The fantasy regular season is now half in the books.
Without question, no player has generated the level of buzz equal to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Twenty-seven touchdown passes and 2,125 yards in seven games will do that.
Likewise, no other quarterback has a schedule of such stark contrast between the first and second half of the year.
Five of Brady's first seven opponents own the bottom rankings for total defense. It is fair to say Brady contributed to their misfortune, but the Dolphins, Jets, Bengals, Bills and Browns didn't need his help to be pitiful. They've earned it weekly.
With the bottom-feeder teams conquered, Brady's next challenge is to remain consistent, if not amazing, against the top teams.
Over the next seven weeks - which represents the length of most fantasy regular seasons - Brady's schedule includes meetings with five of the best defenses.
On Sunday, Brady must contend with a Redskins defense ranked fifth overall and tied for second in passing touchdowns allowed.
Down the stretch, as fantasy playoff spots are claimed, Brady's schedule becomes even more challenging, with games against the three highest-ranked defenses, the Colts (third), Ravens (second) and Steelers (first) as well as a stingy Eagles defense tied for second in passing touchdowns allowed.
Expect this brutal schedule to knock Brady off his blistering 62-touchdown, 4,800-yard pace. But by how much?
Last year, when the Colts' Peyton Manning put up top fantasy passing numbers he experienced declines against superior defenses but still maintained a multiple touchdown pace and managed to score in every game.
Perhaps Manning's Colts will offer Brady his greatest test when they meet in two weeks. The Colts have the league's top passing defense and have permitted only five touchdown passes in six games. Brady, meanwhile, had at least five touchdowns in each of his last two games and is averaging nearly four a game.
If there is a silver lining to this tough schedule, the Patriots actually could lose a game or two and be prevented from benching key starters such as Brady in the final regular season games when fantasy teams are playing for championships.
Here are five players with favorable matchups this weekend:
Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets - Coles at home will take advantage of the Bills' weak secondary and should score.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns - The hottest wideout over the last six weeks, Edwards has an easy one in St. Louis.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants - Manning still makes mistakes, but the Dolphins' secondary poses little threat to him.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills - The rookie already has a nose for the end zone. Against the Jets, Lynch could see his first 100-yard game.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers - Deprived of scoring chances all season, Parker earns his points by the yard. The Bengals allow 135 a game.