With the 2015 Fantasy Football regular season in the books let’s take stock of how “we” did. Who exceeded expectations? And who completely face-planted? Let’s start with the fantasy football surprises, the 2015 edition. (No rookies, that comes later – Bane voice)
Doug Martin – After a 1,400 yard, 11 touchdown rookie season the fourth year running back struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness in his sophomore and junior seasons. Apparently a clean bill of health and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers deciding to decline the former first round selection’s 5th year option was all the motivation he needed to put on a show in 2015. With question marks along the offensive line, a rookie quarterback and no vote of confidence from the Bucs front office Martin has exceeded all expectations this season. Whether you like your Fantasy Football via Yahoo or ESPN, Martin could be had during the 9th or 10th rounds in both platforms. The NFL’s (current) leading rusher was the 28th running back selected in Yahoo and 34th running back selected in ESPN based on Average Draft Position. Wow! Martin’s TD totals are a little low but he’s averaging over 5.0 yards per carry and is second only to Adrian Peterson in yards after contact, a true testament to his determined running style which has led to him being one of, if not the biggest surprise in fantasy football this season.
Carson Palmer – Were it not for the performances of Tom Brady and Cam Newton to this point I believe Carson Palmer would be the frontrunner for League MVP. Palmer was enjoying quite the 2014 campaign prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury last year and hasn’t missed a beat in what has to be considered a triumphant return in 2015. Heading into Week 15 Palmer is (currently) 2nd in passing yards with 4,003 and his 31 passing touchdowns only trail Brady’s 33. So why am I surprised that Palmer is playing so well? Actually I’m not all that surprised. I selected Palmer as my first quarterback in multiple leagues. What’s surprising is how late in the draft I was able to acquire him. With an Average Draft Position of 28th QB selected in Yahoo and 24th QB selected in ESPN Palmer was woefully under-appreciated. I didn’t expect the soon-to-be 36-year-old to be on pace to crush his career marks in passing yards (4,131) and touchdowns (32) but assuming Palmer remains healthy new career highs in both categories are a forgone conclusion.
Allen Robinson – Through 10 games in an injury marred rookie campaign with a rookie quarterback, Allen Robinson managed an underwhelming line of 48/548/2. One year later, a clean bill of health and improved quarterback play from Blake Bortles has resulted in a very impressive 66/1084/12 line in just 13 games. Allen Robinson has been on fire in 2015. The former second-round pick has proven to be one of the league’s premiere big play threats with a 16.4 yards per catch average (2nd best in the league 60+ receptions) and has demonstrated a knack for finding the end zone as he is tied for 1st with 12 TD receptions (Tyler Eifert, Odell Beckham Jr.). Robinson was certainly a trendy sleeper pick leading up to fantasy drafts in 2015, but with the addition of Julius Thomas and the consistent play of wideout counterpart Allen Hurns siphoning targets and not knowing what to expect from Bortles we at www.couchpotatogm.com weren’t expecting this type of performance. In fact, our composite receiver rankings had Robinson ranked 43rd among the Top 60 fantasy wide receivers. With Robinson’s 2015 performance, the historical 2014 rookie receiving class only looks more impressive. On average there were 26 and 31 receivers selected before Robinson in Yahoo and ESPN leagues respectively.
Tyler Eifert – Without question my biggest whiff this fantasy season. Strud and Headley weren’t exactly bullish on Eifert either but they certainly gave him much more credit than I did with 19th and 21st tight end rankings respectively. I slotted him at 30th out of 30 tight ends and paid for it as I struggled to address the tight end position effectively where I missed out on Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen. Hell, I screwed up so bad at this position I actually had Vernon Davis of all people ranked among the Top 10. Injuries have plagued Eifert throughout his young career and it was his prone nature that gave me pause. Fortunately for the masses Eifert’s inability to stay on the field consistently didn’t deter them from taking the third-year tight end 8th and 12th in ESPN and Yahoo respectively among the tight end position group. Unfortunately, Eifert may not help you during your playoff run as he is dealing with concussion symptoms but if you were brave enough to take the plunge Eifert’s league leading 12 TD receptions certainly helped your cause in getting into the playoffs. I had to “slap” myself for not selecting Eifert in any of my leagues.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – What can Chan Gailey do for you? Bill O’Brien sucks.
- Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker – See Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- Dion Lewis – After LeSean McCoy and before James Conner there was Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh Panthers). Shame his season was cut short.
- Blake Bortles – 30 TDs through 14 weeks?!? He feasts on poor competition. I still think he has a long way to go in reality, but you’re not supposed to be able to find 30 TDs on the waiver wire.
- Travis Benjamin – Opportunity. Contract year. Yes!
- Gary Barnidge – Who?
- DeAngelo Williams – At the expense of “the one and only” Le’Veon Bell but Williams deserves a ton of credit for getting in the best shape of his life as a 30+ running back.
- Derek Carr – Good for the Raiders.
- Devonta Freeman – Thought it was going to be a Tevin Coleman show.
- Cam Newton – He had been trending in the wrong direction for three straight seasons (fantasy wise), he lost Kelvin Benjamin before the season began and I wasn’t confident in his continued development as a pocket passer. Now he looks like an MVP.
- Ted Ginn Jr. – He’s got 8 TDs. If he could catch he might have 15.
- Darren McFadden – I was wrong. But I still don’t think he’s good.
- Larry Fitzgerald – I call it the Carson Palmer effect.
- Chris Johnson – A fractured tibia cut short the CJ2K renaissance.
- Doug Baldwin – He’s got 8 TDs in the last 3 weeks.