For six weeks in a row Kareem Hunt has led the league in PPGAR so it’s no surprise to see him at the top of the leaderboard at this point, though his lead has dwindled. Also unsurprising: the top five players are running backs which, if you’ve followed us the past several weeks, you’ll know is nothing new. It’s not all RBs, though. As the season has progressed, some intriguing story lines have emerged: can Deshaun Watson continue his elite play? Can Zach Ertz continue to outpace his tight end counterparts? Can Chris Thompson really be this good? (I totally predicted he would be, by the way.) Time will tell how long these players can continue their dominance but for now, to paraphrase the Big Tuna himself, you are what your PPGAR says you are.
Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley are back at it again in this week’s PPGAR rankings, though their leads have narrowed significantly as the season has gone on. After scoring 45.6, 25.9 and 25.3 points in each of the first three weeks of the season, Hunt has actually “slowed down” amassing only 16.1 and 14.6 points in the last two weeks (which is still pretty damn good).
In other PPGAR news, Leonard Fournette has been a delightful surprise this year on a fairly stagnant offense. It’s possible his numbers will pull back to the pack a bit as teams hone in on the run against Jacksonville and dare Blake Bortles to throw on them. Out wide, DeAndre Hopkins might be back, you guys. Remember what a beast he was in 2014 and 2015? Well, this year he’s been a target machine on a surprisingly efficient offense in Houston even if he’s another slow-down candidate as defenses learn Deshaun Watson’s tendencies.1
Another week, another Kareem Hunt explosion of fantasy output. Will he slow down?
As promised last week, we’d start to see some of the guys we are accustomed to seeing in the top tier of PPGAR. Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Devonta Freeman, etc. are all working their way up the charts.
Despite this, with next week being the quarter mark of the season, Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, Chris Thompson, Ty Montgomery, and Stefon Diggs make up the top five players in terms of PPGAR through the first three weeks. Like a Donald Trump tweet, this season in Fantasy Football has been so unpredictable.1
One of the reasons RBs are ruling the roost so far this season is that RB output is down about a point per game compared to years passed. In the past five years, replacement tier PPG has been around nine for RBs. This year, replacement tier PPG for RBs has been about eight. Basically, the highest performing RBs are playing really well and the gap has widened between the highest tier and replacement tier output, compared to other positions.
The fantasy football season’s only three weeks old but have you already had enough of your current roster? Is it time for a change? Did you start 0-3? If so, damn, your team must be awful. Maybe one of these eligible
bachelors players out there. And yes, I’m starting with a kicker.
Show of hands: how many of you have done fantasy drafts in Madden? I know I can’t be the only one. So the other day I was thinking about how great it feels to draft the best possible team, sit back and marvel at the juggernaut I’ve built. I rarely ever play the actual games; usually, I just simulate the season. If the team isn’t any good, I can always restart the season until it works out.1
Fantasy football scratches the same itch except that when I’m playing real fantasy football – by which I mean real fantasy football, not video game football2 – I can’t restart when things don’t go my way. Which sucks. To avoid that misery, my fellow fantasy players and I go to great lengths to build strong teams.3 All of which begs the question: can these two types of team building be combined? Can Madden ratings provide insight into future fantasy success?
Under the best of circumstances it would have been hard to be excited about the fantasy prospects of the New York Jets this year. We are not operating under the best of circumstances.
With the news that the Jets are planning to trade or release Eric Decker, the Jets have clearly committed to tanking not only their actual season but also your fantasy season, assuming you’re stupid enough to draft someone from
gangrene Gang Green. Brandon Marshall, the other half of the Jets’ briefly dominant wideout pair, is suiting up for the crosstown rival Giants now, which means that the best receiver left on the roster is – let me make sure I’ve got this right – Quincy Enunwa? Jesus swing dancing Christ.
