Monday, January 11, 2010
2009 Biro's Heroes & Zeros Awards
Before we begin another interminable fantasy offseason, we have one bit of unfinished business left to handle. After all, it’s the awards season across this great land of ours, and that pasty-skinned guy from Twilight shouldn’t suck up all the attention.
So let’s take a quick stroll back through 2009 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.
Our annual accolades have but a few important criteria:
1. Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
2. Performances during the fantasy playoffs – for our purposes, NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – are given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (Hear that, Aaron Rodgers?)
3. Week 17 performances are disregarded since most fantasy leagues hold their Super Bowl in Week 16, per the wishes of the late, great Pete Rozelle. Except where otherwise noted, all statistics quoted are through Week 16.
4. As always, I’m open to your feedback on these awards, including those that cause you heartburn. Feel free to email me, and be sure to begin your message with “You are an idiot because…”
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 2009 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:
Most Valuable Player: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. Any one of the top four or five QBs would have given you stellar performance most weeks, but Johnson soared above the competition at fantasy football's most indispensable position. Runner-up: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts.
“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Matt Forte, RB, Bears. The consensus top-five draft pick followed up his sensational rookie season with four lousy touchdowns and one, count ‘em, one 100-yard rushing performance. He was so inept that most of his owners refused to start him down the stretch. Runner-up: Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants.
Surprise of the Year: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. It’s safe to say that even his own team was surprised by Austin’s breakout season. Despite the obvious need for new blood following Terrell Owens’ departure, Smilin’ Miles was a bit player until an injury to Roy Williams opened the door in Week 5. Runner-up: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers.
Mr. Big Play: DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. He made news in Week 15 by scoring on a 19-yard pass, his first touchdown of the season spanning fewer than 35 yards. Jackson amassed 11 total TDs as a receiver, runner and returner, eight of which covered more than half the field. Runner-up: Robert Meachem, WR, Saints.
Rookie of the Year: Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings. It didn’t take him long to get in sync with Brett Favre, who connected with the rookie on TD strikes in his first two games. Much like Jackson, Harvin was a three-dimensional threat. Only severe migraines slowed him down. Runner-up: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos.
Comeback Player of the Year: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Face it. You either avoided Brady due to lingering concerns over his knee injury, or drafted him with your fingers crossed. Though he fell well short of his 50-TD “Tom Terrific” season of 2007, Brady re-joined the elite QB ranks and, most important, he stayed upright all season. Runner-up: Alex Smith, QB, 49ers.
Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Miles Austin. Those who scooped him up after his coming-out party in Kansas City were rewarded with the No. 3 wideout in Fantasyland. Runner-up: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs.
Most Devastating Injury Loss: Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins. He amassed 746 combined yards and eight TDs before a foot injury in Week 10 knocked him out for the duration. Since Ricky Williams was already owned in virtually every league, those who didn’t handcuff the backup were left scrambling with few suitable proxies available. Runner-up: Owen Daniels, TE, Texans.
Steal of the Draft: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Available as late as the seventh round, Rice was considered a risky pick as part of Baltimore’s three-headed backfield committee. Once he shook off Willis McGahee’s annoying goal-line poaches, Rice emerged as a dual-threat superstar in the mold of the Titans’ Johnson. Runner-up: Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals.
Most Overrated Player: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals. Despite leading his team to a most unlikely division crown, Palmer posted just one 300-yard game all season, and his multi-TD outings were few and far between. Runner-up: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated Player: Thomas Jones, RB, Jets. I can’t recall ever seeing a fantasy owner celebrate after drafting Jones. In fact, most of us only do so when he slides so far we feel we have no choice. And yet, once again, he quietly performed at an elite level, finishing among the top six fantasy RBs for the second consecutive year. This award shall henceforth bear his name. Runner-up: Donald Driver, WR, Packers.
Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams. Rising above the muck and mire that is the Rams franchise, Jackson somehow remained an elite performer even though his team seemed incapable of penetrating the red zone. Despite playing hurt for much of the season, Jackson proved that greatness can’t be overshadowed even by the worst of circumstances. Runner-up: Jamaal Charles.
Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Despite finishing as the top passer in Fantasyland, Rodgers’ unexpected implosion in Week 14 (180 yards, 0 TDs) against the Bears cost countless owners their first-round matchup and a chance to enjoy his fine rebound the following week. Rodgers’ Week 16 performance wasn’t very special, either. Runner-up: Steven Jackson.
Most Spectacular Bench Performance: Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns. He eclipsed Jim Brown’s team record with 286 rushing yards and 3 TDs in Week 15. It’s a shame nobody was starting him. Runner-up: Palmer (233 passing yards, 5 TDs in Week 7).
Lived Up to the Hype: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. True, the hype had long ago faded away; but the perennial underachiever finally became the dominant force the 49ers thought they were getting with the sixth overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft. Runner-up: Favre.
“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: Ryan Moats, RB, Texans. Fantasy owners flocked to Moats after his 3-TD, 151-total-yard “breakout” performance in Week 8, then realized they bought a big bag of nothing when he returned to obscurity immediately thereafter. Runner-up: Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns.
Worst Sophomore Jinx: Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos. One of the brightest stars of the Class of 2008 was released by most disappointed owners well before Week 6 when he returned both a kickoff and a punt for his only TDs of 2009. Runner-up: Steve Slaton, RB, Texans.
Too Little Too Late: Jay Cutler, QB, Bears. Over the first 15 weeks of the season, Cutler connected on just 19 TD passes, while throwing 25 interceptions. He tried to erase those bitter memories by passing for 549 yards, 8 TDs and just one INT in the final two games. Runner-up: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (Week 15).
Team Bust of the Year (aka “They Are Who We Thought They Were”): Oakland Raiders. Bruce Gradkowski got hurt just as he was threatening to become a legitimate fantasy factor. Their top rusher (Michael Bush) ranked 44th among all RBs. No receiver finished among the top 60. Only tight end Zach Miller belonged anywhere near a fantasy roster, albeit on the bench. Just go away, baby. Runner-up: Cleveland Browns.
“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos. He got off on the wrong foot with his new coach by acting like a spoiled brat, then concluded an otherwise impressive season back in the coach’s doghouse. Runner-up: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs/Bengals.
Most Likely to Succeed in 2010: Jamaal Charles. Beginning in Week 10, Charles went on a rampage that only a handful of elite RBs could match. If Kansas City manages to upgrade its offensive line during the offseason, Charles will be a bona fide first-round draft pick. Runner-up: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers.
That's it for my weekly columns. I hope they helped you dominate your league this season.
Though daily coverage will be suspended on the Fantasy Fools blog until around the 2010 NFL Draft, I'll be posting off and on throughout the offseason as important developments occur.
Thanks for your loyalty, and we'll be back for another great fantasy season before you know it! Until then, stay healthy and safe.