As we are shoved, kicking and screaming, into another interminable fantasy offseason, with the specter of a possible lockout draining us of our will to live (uh, perhaps I’m speaking only for myself here), we have some unfinished business left to wrap up from the season just concluded.
After all, it’s the awards season across this great land of ours, and I can only take so much Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Lady Ga-Gag.
So let’s take a quick stroll back through 2010 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 (and condemnations) 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, AP?)
3. Week 17 performances are disregarded since most fantasy leagues hold their championship in Week 16, per the wishes of the late, great Don Meredith.
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’re an idiot because…”
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 2010 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:
Most Valuable Player: Michael Vick. If you disagree with this selection, you either didn’t own him or didn’t play against him. Tom Brady was awesome, particularly down the stretch; but Vick’s rushing exploits made him Top Dog on a week-to-week basis. Runner-up: Brady.
“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Randy Moss. Over the last nine games of the season, the “elite” receiver accumulated a worthless seven receptions for 88 yards and no TDs. He had just four decent games prior to that (two apiece with New England and Minnesota). Brandon Gibson, Louis Murphy and about 60 other wideouts delivered more fantasy value. Runner-up: DeAngelo Williams.
Surprise of the Year: Brandon Lloyd. In his seven previous seasons, with four different teams, Lloyd cracked the Top 40 just once (2005) and consistently ranked outside the Top 80. In 2010, he was the No. 1 receiver in the land. What a country. Runner-up: Stevie Johnson.
Rookie of the Year: Mike Williams. He reached the end zone in a whopping 10 games and was among the most consistent players at any position all season. Tampa Bay’s stellar fourth-round pick ranked among the Top 12 fantasy wideouts by season’s end. Runner-up: LeGarrette Blount.
Comeback Player of the Year: Vick. No one else even comes close. Runner-up: Matt Forte.
Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Peyton Hillis. This could also go to Vick, but let’s spread the love to the Cleveland workhorse, who scored in all but one of his first dozen games as a Brown. Hillis carried his mediocre team on his back all season, and paid the price when his battered body simply wore down. Runner-up: Vick.
Mr. Big Play: DeSean Jackson. He scored on a 31-yard run, a 65-yard punt return and on receptions of 9, 34, 45, 61, 88 and 91 yards. Since this category was created for him last year, the award will carry his name in 2011. Runner-up: Mike Wallace.
Most Devastating Injury Loss: Ryan Grant. Plenty of candidates here – including Tony Romo, Pierre Thomas, Sidney Rice, Austin Collie, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark – but Grant (a second or third-round fantasy pick) was lost in the opener after gaining just 45 yards. Runner-up: Frank Gore.
Steal of the Draft: Arian Foster. Depending on when you drafted, you could have nabbed the former practice squad player anywhere from the fourth to the 10th round. Either way, you were rewarded with fantasy’s top tailback. Runner-up: Darren McFadden.
Most Overrated Player: Beanie Wells. Would it surprise you to learn that Wells played in all but three games this season? Yet you would have regretted starting the injury- and fumble-prone back in all but two of them. Runner-up: Ronnie Brown.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated Player: Joseph Addai. Jones could arguably rule this category again, but I’m going with Addai, whose injury in Week 6 left the Colts bereft of a rushing threat, particularly from a fantasy perspective. Indy doesn’t run particularly well to begin with; but without Addai, they are pathetic. (Don’t get me started on Donald Brown…) Runner-up: Derrick Mason.
Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Hillis. Rising above the muck and mire that is the Cleveland offense, Hillis somehow emerged as an elite performer. None of his teammates – with the occasional exception of Ben Watson – merited a spot on any fantasy roster this season; yet Hillis was in the MVP conversation until the end. Runner-up: Steven Jackson.
Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Adrian Peterson. The Giants stifled him in Week 14 (26 yards), then he was a late and unexpected scratch the following weekend due to ankle and knee injuries. He delivered in Week 16, but that was too little, too late, for too many. Runner-up: Aaron Rodgers.
Too Little Too Late: Ryan Mathews. Over the first 15 injury-plagued weeks of his rookie season, Mathews amassed just 598 yards and two TDs, while Mike Tolbert stole the show. Not exactly what you bargain for from one of your top RBs. In his final two games, a healthy Mathews racked up 222 total yards and four TDs. Gee, thanks, Ryan. Runner-up: Vincent Jackson.
Most Spectacular Bench Performance: McFadden. He deemed himself just “70 percent” recovered from a bum hammy as Week 7 approached, leading us to believe that Michael Bush would carry the load. Instead, Run DMC amassed 196 combined yards and four touchdowns against the Broncos. Runner-up: David Garrard (260 passing yards, 5 combined TDs vs. Dallas, Week 8).
Lived Up to the Hype: Foster. He burst onto the scene out of nowhere during the preseason, but we’ve all seen shooting stars flame out when the games really matter (I’m looking at you, CJ Spiller). Foster never missed a beat. Runner-up: LeSean McCoy.
Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Larry Fitzgerald. With Kurt Warner under center, Fitz was arguably the best wideout in the land, fantasy and otherwise. This year? Not so much. Runner-up: Carolina’s Steve Smith.
“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: David Gettis. Star-crossed fantasy owners flocked to the rookie after his 125-yard, two-touchdown “breakout” performance in Week 7, then realized they bought a big bag of nothing when he returned to obscurity immediately thereafter. Runner-up: Seyi Ajirotutu.
Worst Sophomore Jinx: Shonn Greene. With Thomas Jones banished to KC, and “over-the-hill” LaDainian Tomlinson expected to mentor from the sidelines, Greene was considered a steal in the second or third round. Instead, LT stole his job and Greene was essentially unstartable for his owners all year. Runner-up: Michael Crabtree.
Team Bust of the Year (aka “They Are Who We Thought They Were”): Carolina Panthers. DeAngelo Williams was awful before he landed on injured reserve, and Jonathan Stewart didn’t get rolling until his second chance late in the year. Four quarterbacks combined for a whopping eight passing TDs on the season, only two of which went to the wideout formerly known as Steve Smith. Best I can tell, they don’t even employ a tight end or kicker. What a mess. Runner-up: Arizona Cardinals.
“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Brett Favre. He had the chance to retire on a high note, but he just had to push it. Favre’s off-field antics proved even more embarrassing than his deteriorating skills. Runner-up: Vincent Jackson.
Most Likely to Succeed in 2011: Jimmy Graham. The former college basketball star posted four touchdowns over the final three weeks of the regular season, emerging as one of Drew Brees’ most reliable red-zone targets. Jeremy Shockey’s clock in New Orleans is ticking. Runner-up: Josh Freeman.
Until next year, I’ll see you at the Fantasy Fools blog. Happy 2011!