Good and bad of the first half

With Week 8 in the rearview mirror, it’s officially midway through the fantasy season.

So far, just like every season in fantasy, there have been a number of situations that have left owners ripping their hair out or jumping for joy. The number of quarterback injuries alone has left few fantasy teams unscathed in some way; the consensus No. 2 pick before the season, Steven Jackson, finally scored his first touchdown this past week; and the Cleveland Browns have become the biggest fantasy gold mine south of New England.

With half this fantasy season left to go, let’s ditch the questions and take a look at some of the pleasant surprises, the disappointments and the best fantasy players in the league. I’ll also break out my crystal ball and look ahead to who might earn those same awards in the second half.

1st half MVP: Tom Brady

Really this is a no brainer. Brady has been putting up silly numbers in leading the Patriots to an 8-0 start, including the past three games in which he’s accounted for five, six and five touchdowns, respectively. He’s already got 30 passing touchdowns with the next best total belonging to the Browns’ Derek Anderson with 17. Undoubtedly Brady has led many of his fantasy owners into the top-3 in their league, which is all you can really ask for. Other candidates: Patriots WR Randy Moss; Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.

2nd half MVP: Peyton Manning

It’d be too easy to say Brady again, so I’m going with the Colts quarterback, who has been fairly quiet during the first half (1,833 yards and 13 TDs). I expect Manning to go nuts in the second half and reach 4,200 yards and 30 TDs by Week 16, which means 2,400 yards and 17 TDs over the next eight games. The Colts have relied on their rushing game so far this season, but things tend to even out in fantasy, so expect more passing TDs in the second half. Plus over the next eight games Indianapolis faces weak pass defenses in games against San Diego, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Houston.

1st half treat: Wes Welker

This award was all Ronnie Brown’s until the Dolphins running back went down for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament two weeks ago. Welker, who was a toss-in WR pick by many fantasy owners in drafts, has blossomed in the Patriots offense. Welker has gone for 613 yards receiving and 6 TDs through eight weeks, putting him in the top-10 in both categories. And for leagues who give out points for return yards, Welker’s cobbled together 173 return yards on punts as well. Other candidates: Browns WR Braylon Edwards; Browns QB Derek Anderson; Bucs QB Jeff Garcia.

2nd half treat: Chris Chambers

The trade to San Diego is going to benefit this veteran wideout in a big way. He caught just two passes for 35 yards in his first game since being traded from Miami last week, but he scored a touchdown and should take off from this point on, starting with Minnesota’s soft pass defense this weekend. Three more soft pass defenses (Jacksonville, Tennessee and Detroit) await in the next six weeks.

1st half trick: Steven Jackson

Much has been written about the struggles of the Rams running back, but this is a no-brainer just because of where he went in most drafts. After struggling in the first two games, Jackson had 115 yards in Week 3, but suffered a groin injury in the game that sidelined him for four weeks. He returned last week to score his first TD of the season, but now is questionable for Week 9 with a bulging disc in his back. The bottom line is Jackson was picked to carry fantasy teams and he’s put up stats that really have sunk owners. The worst part is Brian Leonard, Jackson’s handcuff pick, really didn’t do much in Jackson’s absence. Other candidates: Rams QB Marc Bulger; Bengals RB Rudi Johnson; 49ers RB Frank Gore; Texans WR Andre Johnson.

2nd half trick: Joseph Addai

The second-year player has had a great first half, including last week when he hit the century mark in rushing and scored three TDs. But the Colts RB has started to lose carries to Kenton Keith (so far it’s been minimal, but as the season goes along Keith’s carries should increase) and I expect the Colts to pass more in the second half. Throw in the fact that Indy faces tough run defenses like New England, Sand Diego, Jacksonville and Baltimore over the next six weeks and Addai may not live up to the lofty expectations he’s set.

Didn’t get your question answered? Send all questions to aswaney@heraldnet.com.

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