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Fantasy football Midseason Awards: Broncos offense outplaying the rest

Photo: Justin Edmond/Getty Images Sport

Knowshon Moreno, who initially battled for a starting position, has developed into a top fantasy RB.

The first half of the season has felt a bit ... upside down. The oldest starting quarterback in the NFL is outplaying all the kids. The star running backs mostly have struggled. A handful of previously unknown tight ends have become among the best options at their positions.

Being flexible this season has been a near necessity.

But that doesn't mean it hasn't been an eventful or exciting first half of football. With the midpoint (or close to it for most teams) at hand, we're here to hand out the first-half fantasy football awards -- and it includes those who met expectations, those who exceeded them and those who thus far have obliterated them.

Fantasy Midseason Awards

MVP: The Denver Broncos Offense

Runner-up: Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

Chances are your fantasy team is in pretty good shape if you drafted multiple Denver Broncos. That offense doused itself in jet fuel and lit a match when the season began, and Peyton Manning is the fire.

Manning was a highly ranked quarterback heading into the season, but few could have expected him to be outpacing the field like he has to date. The 37-year-old is ahead of his next-closest competitor -- Detroit's Matthew Stafford -- by a whopping 53 standard points. The fact you could have drafted Manning in the fourth round or later in most drafts means he was a great value, to boot.

Aside from the future Hall of Famer, Denver has littered the fantasy landscape with top scorers. Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas are both in the top five in standard fantasy scoring. Knowshon Moreno has come out of knowhere, and Julius Thomas is the league's third-best fantasy tight end.

Rookie of the Year: Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Runner-up: Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

This one was close because of the late-charging Lacy. In fact, with the Green Bay rookie locking up that starting gig and lead role for the Packers, he will overtake Bernard for this award sooner than later.

Bernard is currently the 13th-best running back in the fantasy realm despite sharing the backfield with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Plodder. There hasn't been a lot of sizzle out of this rookie class, but Bernard has provided some excitement on fantasy rosters this season.

Biggest Bust: Pick any first-round running back.

Runner-up: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Trent Richardson. C.J. Spiller. Doug Martin. Ray Rice.

Owners were advised by fantasy analysts to take a running back in the first round. As it turns out, that might have been a bad idea. If you took one of these guys in the first round, you were put behind the eight ball right out of the gate. If we extend this to the second round, guys like David Wilson, Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson were all disappointing to varying degrees.

If you paired one of them with Tom Brady, well, hopefully you landed the Knowshon Moreno and Andy Dalton sweepstakes on the waiver wire. It has been a brutal season for top-shelf running backs.

Most Improved: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos

Runner-up: Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans

Raise your hand if you expected Knowshon Moreno to be the second-best fantasy running back heading into the midpoint of the season. Great, now we can weed out the liars.

Moreno began the preseason with a fight on his hands for the third-string job. Look at him now, second in the league in fantasy scoring at the position. His exploits have buoyed many a fantasy team.

Waiver Wire Wonder: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos

Runner-up: Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Just hand every midseason award to Moreno, right? We have all but exhausted superlatives for the surprising running back, so let's talk about his runner up.

Did you know that Terrance Williams is currently ranked in the top 20 among wide receivers in fantasy scoring? We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but he keeps putting up big games to laugh in our faces. Remove the weeks when Miles Austin was in his way and he easily rises to the top 10.

Fantasy All-Pro First Team

QB: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos -- We've been over this one.

RB: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs -- The most consistent running back in fantasy football plays his home games at Arrowhead Stadium. Charles only recently snapped a touchdown streak he started in Week 1. He is Alex Smith's blankie, and his fantasy owners might say the same.

RB: Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos -- One more round of applause for Knowshon Moreno, ladies and gentlemen!

WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions -- Despite three subpar weeks and another one he missed due to injury, Calvin Johnson sits atop the fantasy scoring heap at wide receiver. His incredible performance against the Cowboys rocketed him to the top, where he is likely to find himself come season's end.

WR: Wes Welker, Denver Broncos -- Denver's offense looked to become unstoppable -- a notion that has proven true to date -- when Wes Welker joined during the offseason. But his fantasy prospects were dubious. Were there enough targets to go around? Well, he is the second-best fantasy receiver right now. It seems we have an answer to that rhetorical question.

WR: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys -- When he's not discussing strategy on the sidelines like he's just chugged a six-pack of Red Bull, Dez Bryant is usually busy dispatching opposing cornerbacks on the field.

TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints -- Graham has been far and away the best tight end in the league, not to mention fantasy football. Even his unexpected goose egg against the Patriots three weeks ago didn't put a big dent on his lead, though Calvin Johnson was finally able to overtake him for the overall scoring lead among receivers and tight ends.

D/ST: Kansas City Chiefs -- Why are the Chiefs undefeated? Fixing the situations at head coach and quarterback was a great start, but that defense has been lights out all year. That has also been the case in the fantasy realm.

Fantasy All-Pro Second Team

QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints -- Detroit's Matthew Stafford is currently outscoring Brees, but only because the former has played one more game. Brees is performing at his usual Super Saiyan levels -- well past 9000, or so the scouter tells me.

RB: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles -- Had Michael Vick not popped his hamstring twice, LeSean McCoy might have had some more running room in recent weeks. Even so, mcCoy is one of the top scorers in the league, and one of the few first-round running backs who has lived up to draft status.

