We’re into the second half of the fantasy season, and like a kid after Halloween, we’re looking at our bounty with some excitement and some disappointment. There are some real treats there (full-size bars, not fun-size nuggets of candy), but there are tricks as well (candy corn).
In fantasy, we’re looking at the same mixed bag. Here are a few ticks and treats I’ve identified so far.
Christian McCaffrey. And Saquon Barkley, and any other running back we expected to bounce back after injury. After watching a lost season last year, fantasy teams went right back to the well with McCaffrey, with most making him the first overall pick. Then some teams thought they got a “steal” with Barkley a little bit later.
Unfortunately, the theft was getting their draft pick pilfered. It’s been 2020 all over again, with more injuries and missed games. At least Barkley was definitely out last year, and you could plan accordingly. Now he’s just missing games and taking up a roster spot, and McCaffrey’s injury is stretching into the second half of the season. It’s hard to be too critical of football players in high-impact positions who are struggling with injuries. They want to be out there. But from a fantasy standpoint, no treats here.
Denver Broncos. Never mind their 4-4 record. That’s about what I expected from them. But is anybody rostering a Denver player outside of Sutton or Fant? Teddy Bridgewater started out strong, then faded around the time you’d think about putting him into your lineup. And if you put Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams together, you’d have a pretty good starter. But even their best players are mostly roster depth for a good fantasy team.
Marquez Callaway. Remember back about 50 years ago, when Callaway was the hot prospect in the preseason and was racing up draft boards? Feels like a half-century ago, anyway. Throw out a great stat line against Washington, and you can throw him into the free agent pool.
Devin Singletary/Zack Moss. One of these guys is going to emerge as the every-down starter, right? I think so. Probably in 2023. Until then, thanks for taking up space.
Matt Stafford. If you just missed out on the “name” quarterbacks in your draft or used the strategy of waiting until later to select one, Stafford has been great for fantasy teams. Solid production and a great offense on a playoff-caliber team has paid off for anybody starting him.
Justin Herbert. See above.
Jalen Hurts. Do not see above. The Eagles aren’t good. They don’t have a great offense and they don’t look like a playoff team. Hurts isn’t dominating the games he’s playing. But somehow, when the final whistle blows, you normally see a great stat line. And a lot of that production comes at the end of the game. It’s like a newbie was playing Madden for three quarters, and gave the controller to his big brother to finish up. It’s not great for Philadelphia, but it’s been great for fantasy players.
Ja’Marr Chase and Deebo Samuel. Often, a fantasy championship team benefits from getting a “bonus” early pick. Meaning, they get early-round production out of someone who was either a late-round pickup or maybe even a waiver wire addition. Chase and Samuel are contributing way beyond wherever they were chosen. And if they went to team that waited to select receivers, it means they’re likely that much stronger in other areas. That’s a bad combination for the rest of the league, but great gifts for the teams that start them.
Derrick Henry. Henry wasn’t a bargain pickup, nor was he expected to be anything but a top-producing running back. So why is he a treat? Because in a game where first-round picks get hurt, or share time, or don’t quite live up to expectations, sometimes it’s nice to get what you pay for. Henry is who we thought he is (RIP Dennis Green).
I hope your team is packed with full-size talent for the second half of the season, with no candy corn trash on your roster. Good luck this…wait…hold on…we’re getting an update at the news desk…please place Henry in the “trick” section.
Sigh. Isn’t this game fun? Good luck this week.
Which tricks and treats did I miss? Who’s been your biggest surprise? Your biggest disappointment? Share your thoughts below.