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RISERS & FALLERS: Quarter Pole Winner and Losers


Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Some people were skeptical. It’s always said that it’s better to get out early on an aging player rather than wait too long. Brady was a year older, playing with an often injured tight end, and missing his BFF Julian Edelman. The offensive line is sub par and the running game may not take pressure off the pass rush. TB12 heard all the negatives and turned them into 1,092 passing yards with 8 touchdowns through the first 3 games. This is Brady’s world and we’re all just living in it. Brady is looking like he should have been drafted as the first overall pick and is making owners kick themselves for missing out. If he keeps on this pace, he’ll be the unquestioned QB1 in the first round of next season, regardless of age.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

It was tough to not side with Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook here but Hunt is undeniably the top rookie runner thus far in 2017. Fournette and Cook have met expectations but Hunt has blown his expectations out of the water. What’s even more impressive is the fact that we know it’s not simply being smack dab in the middle of an Andy Reid offense. If that was the case, Charcandrick West wouldn’t look like such a fool running the ball the Chiefs. With Ezekiel Elliott struggling to reach last year’s totals (with pending legal issues to boot), Le’Veon Bell potentially chasing the dollar sign to such environments as Cleveland or worse, and David Johnson rehabbing a serious injury while the team looks to replace both their head coach and make a quarterback change, Hunt could turn out to the top billed player off the board in next season’s draft. There’s a lot of time on the clock but if Hunt keeps this up, he’ll be tough to skip over with the first pick.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

380 total yards with 6 touchdowns through three games has Gurley looking like he was sculpted by Zeus himself. Gurley has turned 2016 into an afterthought and has Jeff Fisher looking like he should be fired for a second time by the Rams just for good measure. Gurley has already surpassed last season’s touchdown total and is only 48 yards away from matching his receiving yardage. He’s gone from 2016 bust to 2017 value steal. Even if Gurley slows down, a double digit touchdown campaign with 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving will have him aiming at a Top-4 draft position next season.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

You can hate Brown now, but you won’t stop Brown. He’s as safe as safe can get, yet drafters continually take their chances with “better” prospects. Maybe you wanted ODB? Well Week 3 was good but you ate the first 2 games. Maybe you wanted Julio Jones due to the fact that the offensive coordinator wanted to get him the ball more in the end zone? Well, things haven’t really shaken out that way as Julio has one touchdown and running back Devonta Freeman has four by comparison. Brown continues to do what Brown does which is lead the league in receiving yardage. Whether the match up looks to be junk on paper or he’s facing a top end corner, Brown always gets his. He’s the most consistent option in fantasy and he’s still right in the middle of his prime. If you take any other wide receiver first next season over Brown, you’re doing it wrong.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings

RnF has said since joining Sharks, that the most valuable attribute a wide receiver can establish for himself is being labeled as quarterback proof. The injury rate in the NFL is 100%. It’s simply a matter of time before even the greatest of quarterbacks misses time. Take T.Y. Hilton for example. Yes, Week 3 was nutty, but look at the first two weeks. Abysmal. T.Y. Hilton needs another game or two with Jacoby Brissett to establish himself as a premium player, regardless of Luck’s status. Diggs, has already accomplished this feat. Whether it’s Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, or Sam Bradford, the results are all the same. Diggs can beat anyone, anywhere, with any able bodied quarterback under center. He’s already matched his previous career high in touchdowns with four. Diggs and the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill could be fighting each other of for top five wide receiver consideration by season’s end.

Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz gets the award here because Gronk has simply matched his draft billing while Travis Kelce has underwhelmed for the most part. Figure in Greg Olsen‘s foot injury, and the award has to go to Ertz. The young TE has 245 yards with a touchdown through the first 3 contests. The major takeaway is the touchdown. With one already, can Ertz set a new career high in 2017? Seeing that Ertz is the forgotten man in scoring territory every single year, such an achievement would have Ertz in the Top-3 next season. His catches and yardage have always been top end worthy, but his touchdown totals have been light. If Ertz can keep up the pace and sprinkle in a few more scores to the tune of say 6 or 7, he’ll be the best value at the position. He’ll skip ahead of both Olsen and Jimmy Graham if he continues on this track.

About Patrick White

Have been with Sharks for seven years. Been printed and published. Have been copied by, faced off against, and beaten some of the fiercest competition and abbreviated outlets in football. If you read RnF and live by the old "If you're not first, you're last" mentality, you'll be just fine.