Prior to the kickoff of the 2015 campaign, I posited 10 burning questions that would be answered over the early part of season. Having grown weary of chronicling the injuries to my various starting lineups (farewell, Arian!), I thought this would be a good time to revisit those queries.
- How soon will LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Todd Gurley, Randall Cobb, Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman and other nicked-up stars be ready to go full throttle? The answers varied for each of the above players, but until Foster went down Sunday, each was at or near 100 percent and pointed in the right direction.
- Who will emerge from obscurity? Devonta Freeman is literally the runaway candidate for Breakout Player of the Year. To a lesser extent, Blake Bortles, Dion Lewis, Travis Benjamin, Allen Hurns and Gary Barnidge have each made an unexpected impact.
- Can the new-look Eagles make Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense hum? So far, not so much. Sam Bradford has been a bust, DeMarco Murray is just now getting in gear and their top wideout, Jordan Matthews, hasn’t scored or amassed more than 60 receiving yards since Week 2.
- Is Melvin Gordon the next LaDainian Tomlinson, or the next Ryan Mathews? Let’s put it this way: Even Ryan Mathews has out-performed the rookie.
- How will the Cowboys’ RB committee shake out? This remains a work-in-progress, but so far, nobody has made Dallas fans forget about Murray. Heading into Week 8, Darren McFadden appears to have earned his shot at the lead role, but this committee is far from settled.
- Will Cam Newton throw a TD pass to a wideout this season? Yes. Yes he will. Five of them, in fact, with Ted Ginn – of all people – hauling in three.
- Which rookies will make an immediate impact? With the exception of Amari Cooper – and possibly Stefon Diggs – the 2015 WR class can’t hold the jocks of last year’s stellar lot. Meanwhile, as predicted here, Todd Gurley is da bomb. Ameer Abdullah and Gordon have mostly squandered their opportunities, while T.J. Yeldon and Duke Johnson offer promise down the stretch. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have shown flashes, but are essentially desperation-only fantasy starters.
- What antics does Bill Belichick have in store for his backfield this year? For starters, nobody saw Dion Lewis coming. Then precious few benefitted from LeGarrette Blount’s three-touchdown outing against the Jaguars. And those who figured Blount would get a heavy workload against the Jets while Lewis (abdomen) was sidelined were treated to a big fat goose egg on Sunday. So, same-ole same-ole.
- After a year’s hiatus, will Adrian Peterson return to elite form? We haven’t seen the AP of old just yet, but he’s still a fantasy force to be reckoned with.
- Will the Jaguars produce a single fantasy stud? How about the Titans? Or the Browns? The Jags’ passing game has been surprisingly impressive, even with limited contributions from Julius Thomas. Travis Benjamin has represented Cleveland well. But nobody is jealous of the Titans on your roster. Or your 49ers.
That said, we still have more than half a season remaining. What we think we know today will likely be turned on its head come playoff time.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins. Have the Dolphins turned a corner under their new head coach? Has Tannehill? They’ll surely get a dose of reality next week in New England; but after that, the inconsistent quarterback will have several more favorable matchups. Tannehill has been dropped in many leagues, so he’s worth a pickup for those with injury or bye-week concerns at the position.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans. He only had one solid game while filling in for an injured Arian Foster earlier this season. Now, with Foster out for the duration, Blue will have a second chance at the lead rushing duties. He’ll form a committee backfield with Chris Polk, who is arguably of equal or greater value in PPR leagues.
Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys. After gaining 24 yards on his first two carries, Joseph Randle strained his back and gave way to McFadden. He may have lost his starting job in the process. Run DMC capitalized on the opportunity, with 29 carries for 152 rushing yards and a score. As long as he avoids the (inevitable) injury bug, McFadden has starting potential.
Don’t be fooled
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins. As the Redskins head into their bye, there’s really no good reason to hold onto Morris. He has become virtually invisible in Washington’s offense, with Matt Jones and/or Chris Thompson overshadowing him in any given week.
Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints. You could look at his two-touchdown performance against the Colts and say that Robinson just had his breakout game. Or you could chalk it up to a bit of luck, and conclude that his primary value remains as a handcuff to Mark Ingram. Guess which side I fall on?