Seven weeks into the NFL season and it’s right near the halfway point in your fantasy football regular season. Back in August, I wrote a piece about making the most out of your mock drafts leading into the upcoming fantasy year. At this point, we’ve seen enough to make some firm decisions on who gets a thumbs up and who gets a thumbs down.
Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: A Mid-Season Fantasy Draft Review
1st Overall: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
This was a toss up between Bell and David Johnson since the indecision regarding Ezekiel Elliott‘s pending suspension left him out of the picture. I think a gun to my head, I would’ve picked Johnson, but for the sake of argument, I picked Bell. After a slow start to the season, Bell has recently taken advantage of the Steelers new run-heavy offensive scheme. In three of the last four games, Bell has toted the pigskin over 30 times, rushed over 100 yards and pumped in three scores. He hasn’t been the best player this fantasy season, but if you took Bell at No.1 or No. 2, you should be pleased.
2nd Round: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
If you throw out his most recent performance in Week 7 against Kansas City (11 receptions, 210 yards, 2 TDs), you could argue that Cooper had been the bust of the fantasy season. During Weeks 3 through 5, he was held to four catches for 23 yards… total! Over a three-game span! Not good for a receiver who many fantasy owners took as their first wideout off the board. After his gaudy performance versus the Chiefs, hopefully, this ignites Cooper out of his poor start and is a sign of things to come.
Thumbs Down, For Now.
Reach: Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints, 6th Round
Suspended for the first four games and then hurt for another. Snead has only played in one game this season. One catch for 11 yards. You were wise to stay away.
Value: Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders, 10th Round
This one is still a bit up in the air. Carr injured his back in Denver during Week 4 and missed a game. He struggled in his first game back against the Chargers, but then led a comeback victory over Kansas City to cap a 417-yard, three-touchdown night. Along with star receiver Cooper, maybe Week 7’s win will propel Carr back to the top of the fantasy quarterback list.
Thumbs leaning back up.
2nd Overall: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
This is just bad luck. Johnson was injured in the first game of the season and hasn’t played since. Injuries happen in the NFL and you hate to see it happen to one of the league’s superstars. Oh well, that’s why you draft for depth.
Thumbs down, but no fault.
2nd Round: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
I really liked Cooper early and so did many a fantasy owner. He still has time to turn it around.
One thumb down, one thumb up.
Reach: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams, 3rd Round
I was wrong about Gurley being a reach for sure. Rams optimists hoped that Gurley would have a bounce-back season and he certainly has. Gurley is arguably the number one player and certainly the top running back in fantasy at the half-way point. He’s gained 627 yards on the ground and ran for five touchdowns. He’s added 27 catches for 293 yards and three more scores. Gurley has shown no signs of slowing down and has put himself back among the fantasy running back elites. If you got Gurley in the third round, you made a great steal.
Thumbs so far up.
Value: Paul Perkins, RB, New York Giants, 9th Round
If the rich get richer, the poor got poorer if you nabbed Perkins late in your draft. The Giants are likely the biggest disappointment this season, although the injury bug has been unkind to New York. In four games, Perkins has mustered a measly 61 rushing yards on 32 carries. Less than two yards per rush. So gross. Perkins was on a short leash when the season started and has been injured the past three games. Unlikely we see Perkins having any fantasy value in New York anytime soon.
Thumbs six feet under.
3rd Overall: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even with a couple duds so far this season, Brown still proves himself to be the hands-down top receiver in fantasy. Brown leads the league in receptions (52) and yards (765). Only three touchdowns to his credit so far, but that total is bound to improve. I called Brown “money in the bank” before and he did not prove me wrong.
Thumbs up high.
2nd Round: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns
Oh man. I hated it then and I hate it now. The Browns are terrible as usual and Crowell hasn’t done anything to warrant a second round pick. A big doughnut hole in touchdowns, rushing and receiving. His best game on the ground was a whopping 60 yards. There is blood on my hands.
Thumbs down, bloody down.
Reach: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns, 2nd Round
Value: Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings, 12th Round
This wasn’t a good value pick until it was. Dalvin Cook blew out his knee, so the Vikings would turn to Murray, right? Then Jerick McKinnon outplayed Murray in the first two games after Cook went down. Then you look at Week 7’s 18-carry, 113-yard, one-tub performance and it leaves you scratching your head. Hard to figure what direction Minnesota goes next week against Cleveland.
Thumbs kinda down, but maybe on the way up?
4th Overall LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
Shady finally made his value of a first-round running back worthwhile in Week 7 in the Bills win over Tampa Bay. He finally got to pay dirt, twice. Patient fantasy owners will soon be rewarded for taking McCoy early.
Thumbs trending North.
2nd Round: Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
Cooks has been a solid contributor most weeks this season and should start feeling more comfortable in his new offense as the season progresses. With 28 catches for 537 yards and three TDs, Cooks finds himself ranked in the top five among fantasy receivers.
