4 Downs: Half Time Review

With week 8 in the books, half of the NFL regular season is already in the rear-view mirror and without a doubt 2017 will be remembered as the year that could’ve been. With Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson, Odell Beckham and countless others all sustaining season ending injuries the fantasy landscape looks drastically different than we all predicted it to. With that in mind, let’s review the top performers so far at each of the key positions: QB, RB, WR and TE.

1st Down | Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs

The 2017 season’s story cannot be told without the surprise that has been the Chiefs offense. Once thought of as a conservative and flaccid attack, Head Coach Andy Reid has become aggressive in his approach and this has paid off for fantasy owners.

Smith was available as a late round (Round 11-13) pick-up in drafts and is currently on pace to be the No. 1 overall fantasy player. I’m no investment banker but I’m pretty sure that’s good returns. With 16 passing TDs already this season and an incredible tally of 0 interceptions, Smith is showing no signs of slowing down. With a 4200+ yard and 35+ TD season potentially on the cards, you have to continue to ride with Smith and the Chiefs until they show you otherwise.

2nd Down | Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs

While Alex Smith has been a pleasant surprise by revitalizing his career this season, Kareem Hunt has only just begun his own and has started off in tremendous form.
The No. 2 overall player in fantasy through half of the season is on pace for a 2000+ scrimmage yard rookie season with 12 total TDs thrown in for good measure. Hunt was gaining steam in the offseason but never truly crept past the 4th round in drafts. Well, if you decided to pass on him (as I did) then you’re ruing the day now. Hunt leads the NFL in rushing yardage but his most impressive stat is his efficiency. Hunt has managed to eclipse the rushing total of Le’Veon Bell with only ¾ of the workload that Bell receives.

Hunt has given us no reason to believe he will let off this pace and so you still have to feel outstanding putting him in your line-up every week.

3rd Down | Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers

Perhaps the least surprising performer of them all, Antonio Brown continues to bore us with his predictable excellence.

While there has been much turmoil at other positions in fantasy this season, AB has shown us again why he is the arguably the best player in the NFL. Without seemingly trying he once again leads the lead in receiving yardage, but this time it’s by over 200 yards on the nearest competitor.

Fantasy owners may have been worried early on in the season where it appeared Brown was not yet reaping the fruits of a top 5 fantasy pick but now those worries seem but a distant memory. Even now while Brown sits at the half way mark with only 3 receiving TDs, AB owner’s know that this will only improve as time goes on, leading to even more fantasy points.

4th Down | Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

Sep 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) makes a one handed catch as Cleveland Browns free safety Jordan Poyer (33) defends in the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

While Zach Ertz currently sits at the top of the table, the TE position is extremely close this season. Unless Rob Gronkowski does something amazing in the second half of the season (which is more than likely to happen) it seems destined to be either Ertz or Travis Kelce of the Chiefs to walk away with the top spot come December.

However, Ertz and Carson Wentz have been putting up monster numbers over the last month, leading to Ertz’s rise to the top, and I expect this to continue and for Ertz to stretch out a lead over Kelce in this race.

While not only being on pace for a 1000+ receiving yard season, which is even more impressive for a tight end, Ertz also leads the league in TD receptions with 6. More time with Wentz should lead to more chemistry and even more production and so while Ertz might not be a household TE name yet, he is becoming so.

Thank you for reading, please follow Will on twitter @willpendosports

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