Fantasy Football: The most disappointing players of the first half


Fantasy Football: The most disappointing players of the first half

Nobody can predict the future.

We've said that plenty of times before on this site and it's an important fact to keep in mind as you read through or listen to any fantasy football preseason advice. Whoever is doling out the info is just guessing at best, because that's all it is: An educated guess.

Every fantasy season, plenty of surprises - both good and bad - come out of nowhere that not a soul on Earth could have predicted.

[MORE - Fantasy Football: The five best surprises of the first half]

As we enter Week 8, we sit at roughly the halfway mark between most fantasy regular seasons in leagues, so the CSN Fantasy crew is taking a look at the most disappointing players at each position:

QB - Peyton Manning, DEN

We all saw some ominous signs in Peyton Manning's second half of 2014. The 14-time Pro Bowler finished with three touchdowns and six interceptions in his last four games last season. With all the warning signs there and at the age of 39 going into the 2015 season, Manning still had an ADP of 50.

If you took him at or before his ADP, you're probably kicking yourself in the behind right about now. Manning is currently ranked as the No. 29 fantasy quarterback through six games, behind guys like Brian Hoyer, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Kirk Cousins. Manning has thrown an interception in each game this season, with 10 total on the year.

Now, we all know the future Hall of Famer could string together a marvelous fantasy stretch in the second half of the season so he shouldn't be dropped under any circumstance quite yet. Keep a close eye on him and only play him when the matchup dictates it. (Scott Krinch)

RB - Eddie Lacy, GB

It's certainly not time to write the obituary for Eddie Lacy's 2015 fantasy campaign, but when the season is seven weeks deep and he's sandwiched between Dexter McCluster and Thomas Rawls, something's gone awry. It's laughable at this point that Lacy was a debatable top overall pick; Adrian Peterson and Le'Veon Bell are the Nos. 7 and 8 running backs in points per game, and that should only improve.

Lacy's season has been marred by a nagging ankle injury suffered early in Week 2 against the Seahawks. This coming after a 17-point performance against the Bears in Week 1; Lacy missed the rest of that game and hasn't topped 18 carries or 90 rushing yards since. It also hasn't helped Lacy's fantasy prospects that James Starks is on a career-best pace through six games and has allowed the Packers to work Lacy back slowly.

[ROTOWORLD - Week 8 touches and targets]

There's good news, though. Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Lacy's ankle injury is no longer a concern, which also means it HAD been a concern for more than a month. The Packers' passing attack has been better than expected after Jordy Nelson went down, and Davante Adams will return in Week 8 to give Aaron Rodgers another target.

But a healthy Lacy is going to get his, as witnessed by his 13-touchdown campaign a year ago despite Rodgers earning MVP honors under center. It's bad news that Lacy has been a first-round bust thus far, averaging fewer points per game than guys like Isaiah Crowell and Marcel Reese. The good news, though, is that it came because of injury and not because Lacy is slipping in Year 3. He'll face tough defenses in Denver and Carolina the next two weeks, but then the schedule really opens up for him to have a stellar second half, so long as he's healthy. (Mark Strotman)

WR - Andre Johnson, IND

Johnson was the 23rd receiver off the board in ESPN drafts, ahead of guys like Jeremy Maclin, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Martavis Bryant, James Jones and Steve Smith. Everybody thought this was Johnson's chance to truly break into the double-digit TD club with a true QB throwing to him for the first time in his career.

Of course it hasn't worked out that way at all. Johnson is now ranked as the No. 62 receiver in standard leagues and apart from one game (in which he put up 19 standard fantasy points), he's been downright awful. He failed to record a catch in two straight games in Weeks 3 and 4 and has just 11 fantasy points in six games apart from that 19-point outing.

[Complete CSN fantasy football coverage]

Johnson looks way more like a 34-year-old wide receiver than the guy many expected to find the fountain of youth. If you own him, give up on him. He's probably not worth owning at all, and certainly not worth starting right now. His only hope is if Andrew Luck puts his shoulder woes behind him and can regain his 2014 form ... and even then Johnson is way down on the totem pole for targets in Indy. (Tony Andracki)

TE - Jimmy Graham, SEA

What? You really thought the Seahawks were going to change their offense for Graham? It didn't happen when Percy Harvin came along (granted he was hurt a lot). The Seahawks have NEVER focused on one guy in the passing game. It's always been about spreading it around and that's driven fantasy owners nuts over the years.

But even though it's been bad for Graham this year, he's still leading the team in catches and yards and is tied for first in touchdown receptions. The tight end class this year has been somewhat underwhelming outside of Rob Gronkowski, Gary Barnidge (seriously, who saw this guy coming) and Tyler Eifert. Travis Kelce and Martellus Bennett haven't lived up to big expectations just yet.

It doesn't look like Graham will live up to his draft position but he's not worth cutting at all. He's still capable of having a vintage Jimmy Graham game at any point so be ready. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday.