This season, there has been a lot of drama. A lot. Breakout performances, career ending slumps, and all of the stuff in between. I have spent the last 8 mondays covering the rookie side of things, but havent really focused on the veterans. Here is my take on the midway point of the NFL season.
Players On The Rise:
Aaron Rodgers – He lives in the shadow of greybeard, but he has had an absolutely phenomenal season. He has been sacked 31 times due to a banged up O-Line and his lack of quick release, but he still has one of the best QB ratings in the league. He also has more rushing yards than any of the others at the top, and has led Green Bay through their injury bugs to a second place record. His cards should be going nuts right now, but they arent. If you have the chance, this guy could be at the top soon, buy now.
Chris Johnson – Two games over 200 yards, and a multitude of TDs on a shitty team. The guy will be great for years to come, despite what may be happening with his Titans. I see this year as more of a fluke in their record, but his stats have been solid since the beginning. When you play on a team like the Titans, to put up these stats is uncanny.
Drew Brees – The Saints are undefeated so far, and he is mostly the reason. I say that he is probably the best QB to have on your team right now, especially due to his ability to rally a locker room. The guy has amazing accuracy, can throw the deep ball, and is in contention again to measure up to Dan Marino. Pretty amazing. The funny thing is, he doesnt bring in the big bucks like Manning or Brady, and his rookie autos are still at pretty affordable prices considering what he has and will accomplish.
Andre Johnson – I cant say enough good things about Johnson, as he is just a freak of nature whenever he plays. There are maybe one or two corners in the league that could come close to covering him 1 on 1, but even then, he still has a huge advantage with size and speed. He doesnt sign much, so many of the card companies havent been able to get him in their sets. If you can find a rookie auto of his, drop the hammer on any reasonable price.
Reggie Wayne – Wayne plays his game a little differently than Johnson, but is still one of the most ridiculous players around. Every game he gets 12 catches, and could probably manage 5 catches playing one handed. Of course, it helps to have Manning throw you the ball, but still. Like most WRs, his cards are relatively cheap, and thats more of the tragedy of the position in this hobby. Not sure why. He has a good number of cards out there, and most can be had for cheap.
Maurice Jones-Drew – The human bowling ball never disappoints, especially when I go up against him in fantasy. He has put up two 3 TD games already, and has a ginormous YPC avg. Again, the Jags arent too good, but he sure is. His Exquisites go for absolutely nothing compared to what they should, and I think it is one of the better buys out there.
Miles Austin – If you want a poster child for unknowns making it big, here he is. He was undrafted coming out of school, and has been a 3 guy on Dallas’ roster for the last few years. Now that TO is gone, he has had the chance to shine, even playing behind Roy Williams. I think his cards have come up considerably lately, but should settle down. Im not sold quite yet, but Im getting there.
DeAngelo Williams – When it was him and DeShaun Foster, he showed nothing more than potential. Now that he is focus, its all production, all the time. He runs with such brute force coupled with speed and finesse, that its not hard to see why he is doing as well as he is. His cards were overshadowed by Bush and company before, and still havent reached the top. He deserves to be worth more than is right now.
Players on the Decline
Larry Johnson – LJ is a fucking idiot in every single way. The guy just doesnt know what’s good for him, and I fault his attitude. He was sent home for the second consecutive season this year, and has yet to make anything worth while in terms of a contribution this year. If you are still collecting him, I feel sorry for you.
Ladanian Tomlinson – Tomlinson is definitely coming up on the end of his career, and its pretty disappointing to watch. For someone that used to be as dominating as he was, to watch him struggle for 50 yards is unfortunate. This seems to be the norm with backs as of late, maybe its 8 years and out for everyone now.
Terrell Owens – I hate Terrell Owens as much as I hate Derek Jeter, but for completely different reason. While I think Jeter is a pretty admirable guy who has been overhyped by every reporter for the last 15 years, Owens is a legitimate asshole. He deserves to be a piece of shit, and I laugh every time I see him struggle.
LenDale White – Backs like White and Barber have a tough role in the NFL. Because they are only good at pounding it in for scores, they have to stay good at it to be considered a viable option. Barber is still very good, White isnt. Plus when Chris Johnson is the other guy in front of you, its tough to look good.
Brady Quinn, Jamarcus Russell and the other 2007 QBs – there isnt a more sorry group of NFL players than these guys. Quinn started, was benched, and then started again, and is now playing behind Derek Anderson who should be retired due to lack of ability. I think its just as much the team as the guy, but damn, when you cant even perfom to a minimal standard, its sad. Russell is a little different, as he is just terrible as people have come to see. Supposed to be a better Daunte Culpepper with more accuracy and better legs, he has instead turned into a guy that looks worse than Culpepper is now. Interception after interception, fumble prone, and the reason for his team’s shitty play, Russell is proof as to why its risky to draft a QB with a top pick.
Eli Manning – Not only did he not deserve the money he got, but he has never put up numbers to be considered among the elite QBs in the league. His SB win was definitely a team effort, and his last 3 losses in a row have shown how little he can do without a supporting cast. I have disliked him ever since he refused to play on the Chargers during the 2004 draft, forcing a trade for Phillip Rivers, but now he is more than that. He represents everything I hate about New York football. Overpaid players who cant do shit. He has a career passer rating of 77, and this year he has 8 interceptions, 3 lost fumbles and 13 TDs. Thats almost as many turnovers as scores for him. He isnt at the same place as some of the other guys on this list, but being paid what he is, he deserves to be here.
Kurt Warner – Im surprised he was able to do what he did last year, as most people thought he was done. This year he just looks old and out of place, and has thrown as many interceptions as TDs. Of course, his team is still doing okay, but his age is starting to be more than just a number. I dont think the Cardinals have many more options, but he is on his way out, again.
Reggie Bush – Im not sure how long before you can call someone a bust, but Bush is right on the cusp. He has had production, but not at the level he should have. Its obviously a size issue as well as a vision issue, as he has never shown that he has the presence of mind to be a top back in the league. Im sure there are a lot of people out there who are smacking themselves for investing as much as they had in
Surprise of the First Half:
Five letters: F-A-V-R-E.
Rookie of the First Half:
I think Harvin has meant a ton to his team, but Sanchez probably still takes it.
Offensive MVP(s) of the first half:
Peyton Manning and Drew Brees (tie) – ridiculous numbers and undefeated records.
Defensive MVP of the first half:
Jared Allen – and thats not even a homer pick. Elvis Dumervil takes second.
Super Bowl Prediction time:
Eagles vs Colts, I can see the Eagles being the team to beat if they continue to play as well as they have, but the Colts are just too good. The Saints or Vikings could easily sneak in if they get lucky.
Its going to be a whirlwind second half, lets hope the second eight games are as good as the first eight.