The offensive line – once a strength of the team – has been decimated by age and ineffectiveness. A unit that once pummeled its opponents is now bereft of all the players that once made it so intimidating. Having released Nick Mangold earlier this year, the dominant core that once included long-time left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and interior mauler Matt Slauson is well in the rearview. Even worse, the team seems content to head into the season with the three-headed monster of Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty at quarterback. With quarterbacks like that, the best case scenario for the Jets passing game is that, due to a clerical error, all their games are cancelled.
It happens almost every year. A first round draft pick who’s expected to change the fortunes of a perennial basement dweller and sure enough, they’re nothing but hot garbage. Or you’ll see an almost nobody fifth rounder come out of nowhere and make the Pro Bowl.1
Over the last five years, there have been some pretty outstanding rookies that have made their way onto the field. And they’ve come from all throughout the draft. They’ve made a huge impact on both real, live-action football, the one that we all used to watch, and Fantasy Football, the one we’re willing to trade our first born for.
Here’s a look at how every single offensive rookie measured up in terms of first year output since the 2012 season:
Adrian, Marshawn & Jamaal,
Before I get ahead of myself, I want to give you guys some much deserved love. Adrian, you had the best combination of size and speed that I’ve ever seen at running back. In 2012, you managed to run for 2,097 yards even though running backs were becoming increasingly irrelevant and despite the fact that every single team you played against stacked the box because your quarterback was as intimidating as a loaf of white bread. And that happened when you were coming off a torn ACL! That’s nuts man. You really were the real life equivalent of a superhero – and you knew it, which made the whole thing that much better.
Marshawn. You were tough. You were silent. You loved you some Skittles. Oh, and there was that time that you literally caused an earthquake. And then a few years later you ran over the entire Arizona Cardinals team in a run so amazing that one of your teammates compared it to, uh, escaping slavery? That’s…powerful stuff. If given the choice between being hit by you or a Mack truck, I’d at least ask how fast the truck was going before I made up my mind, you know?
Almost nothing in fantasy hurts worse than being let down by a highly drafted player. In Dead or Alive, we’ll take a look at some of 2016’s most underwhelming performers and try to predict how they’ll fare in the upcoming season. (But if you get burned again, that’s totally on you.)
Do you remember 2015? Back when DeAndre Hopkins was third in receiving yards behind Julio Jones and Antonio Brown? When he averaged 20.1 PPG in PPR scoring, good enough for sixth among all non-QBs? When he seemed like a complete and total beast? I do too, but barely. These days it seems like it was a long time ago when everyone had Nuk pegged as a top five WR heading into 2016. When literally every major fantasy football site saw him as a can’t miss receiver.1
So many fantasy players drafted Hopkins early last year hoping that he’d build on his fantastic 2014 and 2015 seasons only to be left completely despondent. After his slow start, a lot of players tried to buy low in a trade, thinking he had to get better given what he’d done in the past.2 You can almost imagine a budding fantasy football analyst thinking exactly that and then trading a top-15 RB for Hopkins, dreams of “upside” swimming in his head.
Boy did I get burned, because he didn’t get better. The people who thought he would3were wrong. Not just kind of wrong. Like, disturbingly, maddeningly, outrageously wrong. So what the hell happened?
Have you ever wondered how your alma mater stands up against other schools in terms of fantasy output? I personally have not, as Northwood University and the University of Detroit Mercy are apparently not producing NFL caliber talent at an alarming pace. But for all the students and alums of our nation’s great football schools, here’s a look at five years of fantasy output sorted by school, conference and state.
I’m surprised by this because it’s been a long time since Miami stopped being the powerhouse it once was. Then again, a big chunk of Miami’s fantasy output in the last five years comes from Andre Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Frank Gore, Greg Olsen and Reggie Wayne.
If you look at the last five years, Miami’s output is certainly trending down. Being that Miami isn’t churning out NFL talent like they used to and that the players above are aging (or already out of the league), it’s a lock that Miami will fall in these rankings over the next few years. And if California at number two feels surprising to you, I’ll ask you to remember that the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch went to Cal.