Week 7 has come and gone. And while some teams are well on their way to a league title, others are scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. Week 8 marks the half-way point to the season, so now is a good time to take a look at who has been a hero and who has been a zero for your fantasy team.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from a player you drafted and had high hopes for; sometimes the best thing you can do is trade for a guy who is underperforming; and yet still sometimes the best move you can make is no move at all. I'll navigate you through that minefield a little in both this article and the Thursday's article, so make sure you check back for more information!
Why don't we start out by taking a look at some of the first-half busts that I am giving up hope for.
Adrian Peterson – Vikings: We all know that AP isn't on the field because of problems off the field. But, what is most shocking to me is that he is still owned in 56.8 percent of NFL.com leagues, and 41 percent of Yahoo leagues. His trial date is tentatively set for December 1st, which means he would have to have a short trial and pray the Vikings welcome him back for the final 3-4 games of the season. As the song says: Let it go… LET IT GO!
Robert Griffin III – Redskins: RGIII is one of those guys who has more NFL value than fantasy value. Let's go back to last season where he finished somewhere in the 20-range for QBs (depending on your scoring format) thanks to his 3,202 passing yards, 16 TDs, and 12 INTs. Fast-forward to this year and RGIII was the 10th QB off the board on average, going almost a full round before Jay Cutler (currently the #6 ranked QB on NFL.com) and Tony Romo (#10). Griffin will get his starting job back when he returns (because Kirk Cousins tanked his career by playing in 2014), but there will be plenty of rust to knock off before he produces. And the truth is, he will misfire more than he will hit the fantasy target. He is best left to someone else outside of 2QB leagues, and even then he is a hit or miss QB2 every single week.
Montee Ball – Broncos: Word around the Broncos campfire is that Ball's groin injury and slow start may make it hard for him to regain his feature back position once he is healthy enough to take the field. Ronnie Hillman has a 4.6 YPC average over the last three games, whereas Ball managed just 3.1 YPC in four games this season. A lot of websites will tell you to hold Ball until we see how he returns, but I am going to advise you to try and trade him before his value becomes TD-or-bust.
Doug Martin – Buccaneers: The bad news for Martin is that the Bucs O-Line is awful to put it nicely. The good news is that the team is truly committed to him as their lead back. Commitment means little when you don't have the ability to back it up, and the Bucs can't put forth a line that will open holes for Martin to run through. You can't cut a guy who is clearly No. 1 on his team's depth chart, but you could float him in a few trade offers and see if you can find the Bucs fan in your league.
Ryan Matthews – Chargers: With the emergence of Branden Oliver, Matthews is in the same predicament that Ball is in. He may return to a RBBC (Running Back By Committee) scheme in San Diego, with Matthews being the thunder and Oliver being the lightning. I'd hold on to Matthews for now, but I am no longer considering him fantasy starter either until I see him in a feature back role.
Percy Harvin – Jets: The football world was shocked this week when the Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a mid-round pick, but why? Harvin is rumored to be a problem in the clubhouse, and on the field he is little more than a $67 million decoy. The Jets have possibly the worst QB situation (outside of the Redskins right now) in the league, so Harvin's value is unlikely to go up unless he embraces the Kordell Stewart punt, pass, and kick mentality.
In the end you shouldn't cut a star player just because he is underperforming. Instead, float some trade offers out there and see who bites. Check back on Thursday as I will go through the buy low candidates you should be trying to trade for.
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins: On the season Tannehill is right where you would expect him to be, in that 15-17 range for fantasy QBs. Not too bad, but not good enough to recommend owning either. This week however he got a little loose on a Bears defense that is struggling with injuries and consistency by throwing for 277 yards, running for 48 yards, and scoring 2 touchdowns. All-in-all he finished as a top 5 fantasy QB thanks to a down week for QB point totals.
Eli Manning – Giants: In true Eli Manning fashion, he went from being very mediocre in Week 5 (200 yards and 2 TDs), to abysmal in Week 6 (151-0), to top 7 for QBs in Week 7 by finishing with 248 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday. What made Manning look better than he really is was the Giants 21 points coming from his arm instead of their production coming from the ground. No matter, Manning had himself a good week and the 42.0 percent of people brave enough to own him on NFL.com were fooled for yet another week.
Denard Robinson – Jaguars: The Jaguars drafted Robinson as an offensive weapon, so his role wasn't clearly defined after nerve damage left him unable to throw like a QB needed to throw. While some players would just give up and use their college degree in the business world, Robinson forged ahead and plowed a new road for himself as a running back. This week Robinson drew the start and ran the ball 22 times for 127 yards and a touchdown, stats good enough to finish in the top 7 for fantasy RBs this week on NFL.com. Things will get harder in Week 8 against the Dolphins elite run defense, but one thing is certain, Robinson will be behind Blake Bortles for the first snap of the game!
Stephen Taylor – Cardinals: And this week's fantasy football red herring award goes to Stephan Taylor, RB Arizona Cardinals. Taylor finished Week 7 with 14 touches for 59 total yards and 2 touchdowns, which is top 10 for NFL.com this week. Too many people are going to rush to their wavier wire and grab Taylor because they don't understand he is little more than a TD dependent RB with little upside until an injury occurs in the Cardinals backfield.
