Staff Playbook: What Players Will Be Second-Half Stars?

Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs) and the QB List Staff tell you which player can be a second-half star ahead of Week 9.

Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout both the season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to share their insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.

This week, the QB List Staff was asked which player they thought would be a second-half star:


Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): Josh Jacobs, RB (OAK)

Reasoning: Josh Jacobs enters the stretch run with matchups against Detroit, Los Angeles (Chargers), Cincinnati, New York (Jets), Kansas City, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the Chargers again in Week 16. The Titans (3.9 Yds/A) and Jets (3.3 Yds/A) are the only teams allowing less than 4.2 Yds/A, and even then, the Jets have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs, tied for second-most in the NFL. Thus, one could argue the Tennessee matchup in  Week 14 is the only imposing opposition Jacobs will face the rest of the fantasy football season. Oakland’s offensive line grades out at the 16th-best in football through eight weeks, according to PFF’s rankings. While not an elite unit, the Raiders are good enough to maintain a meaningful advantage in good matchups like the ones Jacobs should enjoy moving forward.

Matchups and team context aside, Jacobs’ talent is enough to make him a star in the second half.  Averaging 5.0 Yds/A, Jacobs is also the top-ranked running back in PFF’s Elusive Rating (min. 20 carries), which factors in both missed tackles and yards after contact per attempt.

A first-round pick in this year’s draft, he’s on pace for 1,417 yards on 283 carries and nine touchdowns with some work in the passing game. The only thing holding him back from running rampant over the league is a shoulder injury he’s currently nursing and the questionable health of an O-line that has only shared the field for ten snaps this season. Starting center Rodney Hudson left last Sunday’s game on a cart (X-rays came back negative), and both Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown have battled injuries. HC Jon Gruden wants to continue to run a balanced attack that doesn’t put too much on quarterback Derek Carr, and that starts with feeding Jacobs as much as he can handle. Admittedly, Jacobs’ career-high in carries at Alabama sits at just 120 in 2018, so expect Oakland to monitor his workload moving forward, but this should only serve to keep him healthy and more efficient and effective with his touches.



Brandon Miller (@BrandonMillerFB): David Montgomery, RB (CHI)

Reasoning: After seven total rushes as a team in Week 7, HC Matt Nagy openly admitted that the Bears needed to run the ball more. They responded by handing David Montgomery 27 carries, which he turned into 135 yards (five yards per carry) plus a touchdown and four catches for 12 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Although I see the 27 carries as a bit of an over-adjustment to the Bears’ offensive plan, I think it’s realistic for Montgomery to average 18+ combined touches the rest of the way. They’ll get a challenging Eagles rush defense in Week 9, so if Montgomery fails to meet his ceiling, the buying window could reopen for a player capable of producing RB2-range numbers every week. The Bears will close out the year against a slate of average-to-bad defenses against RBs and already have their bye week out of the way, making Montgomery one of the more intriguing second-half star candidates in fantasy as long as he stays healthy.



Mike Miklius (@sirl0inofbeef): Le’Veon Bell, RB (NYJ)

Reasoning: What if I could give you a proven running back commodity who has previously been a top-5 back, is currently well undervalued and has a great schedule ahead? Le’Veon Bell has finished as a top-3 back in PPR twice, and he’s still only 27. He has been playing well despite a terrible offense around him.

Watch almost any game footage and you’ll see the same player we loved in Pittsburgh. Why should we expect anything different from the offense moving forward though? Each week forward means Sam Darnold is a little healthier. Here’s the cherry on top though: the upcoming schedule. Here are the next six opponents for Bell and the Jets: Miami, NY Giants, Washington, Oakland, Cincinnati, and Miami again. To be honest, I don’t see how Bell doesn’t succeed over the back half. Trade for Bell now if you can, and enjoy the smooth ride ahead!



Eli Grabanski (@3li_handles): Derrius Guice, RB (WAS)

Reasoning: Derrius Guice was a breakout candidate going into the season, but the Redskins incompetence and a knee injury in Week 1 derailed that hype train. But a lot has changed since then. The Redskins fired HC Jay Gruden prior to Week 6 and put coach Bill Calahan in charge, who has put more of an emphasis on the running game with 75 team rushing attempts in three games (25 rush attempts per game) in comparison to Gruden’s offense which had only 88 rushing attempts in five games (17.6 rush attempts per game). Guice has returned to practice, and he looks spry. See for yourself…

Adrian Peterson is a little banged up as well. When Guice comes back in Week 11, he may return as a bell cow. With a fantasy playoff schedule (Weeks 14-16) featuring the Packers who give up 123.8 rushing yards per game (24th in the NFL) and the Giants who give up 122.4 rushing yards per game (22nd in the NFL), Guice has the upside to be a league-winner.



Have a question? Want to know more? Click the Twitter handle of any writer above to reach out directly. We’re always happy to help out and talk football!

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

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