Reach: Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars, 13th Round
In previous seasons, Bortles put up solid fantasy numbers with the Jags usually playing from behind. You could always bet on a couple of late Bortles’ garbage touchdown passes with the game out of reach to pad your stats. Now that Jacksonville is decent, with a solid defense and the emergence of rookie runner Leonard Fournette, Bortles is almost rendered un-ownable. With injuries to quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer, though, many fantasy owners are pressed to put Bortles in the lineup.
Thumbs down still.
Value: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers, 4th Round
McCaffrey’s fantasy value is completely dependent on if you’re in a Point Per Reception league or not. His rushing totals are pedestrian, just 114 yards, and no touchdowns. As a pass-catcher, McCaffrey has been much more productive. He leads the league at his position with 44 catches and is second in yards gained with 329, including a pair of scores.
5th Overall: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
Again, if you drafted Johnson or Beckham, tough luck. Another dynamic play-maker is on the shelf for the rest of the season.
Thumbs down, no blame.
2nd round: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
This could even be a steal if you grabbed Fournette in the second round. After missing last game with an ankle injury, Fournette still finds himself as a top-five fantasy back. He has 596 yards and six scores, with a seventh total TD coming on the receiving end. The Jags are on bye in Week 8, so fantasy owners have their fingers crossed that this setback was a small one.
Thumbs big up.
Reach: Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints, 6th Round
This was a major reach during the short-lived five-game tenure in New Orleans. Then getting traded to Arizona and it was like Peterson was a new man. One good game, though, is not enough. He put up just 21 yards in the Cardinals shutout loss to the Rams in London. With Carson Palmer out with a broken arm, maybe Arizona’s offense will be forced to rely on Peterson. Maybe.
Thumbs back down.
Value: Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles, 13th Round
Wentz is an up-and-coming fantasy superstar. He is the second-ranked fantasy QB behind Alex Smith (who saw that coming?) Wentz is starting to find his groove too with 200-plus yards passing and 3 or more TDs in his last three games. Wentz has forced himself into must-start territory as he and the Eagles continue to rise this season.
Big Thumbs Up!
6th Overall: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
This has been a strange season for Jones and the Falcons. It seems that the offense is still adjusting to the loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and new OC Steve Sarkisian has yet to figure out how best to get Jones the football. Jones has been a disappointment for fantasy owners with 34 catches for 466 yards and one score. With nine of those receptions and the lone TD coming just last week in New England. Jones, the Falcons and fantasy owners who drafted him high can only hope that Jones is shaking off his early-season funk.
Thumbs down, but not for long.
2nd round: DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
If you took Murray in the second round, you took him too early. He’s been a bit hobbled with a bad hamstring and has had to split time with second-year back Derrick Henry. Murray has only rushed for 100-plus yards once this season, Week 3 against Seattle, and that was helped by a 75-yard scoring scamper. Other than that, Murray has failed to rush for over 60 yards in any of his other contests and has only added one more rushing touchdown.
Thumbs down again.
Reach: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers, 4th Round
Allen has just been OK this season. He has one game with 9 catches for 100 yards but has failed to catch more than five balls in any of his other games. He’s also been slowed by a shoulder injury, but fantasy owners are going to need to see Allen get in the end zone more than just the one time he did in Week 1.
Value: Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 5th round
Bryant was a hot target coming into the season as he was reinstated from suspension right at fantasy draft time. He showed why he could still be a fantasy force in Week 2, with a 27-yard touchdown catch and another big 51-yard reception. However, Bryant has disappeared since and has been very vocal about his displeasure with his usage on offense. From demanding a trade to criticizing fellow teammates, Bryant essentially earned himself one-game suspension by the team for Week 8. Unless Bryant gets traded, which head coach Mike Tomlin has said the team does not plan to do, Bryant does not need to be held on your fantasy team anymore.
Thumbs way, way down.
7th Overall Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman opened the season as a solid number one running back, scoring touchdowns in each of his first four games. After a bye in Week 5, Freeman has cooled off, failing to score in the two games played since. However, Freeman’s stats still put him in the top ten of fantasy running backs and he should continue to hover in that area for the rest of the season.
2nd round: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant isn’t a top fantasy wide receiver anymore but still, he puts up pretty consistent numbers week-to-week. His highest single-game reception total is seven and he hasn’t yet posted a 100-yard game. Yet, he’s still scored touchdowns in four out of six games. The second round may have been a little early for Dez, but he’s still a valuable fantasy player.
Reach: Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins, 5th Round
The oft-injured tight end has dealt with injuries again this season, including having to miss Week 3’s matchup with the Raiders. Coming into Monday Night’s game against the Eagles, Reed had not yet crossed the goal line, hadn’t had more than six catches in a game and had yet to cross the 50-yard receiving threshold. Then Reed broke out in Philly with 8 catches for 64 yards and two TDs. One good game, though, makes it hard to warrant his draft position in many fantasy leagues.
Thumbs down temporarily.
Value: John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals, 10th Round
Brown has been a waste of a draft pick thus far this season. He’s missed two games with an injury. He only has 13 receptions for 174 yards but has salvaged moderate fantasy value with two scores. With Palmer out, it’s hard to see Drew Stanton chucking the ball deep for Brown very much.
