The Lateral 2020 Mid-Season Crystal Ball!




Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

Whether it's a television show, a good book, or a docuseries glorifying a murderer, there's something about being in the middle that really excites people. We at The Lateral have that same feeling about the fantasy football season every year. For those of you who are no longer in the playoff hunt, don't give up; keep going and be the spoiler in your league! For those of you still in it, don't stop grinding! The point here is that there is still a lot to play for from this point forward in the 2020 season and it is going to be interesting to see what happens.

For this piece, Charles and Malcolm will be taking a look at what players they believe will rise up or collapse in the second half of the year. Think of this as a response to The Lateral Mid-Season Awards' call. While not totally in the dark and operating without tangible sample sizes like in the pre-season, there is still a lot of prognosticating and reading of tea leaves that takes place when making mid-year predictions, so without further delay, let's hop on in.

The Lateral 2020 Mid-Season Crystal Ball!

Second Half MVP:

CH: Nick Chubb makes a lot of sense to me here. He is tentatively slated to return from injury after the Browns bye this week, and the robust duo of both he and RB Kareem Hunt are set to go on a tear. 

Here's the Browns schedule from Week 10 through Week 16: vs HOU, vs PHI, @ JAX, @ TEN, vs BAL, @ NYG, @ NYJ

I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty good lookin' schedule to me aside from facing Baltimore. At the conclusion of Week 8, Hunt stood proudly as the RB6 in PPR scoring. He's already been doing well and should easily continue that stretch, but if you scroll down that list from the link before, Nick Chubb is still the RB37 in that time frame and he left in the middle of the game in Week 4! Nothing I'm saying here should be a surprise to anyone, but if you're someone who either held onto Chubb or traded for him and stashed him, good for you. I sense a great second half for the former University of Georgia product.

MM: Kyler Murray is going to be my pick, despite the fact that QB is pretty deep this year. Part of this is based on performance in the first half of the season; the Cardinals QB current is the third-best player in all of fantasy and is number two in PPG. Part of it is based on schedule; Murray has no bye week in the second half of the season and has a favorable schedule for fantasy managers. Sure, Russell Wilson has some easy match-ups too, but even he cannot beat the Giants, Eagles, and Niners for the fantasy playoffs. In fact, I would not be shocked if Week 9 against Miami is Murray's worst performance of the rest of the fantasy season, though Week 12 at New England could be a concern if that team stops falling apart.

Miles Sanders Award (Second Half Breakout Rookie RB):

CH: An excerpt from my pre-season RB rankings:

"As I mentioned before, J.K. Dobbins is in a RBBC in Baltimore, but as of this moment he's locked into a "significant role" in 2019 league's best Ravens rushing attack. While Mark Ingram II is going to be running ahead of him as the team's RB1, there is a chance Dobbins could surpass him at some point this year given that Ingram II turns 31 in December and the draft capital invested in Dobbins. Hell, there's even an argument the duo could manage to pull off what Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara did in 2017. Either way, the argument for Dobbins is similar to the one I made for Jonathan Taylor. I'd love to have a shot at a second half hero, but with Dobbins it's more of a matter of if not when."

Well, not all of that aged well, but screw it; I'm going to stand by what I said on Sept. 1 and roll with Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins. The reason I, and likely many of you, drafted Dobbins is because of the last part of what I said. As it stands right now, Ingram II does not seem likely to play tomorrow against a stout Indianapolis Colts defense thus opening the door for Dobbins to potentially show us what he's got. 

We've seen flashes from him already, and his sparse efforts have led to him being RB40 on the year to this point. The upcoming matchups for Baltimore through the Week 16 fantasy football championship are as follows: @ IND, @ NE, vs TEN, @ PIT, vs DAL, @ CLE, vs JAX, vs NYG. Not a cake walk per se, but many of those opposing defenses do not particularly scare me and I'm still of the mindset Dobbins is the best running back on the Ravens roster. Should he perform well enough tomorrow to stave off Ingram II once he does return to action, I like J.K. Dobbins a lot.

