The curses could be heard across the nation through the first five weeks of the fantasy season. Owners were starting to squirm, entertaining desperate trade offers just to try and get something positive out of their high round picks, only to reject those transactions and hope for the best.
Then, Sunday happened.
Sound familiar? Then you likely have Dez Bryant or Jordy Nelson on your squads.
The first five weeks of the season were not kind to owners of arguably two of the most talented receivers in the game. Posting a combined 65.8 points (28.9 for Dez, 36.9 for Jordy) put them both out of the Top 25 scorers in standard formats and, more importantly, had owners champing at the bit for more production. Once must-starts in all leagues, these players were now relegated to positive matchup status, which is quite the fall from grace in Fantasyland.
But with two breakout performances yesterday against respectable defenses, it’s time to take the kid gloves off and start trusting your studs again.
With 121 yards and three touchdowns against Houston, Nelson jumped off the screen, but still played second fiddle to Aaron Rodgers’ record night. Bryant commanded more attention against Baltimore, hauling in almost 100 yards and two touchdowns (plus a costly drop, but you don’t lost fantasy points for those, luckily). For both receivers, these were the kind of games we have been expecting since Week 1.
And with some favorable team situations in the coming weeks, we should see more of these games. For Nelson, the absence of Greg Jennings and the emergence of running back Alex Green (who has more burst than Cedric Benson has had his whole career) should lead to more uncontested targets. For Bryant, the decimation of the Dallas running game via injury means the team will rely more on the pass, which equates to more red zone opportunities and, hopefully, more trust from his quarterback.
The real end result from all of this, though, is a massive sigh of relief. For owners who lost sleep over these top receivers, it’s time to get some Zs.
Other thoughts from the weekend that was…
Hartline shutout by St. Louis. I had the tremendous foresight this week to bench Bryant against what I thought was a formidable Baltimore secondary, plugging in Hartline instead. What a colossal failure. Hartline was held to no catches by a Rams team that is no longer the NFC West’s pushover. I should have seen this coming, though, as St. Louis has held the following top receivers in check:
- Calvin Johnson, Week 1 – 11.1 points
- Brandon Marshall, Week 3 – 7.1 points
- Larry Fitzgerald, Week 5 – 9.2 points
With Cortland Finnegan adding some much needed swagger to the secondary, the Rams are a matchup to consider every week now. Cheers to them.
Houston defense showing vulnerability. For being one of the league’s alleged top defenses, Houston has struggled in the past couple weeks, both in real and fake football games. Since posting a 23 point fantasy line against Tennessee in Week 4, the Texans have yielded high point totals to the Jets and Packers, combining for only 14 fantasy points in the last two weeks. With a season-ending injury to Brian Cushing certainly playing a role, Houston fantasy owners may no longer have a sure thing.
Rookie receivers were last year’s thing, clearly. We were spoiled by Julio Jones and A.J. Green last season, as newcomers to the NFL this season have been lackluster by comparison. Through six weeks, the leading rookie receiver has fewer than 300 total yards (Kendall Wright, 285) and only three touchdowns (Josh Gordon). Let’s hope for a better draft class next year.