Preseason expectations can be a dangerous thing since some NFL players don’t hit their stride until the second half of the year. In some cases, though, it’s better late than never.
The compilation of the list factored in total production and overall performance, while the impact of a slow start also played a role but wasn’t a leading element.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Although it appears the turnaround may have started, it couldn’t get much worse for Andrew Luck. The Colts star quarterback was far from deserving of that title initially, throwing 12 interceptions during his first five appearances while Indianapolis managed a 1-5 mark.
However, the franchise fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and replaced him with Rob Chudzinski, who is a perfect replacement. Luck is healthy after reportedly playing through broken ribs, and the team’s remaining schedule is less than daunting. Shockingly, the franchise quarterback is still pretty good.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Fantasy football participants hoped Jeremy Hill would be the breakout star of the year. The Bengals are dedicated to staying balanced, and the LSU product established himself as a capable No. 1 back during his rookie season.
But eight games into the year, he’s managed just 344 yards on 105 carries, and that 3.3-yard average ranks sixth-worst among qualified players. Nevertheless, as long as Hill remains a regular part of the offense—and Cincinnati hasn’t wavered from him—he’ll be a productive piece.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb has snared five touchdowns, so it might not seem like he’s having that disappointing of a season. When you notice three came in one game, there’s a slightly larger issue. The 25-year-old’s production has suffered without Jordy Nelson occupying defensive backs.
Cobb managed just 132 yards on 16 receptions (28 targets) over a four-game stretch in which he failed to score a touchdown. Fortunately for him, the Packers have two matchups against the Detroit Lions as well as outings vs. the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders. There are explosive games in Cobb’s future.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
The first half of the season was a trying time for the Seahawks and their shiny offseason addition. Compounded by severe issues on the offensive line, quarterback Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham failed to establish a consistent connection. Things are looking up, though.
Graham recently tallied a season-best 12 targets, eight receptions and 140 yards. After a Thursday night game that’s notoriously bad for pass-catchers, Graham registered 75 yards on seven snags. Wilson and Graham are starting to heat up, and Seattle will thrive because of the duo.
Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns
Long story short, Joe Haden hasn’t performed like an All-Pro corner in 2015. Opponents have successfully picked on him throughout the campaign, and injuries aren’t helping Haden, either. A rib contusion couldn’t have been comfortable, and concussions have sidelined him, too.
However, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer notes Haden is determined to salvage the injury-marred season. Once Haden is healthy, he’s simply too talented to continue playing at such a low level.