Week 9 has almost come and gone, meaning everyone has played at least eight games. We’re officially at the half way point in the season, a time to pause, reflect, and hand out some awards. Below are my picks for mid-season awards before we get to the Monday Night Football preview, a clash between the Patriots and winless Jets….
There are a few candidates here. Russell Wilson is the most obvious, and with his team at 6-2 he’s been doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Josh Allen has the Bills at 7-2 and has played very well, mostly, while Patrick Mahomes has the Chiefs at 8-1 and has been his usual self. But here’s the thing, I’m going with a player near and dear to my heart, Alvin Kamara. Pre-season I said he’d have a 1,000/1,000 season, and he’s on a pace where that would be possible at the half way point. He has 1,036 total yards, including 471 on the ground and 565 in the air on 60 receptions. He has eight total touchdowns and has really helped carry a New Orleans offense that has been without Michael Thomas most of the season. And yet, the Saints are 6-2, on top in the NFC South and tracking toward a high seed in the playoffs. Better yet, Kamara has been one of the rare first round picks in fantasy that has consistently delivered and consistently stayed on the field.
Rookie of the Year
This is another category where the options are plentiful. CeeDee Lamb and Chase Claypool have been tearing it up as rookie receivers. James Robinson has been the best thing about the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, and Joe Burrow is doing his thing in Cincinnati. All of them, plus a few more, could have a case made for them. But I’m going with Justin Herbert, quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert wasn’t supposed to start this early, but thanks to some poor medical care that knocked out Tyrod Taylor, Herbert started Week 2 and hasn’t come out since. He won’t come out, either. While the team is 1-6 in those starts, it’s hardly Herbert’s fault. The rookie has thrown for 2,146 yards, 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He’s also added 166 yards rushing, two rushing touchdowns, and just three fumbles. He’s moved the ball and moved the ball around. He looks confident and poised, and he’s been a heck of a lot of fun to watch. He’s been the best rookie I’ve seen this year.
Coach of the Year
There are some intriguing candidates here, too. Andy Reid has his team in good position, as does Pete Carroll and Sean McDermott. But I’m going with the coach of the only undefeated team to this point, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin could have been a candidate last year, taking a team with virtually no offense thanks to poor quarterback play and making it 8-8 and a playoff contender. This year, with Ben Roethlisberger back, the Steelers have hit another gear. Sure, it hasn’t always been pretty, but the Steelers are 8-0 and, so far, have dispatched with all challengers. They appear poised for a big post-season run yet again.
And with that out of the way, on to tonight’s game…
New England Patriots (2-5) vs New York Jets (0-8)
If you can call it a game. The Jets have been bad, like unwatchable bad, and seem content to send any player with talent out of town. Now Sam Darnold is hurt again (or maybe he just needs a break from this madness), so that ought to make tonight’s game even less exciting. The Patriots haven’t been much to watch, either. They’ve sunk to 2-5 and are a distant third in their own division. So, yeah, don’t expect a lot of Monday Night Miracles, unless, of course, your definition of a miracle is a watchable game, then maybe.
In terms of players you’re feeling good putting in your lineup, well there’s a small supply. Cam Newton hasn’t looked great as an NFL quarterback, but he’s been mostly OK for fantasy. That should be the case tonight, too. If you started him in a Superflex league, that should work. With the passing game and passing weapons a question, I’m more interested in running backs with Damien Harris seemingly being the best option. James White has been good at times, but he feels more like a desperation flex at this point.
For the Jets, it seems likely that Joe Flacco will be the quarterback. Jamison Crowder is tracking toward playing, which is a spot of good news, and if he does I think he’s in flex range. Denzel Mims has flashed some since returning from injury, but his target share is too inconsistent to feel great using him as a flex option, especially with Flacco. The only other possible Jet is running back La’Mical Perine, who is splitting with Frank Gore. I have Perine as an RB3, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.
Prediction: I think the Patriots get a win here, and we’ll be lucky to see 20 total points.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.