News & Analysis

Midseason check: Who have been the most reliable fantasy options so far?

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs calls out a play against the New Orleans Saints during the second half on October 23, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

We’ve reached the bittersweet point in the season where we’ve passed the halfway mark following Week 9’s conclusion. We’re starting to see some teams pull away from the pack while others eagerly await reinforcements via this year’s draft. However, one thing we do have at the point, is plenty of actionable data. While the NFL sample size isn’t ideal, it’s enough for us to draw some conclusions on players and teams moving forward. This piece here will aim to highlight those players that are turning in high-end fantasy performances, as well as the consistency behind those games. All scoring is PPR and each segment will dive into some of the key takeaways that I think can help fantasy owners for the rest of the season. Let’s get started.

Quarterbacks

  • Carson Wentz leads all quarterbacks in top-six, top-12, and top-24 weeks through nine weeks of the regular season. His ADP in late August was QB18.
  • Nothing brings out competitiveness like playing for your job. After the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick, Alex Smith is playing the best football of his career. He has seven top-12 weeks and ranks second in adjusted completion percentage (79.6 percent).
  • Drew Brees has one top-six and two top-12 performances this season. He had seven top-six weeks and nine top-12 weeks in 2016.
  • If in need of quarterback help, Philip Rivers has been about as steady as they come. He’s posted consistent low-end QB1 numbers with five top-12 outings in eight games. He has a terrific string of games to end the season beginning Week 13 vs CLE, Week 14 vs WAS, Week 15 @ KC, and Week 16 @ NYJ.
  • Marcus Mariota’s lack of mobility has significantly hampered his fantasy appeal. He has just one top-12 week on the season.
  • Looking to take down a GPP in DFS? Mobile quarterbacks prevail among the top in most top-six weeks (Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Alex Smith).
  • The Giants, Jets, Raiders, and Eagles have each allowed six top-12 weeks (most among all teams).
  • The Chiefs, Browns, and Redskins have each allowed four top-six weeks (most among all teams).

Running backs

  • Kareem Hunt opened the season with three-straight top-six weeks. He has had one top-12 week since then.
  • Todd Gurley opened the season with four-straight top-six weeks. He has reached the end zone or rushed for 100-plus yards in every game but one.
  • No RB has more touches than Jay Ajayi’s 160 touches without a top-12 performance.
  • Ezekiel Elliott’s on-again, off-again suspension will be costly to fantasy owners if/when it’s on again, who have had Elliott finish as a top-12 RB in 6-of-8 games played.
  • Christian McCaffrey may not have had the ceiling games that some anticipated, but he has finished as an RB2 in every game but one this season.
  • DeMarco Murray had 11 top-12 weeks last season. He has just two such games through the first nine weeks of 2017.
  • Frank Gore, Jay Ajayi, Joe Mixon, and LeGarrette Blount have each had four top-24 weeks, but zero top-12 weeks this season.
  • The Raiders and Buccaneers have allowed the most “ceiling” plays to RBs, allowing four top-six weeks to the position each.
  • Carolina is the only defense that has yet to allow a top-12 RB performance this season.

Wide receivers

  • Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins both lead all wide receivers in top-six, top-12, and top-24 weeks. Brown led each of these categories last season, while Hopkins had just one top-12 week in 2016.
  • Late-round fantasy flier Chris Hogan has been a fantasy force in 2017. His four top-12 weeks ranks third at the position.
  • T.Y. Hilton has been as boom-or-bust as they come. He has three games of over 150-yards (finishing top-six in each one) and three games with fewer than 30 receiving yards. He’s been tough to roster in season-long leagues, but is paying off handsomely in best-ball setups.
  • It took until Week 6 for Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and John Brown to finish as a top-24 wide receiver.
  • Michael Crabtree and Michael Thomas have both been consistent low WR1s/high WR2s, but rarely display week-winning fantasy stat lines (just one top-six week each).
  • Dez Bryant had a brutal cornerback schedule to start the year, but has some great matchups down the stretch. He’s an ideal buy-low candidate if you can still find a way to trade for him.
  • Keenan Allen ranks 11th among all wide receivers in receiving yards (548), but has just two top-12 weeks and zero top-six weeks in his 2017 portfolio. His playoff schedule could turn him into a league-winner against KC and NYJ.
  • We’ve been routinely targeting the Packers’ secondary in DFS this season. We just saw Marvin Jones (7-107-2) and Golden Tate (7-113-0) go off against them, as they’ve been one of the most fantasy-friendly units to play against. Green Bay leads the league in most top-12 performances allowed with seven.
  • The Rams are the only defense that haven’t allowed a top-12 fantasy outing yet this year.

Tight ends

  • Zach Ertz leads all tight ends in top-six, top-12, and top-24 weeks this season. He has already beat or tied his marks at each of these categories from 2016.
  • Travis Kelce is right there with him with one fewer top-12 outing. Kelce has a 23.1 percent target market share of the Chiefs’ offense.
  • Cameron Brate was considered to be an afterthought by some in this Tampa Bay offense after the team drafted O.J. Howard. However, Brate has retained his successful receiving role from 2016 and has six top-12 weeks this year.
  • Evan Engram is destroying every rookie tight end narrative we’ve been forced to believe. Injuries to the Giants have elevated Engram into playing out of necessity and the rookie is absolutely flourishing with five top-six weeks this year.
  • The biggest surprise to me when compiling this list was how consistent Jared Cook has been. Five top-12 weeks has been quite remarkable by the new Raider in his first season with the team. He’s a sneaky buy-low option.
  • Kyle Rudolph has been a major disappointment from a fantasy perspective. He led all tight ends with 11 top-12 weeks last season and has just three so far this season.
  • Benjamin Watson is still hanging with the younguns, posting seven top-24 weeks as a consistent TE2 likely available on most waivers.
  • It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the team with the most top-12 weeks allowed to opposing tight ends is the Giants with seven. The Patriots, Raiders, and Redskins are tied for second with six apiece.

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