FANTASY PLAYS: Draft do-over ... Devonta Freeman No. 1?
You spent the entire summer analyzing fantasy draft prospects, poring over stats and depth charts and parsing quotes by coaches during offseason workouts in search of sound early round picks and sleepers.
You entered the season absolutely convinced that you put together a formidable team, the equivalent of a confident coach after meticulous game-planning and film-room study.
The reality? Your team is terrible and half of the draft picks aren't even on your roster anymore.
It's an all-too-familiar refrain that highlights the fickle nature of fantasy football. Draft preparation means very little as injuries mount, players do not live up to offseason hype and teams exploit matchups that are not visible to people outside the coaches' room.
To illustrate the point, this week's installment of fantasy plays consists of a draft day re-do six weeks into the season. It's meant to not only be an entertaining window into how much things can change in a few short weeks but also to demonstrate why fantasy players should devote more time to regular season analysis. Too much time is wasted in draft prep when you really need to be glued to the RedZone channel and reading in-season NFL coverage for research.
Here's a look at what a first round might look like on Oct. 20:
1. LE'VEON BELL: The players who stuck to their guns and selected Bell with the first overall pick despite a two-game suspension made the right decision. Bell is an outstanding running back who seems destined for even better things as the season goes on.
2. DEVONTA FREEMAN: Just think how ridiculous it sounds to even be having a conversation about the merits of Freeman as a first or second overall pick. Freeman's average draft position on ESPN was 112.6. Through six games, he has 10 touchdowns and 505 rushing yards. He's been so good that you could definitely make the case for him being No. 1.
3. DeANDRE HOPKINS: You know what is really ridiculous? Hopkins is on pace for more than 1,900 yards receiving. Granted, Houston's porous secondary has put the Texans in big holes and allowed Hopkins to clean up in garbage time, but he's still having an amazing year, all the more impressive given the ongoing QB rotation of Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer.
4. JULIO JONES: At one point this season, he might have gone No. 1 overall in a redraft. His hamstring injury has clearly affected his production in recent weeks, but his 600+ rushing yards still put him in the top five in my book.
5. ANTONIO BROWN: Another player who warranted higher consideration early in the season after his torrid start. His drop-off was a direct result of Michael Vick taking over quarterback duties, and it seems safe to say that his numbers will shoot back up when Ben Roethlisberger returns from his injury (as early as this week).
6. ADRIAN PETERSON: He has only reached the end zone three times, but he still has 432 rushing yards coming off no preseason carries and virtually no action in 2014. Hard to keep him out of the top 10.
7. TODD GURLEY: He was a fifth-round pick in many leagues as owners were leery about his knee injury. But 314 yards rushing through essentially two games and suddenly he looks like a legit first-rounder. Listing him seven is probably too low.
8. CHRIS IVORY: Teammate Brandon Marshall's bold proclamation last week that Ivory may be the best back in the league and destined for 1,500 yards caused some eyes to roll. But the numbers don't lie. If he stays healthy on a run-first Jets team, then this will be a great year for Ivory owners.
9. ODELL BECKHAM: His numbers haven't been dazzling, and an injury slowed him the last two weeks, but he has to be in your first round.
10. DOUG MARTIN: The Tampa Bay back apparently hates the ''Muscle Hamster'' nickname, but he loves his start in 2015 after finally being free of injuries. Not bad for a guy with an average draft position of 97 on ESPN.
This list is by no means scientific, but merely a conversation starter about how much the landscape has changed in less than two months. You could easily add names like Rob Gronkowski, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte to the list.
But note who isn't on there: Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson and Andrew Luck. They are proof that you can do all the homework you want, but sometimes it just doesn't work out for your vaunted first-round picks.