Fantasy: Manning a clear choice for midseason MVP - The Buffalo News

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Fantasy: Manning a clear choice for midseason MVP

With seven weeks of the fantasy football season complete, we’re at (or near) the midway point of the year.

That means it’s a good time to recap what’s happened so far, by handing out some awards.

Fantasy MVP: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver. With 193 points in standard-scoring ESPN leagues, Manning has 57 more than any other player. He put up a ridiculous seven-touchdown game in the season opener, and hasn’t stopped. Perhaps most important, Manning has thrown for at least two touchdowns and had at least 20 points in all but one game (Week Six against Jacksonville, when he had 13). That type of consistency makes him an obvious choice.

Fantasy LVP: Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland/Indianapolis. Richardson’s average draft position in CBS Sports leagues was 9.47. He’s 26th in positional scoring, with 50 points, in CBS leagues. Richardson hasn’t topped 60 yards on the ground, and has only two touchdowns.

Costliest injury: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta. Jones was a second-round pick in 12-team leagues, on average, in CBS leagues with a draft position of 23.91. His season was ended after five weeks because of a fractured foot. Jones had 41 catches for 580 yards and two touchdowns before being hurt.

Rookie of the Year: Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati. It’s a down year for rookies, with only two ranking among the top 85 in overall points in ESPN leagues. While Jets quarterback Geno Smith has the most with 93, he’s 18th in scoring at his position, meaning it’s unlikely he’s starting on a week-to-week basis in leagues playing just one quarterback. Bernard is 12th in positional scoring. His value is especially high in points-per-reception leagues, as he has 25 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

Breakout player: Julius Thomas, TE, Denver. Thomas’ average draft position was 157th in CBS leagues. He’s responded with 36 catches for 422 yards and a whopping eight touchdowns. He is second in positional scoring behind New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham.

Surprise star: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego. Rivers was an afterthought in the preseason, with an average draft position of 139. He’s the third-highest scoring player through the first seven weeks, however, thanks to 2,132 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, totals that trail only Manning.

Reed, Boykin worth an add

A season-high six teams are on their bye in Week Eight, so the waiver wire is pretty picked through. There are two players worth an add this week if they are available in your league.

Washington rookie tight end Jordan Reed has been targeted 15 times the past two weeks by quarterback Robert Griffin III, and is coming off a 134-yard, one-touchdown performance against Chicago. Washington made veteran tight end Fred Davis a healthy inactive in that game. Reed has become a No. 1 option at tight end, but is still available in more than half of ESPN leagues.

Green Bay receiver Jarrett Boykin caught eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in Week Seven against Cleveland. He should continue to expect a lot of work, as the Packers will be without Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and very likely James Jones this week against Minnesota. The Vikings have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, giving Boykin value as a No. 2 receiver.

For those desperate for a running back, the Giants gave Peyton Hillis the start last week against Minnesota. He responded with a touchdown, although he managed only 36 yards on 18 carries. As long as Brandon Jacobs is out, Hillis should start.

Analyzing the Bills

The guess here is that C.J. Spiller does not play Sunday against New Orleans because of an ankle injury – giving Fred Jackson a boost. Though he’s banged up himself, Jackson is a borderline No. 1 running back against a rush defense giving up 5.1 yards per carry. Tashard Choice is a flex player in the deepest of leagues.

Receiver Stevie Johnson is on a streak of five straight games without a touchdown. The Saints, though, have given up 451 yards and three touchdowns to receivers the past three weeks, so there is hope for Johnson on Sunday. The possibility of the Bills trailing big and needing quarterback Thad Lewis to throw a lot is high.

On the New Orleans side, the big fantasy question involves the health of Graham, the star tight end. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, and will very likely be a game-time decision against the Bills, so pay close watch to the inactives.

Quarterback Drew Brees is a no-brainer start, while running back Darren Sproles is also a quality play. The toughest decision in regards to the Saints is what to do with receiver Marques Colston, who has just three catches for 26 yards the past two games. If Graham can’t go, Colston’s targets should go up, giving him appeal as a No. 2 or flex receiver.


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