NFL fantasy roundtable: Best, worst of first half, predictions
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been the top scorer in standard fantasy formats
Despite good health, Chris Johnson has 75 yards rushing in only two of six games
Matthew Stafford, Michael Turner, Matt Forte could see numbers dip in second half
Each week of the NFL season, a committee of SI.com fantasy experts will huddle together and offer their insights into the most intriguing questions facing fantasy players. With the fantasy season hitting its midpoint, it's time to hand out some hardware and offer a few predictions for the home stretch.
1. Fantasy MVP of the first half?
Mike Beacom: Aaron Rodgers' QB Rating is more than 20 points higher than No. 2-ranked Tom Brady. He's missed the 300-yard mark just once (297 against Chicago) and has given fantasy owners three or more touchdown passes in five of seven starts. No player at any position has been that dominant.
Will Carroll: Rodgers. He's done everything asked of him, both fantasy and real, and is one of few consistent players out there. He's the top scorer in standard formats going away, making me very happy that I advocated him as a first round consideration. I think next year, more people have to think about going QB-RB as early as four. I also have to tip my cap to Fred Jackson. I'm not as surprised as everyone that he's a Top 10 back, but I am surprised he's the top back.
Eric Mack: You can go with an obvious option in Rodgers, the highest-scoring player, but the MVP is about which player has given the most value relative to draft position. That would be Jackson, who has been an elite back, despite being drafted as a fantasy backup. No one is looking at him as a backup anymore. He is a fantasy star now. Cam Newton gets an honorable mention because he wasn't drafted in many leagues, but the running back position is just more scarce.
David Sabino: Hands down it's Rodgers. The guy has been unbelievable, racking up huge fantasy points consistently. His low for the year is 297 yards and he has at least two touchdown passes in each game, good for a minimum of 25 fantasy points per contest. With Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb, James Starks, et al at his disposal, he has plenty of options. And when he's on, the Packers look unbeatable.
2. Who has been the biggest disappointment of the first half?
Beacom: Chris Johnson has averaged 2.9 yards per carry, and has gained 75 or more yards from scrimmage in just two of six games. Even worse -- he has scored just one touchdown. Unlucky owners everywhere are cursing Johnson's name.
Carroll: Johnson. It can't be just the holdout. He has 40 points off of a second or third overall pick, putting him behind an injury fill-in (Ben Tate) and barely above pure timeshare guys like James Starks and Mark Ingram. So few of the first-round RBs have hit that I could name a couple others here, but Johnson is the purest problem. That said, the talent isn't gone and there's no injury, so there's more of a chance for bounce back with Johnson than many other backs.
Mack: Throwing out the injuries to Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles and, to a much lesser extent because he is a monster again, Arian Foster, it is obviously Chris Johnson. Save for the holdout and getting paid, there was just nothing to suggest the Titans wouldn't know how to block for him. There are even reports CJ2K's conditioning is coming into question. With the Colts on the schedule this Sunday, it is go time for the first-half's biggest non-injury-related bust.
Sabino: Consider this: DeMarco Murray, who most people hadn't heard of before Sunday's game in St. Louis, has out-rushed Johnson for the season by 56 yards. And the supposedly washed-up, non-fantasy factor Willis McGahee has more fantasy points than Johnson, who has been staggeringly bad following his long holdout. In half of his starts the former 2,000-yard man has failed to reach 25 yards. And the worst part is he is perfectly healthy, so no injury can be blamed. He's just out of sync. A universal Top-4 pick, CJ2K has bust of the 21st century written all over him.
3. What rookie has made the biggest impact?
Beacom: Few had Cam Newton in the lineup when he was red hot in Weeks 1 and 2, so he doesn't fit here. Instead, the nod goes to Cincinnati's A.J. Green. The No. 4 overall selection in April has produced three games of 90 or more yards and four touchdowns -- and he's a big reason Cincinnati is 4-2.
Carroll: Easy -- Newton. I didn't expect this at all, but he had enough raw skill and opportunity that there was upside if you made him a late pick, backing up an every-week QB. He's gone from having some Michael Vick upside to outplaying Vick in every phase of the game.
Mack: There is no contest here: Newton. Heck, this writer was dead wrong about what this talent could put together for fantasy owners right away. His is one of the greatest fantasy rookie seasons ever. Newton is an elite fantasy quarterback and not just because of his rushing touchdowns. Even Vick owners are wishing they had Newton-like productive to date.
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