Fantasy Football: Biggest surprises and disappointments through seven weeks

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) spikes the ball after a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks.  Photo by John Froschauer/AP

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) spikes the ball after a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks. Photo by John Froschauer/AP

We’re just over halfway through the fantasy football regular season, which means the backstretch is upon us. Before the sprint to the playoffs begins, it feels like a natural time to reflect on the past seven weeks. This reflection could not have been done too early as I would have spent 500 words writing about players like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and how he is the second coming of Tyreek Hill. While that may be the case in the future, he certainly has fallen off a cliff after nearly 50 combined points in the first two weeks. That being said, there are players who have tiptoed their way around the edge of that cliff and possibly even climbed higher. While there are certainly an abundance of those to choose from, there could be even more disappointments (I promised myself I’d shut up about Joe Mixon). I’ll be referencing Matthew Berry’s preseason rankings frequently throughout as a bit of a general consensus of who we thought these guys would be, as well as an attempt for me to make fun of the “experts.”   

 Surprises  

 Lamar Jackson, BAL 

Everyone knows all about Lamar Jackson’s record-breaking numbers he produced when he was a Louisville Cardinal, yet the jury was still out on whether that would translate to the NFL. Last year provided a small sample size given the fact it took John Harbaugh 10 weeks to move on from Joe Flacco. Matthew Berry ranked Jackson as his 16th best fantasy QB going into the year, one spot behind… wait for it… Mitchell Trubisky. While I can slate Berry all I want for this one, I drafted Cam Newton in the 9th round, letting Jackson fall to the 14th. Retrospectively we both look pretty dense as Jackson has scored the second most fantasy points overall and the most for a quarterback. He’s used his unique combination of Michael Vick-esque speed and improved passing accuracy to have some insane scoring performances (three weeks over 30 points). Jackson and the Ravens face tougher defensive tests in the latter half of the season, most notably New England, San Francisco and Los Angeles (you know which one). We’ll know more about him as a quarterback if he continues to live up to the billing against those teams, however so far Jackson has been perhaps the biggest fantasy surprise so far.   

 DJ Chark Jr., JAX 

The Jacksonville Jaguars have had more ups and downs in nearly half a season than most teams have the entire year. Starting with their savior Nick Foles going down in Week 1, to the emergence of a cult hero in Garner Minshew. Minshew apparently didn’t impress enough for Jalen Ramsey enough to prevent his move to LA. What the Jaguars lost on the defensive side of the ball in Ramsey, they perhaps gained with the arrival of wide receiver DJ Chark. I deep dived into Berry’s preseason receiver rankings and I was surprised to see Chark not even ranked in his top 70. Chark and his owners are going to laugh at that now because after seven shocking weeks, he has found himself as the fifth ranked wide out in the league. Averaging 17.6 points a week, Chark has outperformed fantasy greats such as Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Julian Edelman. With relatively favorable matchups coming up, mostly notably the Jets at home this week, I see Chark continuing this success. After being undrafted in nearly every single league, DJ Chark is feasibly a WR1 for the rest of the season.  

 Darren Waller, OAK 


Oakland Raiders' Darren Waller reacts after catching a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers.  Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/AP

Oakland Raiders’ Darren Waller reacts after catching a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers. Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/AP

Darren Waller has come out of the woodwork this season, much to the surprise of owners everywhere. After being drafted in 2015, Waller spent his fair share of time between the injured list, practice squad and suspended from the league. Finally getting to see the field in 2018, Waller only produced a modest six receptions for 75 yards in three games played. In Week 1 of 2019 alone, Waller managed to almost double both of those stats, bringing in seven receptions for 70 yards. With an average draft position in the 170s, Waller was available in the vast majority of leagues after Week 1. And if you were able to see the potential, it has paid off greatly for you. Quickly becoming Derek Carr’s favorite target in the Raiders offense, Waller has put up single digit fantasy points in only one game, while showing flashes of his full potential with already two games with over 125 receiving yards. Going from undrafted to being the second best fantasy tight end according to ESPN, the acquisition of Waller early in the year could be the move that pushed your team over the top this season. 

Disappointments 

Joe Mixon, CIN 

Okay, I lied. This is going to be the last time I mention him, but it has to be done one final time. Joe Mixon came into the league with questions regarding his character, but not his talent. Last season, he proved he can put his troubled past behind him and flat out play. Berry ranked him as his eighth running back and 11th overall. Nobody (Antonio Brown doesn’t count) has been a bigger fantasy disappointment than Mixon, who should not be rostered, let alone starting, in any league. Last week against Jacksonville was probably his low point, as he had TWO yards on 10 carries. For those more mathematically challenged like myself, that’s 0.2 yards a carry. I had no idea that was even possible. He has almost entirely been phased out the passing game, losing the PPR value he had just a year ago. Granted, Mixon is running behind possibly the worst offensive line in football and in an offense lacking any type of consistency, so the blame cannot solely be placed on him. However, he is the sole reason I am 1-6. Maybe I’m taking this too personally. Anyways, the Bengals face only good defenses from here on out, so please, just drop him.  

 Odell Beckham Jr., CLE 


Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) catches a pass under pressure from Seattle Seahawks free safety Tedric Thompson (33) during the first half of an NFL football game.  Photo by David Richard/AP

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) catches a pass under pressure from Seattle Seahawks free safety Tedric Thompson (33) during the first half of an NFL football game. Photo by David Richard/AP

The expectations for Odell going into this season, both in fantasy and for the Browns, were perhaps the highest he’s had in his career. He has never had a quarterback better than a washed Eli Manning throwing to him, and Baker Mayfield was projected to be far better than anything Eli has produced in the last couple of years. Mayfield certainly has to take some of the blame for Odell’s lack of production, since he has lost almost all of the accuracy he was known so well for. Berry ranked the former LSU Tiger as his third WR and, despite him avoiding the injury bug for seemingly the first time in his career, Odell now finds himself ranked at 28th. The connection between him and Mayfield just isn’t there. Baker has looked for Beckham as the targets have certainly been there. The most telling stat to prove the lack of chemistry is the duo has only connected on 54% of targets. That is disturbingly terrible. I’m not taking the dramatic stance that I did with Mixon, but it’s definitely safe to say he’s been disappointing.  


Tamir March is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tamir.march@uconn.edu.

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