1. Donovan McNabb - Despite losing games of late, McNabb is having a career fantasy year. The Philly QB leads the league in passing yards, is tied for top spot in total TDs, and is second to Mike Vick in rushing yards. Donte Stallworth was an early blessing prior to injuring his hamstring (and should be back in week 10), but McNabb was able to persevere in his absence with feeds to RB Brian Westbrook and WR Reggie Brown. Donovan has demonstrated he doesn't need top 5 receivers to be the top fantasy quarterback...which is a good thing for his owners.
2. Peyton Manning - Manning is an absolute STUD...especially of late. His 106.0 passing rating leads all QBs on the season. Manning is second to McNabb in passing yardage (by only 21) and is tied in TD total with 19. Looking ahead, Manning has two of the league's best wide receivers, a good pass catching running back and tight end, and the Colts have a pass friendly offense. The only issue for Manning owners is with the fantasy playoffs...IFF the Colts have a loss by week 16, expect Manning and the rest of the Colt skill players to be given time off for good behavior (not good for fantasy owners if fortunate enough to make it to their superbowl).
3. Michael Vick - Is he a running back or a quarterback? I think he's both. Although Vick's total TDs amounts to only 13, he has a whopping 576 rushing yards!...which is huge in most leagues. Vick's passing rating is a mere 79.0, but most fantasy owners don't care too much if he doesn't thread the needle to a group of below average wide receivers...it's Vick's rushing yards that put the exclamation point on his average quarterback passing stats and make him the number 3 fantasy QB at mid-season.
4. Drew Brees - All Drew Brees has done is taken a sub-500 team and made them a contender by reading defenses, throwing accurate passes for touchdowns, and given New Orleans fans a football spirit like the city has never seen. And, oh yes...Brees took virtual no-name wide receiver Marques Colston and made him the top fantasy WR through 8 games of 2006. If you were lucky enough to "settle" for Drew Brees at QB in the mid rounds of your fantasy draft, then you're probably at least winning your division and likely to make the playoffs.
5. Marc Bulger - Same 'ol consistent Marc Bulger in 2006. Bulger's 102.1 passer rating and 2300 passing yards show why Bulger can continue to counted upon despite coaching and personnel changes. The only downside to Bulger's stats to date may be his TD production...which amount to only 13.
6. Eli Manning - Brother Eli is a great QB, but he's still throwing to the wrong color jersey. After compiling 17 INTs last season, Eli has already thrown 9 this year. On a more positive note, the potential is there and Manning has demonstrated he has the ability with his 15 passing touchdowns. Key targets Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey are Manning's bread and butter and will continue to be keys down the stretch as the Giants prime themselves for the NFL playoffs.
7. Rex Grossman - Grossman may be the 7th rated fantasy QB, but only because he's pass happy - often using extremely poor judgement. A benefactor of the Bears tenacious D, Grossman has been given good field position and plenty of clock time, ultimately deciding to throw the ball in situations where the Bears would be better off running and giving their defense a rest (think Kyle Orton and the 10 wins last season followed by an early playoff loss where Grossman started and basically threw away the game on 1st and 2nd downs). Grossman has thrown for 14 TDs this season, but the 10 INTs are wearing out the Bears defense and fantasy owners who have interceptions counted against them.
8. Tom Brady - Tom Brady continues to be one of the great QBs of our time. But this year, Brady doesn't have quality wide receivers to mention. Up until the Patriot's 8th game, Brady was thought of as a top 5 fantasy QB with 14 touchdowns and a decent passer rating. But the Colts came to town and forced 4 (FOUR) interceptions without a TD on SNF...thus plummeting Brady's stats and fantasy ranking.
1. LaDainian Tomlinson - If he stays healthy, Tomlinson is on a pace to gain over 2300 total yards and 28 TDs (not counting his passing TDs). LT2's touchdown total (15) through 8 games almost doubles the total (8) of the #3 ranked fantasy RB on the board...wow! So bascially, LaDainian by himself has outperformed every opponent duo fantasy RB combo (if LJ is taken from the mix). And there is no reason to think that Tomlinson will slow down any time soon. At this rate, LT will own a record or two by season's end.
2. Larry Johnson - As predicted, Larry Johnson is busting out and pounding defenses for massive yards and more than his share of TDs. Coach Herman Edwards stated in preseason that the Chiefs would run the ball 550 times in '06 and he's proving to be a prophet. LJ's 199 carries (combined with a few other team carries) is putting KC right on that number and lighting a fire on the fantasy scoreboards of Johnson owners. LJ has nearly exact yardage totals to LaDainian (to the point of being scary) through 8 weeks. His 11 TDs are more than respectable and he should stay on that pace throughout the rest of the season.
