With a hot start, Smith had fooled some into believing he was more than a game manager. After two bad weeks, he’s come back down to earth. Over the last 2 games he has360 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 INTs.
What to Watch
- Vernon Davis – Regardless of recent trends, Vernon Davis is still the 2nd ranked tight end in fantasy and is on pace for777 yards and 9 touchdowns. Are the last three games a trend that will continue or were the first 4 weeks a better indication of what to expect?
- Frank Gore – Gore suffered a rib injury this week and while it isn’t likely to sideline him long, it should serve as a reminder that he tends to wear down as the season goes on. Gore is a prime sell candidate.
- Marshawn Lynch – “He’s the toughest dude I’ve tackled since Jamal Lewis.” That’s what star defensive end, Justin Smith, had to say about Lynch following Thursday’s clash. Against stacked boxes, Lynch has racked up651 yardsin 7 games and has defied critics who predicted a drop-off following his payday.
- Robert Turbin – In limited work, Turbin is averaging 4.4 ypc. At the very least he’s a competent handcuff. If Lynch’s back flares up we should get a longer look. He’s one of my favorite rookie backs.
- The receiving core – Sidney Rice leads the team in receiving yards with 312. Golden Tate leads the team with 3 touchdowns. No one has stood out. However, at only 26 years old, Rice is the only option I’d want on my roster.
What to Watch
- Russell Wilson –Seattleis ranked last in passing offense and Russell Wilson is on pace for less than3000 yardsand 20 touchdowns. He’s made his share of rookie mental mistakes, but still has the “intangibles” and work ethic. While preseason Drew Brees comparisons were a little over the top, he passes the eye test.
St. Louis Rams
- Danny Amendola – Despite missing the last 7 quarters of the season, Amendola is still on pace for over 1,000 yardsand leads the team in receiving yards by over 100 yards.
- Sam Bradford’s health – For the first time in history, Bradfordis not dealing with a play-limiting injury and has played in 6 straight games.
- Steven Jackson – Age is catching up to him. He’s lost his burst and his health is faltering. He has twice as many carries as Daryl Richardson (89-47), but is averaging just 3.6 ypc.
- Receivers not named Amendola – Brandon Gibson is second on the team with 25 catches and 275 yards. The lack of legitimate WR1 is a killing the Rams’ offense and Bradford’s development.
- Sam Bradford’s quarterbacking – Bradfordis better in real life than fantasy and he isn’t that good in real life. At his current pace he’ll accumulate about 3,500 yards, 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The offensive line and receivers are so bad, it’s hard trying to place the blame.
What to Watch
- Chris Givens – In the 1.75 games since Amendola’s injury Chris Givens has caught 4 balls for 136 yardsand a touchdown. Unfortunately, he’s only caught 25% of his passes in the same time frame. He’s flashed potential, but it’s way too early to crown him the WR1 in Amendola’s absence
- Daryl Richardson – Richardsonsplit carries with Steven Jackson and out produced him last week. However, it’s been pointed out by some experts that most of his runs were designed perimeter plays. He needs to continue running well, start smashing it up the middle, and hang on to his health for me to buy him as the long term answer in St. Louis. I’m in the minority, but I still value Pead more than Richardson.
- Brian Quick/Isaiah Pead – Because they haven’t seen the field, it’s difficult to gauge their worth. Based on film and draft position, I still like each of them better than Givens and Richardson respectively.
- Matt Ryan – Dirk Koetter came to Atlantawith a promise to open up the offense for Ryan. He’s kept his promise. Ryan is currently fantasy’s 4th best quarterback and is on track for better than4600 yards and 35 touchdowns.
- Roddy White – White has been the best receiver inAtlanta. He is fantasy #3 receiver and is on pace for1,475 yardsand 11 touchdowns.
- Jacquizz Rodgers – Jacquizz Rodgers does not look like a 3-down back. Averaging only2.6 yardsper touch, he’s shown little burst, elusiveness or power.
- Michael Turner – I know people say they don’t, but in Turner’s case the numbers (84/357/3) absolutely do lie. Turner is older and slower. The offensive style does open up bigger holes for him, but he’s still a drag on the offense. The Falcon’s need a better running back.
