Welcome to the home stretch. As the half way mark of the NFL season is now behind us, the fantasy football playoffs are now just several weeks away. But, before we start looking at the second half of the season, let’s hand out some first half rewards.
MVP - Russell Wilson (2,411 total yards, 26 TDs, 6 INTs, 206.04 fantasy points)
As Wilson looks to be on the fast track to taking home the NFL MVP, he easily secures the MVP for the first half of the fantasy season. His 206.04 points trails only Patrick Mahomes (207.1), but Wilson has averaged more points than Mahomes (29.4 to 25.9), as Mahomes has yet to see his bye week. Wilson leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (26) and passer rating (120.8) after eight weeks and doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
Best Offensive Player - Alvin Kamara (987 total yards, 7 total TDs, 195.7 fantasy points)
Disregarding quarterbacks, Kamara has been producing at an insane level so far this season. His 195.7 fantasy points easily ranks first among FLEX players, as Dalvin Cook ranks second with 161.9 fantasy points. With Michael Thomas out, the Saints offense has ran through Kamara. He’s failed to rush for 100 yards in a game on the season, but is currently on pace to haul in 125.7 receptions, which would be a single-season record to running backs. He’s locked in as the top fantasy running back going forward.
Waiver Wire Pickup - James Robinson (706 total yards, 6 total TDs, 133.6 fantasy points)
After Leonard Fournette was released, all eyes turned to James Robinson in the Jaguars backfield. The undrafted rookie had no problem stepping in for the former first-round pick, as he’s pilled up over 700 combined yards and six touchdowns on the year. After Week 1, Robinson was owned in just 29.1 percent of ESPN leagues, a number that now sits at 97.5 percent. He’s produced at least double digit fantasy points in every game this season, while his 133.6 fantasy points is fifth best among running backs. Robinson has established himself as a top 10 back for the rest of the year.
Best Performance - Tyler Lockett (15 receptions, 200 yards, 3 TDs, 53.0 fantasy points)
Lockett has actually been the top fantasy wide receiver on the year in terms of total points scored, largely due to his Week 7 outburst. The 53-point performance was the highest individual score from any fantasy player this season. Lockett’s career game came at expense of the Arizona Cardinals, in which the speedster showed off with an array of one-handed catches and tremendous body control. With Russell Wilson throwing airing the ball out, he’ll be a top wideout for the rest of the year.
So now, let’s look ahead to Week 9:
On Bye: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams
Josh Allen vs Seattle
After leaving Allen on benches last week, slide him back into your starting lineup in Week 9. Allen has come down to earth after a scorching start, but he’s in a prime spot to get back on track against the Seahawks. Seattle has given up the second-most fantasy points to QBs this year, while allowing Nick Mullens alone to nearly score 20 points against them just last week when replacing the injured Jimmy Garoppolo.
Just like Allen, Newton has struggled lately but has a prime opportunity to get out of his funk. He looked better last Sunday against Buffalo, but a date with the winless New York Jets should give Newton plenty of opportunities for success. The Jets have struggled against mobile quarterbacks this season, allowing Josh Allen to combine for over 100-yards and a score in two games, while Kyler Murray also found the end zone on the ground.
More Starts: Justin Herbert vs Las Vegas, Deshaun Watson at Jacksonville
Drew Brees at Tampa Bay
In the Saints’ Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay, Brees threw for just 160 yards on 30 pass attempts. He’s played better of late, but the Buccaneers defense has allowed just two opposing QBs to score more than 17 fantasy points. It seems he will be getting Michael Thomas back from injury, but Brees still is a tough play this week.
Teddy Bridgewater at Kansas City
Bridgewater struggled against Atlanta last Thursday night and things won't get much easier against Kansas City. The Chiefs have been extremely tough on enemy wide receivers and quarterbacks on the year, allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the quarterback position. It’s a good time to leave Teddy sidelined.
More Sits: Phillip Rivers vs Baltimore, Tua Tagovailoa at Cardinals
Sleeper: Drew Lock at Atlanta
The QB market is slim pickings on the waiver wire, but Lock provides upside this week against a poor Falcons defense. Atlanta’s defense ranks 30th in QB rating against and 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed, giving up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Lock had his best game of the season last week, throwing a season-high three touchdown passes, and will look to build on that this week.
JaMycal Hasty vs Green Bay
With only Hasty and Jerick McKinnon healthy in the San Fran backfield, Hasty should see plenty of work Thursday Night. After out-touching McKinnon 13-to-eight last week, Hasty should remain the lead back on early downs for the 49ers. In a matchup against Green Bay, who has allowed the most fantasy points per game to RBs this year, Hasty is a strong play this week.
Chase Edmonds vs Miami
Fantasy owners have been WAITING for Edmonds to take over as the top back in Arizona. Unfortunately, it happened as Kenyan Drake went down with an ankle injury, but Edmonds is now the top dog. In the past, Edmonds has been dominant when given touches, averaging 18.1 fantasy points per game when seeing at least 11 touches. He has a prime matchup with Miami this week who’s allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
More Starts: Damien Harris at New York Jets, Antonio Gibson vs Giants
Jonathan Taylor vs Baltimore
Taylor flopped last week in a prime matchup against Detroit, and things just get tougher this week against Baltimore. He’s lost work to Jordan Wilkins as of late and Nyheim Hines continues to be used as a receiver out of the backfield. Taylor also has been dealing with an ankle injury, not a recipe for success against a strong Baltimore run defense.