3. Willie Parker - Fast Willie has been "up and down Willie" throughout the first half of the season. Parker may be 3rd in fantasy results on our mid-term, but his stats have some undercurrents worth noticing. While getting a considerable number of touches, Parker's yards per touch is lower than most on our list. Furthermore, the Steelers are all but out of the NFL playoffs - meaning that Pittsburgh is in a dire situation and may go a bit of a different direction down the stretch.
4. Brian Westbrook - Mr. Versatility is staying true to form and boosting his numbers. With 38 receptions (huge for a RB) through 8 games, Westbrook leads his team and has been huge in fantasy leagues that reward RBs that catch the ball. BW is tied at 4th with 7 TDs and should see his numbers continue as the season progresses...especially with the year McNabb is having as the Philly QB.
5. Kevin Jones - Jones is thriving in Mike Martz' offense. His 41 receptions are huge and KJ is no longer the poor man's Brian Westbrook. In fact, KJ's stats are very close to Westbrook's...with only 21 less total yards and the same number of TDs. Jones just needs to improve his yards per touch to move up on our list by season's end.
6. Steven Jackson - Jackson is a Hoss! His 1100+ total yards are in the same ballpark as Tomlinson and LJ. The primary difference between SJax and the top two RBs on our midterm board is in Jackson's TD production (4). If Jackson can start finding his way into the endzone in the last 8 games, he moves way up on fantasy boards. Jackson is the real deal and should make a move in the 2nd half.
7. Clinton Portis - Portis looked like a potential early bust with a shoulder injury that was thought to linger throughout the season, but Portis is now starting to put up consistent yardage and TDs. His 7 TDs ties him for 4th among RBs...if he can continue his current pace and boost his yardage totals, Portis becomes a top 5 RB down the stretch.
8. Rudi Johnson - What's up with the Bengals? Rudi's done okay with his 6 TDs and nearly 700 total yards, but his and Cincy's performance hasn't been stellar or up to their potential. Last year, Rudi Johnson scored in only 2 tds in first 8 games with only 1-100 yard performance. Then Rudi seemed to turn it on for the last half of the season. He finished with 1548 yards and 12 touchdowns and was a strong and consistent performer for the final 8 games. Let's see what he is able to do in the last half this season.
9. Ronnie Brown - Brown quietly put up 870 yards and 4 TDs with a Dolphin team that is playing way below expectations (although they did knock off the undefeated Bears on the road in week 9). Brown may continue to go unnoticed and is worth a pickup/trade since there's no reason to believe he will have a 2nd half with any less results.
* - plus 1 Passing Touchdown
1. Marques Colston - Drew Brees came to New Orleans and made this virtual no-name wide receiver a fantasy star. In fact, most reading this are jumping to double-check the accuracy of the numbers...but rest assured - they're right. Joe Horn had been the staple fantasy wide receiver N.O. (and Donte Stallworth to a lesser extent prior to going to Philly in the off-season), but Colston has outdone anything previously accomplished by a Saints WR through the first half of the season. Colston is the pick-up of the season for fantasy owners who jumped on him early...and there is no reason to think MC will have a decline in numbers down the stretch (esp. with Brees throwing the ball).
2. Torry Holt - Holt keeps catching the ball and scoring touchdowns for St. Louis. Marc Bulger has a passing rating of over 100, so guess what...Holt will continue to catch the ball and score touchdowns - no surprise here.
3. Javon Walker - Jake Plummer had only 4 TDs through the first 6 games and Walker was looking like a real reach. But then something happened...Walker took off as Plummer got better. Walker came off a major knee injury that had him sidelined last season, but this kid has proved in recent weeks that he's capable of duplicating (or improving) his breakout numbers from 2004. IFF Plummer can keep it together, Walker will be huge down the stretch.
4. Darrell Jackson - When DJax is on the field, he's the man in the Seattle wide receiving corps...period. And it doesn't seem to matter whether it's Matt Hasselbeck or backup Seneca Wallace at the reigns - Jackson is the key target. The Seahawks have had some up and down games on the season, but DJ has been surprisingly consistent for fantasy owners regardless of team chemistry or the scoreboard. Provided Jackson stays healthy, Seattle has every reason to keep throwing the ball his way as the season progresses.
