This was originally posted at my website. I want people to actually comment and discuss what they might have learned so far this year, so naturally, I'm posting here. Any lessons you've learned? Please share!
1. Coaches can come around.
Mike Shannahan and Bill Belichick have long been loathed by fantasy football players for the way they handle their running backs since the careers of Terrell Davis and Corey Dillon ended. This season, however, a few lucky owners are starting to come around. Alfred Morris and Stevan Ridley have been the clear-cut main ball carriers for these previously frustrating coaches to have in charge of your fantasy runner thus causing owners to... trust them???
Ridley (ADP: 52) is still dealing with a decent amount of competition but he's clearly the main guy at least for the time being despite Shane Vereen technically starting vs the Jets. Brandon Bolden has also looked good but most of his work comes in blowout situations. Danny Woodhead is still in the mix as their third down 'Sproles' but he's not getting a lot of a carries. From a pure talent perspective, many still feel Shane Vereen is the best on this team but with the way Ridley is producing it's going to be tough to take him off the field. If you have the bench space and are desperate for a runner Vereen could be worth a shot but he's not someone you can trust until there's a few injures in that backfield.
Morris (ADP: 101) has been the beneficiary of some injuries to Roy Helu, Tim Hightower, and Evan Royster. This has helped his job security but he was still slated to be the starter week 1 and he's done nothing to have it taken away yet. If you drafted him, well done. If not, hopefully you were able to get him off waivers.
2. The NFC West might have the 3 best defenses in the NFL.
I've loved the Seahawks defense for a while now and knew they'd be good this year but the Cardinals and (to a lesser extent) St. Louis Rams are both playing at a very high level and have impressed thus far . There's also the 49ers-- who happen to be pretty good. The division as a whole is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were a year ago. This is no longer a welcome matchup for your players. The worst matchup of all of these teams is when one of your players is facing the Seahawks in Seattle.
3. A secondary can be improved quite quickly.
Just ask fans of the Rams or Vikings. Both teams added two new starters. The Rams added rookie corner, Janoris Jenkins as well as veteran, Cortland Finnegan for a pretty solid chunk of cash. The Vikings added two rookies. They traded back into the first round to grab free safety, Harrison Smith and he's added a much-needed physical presence on the back end. Third round corner, Josh Robinson was the fastest player at the combine and he's used his speed to make up for any deficiencies in positioning. Both teams have since become a much less appealing matchup for your QBs and WRs, despite the Packers' solid numbers this week in St. Louis.
DN Edit/Addition: Obviously a healthy Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook, you know, actually playing have helped us immensely on the back end. I think we all agree that Harrison and Josh have been extremely welcome additions though.
4. Thursday night games are typically pretty crappy.
It's great that there's another night of football but the quality of these games is typically sub-par. It's not that this is a revolutionary idea but with the greater number of Thursday night games this season it has certainly become more accentuated. If you have two similar options and you can't decide who to start and one has a Thursday night game, it's probably a good idea to give the nod to the other guy. Players obviously aren't as physically prepared as they would be had they been given the extra three days to rest but the game plans are often condensed as well. This leads to much more conservative play calling. Normally that'd give a little bump to runners but then you remember they're not as fresh as they should be. I'll be curious to see how much work the Vikings give Adrian Peterson this Thursday night vs the Bucs after getting 22 carries vs Arizona in week 7.
The flip side of this is that your players coming off the Thursday night games are basically coming off a mini bye week. This can be used as a tie-breaker in their favor because of the extra time to rest and prepare.
5. Modern medicine requires modern thinking.
This preseason, I made it clear that I felt the runners coming off of severe knee injuries weren't worth the risk that accompanied them. So far this year, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson have been well worth it. The main reason for this is modern medicine. Surgeries are constantly becoming less invasive, physical therapy is always improving/evolving, and I'm sure there are many more reasons I could mention but I'd have an even lesser grasp of what I'm talking about than with the first two I mentioned...
Jamaal Charles is less of a surprise since he had almost a full year to recover but Adrian Peterson clearly isn't human because he had roughly nine months of recovery time after tearing his ACL and MCL before scoring two TDs vs the Jags in week 1 of this season. Both are now running as if nothing ever happened and their coaches obviously aren't concerned anymore (Charles is on pace for the most carries of his career). Jamaal's Olympic-worthy speed is still there. Adrian's patented jump-cuts and elite acceleration are still there. Just ask the Arizona front seven.
Terell Suggs, as of this week, has set a new bar for Achilles injuries. A little over five and a half months and the guy is back on the field. That is pretty much unheard of.
Obviously these cases, specifically Adrian's, shouldn't be viewed as the new standard recovery model but they shouldn't be dismissed either. It's important to take the player's reputation into account. Adrian Peterson has as much heart as anyone to ever play in the NFL-- I never doubted that. We'd probably hear a lot more about Terrell Suggs' ridiculous drive if he wasn't constantly overshadowed by playing on the same team as Ray Lewis. Both Peterson and Suggs vowed to return much faster than anyone anticipated. Their fans liked hearing it and some believed it. I didn't. For me, it was a case of having to see it to believe it because players are always optimistic when it comes to their injuries.
An ACL tear no longer means the same thing that it did even two years ago and apparently the same goes for Achilles tears.... unless it's an idiot who doesn't value his talent/opportunity and won't take his rehab seriously. That was aimed to you, Kenny Britt.
Agree/disagree with something? What have you learned? Please share!