We are just weeks away from another year of fantasy football playoffs. Looking back to Draft Day, some fantasy owners may be regretting some decisions they made. For others, they may have found sleepers in the later rounds that have paid off. Here, we look at some of the top fantasy football studs, duds, and sleepers at the halfway point of the NFL regular season:
*All analysis is based on a PPR basis*
Stud: Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
Through the first half of the season, Wilson is an NFL and fantasy football MVP candidate. Originally ranked as a low-end top 10 quarterback option for the 2019 season, Wilson has climbed to the QB2 on the season. Through the first eight weeks, he has surpassed 240+ passing yards on six occasions. With an ADP of 97.8, Wilson has surpassed expectations and remained among the elite.
Dud: Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield
For a roster that had RB Nick Chubb, WR Odell Beckham Jr, WR Jarvis Landry, and TE David Njoku to start the season, Mayfield has been hit with a lot of criticism. He was ranked as QB4 to start the season, and now sits at QB24. To put it into context, Mayfield has less fantasy points than Teddy Bridgewater and Daniel Jones; two players who weren’t starters in Week 1.
Sleeper: Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
Most expected the Cowboys to revert to their running game, but Prescott has been a sleeper for fantasy owners at this point. Ranked as QB5, Prescott has only been sacked 10 times; 30th in the NFL. As long as his offensive line can stay healthy, he should remain to be a viable option moving forward.
Stud: Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook
Through the first eight weeks, the Vikings rank 2nd in the NFL in rushing play percentage (53.35%). As a result, Cook has gone from being projected as RB9 to emerging as RB2 at the halfway point of the season. In addition, his 9 rushing touchdowns leads the NFL.
Dud: Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon
Even with the holdout into the first four weeks of the NFL season, we expected for Gordon to come back and make an impact with the Chargers. In return, he has yet to prove he can even make a starting lineup in PPR leagues as a FLEX option. The Chargers continue to give Gordon a bulk of the carries, but Austin Ekeler has been far more productive to date.
Sleeper: Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler
Speaking of Ekeler, he has been efficient when given the right opportunity. While his running game has hit a career-low 3.5 YPC, he makes up for it with 507 receiving yards. To put that into perspective, Ekeler has a combined 814 receiving yards and 683 receiving yards through his first two seasons. As long as the impact of Melvin Gordon remains minimal, Ekeler will continue to be a reliable option.
Stud: Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin
Even though Mike Evans was ranked eight spots higher than Godwin prior to the season, Godwin has outperformed him fantasy-wise in five of the team’s first seven games. Ranked as WR3 in PPR leagues, Godwin only sits behind New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas and Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp in fantasy points going into the second half of the season.
Dud: Pittsburgh Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster
For someone ranked within the elite of his position, Smith-Schuster has been a dud to start the season. Perhaps it’s because of the season-ending injury to QB Ben Roethlisberger, but Smith-Schuster has one 100-yard game and 1 TD this season. Through Week 8, the 22-year old ranks as WR50; amounting to a low-end FLEX play.
Sleeper: Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark
Prior to the season, the average draft position of Chark was #230; an unknown waiver commodity in a majority of leagues. Since then, he has six games with 10+ fantasy points and two games with 140+ receiving yards. Heading into the second half of the season, Chark ranks higher in fantasy points scored than Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Julian Edelman.
Stud: Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper
Although Hooper was seen as a starting option in fantasy drafts, most didn’t expect for his production to go through the season. The Atlanta Falcons have started the season 1-7, but Hooper somehow has 18.4 more fantasy points than any other player at his position. If Hooper were ranked among all fantasy receivers, he would rank as WR8 through the first half of the season.
Dud: Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE OJ Howard
Arguably the biggest fantasy dud of the first eight weeks, Howard has either been injured or a non-factor. Originally ranked as TE5, Howard now has dropped to TE43. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue their downwards spiral of the season, there is likely more value in Cameron Brate than Howard.
Sleeper: Oakland Raiders TE Darren Waller
Waller wasn’t expected to be an impact player this season, originally ranked as TE24. For fantasy owners who caught him in the later rounds, it was a move that is clearly paying off now. With five games of 12+ fantasy points, Waller is now outperforming names such as George Kittle and Evan Engram. Even with Derek Carr under center, Waller is a secret weapon for fantasy owners looking to make a playoff run.
Photo Credit: Daily Norseman