Heath Cummings believes the historic performances from Andrew Luck and Doug Martin were a couple of big surprises during Week 9. Cummings looks ahead to Week 10 and if any of these surprises are developing trends.
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1) Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the 2012 class (433 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. Miami)
Robert Griffin III was all the talk at the beginning of the year, but it’s Luck that’s been on fire as of late. He’s averaged 25 fantasy points per game and has only had one performance below 20 points since week one. After his monster performance against the Dolphins, Luck now ranks 7th amongst quarterbacks in fantasy points scored. He’s still well behind Griffin in that regard, but the two are trending in different directions.
Verdict: Believe it. Luck may not score enough points down the stretch to catch Griffin in 2012 fantasy points, but he’s the better long term solution at quarterback. As a rule, quarterbacks that have great fantasy success their rookie season without relying on rushing yards and touchdowns for a large percentage of those points fare much better in year two and beyond than those that do rely on the ground game. Luck looks like a seasoned veteran after eight weeks in the league and will be a top seven quarterback at worst for the foreseeable
2) Week 8 vs. Seattle was just a mirage for Matthew Stafford (0 touchdown passes vs. Jacksonville)
After a breakout performance against a good Seahawks defense, Stafford went back to killing your fantasy team.
This was the second time this season he was held without a touchdown, something that didn’t happen once in 2011. What’s worse is it came against a Jaguars defense that has been terrible against the pass. Any thought that Stafford’s performance against the Seahawks was going to springboard him to a top five finish is dead.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. After a rough couple of opening drives, Stafford was actually really good in this game. He completed 15 of his final 19 passes and reconnected with Calvin Johnson in a way that has to excite fantasy owners. The lack of touchdowns was really a combination of game script and bad luck. Calvin Johnson was cut down at the one yard line on a 38-yard completion and Titus Young dropped a sure touchdown in the 4th quarter. If there’s an owner in your league that’s growing tired of Stafford, make him an offer.
3) The Bears defense is so good that it’s worth trading top players at other positions for (2 more touchdowns vs. Tennessee, #1 fantasy defense)
The Bears have been downright unbelievable so far this season combining great play with good fortune to score
touchdowns at an alarming rate. The Bears have outscored the second place defense (Houston) by nearly 50% so far this year and because of this there are owners that are starting to consider trading starters at running back and receiver for them.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. Yes, this Bears defense is awesome. Yes, they’re going to finish as the number one overall fantasy defense. But there is no way they’re going to sustain the pace they’ve set so far this season. For one thing, there’s just enough luck involved when it comes to D/ST scores that their first half results scream regression to the mean. More importantly, their schedule gets much more difficult moving forward.
4) Eli Manning is not a top ten fantasy quarterback (125 yards and 0 TD vs. Pittsburgh, #15 amongst QBs in fantasy points)
Manning was projected by many to be a top five fantasy quarterback this season and he’s been flat out
disappointing. Along with Hakeem Nicks, Manning has far underperformed his projections and looks more like
2010 Manning than the player we thought he was developing into last season. He’s gotten worse as the season has gone on to the point that he’s actually being benched in favor of much lower rated options.
Verdict: Believe it. It’s easy to discount Manning’s week nine performance because of the defense he was facing, but week nine was not an anomaly. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since week seven, and he hasn’t thrown more than one in a game since week five. He may see a slight bump with a couple of mediocre pass defenses coming up, but his playoff schedule does not suggest a strong finish.
5) Doug Martin has the top dynasty value amongst all running backs (251 rushing yards, 4 TDs vs. Oakland)
Martin has put together one of the best two-week stretches in the history of fantasy football. 486 total yards and 6 touchdowns. Just let that soak in for a minute. Now, consider he’s done this against the Vikings and Raiders, two teams that have been relatively stingy against the run, notwithstanding their performances against Martin. There are plenty of people thinking “sell high” on Martin this week and if you’re in a dynasty league you should absolutely be a buyer.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. Yes, there’s a chance that Martin is the best running back in the league over the next ten years, but it’s probably only a 50/50 shot because Trent Richardson is really special too. However, you have to put more weight on the remainder of this year and the next couple of years, because they’re so much easier to project than five years down the line. That being the case, Martin is a top five back but he still trails Arian Foster, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson …even if he is outscoring all three for the year after his monster two-week performance.
6) Kyle Rudolph‘s early season success was a mirage (Two fantasy points in his last three games)
Rudolph got a lot of run in the preseason as a sleeper at tight end, and justified that with a very hot start to the season. Since week six though he has been nearly invisible in the Vikings pass attack. While he probably has a couple of good games left just because of his red zone presence, he’s not someone you can count on week to week as a fantasy starter.
Verdict: Believe it. Even when he was getting a bunch of targets, Rudolph’s success was based almost entirely on his ability to get into the end zone. Now he’s had eight targets in the last three weeks and only turned two of those into receptions. Rudolph still has the tools to be successful, but he’s going to need a more efficient offense and a more accurate quarterback before he becomes a startable tight end.