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Sports

November 1, 2012

Coleman Fantasy Football: Time to pass out mid-season awards

PORT ARTHUR —  It's official. We are halfway through the football season and halfway to most league championships. That means it is time to start handing out completely fake and meaningless midseason awards. Huzzah!

Midseason MVP: Robert Griffin III, Washington, QB

 In a perfect fantasy world, you would have drafted Adrian Peterson late in the first round, picked up A.J. Green and Vincent Jackson as your receivers in the middle rounds and then taken a flyer on RGIII in the eighth or ninth. Not many guys who are currently the top ranked fantasy player can be had eight or nine rounds into drafts.  

 That’s why Griffin is easily the top guy for this award. His style of running and his accuracy with the pass have been deadly for many teams this season, but it’s that running aspect that makes him so dangerous.

Even when he’s had bad days, he’s still run the ball effectively, which gives him an edge over guys like Drew Brees. Like Cam Newton before him, Griffin has set the NFL on fire. Unlike Cam, RGIII appears willing to hold up to the pressure in the second half and should secure plenty of fantasy titles for his lucky owners this year.

Midseason LVP: Greg Jennings, Green Bay, WR

 If you’ve ever played fantasy football on Yahoo before, you’re probably familiar with their projected rankings in the offseason and their actual rankings during the season. Jennings may have the biggest gap in those two numbers of any player I’ve seen in quite a while. The Green Bay wideout has been hurt since the word go this season. He came in as the 29th best fantasy player overall and the ninth best receiver this season. He’s currently the 2,362th best fantasy player and has only caught 12 passes for 78 yards all season. Yikes.

 Receiver is a deep position, so there were probably options out there to cover for Jennings. Some guys may have had a worse effect on teams, too, like Larry Fitzgerald or DeMarco Murray. Only Jennings, though, has failed to provide any value at all. That’s how you win the midseason Least Valuable Player award.

Biggest surprise: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, RB

 Not since Jerry Rice have I been so surprised that a player has returned from an ACL tear, but that’s exactly where we stand with Adrian Peterson. The Viking running back tore his ACL last year on Dec. 24, but was ready to go by the season opener. He hasn’t looked back, either, rushing for 775 yards and four TDs in eight games. He’s clearly been the second-best fantasy back behind Arian Foster and has cemented his status in league legend. If you didn’t take a chance on Peterson in the draft, I’m sure you’re kicking yourself now.

 The only downside for Peterson is that he faces a very tough schedule in the second half of the season. Minnesota has been a big surprise in the first half, but as that schedule heats up it may be tougher for Peterson to get his yardage. Still, you probably want to bet on the guy who came back from a tough injury in record time.

Biggest disappointment: Andre Johnson, Houston, WR

 Finally healthy again, it appeared that Andre Johnson would once again ascend to the top of the receiving food chain. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened, as AJ disappears during long stretches of games and hasn’t been nearly a top fantasy wide receiver this season.

 He’s barely in the top 40, in fact, and guys like Brian Hartline and Josh Gordon have passed him. Ouch. Even Michael Crabtree, one of the bust-iest busts of all time is playing better than Andre right now. Unfortunately for his owners, Johnson may just be a victim of circumstance. I’m sure the Texans came out of last year acutely aware of how focused the offense could be on Johnson. When he got hurt, that set the offense back. This season, they’ve diversified, which is good for the whole and bad for Johnson’s individual numbers. It’s not going to get better, either, as the Texans look to run first and pass second.

 That adds up to a pretty disappointing campaign for Johnson, even if he stays healthy the whole time.

Disappointment who's secretly still really good: Matthew Stafford, Detroit, QB

 The Detroit Lions have played pretty badly this season. Nothing is going right, Calvin Johnson is having a terrible year, but the sneaky fact is that Stafford has been as good as expected. Heading into the season, he was drafted as a top six quarterback, behind the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but ahead of guys like Ben

Roethlisberger and Eli Manning.

 Stafford has lived up to that billing, even as he catches a ton of flak about his play and all those Detroit losses. He just isn’t throwing TD passes. His passing yardage marks are there, and he’s even added three rushing TDs to the mix, good for second place among QBs.

 If you’re in need of a QB upgrade over someone like Phillip Rivers or Joe Flacco, you could do worse than targeting Stafford. If his owner has been as disappointed in his play as most of the TV talking heads have been, you might be able to get some real value for the second half.

 Comeback player: Peyton Manning, Denver, QB

 It’s an easy choice, right? Only Jamaal Charles really rivals Peyton for this spot. Why does Manning get it?

 Well, beside the fact that he’s recovering from four neck surgeries, switched teams, is playing for the first time in over a year, and still hasn’t missed a beat, Manning has been the eighth best fantasy player this season.

 Not eighth-best quarterback, mind you, but in the top 10 of all fantasy players at any position. That’s a tremendous value for a guy who dropped in drafts and most people didn’t expect to be able to throw the ball, much less be a top fantasy option.

 If Manning keeps this up, he’ll walk away with the Comeback Player of the Year award. If he wins a few playoff games in Denver, they can go ahead and build a statue of him outside the stadium.

 Biggest dropoff: Michael Turner, Atlanta, RB

 It’s hard to believe, but Michael Turner was the sixth-best running back last season, rushing for 1,340 yards and seven TDs. He was better than Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson and even Matt Forte. This year, though, Turner is just the 18th best back in fantasy, and you can’t even blame it on injuries.

 Luckily, most people bought Turner low this year, and he’s still providing value as a low-end No. 2 option. The concerning thing is that as old as he’s looked now, Turner only has 261 yards and one TD in his last four games, meaning his value could decline more and more in the coming weeks.

 Biggest value: Alfred Morris, Washington, RB

 Who knew that Mike Shanahan would settle on just one back this year? Who knew it would be the young Mr. Morris. Sorry to everyone who drafted anyone in this backfield, but kudos to those who jumped on Morris quickly. He's been the sixth best back in fantasy and was freely available in a lot of leagues after drafts. At a shallow position, he's been a revelation.

 First round bust: DeMarco Murray, Dallas, RB

 Murray may be the victim of injuries or bad play-calling, but the fact is, fantasy owners expected a lot more from him. He was drafted in the first round of most leagues, as maybe the sixth or seventh RB. He's now the 26th best back in fantasy. That's a huge disappointment and trumps the Maurice Jones-Drews and Matt Fortes of the world, but

just barely.

 Will Murray bounce back in the second half? Is he a viable buy-low guy? With his injury history, I'm not going there. Until the Cowboys figure out how to use him, he won't be much more than a flex option the rest of the way.

David Coleman writes a weekly fantasy football column. He can be reached at dcoleman@panews.com or on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.

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