For millions of sports fans last Sunday marked a date in the sports calendar that is reserved for only a select group of people. For five plus months fanatics of fantasy football kept an eye on Stattracker every Sunday, looked at numerous ranking lists every Wednesday-Saturday, and maybe watched Fantasy Football Now on Sunday mornings for some last minute advice.
Due to their diligence there were a select group of individuals that either raised a little trophy with the name of their league on it, or celebrated at the bar with the members of his/her league while they tried to figure out where the rest of the prize money went. Those people can officially call themselves champions of fantasy football.
But how did they get to raise that trophy? What led them to the promise land that so few get a chance to experience? How many of the newly crowned champions had a combination of Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Tony Gonzalez, Seattle’s defense or… Cecil Shorts!?
You think picking an MVP of the actual NFL is hard? Try picking the MVP of FFLS. Adrian Peterson made a compelling case, Calvin Johnson was the rare wide receiver that actually rewarded his owners for selecting him in the first round. For those that rolled the dice on Peyton Manning in the 5th round you were greatly rewarded. Even though Drew Brees struggled in real life, he still but up the best ranked season out of all the great quarterbacks.
Who deserves to go home with some of the fake awards that I’m about to make up? Let’s find out!
Waver-Wire pickup of the year
The nominees are:
Randall Cobb – 80 rec/954 yds/8 TDs
Cecil Shorts – 55 rec/959 yds/7 TDs
James Jones – 58 rec/722 yds/13 TDs
Danario Alexander – 36 rec/624 yds/6 TDs
Alfred Morris -1413 yds/10 TDs
This category was already loaded with pass catchers, but Danario Alexander couldn’t resist throwing his hat into the ring late in the season. His numbers were amassed in just six contests, which deserves a round of applause, but I can’t justify giving him the fake award.
My runner up for waver-wire pickup of the year is Randall Cobb. The second year wide receiver from Kentucky not only became the hottest free agent in fantasy football, he became Aaron Rodgers’ new favorite target. Hell Rodgers declared that Cobb was “a star in the making”. After Greg Jennings finds a new home next spring, Cobb will be on his way to the front of fantasy football magazine covers next June.
The winner of the waver-wire pickup of the year should come as no surprise. Alfred Morris was far and away the best find on the wire this season. Here’s an interesting what if stat involving Morris: If you apply the amount of carries (390) from Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record in 1983 to Morris using his current YPC (4.7) Morris would break the record. Dickerson had 1,808 yards, Morris would have 1,826.
Fantasy rookie of the year
The nominees are:
Alfred Morris -1,413 yds/10 TDs
Trent Richardson – 950 yds/11 TDs/51 rec/361 rec yds/1 TD
Robert Griffin III – 3,100 yds/20 TDs-5 INTs/752 rush yds/6 TDs
Andrew Luck – 4,183 yds/21 TDs-18 INTs/254 rush yds/5 TDs
Russell Wilson – 2,868 yds/25 TDs-10 INTs/431 rush yds/3 rush TDs
Doug Martin – 1,312 yds/10 TDs/454 rec yards/1 rec TD
If you were voting for the actual OROY you could throw Luck,Griffin III, and Wilson’s name into a hat and be satisfied with the name that gets pulled out, but in the world of fantasy this race isn’t as close. Robert Griffin the 3rd not only exceeded his late round draft day average position; he became THE player that everyone in their respective leagues wished they owned. The Redskins’ offense transformed into a pistol formation ball of delight on Sundays with Griffin leading a glimpse into what the future of the quarterback position could be. Remember when Cam Newton did that last year?
Griffin’s teammate Alfred Morris was the runner up, but the rookie that I would keep an eye on in your drafts next August is Trent Richardson. I’m not sure a brick wall could keep that guy out of the endzone in a short yardage situation.
The old guy you took a flyer on and made everyone else in your league look stupid award
The nominees are:
Reggie Wayne – 102 rec/1315 yds/5 TDs
Tony Gonzalez – 88 rec/889 yds/8 TDs
Heath Miller – 71 rec/816 yds/8 TDs
Jason Witten – 103 rec/983 yds/2 TDs
I really wanted to give this to Tony Gonzalez, but he had more impact on the actual game of football. That’s not to say his gifts to his owners who decided to take a late round flyer on him weren’t great, but they just weren’t as good as a certain receiver from Indianapolis. Reggie Wayne is the winner of the old man award.
Quick story from my draft night: I had keyed in on Reggie Wayne for about two weeks because I thought there was a brew being mixed together that had the taste of fantasy success. Andrew Luck was dying to throw the ball to someone on another level in terms of pass catching ability. After years of throwing to a group of average college receivers he was getting a guy who had been the number one target in a Peyton Manning led offense. I also thought Wayne was going to benefit from plenty of garbage time because the Colts secondary left a lot to be desired.
Instead of Wayne thriving in garbage time he exceled in crunch time when Luck needed his number one target the most. He was taken in the sixth round of my fantasy football league, which seemed like a tad too early at the time. Not drafting him was part of the reason why I finished in 8th place.
Bust of the year
The nominees are:
Ryan Matthews – 707 rush yds/1 rush TD/39 rec/252 rec yds/0 rec TDs
Darren McFadden – 650 rush yds/2 rush TDs/40 rec/256 rec yds/1 rec TD
Hakeem Nicks – 53 rec/652 yds/3 TDs
Antonio Gates – 47 rec/523 yds/6 TDs
Michael Vick – 2,165 yds/11 TDs-9 INTs/307 rush yds/1 rush TD/4 fumbles
At first glance it appears that Antonio Gates missed at least six games this season with those below average stats, but no! He actually suited up in 15 contests this season and still only managed to catch 47 passes thrown by Philip Rivers (Gates only game missed was week 2 in Tennessee). His owners could have picked up Kyle Rudolph and been a okay at tight end.