What to Watch
- Matt Ryan – While he has put up elite numbers so far, he struggled mightily against the Raiders last week on his way to 3 interceptions. He was on the precipice of my elite quarterback tier, but that move will have to wait a little longer.
- Julio Jones – There is little doubt Jones is a WR1 and for that reason alone he could be mentioned in the “good” category. However, after a dynamite preseason many had moved him into the top 3 dynasty wide receiver rankings. The fact that he is currently the 16th ranked receiver is disappointing. The fact that he’s produced almost 200 fewer yards than White, while having 1 more target than him is worrisome.
- Cam Newton’s Rushing – Newtonhas 209 yardsand 3 touchdowns rushing. With his passing numbers being on par with Josh Freeman’s, it’s a good thing he’s still getting plenty of chances to run. His running has buoyed his fantasy value. Despite already having his bye week, he’s currently the 13th best fantasy quarterback.
- The Running Game – Cam Newton’s 209 yardsand 3 touchdowns are the best on the team. Stewart struggled with an ankle injury early, but since has been more productive than DeAngelo Williams with 4.3 ypc compared to Williams’ 3.6 ypc.
- Cam Newton’s Passing – Completing just 58.8% of his passes with a TD/INT ratio of 4/5; it’s safe to say Camhas regressed throwing the football.
What to Watch
- Greg Olsen – Several experts have noticed Olsen running wide open down the seam. If the coaches used the bye week to show this to Newton, it could prove mutually beneficial.
- CamNewton– See above. He needs to show improvement in his progressions and accuracy.
New Orleans Saints
- Drew Brees – He’s on pace to break his own single season passing yard record with 5, 504 and 45 touchdowns. He already had his bye week and only trails fantasy’s leading quarterback, Robert Griffin III, by 20 points.
- Marques Colston – The primary beneficiary of Brees’ fast start, a healthy Colston leads the Saints with 444 yardsand 4 touchdowns. That puts him squarely in WR 1 category and makes him the 9th ranked receiver despite having his bye already.
- Pierre Thomas – Pierre Thomas leads the team with182 yardson 37 attempts (4.9 ypc).
- Mark Ingram – Not scoring touchdowns and averaging only2.9 yardsper carry, Ingram is looking more like a bust every time he touches the ball.
What to Watch
- Jimmy Graham – He isn’t going anywhere, but is he still worth what you traded to acquire him? He has just 8 fewer targets than Marques Colston, but has192 yardsand 1 touchdown fewer than him. Throw in the high-ankle sprain and some would be worried. It’s worth watching, but I’m not nervous yet.
- Chris Ivory – He should be owned in all dynasty leagues. I would be shocked if didn’t get traded before the 2013 season kicks off and he’s a decent back when healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Mike Williams – Mike Williams is second on the team with 26 targets. Leading the team is Vincent Jackson with 46 targets. However, Williams is doing much more with his targets so far, averaging a whooping 22.1 yardsper catch (#1 in NFL). With only 38 yardsand one touchdown separating the two, Williams is clearly back in the WR2 conversation.
- Josh Freeman – While he is no longer regressing, he certainly isn’t progressing fast enough for my liking. Now playing in Schiano’s run-first offense, he is on pace for about3,500 yardsand 26 touchdowns, but only completing 55% of his passes.
What to Watch
- Doug Martin – He looks mediocre, but thanks to the offensive style, volume is keeping his numbers afloat. He’s averaging less than 4 ypc and has just one touchdown. It’s extremely premature to give up hope of an RB1 future, but I’d like him to at least look better than Blount the rest of the way.
- Vincent Jackson – Despite being heavily targeted as mentioned above. He’s currently fantasy’s 17th ranked wide receiver. That isn’t terrible, but I think owners were hoping for more. Will Williams’ resurgence helpJackson in the second half of the season?
I’ll post my take on the rest of the NFC in the next day or two. At that point, I’ll begin my work on the AFC with hopes of getting it posted by next weekend.
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