It looks like Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin are in the midst of their annual “where the fuck has this been all season?” scoring frenzy. They’ve both gone ballistic in their last few weeks and have quietly1 moved up the PPGAR ranks.
Down in Houston, Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller are still clinging to their high rankings but it’s only a matter of time before they fall off the map because, well, did you see how bad Tom Savage was last week? The guy even admitted he played like crap. (If you’re reading, I appreciate your honesty, Tom.)
Meanwhile, after Adrian Peterson’s departure, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are somehow making it work in a shared backfield in New Orleans with both runners now in the top 11 for RBs in terms of PPGAR. If they continue to put up numbers like this – as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman did for the 2016 Falcons – and the Saints’ surprisingly stalwart defense continues to play this well, New Orleans could make some noise down the stretch and into the playoffs.
The king is dead. Todd Gurley has defeated Kareem Hunt and usurped the PPGAR throne. That would be the same Todd Gurley who failed to gain 900 yards rushing in 16 games last year and who, subsequently, had fantasy football players across the world tearing their hair out. Under boy-genius coach Sean McVay, Gurley and his quarterback, Jared Goff, have had quite the resurgence this year, along with the rest of the Los Angeles Rams organization. So while Hunt may have fallen from the top spot, he’s been ably replaced. The king is dead. Long live the king.
As we’ve outlined in the past several weeks, there have been several pleasant fantasy surprises throughout the league. But for every Dak Prescott or Leonard Fournette exceeding their expectations, there’s a Matt Ryan or Jay Ajayi utterly failing to meet theirs. That said, there are a lot of games still to play and there’s a good chance some of these poor performers will get back on track. Theo Riddick sticks out as a turnaround candidate since he averaged about five receptions per game in each of 2015 and 2016. He appears to be underutilized so far in 2017, averaging just 3.8 receptions per game and generating the kind of weak fantasy impact that is easily replaced by second tier RBs or even waiver options.1 Given his prior performance, Riddick owners are surely hoping that it’s only a matter of time before he turns it around. Here’s hoping some other early season disappointments – Alshon Jeffery, T.Y. Hilton, and Marcus Mariota all come to mind – can turn it around, too.
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
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:
Obviously, rookie performance runs the gamut from earth shatteringly good2 to holy shit, why did the Browns draft you in the first round, there had to have been other options, right?3
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?