BY JOE BARTEL
It’s just past the halfway point in the fantasy football season (including the playoffs) so it’s time for the generic “Studs and Duds” of the 2013 fantasy season. No, seriously though, that kind of generic stuff just annoys me. Anybody with two eyes, a TV remote and a smidgen of fantasy football knowledge knows that Peyton Manning is having an incredible year, in real life and fantasy football. And chances are if you were one of the people to draft him this year, you are in the hunt for a championship. Same goes for Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Jamaal Charles, Dez Bryant and LeSean McCoy. Anyone with a computer can see that these guys have been the stars of the fantasy football season so far. Still, there have been plenty of surprises during the fantasy season, some positive and some that make you want to bash your computer screen in. So here are some of my favorite “Point of No Return” awards.
Biggest Surprise Award: Rookie running backs
Giovanni Bernard, Eddie Lacy and LeVeon Bell are all performing well above what they were predicted to at the beginning of the season. Ironically the one rookie who was projected to perform well, Montee Ball, has been one of the biggest disappointments, due in large part to the terrible disease known as “fumbleitis” that has relegated him to third string for the majority of the season. The best part of this rookie triplet is that there hasn’t been one that has stood out over the others. Aside from the two games that Bell missed in the beginning of the year, and basically two games that Eddie Lacy missed due to a concussion, each player has had their fair share of good games and is set up for strong finishes to the season.
Best “No Show” Award: Doug Martin
Oh, Doug, where did we go wrong? I had such high hopes for you. He had so much potential following his tremendous rookie year where he was a top ten running back on a Tampa Bay team that looked to be a dark horse coming into the season. Then Greg Schiano happened. The soon-to-be former coach of the Bucs submarined the season before it even started by pecking away at the confidence of former quarterback Josh Freeman who had a sneaky good fantasy season in his own right last year. That should have been a sign to Doug Martin owners everywhere. Even with the ginormous amount of attempts per game, Mr. Martin was not able to perform up to the expectations of many, and perhaps mercifully fell victim to a shoulder injury, permanently putting Doug on the shelf for potentially the entire season. Let’s hope Doug can rebound next year.
The “I Had the Game in the Bag Until I Played Against” Award: Peyton Manning
Come on, it has happened to all of us at least once this season right? Peyton has been too good this year not to recognize him at some point. Manning announced his dominance to start the season against the Ravens, dropping over 60 points in standard scoring leagues, tossing a record setting seven touchdowns in the process. The crazy thing is, he has never really let up throughout the season. The consolation prize goes to Calvin Johnson who, last week almost set a record for most receiving yards in a game with 329 yards. Peyton and Calvin, you two have some explaining to do!
“Pile On My Miseries” Award: Injuries and Suspensions
I don’t think I can ever recall a time where so many good players have went down with serious injuries or different suspensions. Here’s a small sample size of players who have or will miss at least three games this year: Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, David Wilson, Doug Martin, Justin Blackmon, Reggie Wayne, Julio Jones, Jay Cutler, Jake Locker, Rob Gronkowski, Randall Cobb, Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola, DeMarco Murray and Jermichael Finley. That lineup, when healthy, would be a fantasy football juggernaut. But sadly, owners around the world have to miserably stare at their screens and look at what could have been.
The “Wait, Teams Still Use Tight Ends?” Award: Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas
This was supposed to be a year where the tight end was phased out. There was only one really good tight end, Jimmy Graham. The second best tight end was supposedly Rob Gronkowski, the often injured tight end who has played all of three games this year. But help is on the horizon! I had been talking all preseason about the tight end from Cleveland, Jordan Cameron, who has been the second best tight end up to this point in the season. But Julius Thomas, I never saw coming. The signs were there. He was a former basketball player in college, he has a talented quarterback on a dynamic offense, and he has exceptional speed for his height and weight. These tight ends might be the beginning of a new wave of dominant tight ends that rival the likes of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Or they could just be one year wonders. Only time will tell!
Tune in next week to read my thoughts on the best and worst fantasy players of the week.