I had to put Vick on the list because of his concussion/benching and extremely high turnover rate, but when the person in your league drafted Vick they did so knowing the risk. I guess the same could be said for Darren McFadden, but on draft day it was easier to ignore the problems within the Raiders organization and his previous injuries because it looked like Run DMC poised to dominate this year.
Having said that I have to give the award of biggest bust to Ryan Mathews. This was supposed to be the year that he morphed into Ladainian Tomlinson 2.0. Instead he fell flat on his face and for a period of time was placed behind Jackie Battle on the depth chart (JACKIE F’N BATTLE!). Mathews failed to rush for over 100 yards in a game this season as his highest total was 95 yards on 24 carries against the Browns in week 6. He finished the fantasy season with a pedestrian 3.8 YPC, but more importantly he failed to give the Chargers that reliable threat out of the backfield which only further destroyed Phillip Rivers psyche. All of his owners this season will look at his name in the fifth round next year and say never again.
Some awards that were given out before the ceremonies
Jack Reacher award (player who had a nice comeback season, but will ultimately get lost in the shuffle) – Jamaal Charles.
Breakout season(s) that we all saw coming – Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker.
Best quarterback that didn’t lead your team to the playoffs – Matt Ryan
Best game of the season – Doug Martin against the Raiders in week 9, 251 yards rushing & 4 TDs
Player that changed the course of your team for the worst due to injury – Percy Harvin
2012 Fantasy MVP
The nominees are:
Peyton Manning – 4,355 yds/34 TDs-11 INTs
Adrian Peterson – 1,898 yds/11 TDs
Aaron Rodgers – 3,390 yds/35 TDs-8 INTs
Tom Brady – 4,543 yds/32 TDs-8 INTs
Calvin Johnson – 117 rec/1892 yds/5 TDs
Drew Brees – 4,781 yds/39 TDs-18 INTs
Arian Foster – 1,328 yds/14 TDs/38 rec/194 rec yds/2 rec TDs
AJ Green – 95 rec/1,324 yds/11 TDs
Marshawn Lynch – 1,490 yds/11 TDs
Cam Newton – 3,621 yds/19 TDs-11 INTs/707 rush yds/8 rush TDs
It was too difficult to narrow the group of players down to five, so I decided to use the Academy of Motion Pictures rules and add five more names to the ballot. You might be surprised to see Cam Newton’s name on the list, but if you owned him this season and managed to somehow squeak into your respective playoffs, you most likely won your league.
Over the last five weeks Newton passed for 1,226 yards, rushed for another 301, scored a combined 13 touchdowns while only turning the ball over once. Sure he was labeled a bust half way through the season, but he finished with a better fantasy season than Bob Griffin.
Calvin Johnson would have been the first wide receiver in the history of fantasy football to live up to a first round draft day position if he wouldn’t have been tackled at the one yard line six times this season. If Megatron gains a combined 18 feet on those plays, he would have had the greatest season from a wide receiver in the history of fantasy football.
Then there is the group of quarterbacks that demand attention. The percentage of people who made it to the finals of their fantasy football leagues with either Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning (also the winner of the best value pick this season) had to be around let’s say 98%. Out of the group Drew Brees and Tom Brady would be the two best selections based purely on the numbers, but Peyton had an ADP of 70 according to Rotowire, so if you waited until either the sixth or seventh round to draft Manning you could have stocked up on a pair of running backs AND wide receivers and grabbed the 10th overall player (according to Y!). I’d love to know the percentage of people that owned Manning and won the final in their fantasy league due to his 339/3-1 performance against the Browns.
Peyton is a one of the favorites to take home the actual NFL MVP this season and the other favorite in that race is the unanimous fantasy football most valuable player of the 2012 season.
Adrian Peterson had one of the greatest fantasy seasons in the history of the fake sport and perhaps the best season out a running back we’ve ever seen. That’s why he is my unanimous choice for the most valuable player in fantasy football this season.
Remember when Peter King dubbed this the year of the passing attack? He stated in the NFL preview issue that he wouldn’t be surprised if someone through for over 6,000 yards, sure we might get the first ever 2,000 yard season out of a receiver, but we weren’t ready for the season that Adrian Peterson was going to unleash on us.
Just nine months after surgery on his right MCL and ACL Peterson amassed the best season of his six year career. He finished the fantasy season with 1,898 yards and 11 touchdowns on a ridiculous 314 carries (a 6.0 YPC). From weeks 7-15 he accumulated 1,313 yards, to put that in perspective Arian Foster finished the fantasy season with 1,328 rushing yards.
Due to Percy Harvin’s season ending injury in week 9, Peterson was left to deal with a declining quarterback who played at a Mark Sanchezian level after losing his only real receiving treat outside of Kyle Rudolph when the Vikings are in the red zone. Instead of succumbing to heaps of eight and nine man fronts, All Day busted through hole after hole and punished anyone that got in his way. His yards after contact numbers would rank him eighth overall in rushing.
It was a throwback type of season that we might only see once in a generation which is why Peterson should take home the actual MVP if the Vikings are able to beat the Packers and finish 10-6. For now he’ll have to settle for my fake award. So here’s to you Adrian Peterson! No one will ever take you in the third round again.
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