Early Fantasy Football Surprises and Disappointments

Story posted September 30, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by John Sloan

Every fantasy season has breakout players, busts and season-altering injuries. This season has been no different through the first three weeks. Here are some of the biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2016 season.

Surprises  

LeGarrette Blount – Blount has been a blessing for the Patriots this year as they continue to rotate through quarterbacks. With Tom Brady’s suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury, the Patriots have relied heavily on their bruising running back. Blount has the most carries in the NFL through three weeks and has scored at least one touchdown in every game. Considered a later round option heading into the season, his jump into must start territory has been a genuine surprise.

His production should take a hit when Brady returns as there will be a heavier emphasis on the passing game, but with no real threat to take away carries from him, Blount should be a successful RB2 to FLEX play for the rest of the season.

2016 statistics: 75 carries, 298 yards and 4 touchdowns

Melvin Gordon – 2015 was not a good year for Melvin Gordon following his selection by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of last year’s draft. Gordon rushed for an abysmal 641 yards and had zero touchdowns in a rookie season that saw him miss the final two games after undergoing microfracture knee surgery. Gordon on average was going in the 60s or 70s in most fantasy drafts this year and those who took a chance on him have been rewarded. Under offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Gordon has received an increased workload and has found the end zone four times in three games.

Whereas last season Gordon found himself on the sidelines on most third down and red zone situations, the loss of running back Danny Woodhead for the season has allowed him to stay on the field, resulting in an increase in catches and touchdown opportunities. Gordon should remain a solid RB2 with RB1 upside in certain matchups for the rest of the season as the injury depleted Chargers are quickly running out of weapons to surround Phillip Rivers.

2016 statistics: 54 carries, 194 yards and 4 touchdowns

Marvin Jones – Marvin Jones has done the unthinkable this season; admirably replacing the great Calvin Johnson. Johnson was arguably the best receiver over the past decade, so to replace him is no small feat. So far this season; however, Jones has been that guy, putting up great numbers the first two weeks before blowing up for 205 yards and two touchdowns in week three. Jones has almost 100 more receiving yards then any other receiver in the league, while boasting an impressive 22.7 yards per catch. With quarterback Matthew Stafford’s gun slinging ways, expect Jones to put up WR1 numbers for the rest of the season, if he remains healthy.

2016 statistics: 18 receptions, 408 yards and 2 touchdowns

Honorable Mentions: Stefon Diggs, Will Fuller, DeMarco Murray, Sterling Shepard, Isaiah Crowell, Spencer Ware, Christine Michael, Tevin Coleman

Disappointments

Randall Cobb – We learned last year that Randall Cobb doesn’t have the ability to be a true number one receiver for a team. With teammate Jordy Nelson missing the entire season, Cobb regressed heavily from his impressive 2014 season. Cobb had 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, ending the season as one of the best receivers in fantasy. In 2015 as the number one target, he had 828 yards and only six touchdowns. Cobb’s draft stock for 2016 didn’t drop very much as there was a belief that the return of Jordy Nelson would bring back the 2014 Cobb. 

That has not happened so far, as Cobb only has 132 yards and zero touchdowns through three games. Blame was being placed on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ struggles early in the season, but a great performance in week three that saw Cobb only have one catch further adds to owners’ anxiety. Heading into the season as a WR2 option, now it is even a question if he should start on your fantasy team.

2016 statistics: 12 receptions, 132 yards and 0 touchdowns

Brandon Marshall – An excellent receiver throughout his entire career, Brandon Marshall enjoyed a comeback season in 2015 with the Jets after dealing with injuries throughout his final season in Chicago. Marshall had 1,502 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last year and was expected to put up similar numbers again in 2016. Owners who drafted him in the second or third round of their fantasy draft have been disappointed so far as Marshall hasn’t produced a touchdown yet this season.

Concerns over age, lack of production from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and too many other options in the passing game should make Marshall owners a little concerned.

2016 statistics: 12 receptions, 160 yards and 0 touchdowns

Sammy Watkins – Sammy Watkins has been extremely unproductive this season, an issue that has been compounded with a lingering foot injury that held him out last week and will most likely continue to hold him out at least for this upcoming week. The fourth-overall pick in the 2014 draft has had a lot of success in his first two seasons, but continued pain in his surgically repaired foot seems to be really hampering him this season.

He is a player that should be stowed away on your bench until he is deemed completely healthy and ready to produce at an elite level.

2016 statistics: 6 receptions, 63 yards and 0 touchdowns

Dishonorable mentions: Jeremy Maclin, Allen Hurns, Golden Tate, Russell Wilson, Allen Robinson, Gary Barnidge

 

John Sloan is a senior majoring in print journalism. To contact him, email jps5614@psu.edu.