Ezekiel Elliot vs Pittsburgh
Elliot has scored 14.4 fantasy points over the last two weeks combined and now gets the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 1 ranked run defense. Pittsburgh is allowing under 80 rushing yards and the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. With the QB situation still a mess in Dallas, expect the Steelers to focus on stopping Zeke.
More Sits: Giants Running Backs at Washington, Melvin Gordon at Atlanta
Sleeper: Matt Breida at Arizona
With Myles Gaskin (MCL) out on Sunday, Matt Breida should be in line to start for the Dolphins. He has been the primary backup all season as Jordan Howard has been inactive as of late. The speedster will have opportunities to take advantage of the vulnerable Cardinals run defense on Sunday.
Antonio Brown vs New Orleans
Welcome back Mr. Brown. In his first game since Week 2 of last season, Brown should automatically be reinserted into fantasy lineups. We know Brown is in shape and with a hobbled Mike Evans and a sidelined Chris Godwin, he should have plenty of opportunities immediately. The matchup makes things even better, as New Orleans has allowed the most fantasy points to enemy receivers over the last four weeks. Plus, the last game Brown played against the Saints - 19 targets, 14 catches, 185 yards, and two touchdowns.
Justin Jefferson vs Detroit
Jefferson was quite last week with Jaire Alexander covering him for most of the afternoon, but he’ll right the ship here against Detroit. The Lions have allowed an average of more than 180 receiving yards per game to wide receivers this year. Detroit has also struggled to limit explosive plays and deep passes, two areas Jefferson has thrived this season.
More Starts: Allen Robinson at Tennessee, Cole Beasley vs Seattle
D.J. Chark Jr vs Houston
With Jake Luton under center for Jacksonville, Chark’s ceiling is very low (especially after totaling just 19.7 fantasy points over the last three weeks). Chark thrives as a downfield target and Luton is known for keeping things safe under center. To make matters worse, he’ll likely line up across for cornerback Bradley Roby, who held him to three catches on four targets earlier this year.
Robby Anderson at Kansas City
Anderson has been a bright spot for the Panthers this year, but Kansas City has not allowed a wide receiver to eclipse 50 receiving yards over the past three weeks. On the year, the Chiefs have allowed the fourth-fewest yards and fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. There could be opportunity for Anderson if Carolina has to chase points, but the chance of a lousy performance is increased.
More Sits: Cowboy Wide Receivers vs Pittsburgh, Corey Davis vs Chicago
Sleeper: Laviska Shenault Jr. vs Houston
As Chark will see lots of Bradley Roby, Shenault should be a big part of the Jaguars offensive attack on Sunday. He caught seven-of-eight targets against Houston earlier this season and should command a high volume of targets with Luton under center. Shenault also provides an added boost with his production in the run game, something Houston has struggled to stop.
Noah Fant at Atlanta
Fant may not be 100 percent recovered from his ankle injury, but he saw nine targets in last week’s win over the Chargers. The Falcons defense has been bad against tight ends this year, allowing eight touchdowns and the most fantasy points to the position. Fant has averaged seven targets per game this season and any tight end to see five or more targets against Atlanta has gotten at least 55 yards.
T.J. Hockenson at Minnesota
Hockenson has scored at least nine fantasy points in every game this season while eclipsing the double digit mark in five of seven contests. With Kenny Golladay out this week, Hockenson will see plenty of work against a Vikings defense that has allowed four tight ends to score over 11 fantasy points.
More Starts: Rob Gronkowski vs New Orleans, Jordan Akins at Jacksonville
Mark Andrews at Indianapolis
Andrew has been somewhat of a disappointment this year, being held under 10 fantasy points in four games. He has yet to have more than 65 yards in a game, while the Colts defense have yet to allow an opposing tight end to have more than 65 receiving yards in a game. It does not seem like the time for Andrews to turn things around.
Mike Gesicki at Arizona
Gesicki’s frustrating season should continue this week. Tua barely threw the football in his first career start and Gesicki has averaged just 1.8 fantasy points over his last two games. On the year, Arizona has been strong against the position, allowing just one tight end to score more than 9.3 fantasy points against them. Keep Gesicki on the bench.
More Sits: Jack Doyle vs Baltimore, Greg Olsen vs Bills
Sleeper: Logan Thomas vs New York Giants
Since Kyle Allen took over, Thomas has been running routes further downfield and is second on the team in targets (11). He’ll face the Giants for the second time this season, who have gotten beaten badly by tight ends the last two weeks. Plus, the last time Thomas played the Giants, he scored 13.2 fantasy points. He’s a viable play for managers facing byes or a George Kittle injury.
Patriots Play of the Week
With N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman out with injuries, Meyers has stepped in and impressed for the Patriots. He’s led New England in targets in each of the last two games (6, 10), while posting 10 catches for 118 yards. The second-year receiver should again be leaned on Monday night against a Jets defense that has allowed the third-most yards to receivers this year. Meyers is most likely available in your league and provides strong breakout potential this week.
That is all for this week’s preview. If you have any additional questions regarding your lineup, specific players, or strategies going forward leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines. As always, I’m rooting for you.