BY MITCHELL WESTALL, STAFF WRITER
Most fantasy football regular seasons last only fourteen weeks, so that means we’re officially halfway through the season. Have you built a roster capable of winning a championship? Are you ready to throw in the towel and look to next year? Are you regretting who you drafted with your first-round pick?
Speaking of which, as suggested by a reader, let’s look at what the top ten picks would look like if we had a bit of hindsight into what certain players would do.
- David Johnson (running back, Arizona Cardinals). David Johnson has far and away been the best player in fantasy football this season. Many people were shy to take him in the first round due to his limited sample size, and if you passed him up in favor of running backs Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings or Todd Gurley of the LA Rams, you’ve got to be kicking yourself now. Johnson was picked in the middle or back end of the first round in most leagues that started prior to the season.
- Ezekiel Elliott (running back, Dallas Cowboys). Elliott was another player who many considered to be too risky to take in the first round. So far, he has lived up to that hype and even slightly exceeded expectations. The Cowboys’ first round pick has the luxury of running behind the best offensive line in football and is going to run rampant for years to come. He was picked in the back end of the first round in most leagues.
- Julio Jones (wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons). Julio Jones has the quarterback who leads the league in fantasy points throwing him the football. Jones has had several games scoring over 15 points this season, including his 36-point thrashing of the Carolina Panthers in week four. Points wise, he has been the top wide receiver in football with only two bad weeks on his ledger. He was a top-half of the first round pick in most leagues.
- Le’veon Bell (running back, Pittsburgh Steelers). Bell provided fantasy owners with a huge dilemma entering the draft. Before he was suspended, he was the top ranked running back in fantasy and rightfully so. Once he got suspended, however, he fell to the back end of the second round in most drafts. If you were willing to wait three weeks for Bell to come back, you were rewarded. Through four games, Bell has averaged just over 15 points without even scoring a touchdown. A lot of people were concerned about two factors: 1) would Bell come back strong after his injury and suspension? and 2) would DeAngelo Williams eat into his carries if he played well? Williams played well, but has barely touched the ball since Bell came back, mainly due to injury.
- DeMarco Murray (running back, Tennessee Titans). Latavius Murray, Thomas Rawls, Matt Jones, Ryan Matthews and Jeremy Hill are a just a few of the running backs that were drafted before the player who is now ranked second among all running backs in fantasy scoring. We all remember the torrid 2014 season Murray had running behind that Dallas offensive line (which is why people were eager to draft Elliott so high); however, we also remember the atrocious 2015 Murray had with the Eagles before being shipped off to Tennessee. Murray has absolutely thrived sharing the backfield with Marcus Mariota (who is also starting to come into his own). Murray was drafted usually around the 6th-7th round and if it was you who took him, you absolutely stole yourself an RB1.
- J. Green (wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals). A.J. Green would be higher on this list if his weekly point totals weren’t so inconsistent. The trend for him shows that he’ll have a really strong game, then a weak game, followed by an average game and repeat. Last week he had an amazing week, so we’ll see if his trend continues with a weak game against the Redskins. Green was usually the third or fourth receiver off the board at the back end of the first round or even early second.
- Antonio Brown (wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers). Brown would also be higher if it weren’t for the unclear future of his quarterback. In the past, his numbers drop to the floor when Big Ben isn’t under center; however, last week he still managed to score over 11 points with Landry Jones leading the offense. Brown was a top-2 pick, and was usually number one. He has played consistently all year with only one outlying tough game.
- Odell Beckham, Jr. (wide receiver, New York Giants). If Brown was the number one pick, Beckham was number two. His performances have left something to be desired out of a top pick, but they’ve been perfect for a back-end player. Don’t expect him to finish this season where he stands in terms of scoring, because he has shown serious evidence to suggest he’s improving.
- LeSean McCoy (running back, Buffalo Bills). Even though he’s fourth among skilled position players in scoring, nobody knows exactly what he’ll be able to do on his injured hamstring, if he plays at all. He tried to play on it last week and that totally backfired. McCoy has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence after last season didn’t go exactly as planned in the Bills’ backfield. He was generally drafted somewhere in the neighborhood of round four and that’s proved to be a steal so far, but his hamstring should be something you continue to monitor if he’s on your roster.
- Melvin Gordon (running back, San Diego Chargers). This was a tough spot. It was a toss-up between Gordon, Evans, Gurley and Blount. Ultimately, it came down to touchdowns. Even though Gordon has only 3.2 yards per carry, he has scored more touchdowns than anyone, good enough for the third most points among running backs. Based on a disappointing rookie season, Gordon usually didn’t come off draft boards until beyond the 7th
Next Round (no particular order): Mike Evans, Marvin Jones, Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton, Matt Forte, Todd Gurley, Greg Olsen, LeGarrette Blount, Amari Cooper, Larry Fitzgerald.
Top Waiver Wire additions:
- Stefon Diggs (wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings). Diggs immediately took over the role of number one receiver in this Vikings offense and hasn’t looked back. Unfortunately, he’s had to deal with injuries limiting his field action and has even missed a few games. Going forward, it seems as though Diggs is close to 100% for the stretch run of the season.
- Marvin Jones (wide receiver, Detroit Lions). He showed flashes of brilliance with the Cincinnati Bengals, and since being signed by the Detroit Lions, he’s had an opportunity to be the number one target for Matthew Stafford. He hasn’t had a single game of less than seven points and has shown that he can explode for much more.
- Jay Ajayi (running back, Miami Dolphins). I know it’s only been two games, but Ajayi has had one of the best two game stretches in NFL history. With Arian Foster out of the picture and a passing game that nobody trusts, Jay Ajayi has entered the category of must-starts until he proves otherwise.
- Matt Ryan (quarterback, Atlanta Falcons). Matt Ryan is never the most popular name when you think of great fantasy football quarterbacks, but the Falcons signal caller leads the entire NFL in fantasy points. Ryan Tannehill and Blake Bortles were just a couple names that would have come off the board before Matty Ice.
Picks to Click:
Last Week: Vernon Davis played well, but Blake Bortles and DeSean Jackson would’ve been better off on your bench. Theo Riddick didn’t even play.
Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Running Back: Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks
Wide Receiver: Deandre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Tight End: Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Picks to Sit:
Last Week: Carson Palmer and Coby Fleener didn’t do much, but Leveon Bell and Marvin Jones both had starter-level performances. Overall, last week’s picks weren’t great for either category.
Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Running Back: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Wide Receiver: Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Tight End: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts