Well, for most the fantasy playoffs are now over. We know who won what, and how much money we’ll be spending on our wives/girlfriends (or husbands/boyfriends) over the coming weeks. We know which league commissioners we’ll be trying to avoid since we still owe them money. And most importantly, as I’ve always stated is the primary reason we play fantasy sports, we’ll know who was right all along! Speaking of that, TFN’s usual slate of fantasy football content will be shelved for nine grueling months (and maybe more if the NFLPA has anything to say about it). But fear not, I’ll be reviewing how we, as a staff of ninjas, did this year, going over the matchup tool one last time, looking ahead to next year, making some predictions about the NFL playoffs (and even spending some time talking up CBS’s Playoff Challenge) and generally sprinkling the site with generic, easy to write and non-time-sensitive content until I can convince Nancy Duke to come back and write about college basketball. So there you have it.
To that vein, this column is one of my favorite generic and easy to write fluff pieces of the y
ear: The Fantasy Awards column. I’ll get to how each ninja did with prognosticating the awards later, but we’ll use this column as a yardstick for who the awards should have gone to. As long as you trust my judgement. And you shouldn’t.
This award goes to the guy on your team who you just couldn’t live without. It’s the player who probably won you a handful of games all by himself. The player, without whom, you would have little-to-no chance of winning your league.
And the winner is…Michael Vick, QB PHI
I hate to give this to a QB, but Vick led standard-QB-scoring leagues in per game scoring, and it wasn’t even close. Not even a little. He averaged 29.93 fppg, which was about 5.5 more than the next highest fppg scorer (Aaron Rodgers). Fact is, even when he was “bad” he was good. Here were Vick’s starts: 27.06, 38.64, 3.66 (left in the first quarter), 28.12, 57.32, 19.72, 26.72, 31.88, 24.40, 43.68, 21.82. That last one, 21.82 vs. MIN, is probably the most impressive. It’s a little more than Peyton Manning averaged on the year, and it was the second-lowest number in our sample. Most shockingly, it came in a game where Vick played terribly, was inaccurate, beaten up by blitzers and had turned the ball over three times. He was able to compensate for his mistakes with yet another rushing TD and yet another 60+ rushing yards. In fact, if you extrapolate the 11 games where he attempted 20 or more passes into a 15-game season (assuming he doesn’t play next week, as the Eagles are locked in as the #3 seed), you’d have something historic: 3771 passing yards, 837 rushing yards, 27 passing TDs, 11 rushing TDs and only 11 TOs. That would translate into 386.54 fps in leagues that only award 4 points for passing TDs, and it would surpass this year’s through 15-games PPR high scorer, Arian Foster, by nearly 30 points.
Runner Up: Arian Foster, RB HOU
This was a pretty weak year for rookies. Some shined in spurts, but this award (and it’s “runner up” category) goes to the rookies who were most consistent from week to week (once they earned playing time). There were no Matt Forte-like star rookies this year, and plenty of rookie injuries to go around, so the recipient of the Fantasy ROY award may not excite you, but he did just enough to earn it.
And the winner is…LeGarrette Blount, RB TB
The Tampa rook gets it by virtue of his staying power. The Bucs seem to have found a surprising RB of the future in Blount, who finished 36th among fantasy RBs in PPR leagues this year, but received only 25 carries over the first six weeks of the season. He did enough over the last three weeks of the fantasy season (127 total ypg, two TDs) to cement himself as a 4th or 5th rounder for next year. Though expectations should be tempered in PPR leagues, at least until the Bucs part ways with Cadillac Williams and/or Earnest Graham.
Runner Up: Mike Williams, WR TB
Fantasy Breakout POY
This award goes to the player who looks the most likely to have a long, incredibly good career, starting now. The recipient, and the runner up, both came out of nowhere to establish themselves as dominant forces in the NFL, and both will be first round locks if we held next year’s draft tomorrow.
And the winner is…Arian Foster, RB HOU
Foster was far and away the #1 RB (and by default, the #1 player) in all of fantasy this year, PPR or no. In PPR leagues he scored in single digits just once and scored more than 27 on 7 separate occasions. Through 15 games he has 359 fps in PPR leagues, and the next highest scoring RB is LeSean McCoy with 297. The best thing about him? No one had ever heard of him before this year, and he went largely undrafted in leagues that drafted before Ben Tate got injured. He has one-year-wonder potential, but he also looks like the most complete back the league has seen since Edgerrin James’s rookie year.
Runner Up: Peyton Hillis, RB CLE
Fantasy Waiver Add of the Year
This award was basically designed to show some love to the guy who didn’t win the Breakout POY award. But most importantly, the recipient of this award had to have a nice, surprising season, and go largely undrafted. There are plenty of players who fit these criteria every year, but this winner and the runner up were absolute season changers for owners who were savvy enough to pick them up off the waiver wire.
And the winner is…Peyton Hillis, RB CLE
No one, and I mean no one thought Hillis would be a stud this year. Hell, most people didn’t even figure he’d be a tailback. He was drafted by the Broncos to play fullback, and seemed like an afterthought in the Brady Quinn trade. But then Montario Hardesty went down, and like Arian Foster in Houston, Hillis took the job and strangled it. Since Hardesty’s injury didn’t occur until the last week of the pre-season, Hillis had less time to establish himself as a draftable commodity, so unlike Foster, pretty much no one drafted him. He showed them, huh? Hillis rewarded owners with the third-highest fps total among rushers through 15 games, and perhaps the highest fps by a white RB since the merger, though I’ll have to consult the stats department to confirm this.
Runner Up: Steve Johnson, WR BUF
Fantasy Bust of the Year
This award goes to the player who underperformed his ADP by the most this season, and failed to reach any expectations. The main criteria for this award was that the winner and runner up had to have ADPs within the top-four rounds, and finish outside of the top 30 at their position. Both “passed” with flying colors.
And the winner is…Shonn Greene, RB NYJ
Greene simply lost his job week 1, after veteran LaDainian Tomlinson proved to be a better pass-catcher, pass-protecter, and inevitably, a more productive runner. Greene finished 44th among RBs in fps scored, but had a mid 2nd-round ADP, and was even drafted in the late first in the TFN league. In PPR Greene was an absolute nightmare through 15 games, and not in a good way. Though he seems to have finally wrestled the starting spot back and may have some keeper value going forward, he’s only scored in double-figures four times on the year, has just 16 receptions and as many lost fumbles (2) as he does rushing TDs.
Runner Up: Ryan Mathews, RB SD
Fantasy Least Valuable Player
I created this award to throw some shots at the guys who sucked a lot worse than we imagined, but weren’t necessarily drafted in the first four rounds (though this year’s winner and runner-up both had top-40 ADPs). Having a LVP on your team did much more harm than it did good because, no matter how bad they were, you often still felt obligated to keep them rostered.
And the winner is…Randy Moss, WR TEN
There was no more worthless of a fantasy contributor than Moss, who let his owners down more than any other player in the league, hands down. Randy Moss was the 11th overall pick in the TFN league. He scored 94.5 fps this year. That’s about a Tampa Bay Mike Williams away from the #1 WR in fantasy, Roddy White (298 fps). Moss had career lows in everything except for receiving TDs (barely). Though he did register a career high in locker rooms destroyed.
Runner Up: Beanie Wells, RB ARI
The Best Team You Could Have Possibly Drafted or Wound Up With:
QB-Vick (waiver add)
RB-Foster (8th Round)
RB-Chris Johnson (1st Round)
WR-Roddy White (2nd Round)
WR-Calvin Johnson (3rd Round)
WR-Wes Welker (4th Round)
Flex-Peyton Hillis (waiver add)
TE-Antonio Gates (5th Round)
Bench: Hakeem Nicks (6th Round), Jacob Tamme (waiver add), Matt Cassel (waiver add), Darren McFadden (7th Round), Austin Collie (9th Round), Vincent Jackson (10th Round)
Yeah, you suffered a lot of injuries, particularly to Gates and Collie, and had to sit through the waiting period with Jackson, but your two waiver add QBs and freakout waiver add of the year, Peyton Hillis, kept you dominant. Not to mention your late round Arian Foster steal, and your not-too-shabby Chris Johnson/Roddy White/Calvin Johnson early round picks. If you had this team, there wasn’t a week this year where you didn’t have a chance to outscore your opponent by a lot, with the right sit/starts. And all you had to do was draft by ADP, and make a few very savvy add/drops.
The Worst (and most injured) Team You Could Have Possibly Drafted:
QB-Tony Romo (4th Round)
RB-Shonn Greene (2nd Round)
RB-Frank Gore (1st Round)
WR-Randy Moss (3rd Round)
WR-Michael Crabtree (6th Round)
WR-Anthony Gonzalez (10th Round)
TE-Dallas Clark (5th Round)
Flex-Reggie Bush (7th Round)
DEF-New England (8th Round)
Bench-Steve Slaton (9th Round), Kevin Kolb (11th Round), Owen Daniels (12th Round), Golden Tate (13th Round)
Yeah, you cobbled together a few good weeks with Clark and Gore, but for the most part your team was utterly decimated by injuries. In a 12-team league, it would shock me if you won more than two games with this lineup, barring smart waiver moves, and even then, the injury problems go so deep that it’s unlikely you’d scrambled together a playoff team. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. Better luck next year.