Doug Baldwin – Seahawks: In the wake of the Harvin trade, fantasy owners scrambled to the waiver wire to pick up one of the Seahawks remaining receivers, Baldin, Jermaine Kearse, or Ricardo Lockette in the hopes one would pay off. Well, this week Baldwin did pay off as he reeled in 7 of his 11 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. While he is just 26-years-old, Baldwin has never been someone that excited people in fantasy or reality. Baldwin is not going to produce like this every week, but he makes for a decent depth add if you are hurting at the WR position.
Odell Beckham – Giants: I told you to pick up Beckham last week, but did you? While he didn't wow anyone in the yardage department (34), he did turn two of those receptions into touchdowns. And as we all know, 34 yards and 2 TDs is good enough for a WR1 finish in almost all formats because touchdowns are king in fantasy football. Beckham does have to rely on the erratic [Eli] Manning to throw to him, but he is clearly No. 1 on the depth chart going forward for the G-Men.
Gavin Escobar – Cowboys: Who? This is one of those cases where NFL teams' take advantage of a match-up and little known players score big points while sitting on the waiver wire. Escobar had a career day on Sunday as he turned 3 receptions into 65 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Giants. There is absolutely no reason to pick up Escobar in any format, for any reason, including if Jason Witten goes down for the season with an injury. Just chalk it up as a freak game and walk away.
Jacksonville Jaguars defense: The Jaguars defense was as steady as a rock on Sunday as they held the Browns to just 6 points while tallying up 3 sacks, 2 recovered fumbles, and 1 INT. All totaled the Jaguars put up 16.00 fantasy points on NFL.com, good enough to take home the #1 ranking for Week 7. With just 0.6 percent of people owning the Jags defense on NFL.com, I want to challenge you to send me a screen shot of your team proving you started the Jags this week. If you can do that I will give you a shoutout in Friday's article with your name and city.
Kirk Cousins – Redskins: Cousins was so bad this week that he was not only benched at halftime for journeymen QB Colt McCoy, but Head Coach Jay Gruden announced on Monday that McCoy would start Week 8 if RGIII can't go. Cousins finished the game (and possibly his career in Washington D.C.) with 139 yards passing, no touchdowns, and 1 INT. Cousins is now 3rd on the Redskins depth chart and is droppable in all formats.
Jay Cutler – Bears: The Bears offense is far too talented to put up 14 points and 224 yards of total offense against the Dolphins. This week Cutler managed just 191 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT, and 1 lost fumble, which ranked him just inside the top 25 fantasy QBs for Week 7. As I already said, there is just too much talent on the field for the Bears to give up on Cutler or think the team won't do some soul searching as they head to New England for Week 8, then take a week off for a bye in Week 9. I'd shoot his owner an email and see if I can steal him on a buy-low trade right now.
Khiry Robinson – Saints: It is officially time to cut Robinson loose unless you want to keep him as a pure handcuff for Mark Ingram. Robinson managed just 3 carries for 26 yards and lost a fumble in Week 7. Ingram is clearly ready to be the lead back once again, making Robinson cut worthy in the 58.9 percent of NFL.com leagues he is owned in.
Maurice Jones-Drew – Raiders: This may be a little taboo to say about MJD, but there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for him to be owned in 57.8 percent of NFL.com leagues. Jones-Drew has a season-high of 40 total yards in a game, which tells me people draft on name recognition more than NFL production more times than not. MJD finished with 6 yards on 3 carries, stats worthy of the waiver wire.
Justin Hunter – Titans: I still believe that Hunter could be a fantasy changing WR if the Titans didn't have "Checkdown" Charlie Whitehurst under center while Jake Locker is out. But they do, so he isn't, and fantasy owners are frustrated with what to do with him. This week Hunter played in 55 of the Titans 57 offensive snaps, but managed to log just 1 catch for 6 yards against the Redskins. Locker is said to be ready to return for Week 8, so don't give up on Hunter just yet.
Alshon Jeffery – Bears: How fitting is it that my pick for this year's Alshon Jeffery would find himself on the same losers list with Alshon Jeffery? Jeffery was a victim of Cutler this week as he finished with 2 catches for 9 yards. The good news is that he was targeted 7 times, but targets that don't produce receptions mean very little to fantasy owners trying to win their games. Better times are ahead for the stud WR.
Jimmy Graham – Saints: Tight End is an all-or-nothing position in fantasy football, and this week Graham gave his owners nothing. That's right; Graham failed to log a single catch despite being targeted 2 times against the Lions, leaving his owners with a goose egg for points in Week 7. Graham is a must-start player any time he is on the field, so this is just how the ball bounces sometimes in fantasy and reality.
San Francisco 49ers defense: I told you not to start the 49ers defense this week, so hopefully you listened. Peyton Manning set the career record for touchdown passes thrown, and the 49ers lost their owners 2.00 by allowing the Broncos to score 42 points. They did manage to get 2 sacks, but that didn't negate the 42 points. The 49ers are still an elite fantasy defense to own, so don't do anything harsh and cut them.
So how did I do? Well, I missed on Andre Holmes, Mohamed Sanu, the Chargers defense, Eli Manning, and Marques Colston, but was right on the other 11 picks I made. In the end I finished 69 percent right for Week 7. When it comes to picking something that is pretty unpredictable, I'd have to say that 69 percent if about as good as anyone could hope for!