We’ve reached the midway point of the fantasy football season (unless you play in one of those weird leagues that play until Week 17). The only natural thing to do is to hand out some premature awards. Let’s get started.
Fantasy MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
The only real concern about Luck heading into the season was whether or not the Colts would throw the ball enough. Well, set those worries aside. Indianapolis has thrown the ball more than any team and it’s led to major success.
Luck hasn’t had a single bad fantasy game this season. His worst performance was the only game he threw under 300 yards, but he had three touchdowns to make up for it. He’s clearly been the best player at the best draft price so far.
Best RB: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
Murray is the only player in NFL history to open a season with eight straight 100-yard games. Not only is he gaining yards, but he’s been scoring touchdowns on a regular basis. He only has two games this season without a score.
Matt Forte is a close second due to what he’s done in PPR formats. The Bears back is second in the league in receptions -- at any position -- and leads all RBs in PPR scoring.
Best WR: Antonio Brown, Steelers
What can Brown do for you? Just about everything. He leads the league in receptions (60) after Week 8 and is second in the league in receiving yards (852) and receiving touchdowns (7). He even returns punts!
If you were lucky enough to snag Brown, he’s been paying off in a big way.
Best TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
I considered Julius Thomas for this award because of his ability to score, but Gronkowski has been the better overall tight end in fantasy. Thomas has three games under 30 receiving yards while Gronkowski has over 30 yards in every game.
Gronk’s health was a major concern on draft day, but he is clearly healthy enough to dominate. He’s coming off of his best performance (9-149-3) and likely won’t slow down.
Best Draft-Day Steal: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts
Bradshaw’s average draft position had him going in the extremely late rounds. That turned out to be a mistake. Bradshaw is the fifth-highest scoring back in both standard and PPR leagues. He’s scored eight total touchdowns (six receiving, two rushing) and is averaging about 80 yards a game. He’s been an absolute steal for owners this season.
Draft Day Bust: Montee Ball, RB, Broncos
Ball was easily a first-round selection in most drafts this year. A young, workhorse RB in a high-powered Broncos offense seemed like a no-brainer. But Ball was a letdown for owners even before his groin injury.
He had 55 carries for just 172 yards (3.1 ypc) in five healthy games. He also made little impact catching the ball. His injury opened the door for Ronnie Hillman, who has had great success. It looks like Ball’s days as a No. 1 back are over.
Honorable mentions: Cordarrelle Patterson, Zac Stacy.
Best Waiver-Wire Add: Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers
After Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown all fell victim to injuries, the Chargers had to turn to the rookie from Buffalo. He didn’t play major minutes until Week 5, but Oliver is already in the top 20 at his position in both PPR and standard formats this year.
It will be interesting to see what Oliver’s role will be once Mathews is healthy, but for the first half of the season he’s been a great add.
Honorable mentions: Jerick McKinnon, Allen Robinson, Andre Holmes, Larry Donnell.
Biggest surprise: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
Before the season, everyone was ready to appoint Ladarius Green as the next big thing for San Diego at tight end. Gates, the 12-year veteran, had other plans. The 34-year-old has nine touchdowns already, which is tied for the league lead through Week 8. Meanwhile, Green has 12 total receptions.
Gates was an afterthought in fantasy drafts, but he’s on pace for a 64-834-18 season. The touchdown pace will likely slow down and Gates remains an injury risk, but he’s been a pleasant surprise so far.
Honorable mention: Steve Smith.
One-Week Wonder: Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
Every year in fantasy football, at least one player has a huge game in Week 1 and we rush to the waiver wires to pick him up -- only to cut him a few weeks later. This year, that guy was Hurns.
In Week 1 he caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He had a few decent games after that, but he’s been unusable for the most part. This award can also be titled the “Kevin Ogletree Award.”
Rookie of the (mid) Year: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
Sammy Watkins is a close second right now, but he’s been a bit up and down this season. Benjamin’s been the much more reliable option. Both receivers have 38 receptions and five touchdowns, and Watkins has 19 more receiving yards. Both appear to be blossoming into fantasy studs for years to come.
Thnks fr th Mmrs: Larry Donnell, TE, Giants
Donnell exploded in Week 4 for seven receptions, 54 yards and three touchdowns. He followed up that performance with two horrific games totaling one catch for 6 yards. He redeemed himself against the Cowboys, posting 7-90, but fumbled twice to take away most of his points. Owners are happy with his production in Week 4, but likely cut him due to frustration later.
Honorable mention: Matt Asiata (thanks for that three-TD game!).
Give Him The Ball: Antone Smith, RB, Falcons
Smith is averaging just under four touches per game, but has still found a way to score five touchdowns. All five of his scores have been from 38 yards or more, making him an extremely dangerous weapon. So why isn’t he getting more touches? Give him the ball!
Stop Trying to Give Him The Ball: Hakeem Nicks, WR, Colts
Here’s a fun fact: Nicks is third on the Colts in targets, but eighth on the team in receiving yards. He’s caught just 18 of his 39 targets (46 percent) and has less than 30 yards in each of his last five games. The Colts need to get rookie Donte Moncrief the targets Nicks is receiving.
Biggest vulture: Baltimore running backs
Justin Forsett is having a nice season as the Ravens’ starting running back. He’s fourth in the league in rushing yards and has been pretty productive on a weekly basis. The only problem is his teammates keep taking touchdowns away; Forsett has scored just three times through Week 8.
Meanwhile, rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has scored four times, while Bernard Pierece has scored twice. Neither vulture offers much production other than taking away touchdowns, though.