Last year was The Year of the Rookie. Players like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Evan Engram showed they can hang with the big boys, racking up numbers that put them in elite fantasy company. But after the rise comes the fall. Or at least that’s what the talking heads want you to think. It’s such a common refrain that you might think the experts, having run out of meaningful things to talk about, are just trotting out old clichés. Don’t worry, they’re not. The sophomore slump is real but it doesn’t happen to everyone. Luckily for you, your friends at The Read Option are here to help. We took a look at some of the top rookie WRs, RBs and TEs since 2013 and analyzed their first and second year numbers to find the truth behind the myth of the sophomore slump.
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
It’s hard to believe but we’re already a quarter of the way through the NFL season. If you’re lucky, your fantasy team got off to a strong start and, like the Rams, Bills and Lions, you’re feelingly surprisingly good about your team. Or maybe, like the Browns, Giants and Chargers, your team is 0-4 and feeling pretty hopeless. (It’s worth nothing that your shitty fantasy team probably has more fans than the Chargers these days.) Either way, there’s still a lot of season left and players who have looked great could slow down or get hurt even as players who have slumped or been injured finally get back on track. In the meantime, let’s take a look at five early season storylines that have stood out through the season’s first quarter.
Todd Gurley is Back
It’s early but the Los Angeles Rams seem to have found new life under new head coach Sean McVay. Nowhere is this spark more visible than the rebirth of Todd Gurley, who leads all running backs in fantasy points and has been a monster in both rushing and receiving yardage. McVay has committed to getting Gurley the football behind a re-tooled offensive line and it sure seems to be working: Gurley is averaging 29 fantasy points per game and is showing no signs of stopping. With Gurley averaging over 21 carries and five catches per game, his owners have to be thrilled with his early work this year. Look for the Rams to continue to provide lots of opportunity for this offensive juggernaut.
ACDC and the Raiders are a Mess
New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing has been ineffective in play-calling for this talented offense. Amari Cooper (AC) has ghosted on the season, tallying only 12 catches thus far. Couple this with Derek Carr’s (DC) lower back injury and you have a recipe for fantasy disaster. Carr is slated to miss as many as six weeks and the Raiders will have to handle his situation delicately. Backup QB E.J. Manuel does not provide the kind of downfield ability that Carr possesses and which is so important to the team’s offensive gameplan. To go along with the struggles of ACDC, the Raiders have hardly gotten anything from Marshawn Lynch. The preseason hype that Lynch garnered was due mainly to a supposed “high-caliber” offensive line. Lynch is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry and has found the end zone only once. If you’re an owner of anyone from the Silver and Black, your best bet might be to place them on your bench until they can prove that they’re worth a start.
One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Can Kareem Hunt keep this up?”
Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
2017 : 3 GP | 401 yds | 9 rec | 137 yds | 6 Total TDs
Alex Schillinger: Kareem Hunt didn’t exactly have the best start to his professional career: he fumbled his very first NFL carry. After that, though, he’s been pretty much flawless with 392 yards (on 46 carries) and four rushing TDs to go with a pair of receiving TDs. The Toledo alum has worked his way onto 100% of the rosters in ESPN leagues and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. But the question remains, is it even possible for the rookie to keep up this pace?
Mike Bergsman: You mean, a pace of 2,138 yards rushing, 731 yards receiving, 32 touchdowns, and 48 receptions? A pace that equates to an average of 32.3 PPG and 516 total fantasy points, shattering every record ever, and probably inserting himself into the Hall of Fame based on one year alone? Absolutely not.