On one of my fantasy teams, I feel like I am Waiting for Godot with Tom Brady.  Projected for 4,300 yards passing and over 30 TDs, the pretty boy has left his owners wondering where he is.   Tom Brady is the 22nd ranked QBs on a list that has QBs who have missed games in front of him.  So, I got to thinking.  Is it only at QB that things are mixed up?  That made me think of who are The Departed like the 2006 Martin Scorsese thriller.  The Departed is the story of the FBI’s pursuit of mob boss Frank Costello (brilliantly played by Jack Nicholson) through an undercover agent (Leonardo DiCaprio) whose identity is unknown to the corrupt FBI agent (Matt Damon) who is working for Costello.  With dozens of twists and turns, it is like this Fantasy Football season.  Every week, you hear me bellyache about how it is shifting to a passing game and then in the last three weeks back to a running game.  Well, this week, back to a passing game with huge QB performances by Brees, Dalton, Stafford, Newton and Manning plus record setting performances by Megatron and Marvin Jones. 

Let’s focus on the players who have “departed” from your team; players who were projected in the Top 15 and are not doing it at all.  Let’s also highlight the player at each position that is the biggest surprise.  Like Nicholson says to Leo when he expects that he is not on his team: “When I was your age they said you could be cops or criminals. But when you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?”

So face the loaded gun in your league…

 

Quarterbacks

Although it seems there has been a lot of craziness at this position.  The Top 12 has been pretty much the Top 12, with the exception of the guy below.  Many players are not as good as they should be because of circumstance (Ryan for example) and many players are better than expected (Manning is 50 points better than any other QB). However, the position has held up and only Brady is RUINING seasons at this position.

Tom Brady – New England (Projected 170 – Actual 121) It is the disaster scenario for fantasy players.  He was projected to be the fifth ranked QB in fantasy football with more than 340 points.  It was expected that he would have weapons in Amendola and Gronkowski.  It was expected he would be a Top 5 QB and at worst top 10.  He is ranked 22nd among QBs and has played one more game than a lot of these players.  New England is winning and Brady is happy, so it doesn’t get better for the former fantasy football star.  Cut Bait.

Tony Romo – Dallas (Projected 150 – Actual 180) Of the players on the Top 15 at Quarterback, Romo is the biggest surprise.  Not to those who watch him as he is a prolific passer, but to the fantasy community who always seems to underrate his talent at racking up passing yards and TDs.  This year he has amassed 179 points in a PPR, only behind Brees, Manning and Stafford.  Projected for only 299 PPR points, Romo is on his way to crushing that. Great move if you own him.

Running Backs

This position at the halfway point looks like the kitchen of the bar when Costello is chopping up the bodies.  So many players who were supposed to play well for you and garnered top draft picks have left your team for dead.  Let’s take a look.

Doug Martin – Tampa Bay (Projected 144 – Actual 68) – We could have guessed this one and actually, we did.  In the pre-season, we were not on Doug Martin because the S in SMART stands for System or Team.  The Buccaneers were destined to be bad.  No one thought they would be this bad, but you should have known better.   The fact that his injury has one of those timeframes that is hard to understand makes it tougher for owners.  When they say it will be “two weeks to two months”, how are you supposed to plan?  Go to plan “B”.

CJ Spiller – Buffalo (Projected 130 – Actual 58) – Another tough one as the track record was not there to be 100% sure on Spiller.  He is hurt too, but also Fred Jackson has done enough to be a big enough part of this offense.  When coaches said they would give him the ball until he puked, fantasy owners salivated.  Now, fantasy owners are throwing up too. Hopefully you handcuffed Spiller with Jackson. If not, pray to the porceline G-ds.

Trent Richardson – Indianapolis (Projected 129 – Actual 59) – This one might hurt the most.  Many people drafted T-Rich with confidence.  He was the guy in Cleveland as they didn’t have anyone else.  He is healthy.  Then, hooray, he got traded to a team that should be using him in a feature back role and over the years has been good to RBs.  However, the tide has turned to crimson for the former Alabama RB and the fantasy sharks are circling as he has not exceeded 60 yards rushing in ANY game this season.  Tough to cut bait on your number one pick, but hard to keep sending him up there too.

