We’re just through the halfway point in the NFL season, and there have been plenty of fantasy surprises (both good and bad). This article will examine five players who have exceeded expectations so far, five that have disappointed, and five predictions for the rest of the year.
5 Players that Exceeded Expectations
Lamar Jackson has been stellar this season. There’s really no other way to put it. Coming off a year where he only started seven games, no one really knew what to expect for Jackson this season. Eight games into the 2019 campaign, Jackson has silenced all doubts, scoring over 30 fantasy points three times (and only dipping under 20 points once) while recently dominating the much-heralded Patriots defense. Jackson is legit, and has snuck his way into the MVP conversation in just his sophomore year.
Stand up if you saw this coming from Christian McCaffrey. Now, sit back down, because you’re lying. Coming off a great season where McCaffrey rushed for 1,098 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns, he has electrified so far this year. Halfway through the season, he has rushed for 881 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also catching three in addition. He’s the best fantasy player this season, and is the only legitimate MVP candidate not playing QB.
Coming off a torn ACL in week 10 of last season, expectations were uncertain for Kupp this year. To be fair, players usually take two seasons to fully return to their true playing ability following an ACL tear. Kupp is doing all he can to disprove that theory. Through eight games, he has broken the 100 receiving yards mark five times, including his most recent 220-yard breakout game. Kupp is a WR1, and perhaps the only trustworthy fantasy asset on this years’ Rams team.
While Mike Evans has taken back the reins as the Buccaneers top receiver in recent weeks, Godwin was giving him a run for his money before that. Through eight games, Godwin has had four 100+ receiving yard games, while catching six touchdowns (only one less than his total in 2018). He’s had four 25+ point fantasy games in PPR, and is as solid of a WR2 as you’ll get.
Darren Waller has not been great the last three games, but considering the fact that he hasn’t caught more than 10 total passes in the three seasons prior to the 2019 campaign, he absolutely has exceeded expectations. Waller has caught six or more passes five times so far, including two breakout games against the Vikings and Packers. Hopefully he can bounce back in the coming weeks, but he has still exceeded expectations so far.
5 Players that have Disappointed
Joe Mixon has been the victim of playing for a miserable Bengals team this year. He’s a really talented player, but has scored under 10 points four times in PPR formats, and cannot be trusted as anything more than a flex for the rest of the season, Hopefully Cincinnati can get him some help in the draft this offseason.
Todd Gurley is not the same player he once was. I know that’s not what Rams fans or his fantasy owners want to hear, but it’s true. Coming off two straight 1,200+ rushing yard campaigns, Gurley has only rushed for 355 yards halfway through this season. He’s only had one great game so far in week four against Tampa Bay (where he only rushed five times but was bailed out by touchdowns!). Consider him nothing more than a low-end RB2 for the rest of the year.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. has certainly struggled this season. He has not exceeded seven catches in a game, and has only gotten into the end zone once. These struggles cannot be attributed to a lack of talent, as Odell is still one of the most skilled receivers in the league. Instead, Baker Mayfield just hasn’t been getting him the ball. A dominant performance in week two against the Jets is the only game he’s scored over 20 fantasy points. While he’s still a serviceable WR2, this season has definitely been disappointing.
Woods entered the year coming off a career high season in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns. With Brandin Cooks struggling with injuries, one would think Woods would see an increased workload. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. He’s currently on pace for 76 catches on the year (10 less than last year) and has not scored yet (six touchdowns last year). While he’s still a solid flex play, Woods hasn’t taken the next step many people expected.
At just 24 years old, O.J. Howard was considered one of the brightest young tight ends coming into the season. After recording 34 catches for 565 yards and 5 touchdowns last year, Howard has disappeared from the fantasy radar this season. He has not recorded more than 10 points in a game this year, and has missed the Buccaneers last two games with a hamstring injury. Until he proves that he has any value, Howard should not be rostered.
5 Predictions for the Rest of the Season
Odell Beckham Jr. breaks out
It’s only a matter of time before this happens. Beckham Jr. is too talented to continue putting up these mediocre numbers, and despite his abysmal play so far, Baker Mayfield is a capable quarterback. The Browns must realize that in order to keep their star receiver happy, they need to feed him the ball. It might just help them win a few more games, too. Beckham should see a spike in targets and production, and will jump into the low-end WR1 tier by the end of the season.
Nick Chubb’s production significantly drops
Nick Chubb is a very talented back, but Kareem Hunt is too good not to get carries. On the bright side, Hunt is a capable receiver, so there will be times that he and Chubb will be on the field at the same time. However, with the Browns likely looking to feed Odell Beckham Jr. more and the return of Hunt, Chubb is bound to see less touches. He could very well still be an RB1, but he’ll have to maintain his stellar 5.2 yards per carry (4th among running backs this season) to do so.
Alvin Kamara gets healthy and balls out
It’s certainly appropriate to say that Alvin Kamara has been disappointing this season, but he has also been dealing with injuries. As long as Kamara gets healthy, he should remind everyone of his real talent. Coming off a season where he scored 18 total touchdowns, Kamara is arguably the most dynamic receiving back in the league. He’s a threat to score at any time, and will finish the season as a top ten running back as long as he’s healthy.
Mohamed Sanu finishes the year as a top 20 fantasy receiver
After being traded to New England, Mohamed Sanu has found himself in the best possible situation. Sanu dominated in the intermediate passing range, which fits the play style of quarterback Tom Brady perfectly. It did not take Sanu long to catch on to the Patriots complicated offense, catching 10 passes (14 targets) for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Pats’ last game against the Ravens. While it’s unreasonable to expect that kind of production on a regular basis for Sanu, he should see consistent targets as Brady’s #2 option for the rest of the year.
Travis Kelce starts finding the end zone again… a lot
Travis Kelce has done everything except score consistent touchdowns this year. Kelce has only scored under 10 points once (PPR) through nine games, but has only scored twice (10 touchdowns last year). With quarterback Patrick Mahomes likely returning to action the next two weeks, Kelce will see a ton of red zone targets, and he’s too talented not to convert them into touchdowns.