WHICH PLAYERS LET FANTASY MANAGERS DOWN THIS SEASON?
Last year, Jonathan Taylor held the rushing title and was the best running back in the NFL. He was projected to be one of the best running backs this year as well with an average draft position of 1st overall, but unfortunately, he has not proven that dominance, leaving fantasy managers disappointed. At the end of the first twelve weeks last season, Taylor had a total of 15 touchdowns, 1,275 total yards, and four games with more than 25 points, including a 50.1-point game. This year, he has only produced 4 touchdowns, 888 yards, and one game with more than 25 points. If the struggling Colts want to make the playoffs this year, Taylor will have to stay healthy and prove that he still has that former dominance in him.
Russel Wilson is the greatest quarterback to ever play for the Seahawks. He brought them to a couple of Super Bowls, including a historic win, but this does not excuse him from the absolute horror he has brought to the Denver Broncos. Many people speculated Wilson to be a top quarterback in fantasy football because Seattle was a more run-heavy team, but he has not reached those expectations. He has only passed for eight touchdowns through 12 weeks. Part of this is due to the fact that Wilson has taken 35 sacks, which is the second most in the league. This team has been at a low point and expected Wilson to be the turnaround; he needs to step up his game.
Four total MVPs, Super Bowl Champion, and the title of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time are all on the resume of future Hall of Fame quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Despite all of this, Rodgers is the current 16th ranked quarterback in fantasy football. He had a season last year that ended with 4,115 yards, 40 total touchdowns, and an MVP award. The fact that he has yet to produce a 20-point game has many fans extremely dismayed. Rodgers has passed for only 2,682 yards and has nine interceptions.
Kyle Pitts may have only have had one touchdown last year, but he also had more than 1,000 yards as a rookie tight end. He has had some quarterback issues that have prevented him to play to his full potential, but that is not a valid reason to why he has been under-performing. At week 12 last year, Pitts had a total of 635 yards, almost double what he has within 12 weeks this season: 356 yards. When playing at his best, he is a top tier tight end, and for fantasy managers, that is all they want from him.
Rookie sensation Najee Harris looked like the key to a Steelers rebuild last year. Harris ended the season with 1,667 total yards, 10 total touchdowns, and 307 attempts. Within the first 12 games that season, he had four games with more than 15 points. Unfortunately, that success has not carried over. Currently, Harris has one game with more than 15 points. He also only has 6 total touchdowns and 727 total yards to date. This once exciting running back is still young and has more games to play, but he must step up his game if he wants to make fantasy managers who drafted him in Round 1 happy.
Honorable Mention: Matt Ryan was an all-time great on the Falcons. Ever since Julio Jones left the organization, Ryan had not been nearly as productive as he was previously for Atlanta. With Ryan joining the Colts in the off-season, many thought that he would almost instantly find a strong passing connection with wide receiver Michael Pittman or star running back Jonathan Taylor with the help of a great offensive line. Unfortunately, for this struggling team, Matt Ryan has not come through with that hopeful optimism, leaving fantasy managers who relied on him as a backup QB scrambling the waiver wire.
WHICH PLAYERS HAVE BEEN A PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR FANTASY MANAGERS?
The favorite to win the Most Improved Player Award is Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Last year, Tua ended with throwing for 2,653 yards and only three touchdowns. This year in week 12, Tua already has 2,564 yards and 19 touchdowns! Last year, his nickname was Tua “Turn-the-ball-ova,” and now, he is one of the most respected quarterbacks in the league. Some of this is due to the fact that the Dolphins traded for the best wide receiver in the league, Tyreek Hill, but most of it is coming from the accuracy of the young quarterback. Tua has been a points-per-game surprise who has helped many fantasy managers that drafted him as a backup QB.
Last season, and at the start of this season, Jaguars running back Travis Etienne was splitting snaps with James Robinson. Eventually, Etienne became the clear starter, and Robinson was traded to the Jets. Etienne went from being a backup to being one of the better running backs in the game despite not playing during his rookie season. He already has 728 yards and 4 touchdowns, but most expect him to start producing points at an alarming pace. He is on the rise, and he has paid off for fantasy managers who took the risk of drafting him in the mid-rounds despite his Lisfranc injury last season.
This year, one of the biggest surprises in the NFL is the Las Vegas Raiders. They have undeniable talent at every position, and yet some players are not carrying their weight as much as others. One of the players on this team going above and beyond all expectations though is running back Josh Jacobs. In week 12, Jacobs has the most rushing yards in the NFL at 1,159 yards. The even more stunning part is that last year, at the end of the season, he had 872 yards. Last season, Jacobs did not have a single game where he scored more than 30 points in fantasy. Already, he has four such games, including a 48-point outburst. With Davante Adams being the newest addition to their offense in the offseason, everybody expected him to be the star, but Jacobs is shockingly the top-scoring RB in fantasy football despite an average draft position near Round 5.
If you were to tell an NFL fan last year that the Jets D/ST would be a top D/ST, they would have told you that you are insane. This defense was previously led by C.J. Moseley and Quinnen Williams, and it seemed to be wasted talent, but recently the team acquired cornerback Sauce Gardner at pick #4 in the NFL Draft, and he has made a huge impact. Teams won’t even throw his way! The Jets offense had not playing well, being led by one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, Zach Wilson. However, this top-tier defense is the definite reason to why this team is where they are, 7-4. The Jets D/ST has been a massive pickup for fantasy managers in free agency.
Going into the season, the Seattle Seahawks had Drew Lock and Geno Smith fight for the starting quarterback position. With Smith barely squeaking into the position, expectations were very low for the veteran QB. Smith had an average draft position of “undrafted.” This season was thought to be the Seahawks “rebuild year,” but Geno has led the team to a record of 6-5, which is second in the NFC West. Eventually, Seattle will have to get a new QB because Geno is 33 years old, but for right now, Geno is looking great for fantasy managers who were able to scoop him up from free agency after a hot start.
NOTE: ALL OF THESE FANTASY RANKINGS ARE IN PPR!