We are halfway into the 2015 NFL season! We are starting to see teams emerge from the pack, and fantasy teams are shaping up. Going into week 8, there were 5 teams with an undefeated 6-0 record for the first time in NFL history. The Broncos, Packers, Patriots, Bengals, and Panthers all remained undefeated. Several NFL records have already been broken including:
- Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback (QB), became the youngest QB to throw 400 touchdowns in NFL history, in just 205 games.
- Keenan Allen, the San Diego Chargers star Wide Receiver (WR), set the NFL record for the most receptions through seven games.
- And for the first time in NFL history, the NFL streamed the Bills and Jaguars game live on Yahoo from Webley Stadium in London, England. The NFL encouraged viewers to “Watch With the World,” as anyone with an internet connection was able to stream the game.
Nothing makes a fantasy team manager happier than when a player you had little hope for becomes your MVP. My picks for the three biggest surprises of the season thus far are: (1) Andy Dalton, (2) Devonta Freeman, and (2) Larry Fitzgerald.
At the end of the 2014 season, Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton was ranked 16th among starting QBs in passing yards. As of week 7, Andy Dalton was ranked 2nd behind only San Diego QB Phillip Rivers. It is important to note that Dalton has achieved this success while playing against some of the toughest defenses in the league, including Seattle’s “Legion of Boom.”
In his first year as a starting RB for the Atlanta Falcons, Devonta Freeman has quickly earned the title of an elite back. Freeman has scored the most touchdowns (9), and has the second most rushing yards of any RB in the NFL. Only the Bears veteran Matt Forte has more rushing yards this season. Freeman became the first player in the recent NFL history to score 3 touchdowns in each of his first 2 starts. Freeman is now averaging 120 yards and more than two touchdowns per game. Anyone who has faced Freeman in their fantasy league this season knows how dangerous he can be.
Although 7 weeks does not make a season, several players have failed to meet expectations of greatness, and have wrecked many a fantasy matchup. My three picks for the biggest disappointments of the season are: (1) Peyton Manning, (2) Eddie Lacy, and (3) Jimmy Graham.
During Peyton’s second year with the Broncos, he set the single season NFL record for passing touchdowns with 55 TDs. As of week 7 this season, Peyton has 7 touchdowns, the same amount as Tampa Bay rookie Jameis Winston, and is tied with 3 other QBs in 22nd place for passing touchdowns. Peyton has the 2nd lowest quarterback rating (QBR) in the NFL this season, and only the Texan’s Ryan Mallet has a worse QBR (he has since been cut).
Entering the 2015 season, there were incredibly high hopes for third-year Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy, especially considering he is supported by the highest-rated passer in NFL history, Aaron Rodgers. However, Lacy is averaging just 3.88 yards per carry (ypc), which is less than his back up, James Starks, who is averaging 4.54 ypc. Head coach Mike McCarthy said he will play the “hot hand” in the coming weeks, whether it be Lacy or Starks.
Going into the 2015 season, Jimmy Graham was ranked the number 2 tight end (TE) in the NFL. Many believed, and many in NFC West feared, that partnered with the Seattle offense, Jimmy Graham would excel to new heights. However, Jimmy Graham is currently ranked 27th in receptions and appears to be struggling to form the necessary chemistry with Russel Wilson that he once had with Drew Brees. However, in recent weeks, there has been small indications that Jimmy may just need more time to settle in with Seattle’s offensive style.
Considering we are half way into the NFL season, the potential players available on the waiver wire can be limited, and varies by league. These potential pickups are based on performance up to week 7, and the Yahoo fantasy data for player percentage owned.
Alfred Blue RB (15% owned) or Chris Polk RB (2%) Bye week 9
Considering the season ending injury (torn Achilles) to Arian Foster, both Alfred Blue and Chris Polk are worth consideration in all leagues. Blue is likely to be Houston’s main RB, however, the team may splits duties between the two, which does not bode well for fantasy owners. Alfred Blue will be listed as the starter on the Texans depth chart, but Head Coach Bill O’Brien has said positive things about Chris Polk’s abilities in the past.
Danny Amendola WR (12% owned)
During week 6 and 7, Amendola had his two best games of the season, one of which was against the Jets defense who had only allowed 186.6 passing yards per game, which was the 2nd lowest yards allowed by any defence in the league. In a Week 7 report, Amendola was said to have “the surest hands on the field” but he may see less touches with the return of Brandon LaFell.
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB (28% Owned)
It pains me to recommend Fitzy to anyone, but if you are in need of a plug-and-play option due to a bye week, Fitzpatrick is capable of providing an interception free game and has thrown 2 touchdowns in all but one game though week 7. Also, Fitzpatrick has two reliable receivers in Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.
Eric Ebron TE (22% Owned) Bye week 9
Upon returning from a two-game absence, Ebron went for 89 yards and a touchdown in week 7 and has now managed to rack up 3 touchdowns in 5 games. Ebron is worth consideration if you are in need of a filler during a bye week. However, as a Megatron owner, I caution you that his performance is dependent on Matthew Stafford’s performance, which has been hit or miss this season.