Steven Jackson – Atlanta (Projected 120 – Actual 29) – All the best fantasy experts were right about this.  “2400+ carries is too many for any player.”  “He is over 30 years old now.”  I will admit that I was definitely fooled.  S-Jax is one of the best conditioned athletes in football.  He was going to a new system that would be able to take advantage of his great hands.  Well, I was dead wrong on this one.  A minor hamstring injury has turned into five weeks off and then in his return this week, he was running slower than Brandon Jacobs.  Go to plan “C”

David Wilson - New York Giants (Projected 110 – Actual 19) – Wow.  David Wilson was supposed to be the featured back when a pre-season injury to Andre Brown clears his path.  Then, he comes down with a case of fumblitius and is benched.  Then, in week 4, he is given a chance to win his job back, but in week 5, he suffers a neck injury that likely ends his season for fantasy players.

Surprise Player:  Andre Ellington – Arizona (Not projected – Actual 95) – This week, with Mendenhall hurt, Ellington proved that he could be an every down back.  He had explosiveness.  He was good in protection and he got the job done to the tune of 15 carries for 154 and hit pay dirt on an 80 yard run where it looked like the Falcons were in slow motion.  Invest.

Wide Receivers

For the most part, wide receivers have been all over the map, but if you got one of the Top 10 guys, they are performing with at least Top 20 value.  What this means is that many fantasy football players who drafted wide receivers early were rewarded with stability. Unless you had these guys.

Danny Amendola – New England (Projected 125 – Actual 36) – Players who get hurt tend to get hurt again.  What part of this did we forget when New England banked on Amendola replacing Wes Welker?  After 10 catches in week 1, the fantasy world knighted him as the PPR darling to make the Bostonites forget about Welker.  Now, how did that turn out?  Even apparently now healthy in Week 8, he only had 3 catches for 15 yards.  Maybe it was game planning.  You have no choice but to keep sending him up, but it hurts.

Roddy White – Atlanta (Projected 122 – Actual 27) – At least this week he was ruled out so that people who have been seeing Harry Douglas didn’t bank on a player who has not had more than 45 yards receiving in any one game.  The Falcons needed him to help them get back into this race, but now with the loss to the Cardinals this week; they will have a more conservative approach.  You can and will have better options than White until he gets back to form.

Dwayne Bowe – Kansas City (Projected 116 – Actual 68) – With the new Andy Reid short passing game, the Top 10 projected WR is circling the Dwayne.  I will admit that I was on board with the new system helping the young star.  It has been awful.  Don’t know how you could have predicted this, but he has not had a game over 66 yards and in no game did he have more than 5 catches.  His owners are stuck with benching him.  That is what I did in two leagues.

Surprise player: Marvin Jones – Cincinnati (Projected 109 – Actual 27) – He is En Fuego right now.  With TDs in each of the last three games and the explosion of 8-122 and 4 TDs this weekend, makes everyone take notice.  We knew he had talent, but honestly I thought the Jets’ defense was better based on shutting down Brady, but EVERYBODY shuts down Brady now.  Jones was only on the field for 19 snaps, but he made the most of it and was a great and tough red zone threat.  His nose for the goal line was great as well as understanding how to position his body for a back shoulder TD.  He has the talent to be huge in the second half and if your league didn’t grab him yet, he should be number 1 on your waiver list.

The Departed - The Sequel

This week is the trade deadline on the 29th.  There is some speculation that Hakeem Nicks could find a new home.  Reports have said that the New York Giants want a second round pick or at a minimum a third round pick plus a player.  This is a steep asking price for a player who runs bad routes and whose hands are not reliable.  He had zero drops this week, but that is rare for him lately.  For your fantasy team, don’t be afraid to get rid of the players that are not helping you and find a new guy.  Like Costello says: “I got this rat, this gnawing, cheese eating rat and it brings up questions... You know, see, Bill, like you're the new guy”

So go get the new guy…he could be your hero…


Rick Wolf, Co-Host of Colton & The Wolfman - Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio  The Fantasy 100Rick Wolf is a leader in the fantasy sports industry. Wolf is a founding Board Member and one of only fifteen FSTA Hall of Famers including Bill James and Matthew Berry. Wolf’s career accomplishments include starting the fantasy sports division at SportsLine USA that became CBS SportsLine, incubating Rotoworld to become the #1 fantasy sports news site, and spearheading the sale of Allstar Stats/Rotoworld to NBC Sports in 2006.  With college friend and fellow Hall of Famer, Glenn Colton, the team has won 7 expert titles in baseball and football. Twitter: RickWolf1  

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