8th Overall: Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans has posted some of the most consistent fantasy stats among receivers all season. He’s averaging just under six catches a game for just over 75 yards. He also has four touchdown grabs to his credit. His numbers put him in the top ten for fantasy wideouts.
2nd round: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
I talked about Gurley before, but if you had enough confidence in him to take him in the second round than you nailed it. These are the type of draft picks that win fantasy leagues. Nice work.
Reach: Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers, 3rd Round
The 49ers have been bad, but Hyde has actually been pretty good. Things were looking pretty dicey for Hyde when he was benched in Week 5 in Indianapolis. He responded by punching in a pair of scores the next week and seems to have fallen back into to favor with the coaching staff. 428 yards and four TDs is pretty good bang for your buck and puts him among the top ten running backs in points.
Value: Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans 12th Round
After a six-catch, 69-yard outing in Week 1, Davis looked like a promising rookie. His season has been hampered by a nagging hamstring and he hasn’t played since Week 2, but could return to the field as early as Week 9.
9th Overall: Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Gordon has finally come into his own in his third season with the Chargers. His 394 yards and three touchdowns on the ground aren’t as impressive as some of the counterparts, but Gordon makes up for it with his skills as a pass-catcher. He’s added another four scores, 29 receptions and 228 yards as a receiver. Gordon ranks among the best six running backs in fantasy this season, behind Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Bell, Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott.
Thumbs up high!
2nd round: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
See the Dez blurb above.
Thumbs sort of up.
Reach: Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots, 5th Round
This was obviously done before Edelman went down with a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. Yet, Edelman still was drafted in one of my leagues by someone not paying attention. Good job guy.
Value: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers 10th Round
Hard to figure out what Big Ben’s deal is this year. At times he just looks like he’s not that into it. Maybe retirement is on the horizon. Roethlisberger has nine touchdowns to eight interceptions and hasn’t thrown more than two TDs in a game this year. With weapons like Brown and Bell, hard to figure why Big Ben’s numbers aren’t better.
Thumbs way down.
10th Overall: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Despite the struggles of quarterback Andy Dalton this season, Green has still made himself a top-five fantasy option. His 545 yards receiving is second behind Brown and he has a respectable three touchdowns. Pretty good considering Beckham and Jones were drafted much higher.
2nd round: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
You lucked out if you nabbed Elliott in the second round. Zeke is a top five back with 540 yards rushing and four touchdowns, adding two more touchdowns, 18 catches and over 200 yards through the air. Though, Elliott’s stats were padded immensely by a three-touchdown performance against the lowly 49ers in Week 7. The six-game suspension still looms, but Elliott has been cleared to play at least for one more game. If you rolled the dice in the second on him then it was still a good gamble even if he’s forced to sit out a few games.
Bold thumbs up.
Reach: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Philadelphia Eagles 6th Round
Blount had 18 touchdowns last year. He has one this year. Even after spell-back, Darren Sproles went down with season-ending injuries, Blount’s production has continued to stay stagnant.
Thumbs way down.
Value: Terrelle Pryor, WR, Washington Redskins, 3rd Round
Who would have thought Pryor’s presence in Washington would be pretty much nonexistent coming over after his breakout season last year in Cleveland? He had 6 catches for 66 yards in his first game. Since he hasn’t had more than three receptions and only has one touchdown to his name.
11th Overall: Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
Ajayi has two 100-plus yard rushing performances to his credit this year, but zero touchdowns. Can’t have that for a first-round draft pick. He’s also done very little as a receiver with just 10 grabs for 49 yards.
2nd round: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Thomas has posted a respectable 35 catches for 403 yards and two scores. He’s also had four 80-yard receiving games. Still waiting for him to really become a fantasy beast, though, and the second round is a bit rich for him.
Thumbs to the side.
Reach: Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers, 3rd Round
This spot was too early for Montgomery, but it isn’t all his fault. He’s been slowed down by broken ribs suffered in Week 4 versus Chicago. He was forced to miss a game and has been ineffective in his return. It appears that his starting running back spot was taken over by Aaron Jones, who out-touched Montgomery 20-5 last week in a loss to New Orleans.
Value pick: Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts, 10th round
Doyle has been more of a bye week fill-in, than an every week starter. Despite having backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett tossing him the rock all year, Doyle has 30 catches which ties him for the fifth most by a tight end.
Thumbs out to the side.
12th Overall: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
I think wherever you drafted Elliott you’d have to be happy to this point. Your mood could change in another week or so though.
Thumbs up for now.
2nd round: Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
Ajayi hasn’t lived up to this draft position either.
Reach: Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs, 5th Round
Ware got hurt in preseason, but it seemed only a matter of time before Kareem Hunt emerged as the Chiefs starter. Hunt has not only taken over the job for good but has been one of the best fantasy backs all season.
Value: DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8th Round
Jackson has one game with over 100 yards receiving but hasn’t had a game with more than five receptions. He’s a touchdown-dependent receiver with only two touchdowns. Not going to cut it.