(Table for 6 continued from above)
Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the most-written-about football players of all time doesn’t need one more paragraph unless it offers something different. This season, I’m struck by two sets of Tom Brady statistics.
First, his disparity between fantasy points at home (27.7 per game) versus on the road (17.9) is shocking. But it’s a small sample size, so perhaps we might read too much into it.
The second set of statistics is more notable – each year since 2014, he’s averaged more fantasy points per game in the first half of the season (21.3) than in the second half (17.4). And no, aside from 2014, we can’t chalk it up to him playing sparingly in Week 17.
From 2015 to 2020, he averaged 32 pass attempts in the season’s final week. Moreover, since the halfway point of this season, he’s averaged only 14.5 fantasy points per game.
With Leonard Fournette thriving, Antonio Brown now suspended for three games, and upcoming contests against two of the league’s tougher defenses (Bills and Saints), we should brace for the strong possibility that Brady’s second-half decline could continue.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Can fantasy managers trust Kyler Murray today? He has a lower ceiling than last year due to a steep drop-off in rushing attempts and yards. An improved defense has made him more of an afterthought in fourth quarters, as he’s averaged only 5.4 pass attempts in the final frame, down from 8.1 last year.
And he’s returning from a sprained ankle that could limit his upside further. I traded him away on Wednesday (packaging him for Justin Herbert) because I no longer trusted him as an elite QB. Maybe next year. But it’s fair to wonder if Murray will be a top-10 option today in Chicago. If he proves me wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.
That said, I’d caution managers to be realistic about what Murray can do today and for the rest of the year. Top 6-8 QB numbers seem like his ceiling.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
What I just wrote about Murray, double it for Saquon Barkley. The former all-world fantasy RB was the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 – a can’t-miss prospect with 99th-percentile SPARQ results.
We all know this, and it bears repeating – Saquon’s talent has never been in doubt. When fully healthy, he can rival any fantasy RB.
The old Barkley has occasionally flashed this year. But if his name were Herbert Bittleman, we’d wonder why Devontae Booker wasn’t starting.
While Barkley deserves to get a pass, at what point do the Giants shut him down and prepare for 2022? Until or unless he returns to his 2019 form, he’ll be a weekly risk, whether we want to admit it or not.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
Some slumps don’t make sense. In Courtland Sutton’s case, sometimes all we can do is wait – wait for a rebound that’s sure to come. We think.
Or hope. He has not eclipsed 2 receptions or 40 yards in any of his last four games. During this offensive collapse, Denver extended his contract for four years and $60.8 million ($40.9 million guaranteed). As many of you know, I believe that talent usually wins in the end.
As irregular as Denver’s aerial attack has become, their postseason hopes likely rest on two remaining games against the Chiefs, including one today. This is a get-right opportunity for a muted passing game and their least-utilized starter.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
Have you ever been ready to draft someone, and then the person right in front of you takes him instead? It happens to me seemingly multiple times a year, and this past September, it happened with Terry McLaurin in the late-second round of my 14-team league.
His incredible start to the season made me feel even worse: 19.6 fantasy points per game in his first four contests, placing him among the elite WRs. But he’s averaged only 12.8 fantasy points per game since.
And his boom-bust track record is concerning: he’s been a WR4 or worse in six of 11 games. With Washington’s receiving corps finally getting healthy, the question is whether managers can confidently start him in Week 13 and beyond.