Fantasy Football mid-season review and second-half preview: MVPs, best picks, sleepers, breakouts and busts
Our Fantasy team puts together their choices for the best players, biggest disappointments, and more at the mid-way point of the season.
Need Fantasy Football lineup advice? Talk to CBS Sports on your Google Assistant to get insights on the best sleepers and to help decide between players. Just start with, "Hey Google, talk to CBS Sports."
We're at the mid-way point of the Fantasy regular season. Can you believe it? With most league playoffs beginning in Week 14 or 15, we're about to hit the home stretch. That's as good a time as any to take stock of what's gone down to date.
I asked our Fantasy contributors from around the CBS Fantasy family for their thoughts on what's happened so far, and what is yet to come. Here is who contributed:
- Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Dave Richard, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Heath Cummings, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Adam Aizer, CBS Fantasy Football Today Podcast Host
- Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy/SportsLine.com Senior Editor
- Jacob Gibbs, Scout.com/SportsLine.com Fantasy Writer
Here are our thoughts on the season so far:
1. Who is the mid-season Fantasy MVP?
- Jamey: James Conner. For any Le'Veon Bell owner who was able to handcuff him to Conner, your season, so far, has been saved. And anyone, whether you are the Bell owner or not, who has Conner has gotten tremendous production.
- Dave: Todd Gurley. Worth every bit of the No. 1 overall pick, and should continue to be worth every bit of the No. 1 overall pick. We're getting close to the time where carrying his handcuff is necessary. But is it Malcolm Brown or rookie John Kelly?
- Heath: Patrick Mahomes. Yes, we often devalue quarterback when we talk about Fantasy Football. But when you catch lightning in the bottle with a QB averaging 32 Fantasy points per week, that can be a league-winner.
- Adam: Adam Thielen. I was concerned about his targets going down, but he and Kirk Cousins are BFF. He is the top wide receiver in Fantasy and is showing no signs of slowing down
- Chris: James White. He's been a PPR monster, and that doesn't come as a huge surprise, but White also ranks as a top-10 FLEX option in non-PPR, too. He won't sustain this touchdown pace, but White is on pace for 1,300 all-purpose yards, and was available in the ninth round or later in most drafts. Even when Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel were dealing with injuries in the preseason.
- Jacob: The obvious answer is Gurley, but I'll go off the board and nominate Thielen. While Gurley likely cost you the number one overall draft pick, Thielen could be had in the third round of most Fantasy drafts. Thielen has been remarkably consistent, finishing as a top-six Fantasy WR in PPR formats in six-straight weeks, and he gets matchups against New Orleans and Detroit in the next two weeks.
2. Who is the biggest bust so far?
- Jamey: Aside from Bell, since he's been a no-show, you have to say it's Rob Gronkowski. He hasn't scored since Week 1 and is now battling injuries that led to his absence in Week 7. Hopefully, he's OK heading into Week 8, but his lack of production so far has been tough for someone who was drafted in Round 2 in the majority of leagues.
- Dave: I'll ignore the injured running backs like Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook and focus squarely on Keenan Allen. Only twice this season has he reached 15 points in PPR (10 in non-PPR). Frustrates me so much I could kick a pylon! I'd look for Philip Rivers to rectify this coming out of the Week 8 bye.
- Heath: It has to be Bell right? Even when we started hearing whispers he wasn't showing up he was still being drafted in the first round. At this point I don't know if we get anything out of him.
- Adam: Allen. Not even a top-20 wide receiver, this guy was expected to catch well over 100 balls and score some touchdowns. I still have high hopes, but Rivers' low pass attempt totals are a definite concern
- Chris: David Johnson. I thought Johnson was still a legitimate No. 1 overall pick candidate, and even experimented with taking him ahead of Gurley in PPR mock drafts. I underestimated the Cardinals' incompetence, and overestimated Johnson's ability to overcome it. He's still one of the best buy-low candidates in football; with a new offensive coordinator, the Cardinals can't be worse, can they?
- Jacob: Again, the correct answer feels like a cop-out, so we'll go with Gronkowski instead of Bell. Gronk was drafted inside of the second-round in some leagues, yet ranks as just TE8 heading into Week 8. He's finished as a top-12 TE in just three of seven weeks, and now you have to play the guessing game with his health going forward. It has not been a fun season for Gronk owners.
3. Who is one player you're glad you drafted as much as you did?
- Jamey: Zach Ertz. Every league that I have Ertz is playoff bound, and he's been exceptional as the No. 1 Fantasy tight end in the first half of the season.
- Dave: I'm thrilled not to have to stream tight ends and just have an automatic starter in Ertz. Better yet, he's outproduced Gronk, who was taken a full round ahead of him.
- Heath: Travis Kelce and Ertz. I know it's cheating, but tight end has been full of landmines this year, and I feel so grateful for the teams where I have one of these two.
- Adam: Melvin Gordon. By the end of draft season, I had made Gordon my No. 4 RB. He entered the season as one of the safest running backs, but now we are seeing his true upside. He's a stud.
- Chris: Kareem Hunt. Remember being worried about Hunt? He's now on pace for nearly as many all-purpose yards as last season, with nine touchdowns in seven games. Given the excitement surrounding this offense coming in, he was the obvious choice in the second half of the first round.
- Jacob: Oh, it's victory lap time? Well anybody who is familiar with my work knows that my answer to this is your 2018 MVP, Patty Mahomes. I had Mahomes ranked as my QB6 entering the year and the only leagues I don't have him in are casual ones where my friends took him in the third round just to spite me.
4. Who is one player you wish you had drafted more of?
- Jamey: Kerryon Johnson. I loved him in the preseason, and we're finally starting to see his upside, especially following his performance against Miami in Week 7. He's headed for a huge second half.
- Dave: I liked Thielen all offseason, then once the preseason started it was Stefon Diggs who looked in sync with Cousins, not Thielen. Oops. Thielen's been the best Fantasy receiver in the game and Diggs continues to be his usual feast-or-famine self.
- Heath: Thielen. I went into camp with Thielen well ahead of Diggs and got a little scared by the connection Cousins and Diggs had in the preseason.
- Adam: Brandin Cooks. I felt the Rams had too many mouths to feed, but it turns out they are just an amazing offense and can sustain three Fantasy-relevant wide receivers.
- Chris: Saquon Barkley. I was skeptical of the Giants' offense — right on! — but Barkley's been so good that it hasn't mattered. He's fourth in standard scoring heading into Monday night's game. Even Eli Manning can't slow this guy down.
- Jacob: This one is easy. I was on the David Johnson at 1.01 train this offseason, meaning I missed out on Gurley in many leagues. Gurley is just printing people money on a weekly basis with his performance, while the highlight of David Johnson's season was his offensive coordinator getting canned. Easily my biggest L of the Fantasy draft season.
5. Who is your pick for second-half sleeper?
- Jamey: Jalen Richard. With Marshawn Lynch (groin) out for a month and potentially longer, we should see Richard as Oakland's best running back, especially in PPR.
- Dave: Anthony Miller. The Bears have been trying to get him more involved, giving him 16 targets over his last three games. Allen Robinson isn't a difference-maker along the perimeter and Taylor Gabriel isn't a complete receiver. Miller will be, and the sooner the Bears put him on the field and let him run routes all over the place, the sooner he'll matter in Fantasy. Mitchell Trubisky has played really well and should help Miller truly explode.
- Heath: Corey Davis. This is the classic post-hype sleeper and frankly, Davis has earned his place here with a terrible first half. The Titans get a Week 8 bye and Davis gets a four-game stretch starting in Week 10 against the Patriots, Colts, Texans and Jets.
- Adam: Kenyan Drake. Enough of this Frank Gore nonsense. Drake is too talented and needs more work, and I believe he'll get it. He's involved in the passing game and can hopefully build off his performance against Detroit in Week 7
- Chris: Raheem Mostert. Matt Breida is great, but he has left seemingly every game so far this season with an injury. Alfred Morris is the definition of a replacement-level running back, so there's an opportunity here for Mostert, who has really flashed the last two weeks. He led the 49ers' backs in snaps in Week 7 and looks like he could be a solid starter if Breida misses any (more) time.