RB: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears -- Good things were in store when head coach Marc Trestman took over in Chicago. Matt Forte has been the biggest beneficiary, and he has been a boon to any fantasy owners who took a chance on him in the first or second round.

WR: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers -- Where would Aaron Rodgers and the Packers be without Jordy Nelson? More importantly -- for the purposes of this article at any rate -- where would you fantasy team be?

WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos -- He has had a few duds this season thanks to Peyton Manning's water-like propensity to take the path of least resistance, but Thomas still ranks in the top five in standard scoring this season.

WR: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals -- He got off to a relatively slow start, but A.J. Green has come on in recent weeks to challenge for a top-5 spot.

TE: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers -- There was plenty of mind-jockeying for this spot, which wasn't nearly as clear as Jimmy Graham was on the first team. In the end, Davis has outscored both Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas -- the next-best choices -- with higher efficiency.

D/ST: Washington Redskins -- You read that right. If you discount points-allowed, the Washington defense is scoring the second-most fantasy points in the league using most scoring settings. Of course, how many fantasy owners have had the mettle to start Washington this year?

MORE WEEK 9 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:

GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Tough it out for one more big week of byes
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- The best replacements for Manning, Stafford
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- What will Dalton do this week?
SI STAFF: Weekly Roundtable -- Who's our fantasy MVP of the first half?

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images Sport

Quarterback Brian Hoyer led the Browns to two straight wins before tearing his ACL in Week 5.

All-Injured Team

QB: Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns -- The quarterback position is the only one that has remained relatively unscathed by season-ending injury, so there are few to pick from here. E.J. Manuel should be back in the coming weeks, so the best man for this job is none other than Brian Hoyer. The journeyman quarterback took over for an injured Brandon Weeden and immediately led his team to a three-game winning streak. He also made monsters out of tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Josh Gordon. His unfortunate knee injury short-circuited the Browns offense and made those two skill players far less studly on a weekly basis.

WR: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts -- It's not that Reggie Wayne was spectacular this season. He was, however, Andrew Luck's favorite target, which is the reason he was ranked in the top 20 in fantasy scoring before he was knocked out for the year.

WR: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons -- Perhaps the worst part about Julio Jones' injury for fantasy owners is that it blindsided them the day after he played. Jones had a nice game against the Jets, even making a spectacular catch against Antonio Cromartie. But he broke a screw in his foot, ending his seasons and dashing many a fantasy owner's hopes for success.

WR: Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers -- Cobb has a chance to return before season's end, but it would come in Week 15 at the earliest. His injury was a big blow to his fantasy teams.

TE: Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers -- Sure, Rob Gronkowski only just got back to action, but at least he's playing. Jermichael Finley suffered the season's scariest injury last week, though, likely knocking him out for the rest of the season.

Week 9 Survivor Draft

Team EdholmTeam Miglio
QBJake LockerTerrelle Pryor
RBLe'Veon BellAlfred Morris
RBAdrian PetersonDanny Woodhead
WRHarry DouglasAndre Johnson
WRDenarius MooreKeenan Allen
WRTerrance WilliamsT.Y. Hilton
TERob GronkowskiJordan Reed
FlexVincent JacksonNate Washington
KMason CrosbyDan Carpenter
DBengalsDallas

Last week

Edholm -- 119.5
Miglio -- 119

Team Miglio

Michael Vick, ruiner of fantasy football teams.

If I had picked any other quarterback, I would have won last week. Chad Henne could have been my huckleberry. Instead, Team Miglio falls to 2-6 in this fantasy survivor league, needing to win seven of the final nine matchups to overtake Team Edholm. The situation is bleak.

Bleak isn't hopeless, however. Onward we march, this week with the season all but on the line. With six teams on a bye and a half-season's worth of players unavailable, I had to get a bit creative here.

Terrelle Pryor was my best hope at quarterback this week -- he has a nice matchup against the Eagles. I am hoping to hit a nice trifecta at wide receiver with Andre Johnson, Keenan Allen and T.Y. Hilton, who is going to get a full complement of snaps with Reggie Wayne out for the season.

Team Edholm

Last week's draft having gone as poorly for me, I thought, as it could have, I survived with a skin-chafing half-point victory and celebrated it by drowning myself in maple syrup. (Wouldn't you if you could?)

So is it bad that I love my choices for this week? Having a head-to-head lead on Alex, I decided to throw out whatever big guns I had left — a few of them players Alex already had used, too — and go for broke, as it were.

I picked Adrian Peterson now because, good lord, who knows if or when he's going to get back to fantasy stardom? I figured pick a shaky enough defense, and do so before the guy suffers some bad-luck injury; I'd have hated to not use him at all this season.

And the 4-WR formation was done with strategy in mind for down the line: As in, dude, it's getting into panic mode with the number of quality running backs I have eliminated from my till this season.

I might have a lead on Alex, but it's not insurmountable.

Catch up with Alessandro Miglio and Eric Edholm on Twitter.

MORE WEEK 9 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:

FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Desperate for starters? Look at Brazill, Campbell
McQUADE: Risers & Sliders -- Dalton put on a performance for the ages
BELLER: Early Week 9 Advice -- Brady should not be trusted as a starter

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