MM: I feel like we technically already have this in James Robinson, who should continue to be an RB1 ROS in Jacksonville, a team that seems to be "Tanking for Trevor." However, Buffalo RB Zack Moss would be the best candidate, especially since there are already signs he is stealing the job from fellow RB Devin Singletary. I make a really good case for why Moss has a ton of value going forward in Week 9 Movers and Shakers (click here to read more!) but at the risk of repeating myself... the TD opportunity is there and it is tasty. La'Mical Perine deserved strong consideration here, but with Adam Gase as his coach, there was no way I could pick him over Moss.

Second Half Boom:

CH: I don't know if you've heard, but Eagles WR Travis Fulgham has been pretty good. Presently sitting at WR26 on the year, this guy has just taken off since being called up from Philly's practice squad ahead of Week 4. Want to know something even crazier? Fulgham has been the best WR in fantasy football since then.

Another neat thing to consider here is that the Eagles are on their bye this week. It's too late to make a trade now as it is just past 10:00 p.m. EST on a Saturday as I'm writing this, but if you haven't already, make an offer for Fulgham before it's too late. 

Check out the Eagles schedule coming up: @ NYG, @ CLE, vs SEA, @ GB, vs NO, @ ARI, @ DAL. That's pretty awesome for fantasy! Obviously a lot of trust is being placed in the hands of QB Carson Wentz to get the ball to him but hey, so far so good. Look for Fulgham's name on NFL RedZone. I'm sure it'll pop up a lot.

MM: Without knowing who Charles is going to pick, the answer for me is Chase Edmonds. Edmonds has been RB26 in PPR so far, just one spot behind fellow RB Kenyan Drake, and has an opportunity to steal the job in Week 9 against Seattle, especially since Edmonds is the more likely of the two backs to be on the Cardinals roster next year. Edmonds already hits over ten points in more games than not, and a boom performance against Miami could force Kliff Kingsbury to ride the hot hand.

Second Half Bust:

CH: Ezekiel Elliott is my pick here for basically the reasons Malcolm outlines for his pick. The Cowboys have been a disaster since QB Dak Prescott and several members of the offensive line went down. I don't mean to pile on Zeke or the Cowboys, but I mention this to go ahead and try and make a deal. Don't trade Zeke necessarily, I think he'll still have some value, but you're going to need to supplement the RB position on your roster somehow.  

MM: Poor Amari Cooper. Along with Tyreek Hill, he was one of the more mercurial WRs going into this season, and he really had shaken his boom-or-bust tag en route to WR10 halfway through the season. Aside from a lone blemish against the Giants, which it turned out would not be uncommon for many WRs in 2020, Cooper had played great in every single game.

Then what was already a Titanic-level shipwreck of a season turned into a full-on dumpster fire as the Cowboys were slaughtered by the Eagles with new QB Ben DiNucci under center. DiNucci was so bad that he may not even have a job going forward. and is certain to be replaced as the starter in Week 9. While it is tough to call Cooper a bust since this is not his fault, ultimately he will lose people some games down the stretch because they drafted him to be a WR1, and that is definitely a bust.

Vesuvius Award (Pre-Season Sleeper Primed to Erupt):

CH:
In keeping with my boom pick, how about Eagles WR Jalen Reagor? Most of the same argument for Fulgham applies here to Reagor: the schedule is cake and the talent is there. The biggest difference between he and Fulgham is that Reagor hasn't been healthy the whole year. The ECR WR56 entering the year, I can see a path for the rookie out of TCU to finally show the NFL what he's got. 

MM: Zack Moss and Chase Edmonds would be acceptable here as well, but I am going to force myself to pick someone I have not mentioned yet. I drafted Giants WR Sterling Shepard in one league, hoping to steal a WR2 in the later rounds, only to have to drop him because of injuries and no IR slots in that league. Fast forward and I got him back, and find myself with WR14 over the past two weeks for a guy who was ADP98 (WR41) coming into the season. I expect him to continue to perform, even if the Giants continue to disappoint.

Full disclosure: I had to stop myself from picking Michael Gallup. Dallas is a dumpster-fire, but that could weirdly mean Gallup gets looks. Still, I just could not do it.

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