- Jacob: Doug Baldwin continues to look more and more healthy — seeing 32% of Seattle's targets in their most recent game and finishing with a season-high 126 air yards. After a week off, Seattle faces several susceptible pass defenses to close the year, starting with Detroit this week. They also draw far more strong offensive teams in the second-half, which should force a more pass-heavy approach from Schottenheimer's offense.
6. Who is your pick for second-half bust?
- Jamey: Conner. If Bell comes back, whether it's Week 8 or Week 9, it will make this a messy backfield. Conner will go from the first-half MVP to someone you likely can't play, even if he's in a timeshare with Bell.
- Dave: Adrian Peterson's been a great story, but how long will it last? He's already banged up and relied upon too much by the Redskins. I fear a combination of tough matchups and old age will catch up with the Hall of Famer.
- Heath: Austin Ekeler. It was funny that Ekeler finally got more work and didn't score a touchdown in Week 7, but that's not why he's my choice here. His workload when Gordon is healthy just isn't enough to sustain the type of production he's given you. If you own Ekeler and not Gordon, I'd be looking to sell.
- Adam: Eric Ebron. As we saw in Week 7, the return of T.Y. Hilton is bad news for Eric Ebron, and Jack Doyle's return won't help either. You may have missed your chance to sell high.
- Chris: Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders has been awesome, but I'm skeptical it can keep up. He's averaging 13.1 yards per catch and 9.9 yards per target in an offense averaging 7.3 yards per pass attempt. He has a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown, and has been picking up chunk plays after the catch in a way that will be hard to sustain. A starting WR, yes. But if I can sell Sanders as a No. 1 WR — he's No. 3 overall — I'll do it in a heartbeat.
- Jacob: Mike Evans. After enjoying an early-season return to WR1-type usage, Evans has fallen back to earth in Weeks 6 and 7. Maybe that's coincidence, or maybe it is that he is running routes for a Jameis Winston-led offense again. In addition to a dip in targets, Evans will have to contend with a brutal second-half schedule.
7. Who is your pick for second-half breakout?
- Jamey: Nick Chubb. Now that he's the starter for the Browns following the Carlos Hyde trade, he's going to become a must-start Fantasy running back in all leagues.
- Dave: Courtland Sutton. Am I worried about any receiver catching passes from Case Keenum? Yeah. But Sutton could be in prime position to contribute regularly as part of a Broncos offense chasing points most weeks. He's a big, rangy receiver who's made some great plays in limited action. He'll be a lot of fun if he got accelerated into an every-down role. That should happen if/when the Broncos move on from one of their veteran wideouts.
- Heath: Chubb. This is the easiest one of them all, and it started last week. I expect Chubb will be a top-15 running back in the second half of the season with a reasonable chance he gets into the top-10.
- Adam: Marlon Mack. Yes! I drafted a lot of this guy and finally it has paid off (for one week)! Now we need him to stay healthy, because Andrew Luck routinely makes Colts running backs great for Fantasy owners.
- Chris: Julio Jones. He's going to score touchdowns at some point. It may not be as many as DeAndre Hopkins, but it will be more than zero. He's the best wide receiver in Fantasy. Do not @ me.
- Jacob: It is tough to list John Brown as a "breakout," when he already has enjoyed plenty of Fantasy relevance to this point, but I believe his second-half performance will solidify him as a high-end Fantasy WR2 in most owners' minds. Brown heads into the second-half ranked third among WRs in air yards and 13th in PPR points, and his second-half schedule is among the easiest in the league. His Week 12-through-15 schedule is especially inviting, as Brown faces four-straight teams graded in the bottom-10 of the NFL in PFF's coverage grade.
So who should you sit and start in Week 8? And what shocking QB could win you Week 8? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 5 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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