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Mid-Season Awards: MVP's and LVP's


When it comes to awards, everything is subjective. Some people just go with the best player at each position. That is fine in real football but not in fantasy football.

Christian McCaffrey has had the best season as a running back, but as the first or second pick in drafts, he needed to do so just to meet expectations. However, taking someone later in the draft who balls out has far more value to your fantasy team. This is a long-winded way of saying this is not a list of the best player at each position. Instead, it a column highlighting the most or least valuable player at each position.

Is McCaffrey great? Yes. Is Travis Kelce great? Yes. But they are not the most valuable fantasy assets thus far. So, who are the most valuable and conversely who is the weakest link?

Editor's Note: Get any 2020 full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive off-season content, NFL Draft coverage, rookie rankings, dynasty analysis, preseason Draft Kit, In-Season tools and over 150 days of Premium DFS. Sign Up Now!

 

First-Half MVPs

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Was I a fan of Lamar Jackson before the season? No. But if you are drafted as the QB14 and currently rank number two for fantasy, this means you are a great value. The running ability we thought would be there is, as Jackson is on pace to run for over 1,300 yards. But the passing improvement we have seen is what makes him the winner here.

Despite not having the greatest talent to work with, Jackson has still been able to improve ten-fold over his showing in 2018 as a rookie. If Marquise Brown can finally get and remain healthy and Mark Andrews can catch the dang ball, he could become a true all-around quarterback in the mold of Russell Wilson.

Yes, he still has room to grow. And I am sure he will in time, but for now he is just showing that the late-round quarterback philosophy is alive and well for fantasy owners for at least another season.

Honorable Mention: Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks, Jacoby Brissett - Indianapolis Colts

 

Running Back

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

What a coming-out party we have seen this season.

We saw in 2017 what he could do before the ACL injury ended his season. Last season was then a clear disappointment and coming into the season we were worried he would not recover. Well, he clearly has recovered.

As the number one running back in fantasy thus far, Cook has shown what he really can do for an offense. As the Vikings start to become a little more pass-heavy in the coming weeks, he may not stay at number one. But he is a virtual lock for a top-three finish if he stays healthy. That is something not many would have expected after taking him in the second or even third round of fantasy drafts.

Joe Mixon, David Johnson, and James Conner. These were the buzzy names in the offseason. But it has been Dalvin Cook who has topped them all.

Honorable Mention: Christian McCaffrey - Carolina Panthers, Leonard Fournette - Jacksonville Jaguars, Nick Chubb - Cleveland Browns

 

Wide Receiver

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

Despite losing a hall of fame quarterback in the second game of the season. Despite having to play with a game manager in Teddy Bridgewater. Michael Thomas is still the number one fantasy wide receiver this season. He is also the only wide receiver to finish as a top-20 receiver in each week of the season to date. So, it is not only production that lands him here but consistency.

Don’t think consistency is important? Think about this. At the end of the season, you would be very happy having a top-20 receiver on your team. You probably had a great season. So, if you had the WR18 right now on your team, you would be excited. Right?

Well, the number 18 receiver in fantasy right now is Will Fuller. One good game surrounded by weeks finishing outside the top-40 will do that for your rankings. Consistency is far more important than the final ranking. We saw it last season with Derek Henry and we are seeing it this season with Will Fuller.

When Drew Brees does come back, Thomas is not going to take a hit. In fact, he is probably going to increase his production. But his consistency will also remain. Yes, he does not give you the overall WR1 weeks. He only has two top-10 weeks on the season. But the 100% return on top-20 weeks makes him the best receiver in the NFL for fantasy this season. And it should only continue as the Saints go marching into the playoffs.

Honorable Mention: Cooper Kupp - Los Angeles Rams, Terry McLaurin - Washington Redskins

 

Tight End

Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders

Who else could it be?

Not only is Darren Waller the TE2 on the season, but he is a great story of redemption. We saw last season that the Raiders are going to use the tight end position. They made Jared Cook a viable option and got him a contract in New Orleans. Cook led the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. It looks as though nothing has changed for the Raiders at the position. This means Waller is going to continue to produce as a last round tight end flier. Right now he is on pace to finish as a top-three tight end. If Matt Ryan misses significant time, he could even finish as number one ahead of Austin Hooper.

While John Gruden gets a lot of flak. And rightly so. One thing he can apparently do is produce fantasy relevant tight ends. So, for all the bad things I have said and will continue to say about you. I offer you this in all sincerity. Thank you for Darren Waller and his production. Keep it up Chuckie.