5. Reggie Wayne - Most unfamiliar with the Colts didn't believe the 1A and 1B analysis/prediction given to Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. But, it's proving itself out on the field. QB Peyton Manning is excellent at reading matchups and taking what opposing defenses give him. As defensed guard Harrison, Manning goes Wayne's direction (as seen at Denver)...and as defenses adjust back toward Wayne the next week, Manning goes back to Harrison (as seen in New England). Both Wayne and Harrison have very similar stats and there will be plenty enough to go around in the final 8 games.
6. Marvin Harrison - See Wayne. Harrison can do it all and is quickly being considered as one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game. Marvin's numbers aren't slowing and is on pace to set several NFL records as long as he continues to stay healthy and play in Indianapolis - especially with Peyton throwing him the ball.
7. Terrell Owens - Regardless whether you like Owens or not, he is a STUD on the football field. Although it doesn't seem like T.O. has busted out through 8 games (and he really hasn't), he still has fantasy stats that have him in the top 10 through the first half. Once Terrell finds his stride and better chemistry with new quarterback Tony Romo, Owens should improve his fantasy WR stats/ranking by season's end.
8. Reggie Brown - Brown has been the right place at the right time. With Stallworth out with a hammy for several of the first 8 games, Brown has been the go-to guy in Philly (besides RB Brian Westbrook). Brown's 500 yards and 6 TDs have made him a nice play for daring owners who have started him, but Brown's production may be limited a bit with the return of Stallworth.
9. Andre Johnson - Andre Johnson (and Roy Williams) may be the most skilled wide receiver presently in the NFL. In an anemic Houston offense, AJ still leads the league in receptions and yardage. Sure, much of Johnson's production has been in garbage time...but Johnson is the real deal and will continue to produce - perhaps with a few more touchdowns in the final 8 games.
10. Roy Williams - ROY is an amazing talent at wide receiver and finally has an offensive coordinator who can bring out his ability. Williams may be only at number 10 in wide receiving fantasy stats through 8 games, but watch for Williams to move into the fantasy WR top 5 in the final 8 games as Martz and Detroit air out their offense and score mega NBA style points.
1. Alge Crumpler - All Crumpler does is play a nice TD target inside the 20. With 6 touchdowns on 30 receptions, Crumpler is scoring a TD 20% of the time he touches the ball. QB Michael Vick is bringing his A-game each week and Crumpler is an integral part to Vick and Atlanta's offense. Crumpler's numbers are no fluke and can be expected to continue throughout the rest of the season.
2. Todd Heap - Heap has a tendency to be questionable on the injury report every single week. But somehow Heap has rarely missed time. Similar to Crumpler, Heap has been an integral part in his offense and been the main scoring threat inside the red zone. Provided Heap stays healthy, he'll continue to produce at a similar pace for the Ravens.
3. Jeremy Shockey - Shockey is plays offense like Brian Urlacher plays defense. Everytime Shockey gets the ball, he wants to hit someone...and it seems to work for him. On the season, Shockey has bulled his way to 300+ yards and 5 TDs. He'll continue to be one of Eli Manning's favorite targets down the stretch.
4. Antonio Gates - Gates may have the potential to be the top tight end in the league, but hasn't totally adapted to the San Diego change at quarterback from Drew Brees to Philip Rivers. But Gates' numbers have been improving of late. Gates' 400+ yards and 4 TDs put him at 4th of all TEs through the mid-point - and is on a pace to move up in tthe TE fantasy rankings by year's end.
5. Kellen Winslow Jr. - Winslow has arguably the most talent of any wide receiver in the league. In fact, he leads all tight ends with 51 (FIFTY-ONE) receptions through 8 games! Only two wide receivers have caught more balls this season (Harrison and Johnson). Winslow is second in yardage with 471, but has made it into the endzone only 3 times. Look for Kellen Winslow Jr. to keep catching the ball and find his way across the goalline a few more times as the Browns start to find their offense.
6. Tony Gonzalez - Always a player at TE...Gonzo has overcome dominance by Larry Johnson and a Chiefs quarterback change to still be a key factor in the KC offense. Gonzalez has 500+ yards at the mid-point and will continue to put up points for the Chiefs and his fantasy owners.
7. Desmond Clark - With an over-anxious quarterback who wants to always throw the ball in the redzone (when running may make more sense), players like Desmond Clark start to show up on the radar.
8. Owen Daniels - What does Owen Daniels do?...he catches touchdowns. With 5 TDs on 21 grabs, Daniels scores a TD nearly 25% of the time he touches the football.
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