The line-up is set. You’ve spent days tweaking the roster, researching every fantasy football site on the Internet. You’ve acquainted yourself with the depth chart of every NFL roster. Sunday morning, you don’t bother with chores around the house; you tackle the waiver wire hoping to strike fantasy gold. And, when all the games are done, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of losing to the worst place team in the league – you know, the owner who never checks their lineup and has kept their team intact since draft day. Yeah, sometimes you just get unlucky.
We’ve reached the quarter point of the NFL season and there are surprises throughout. Lions and Bills are surging; Steelers and Eagles are stumbling. Tony Romo has gone from goat, to miracle worker, and then back to goat again – in a matter of three weeks! Ah, I love football season. Here are some topics to discuss as we head into the second quarter of the season.
Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers—It’s not supposed to be this easy. Rodgers has absolutely torched opposing defenses en-route to a NFL-leading 73 percent completion percentage and 124.6 quarterback rating. Last week, he became the first player in history to rush for two touchdowns, throw four touchdowns, and pass for more than 400 yards. He’s a must-start against any defense.
Honorable Mention: Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady, Darren McFadden, Wes Welker
Defensive MVP: Jared Allen—Strictly from a fantasy perspective, he’s been the most productive player. His seven sacks are tied for the league lead, and he’s even managed to chip in an interception and forced fumble. He’s posted at least 11 sacks each of the last four years, so it’s safe to assume he’ll keep piling on the stats as the year continues.
Honorable Mention: Jason Babin, Jason Pierre-Paul, Charles Woodson
Offensive rookie: Cam Newton—I doubt even Panthers fans thought he’d be this good so soon. The Auburn grad has been lighting up the score sheet like he’s playing Kentucky and Vanderbilt every week. His four rushing touchdowns are the most among quarterbacks and his 1,386 passing yards ranks third in the league. If only stats translated into wins.
Close Second: Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Denarius Moore, Andy Dalton
Defensive rookie: Von Miller—When the Broncos drafted Miller out of Texas A&M, most projected him to be a ball-hawking linebacker capable of making 100-plus tackles a year. Based on what he’s done thus far, he could be even better. His four sacks are tops among all rookies and his two forced fumbles are tied for the league lead. Denver doesn’t have the greatest defense around him, but Miller is already making a push to be the face of the franchise.
On the Cusp: Ryan Kerrigan, Mason Foster
Biggest Bust: Chris Johnson—Normally I would mark an injured 1st or 2nd rounder as the biggest bust, (see Jamaal Charles) but Johnson’s rushing ineptitude has been too good (or bad) to pass up. His 2.9 yards per attempt ranks last among running backs with at least 40 carries, and he’s still yet to find the endzone. If you have other options, I would strongly consider benching him with a matchup against Pittsburgh this week.
Dishonorable mention: Jamaal Charles, Knowshon Moreno, Sam Bradford, Chad Ochocinco
Biggest Surprise: Steve Smith (the Carolina one)—After spending his career with the likes of Jake Delhomme, Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen and Chris Weinke under center, Smith finally has a quarterback with some arm strength who isn’t afraid take shots down the field. Once a fantasy afterthought, Smith is now one of the most dependable deep threat receivers in the game. His 132 yards per game is second only to New England’s Wes Welker, and his 22.1 yards per catch ranks first in the league among receivers with at least 15 receptions. Carolina figures to be behind a lot, so count on more downfield opportunities for Smith going forward.
Honorable Mention: Fred Jackson, Matthew Stafford, Eric Decker, Jimmy Graham, Victor Cruz, Preston Parker