Honorable Mention: Austin Hooper - Atlanta Falcons

 

LVP:

Quarterback

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Oh how the arrogant have fallen. First, we saw Baker chomping through a beer at an Indians game. Then we see him come out and crap the bed for half a season in fantasy. Maybe it is just me, but it kind of had to happen this way. As good as we all thought the Browns would be, it is still Cleveland. If they didn’t have bad luck, they would have no luck at all.

Getting Odell Beckham Jr. to go along with Jarvis Landry and David Njoku was awesome. But as the saying goes. It was lipstick on a pig. Or if you like, if you polish a turd, it is still a turd. The weapons are great. But when the offensive line is so bad there is no time to even do anything, the weapons are invalid.

Baker was everyone’s darling quarterback this off season. I will take a loss as well. I thought he would be great this season. This is why he was taken as the QB4 in fantasy drafts. However, currently sitting as QB16 shows how wrong we all can be on occasion. Even those who thought it would be a difficult transition in Cleveland did not have Baker Mayfield this low. At worst, he was seen as a low-end QB1, but what we are seeing so far exceededs our floor prediction. Not only in fantasy leagues, but in terms of NFL, Mayfield may be the most disappointing player of 2019. At this point, Cleveland is hoping for a success like .10 cent beer night was. Look it up.

Dishonorable Mention: Jared Goff - Los Angeles Rams, Mitch Trubisky - Chicago Bears

 

Running Back

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Yes, the Bengals offensive line has been awful. But it was bad last season as well, so, it can’t all be blamed on this factor. Joe Mixon is still talented. But he has clearly had a leveling down this season. He may not be the elite running back fantasy owners hoped he was. Especially those of you in dynasty leagues who hoped to keep him for a large haul later.

With weekly finishes this season as RB27 through 47, Mixon is clearly not returning value on his draft stock of late first or early second round. He is far behind even players like Jordan Howard, a player who no one wanted to draft. I mean, no one. Injury is one thing, but when you are healthy and still fail to produce on such a staggering level, you clearly need to be labeled as a bust for 2019.

Dishonorable Mention: Devonta Freeman - Atlanta Falcons, Damien Williams - Kansas City Chiefs, Darrell Henderson - Los Angeles Rams

 

Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham Jr, Cleveland Browns

One reason Baker Mayfield is so bad is that his number one target has not gotten going either. Coming over from the Giants, Beckham Jr. was supposed to thrive in Cleveland. He was supposed to be the final piece to the puzzle. A puzzle that would find the Browns finally getting back to the top of the AFC North division. Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong. Simply put, they missed the label which said you also need an offensive line to have a good offense.

As talented as Odell Beckham is, he can not do it all without help. He also has no time to get open for targets when Mayfield is running for his life on every play. With games coming up against the Patriots, the Ravens and the Steelers Defense getting better via trades, this is going to be a difficult rest of the season for the Browns as a whole, and that includes Beckham. Don’t expect anything to get better until Cleveland spends some of its resources in the trenches and not just on the flashy eye candy.

Dishonorable Mention: JuJu Smith-Schuster - Pittsburgh Steelers, Dante Pettis - San Francisco 49ers

 

Tight End

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

People were shouting it from the rooftops. O.J. Howard is going to break out in 2019. I wasn’t so sure. But even someone as skeptical as I was did not think it would be so bad for Howard. Bruce Arians never used a tight end before. The famous phrase this offseason was, "well, he has never had one as talented as Howard before." This was an argument that was clearly designed to be window dressing. Many things have never happened. It does not mean when it does you automatically know what to do. Bruce Arians is 66 years of age and he is set in his coaching ways. Much like other coaches in all sports, he sticks with what he knows. This means the tight end position does not play a prominent role in his offense.

O.J. Howard only has 18 targets through six games this season. He is being used mainly as a blocking tight end. Something we knew he was great at coming from Alabama, but also, something which does not lead to fantasy points. At least for him.

Even when the tight end position is getting used, it is Cameron Brate and not Howard who is getting called upon. As the TE4 off the board and a fifth-round fantasy pick, he is clearly having a dreadful season. At this point, if you have not dropped him yet, you certainly have thought about it. This just shows the depth of how far he has dropped at a lackluster position.

Dishonorable Mention: Jared Cook - New Orleans Saints, Noah Fant - Denver Broncos

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