Before we close the books on another exhilarating/frustrating/awesome/humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, let’s take a quick stroll back through 2012 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.
As always, our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:
- Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
- Production during the fantasy playoffs – for our purposes, NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – is given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (Hear that, Victor?)
- For the most part, Week 17 is dead to us. (Sorry, Eli.)
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 2012 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:
Most Valuable Player: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. AD was the common denominator in countless fantasy championships, largely because his services could be secured as late as the third round in most preseason drafts. Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were all outstanding; but there was precious little light between the three elite QBs. Runner-up: Arian Foster, RB, Texans.
“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t his fault. Fitz played all 16 games and couldn’t even crack the Top 40 receiver rankings. He was unstartable for nearly half the season, which is devastating for a second-round pick. Runner-up: Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders.
Rookie of the Year: Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins. Doug Martin ranked higher, but a huge share of his production came in one game (272 combined yards, 4 TDs in Week 9). Morris gets the nod due to his humble draft status, more consistent production and superior results during the fantasy postseason. Runner-up: Martin, RB, Buccaneers.
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos. Peterson was a Top 10 running back last year. Manning didn’t play a snap in 2011 due to neck injuries, then returned to elite status with a brand new team. Runner-up: Peterson.
Mr. Reliable: Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears. Had only two games with fewer than 90 yards or a touchdown, reached the end zone in nine different weeks, and finished strong. Runner-up: Brees.
Surprise of the Year: Morris. Undrafted in many leagues, and not named the starter until Week 1, Morris ended the season among the elite fantasy tailbacks. Nobody, including the Redskins, saw that coming. Runner-up: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks.
Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: James Jones, WR, Packers. Scooped up in most leagues after Greg Jennings went down in Week 4, Jones went on to accumulate more TDs than any receiver in the league. Runner-up: Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers.
Mr. Big Play: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs. Among his six combined TDs were scoring jaunts of 37, 80, 86 and 91 yards. Runner-up: Doug Martin.
Most Devastating Injury Loss: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. Knocked out for the duration in his sixth game, the second-round draft pick had no proxy behind him to make up for his loss. Runner-up: Greg Jennings, WR, Packers.
Steal of the Draft: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons. The top tight end in Fantasyland was available in the 10th round or later in most 10-team leagues. On average, nine other players at his position were selected before the future Hall of Famer. Runner-up: Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins.
Most Overrated: Matt Stafford, QB, Lions. A consensus Top 5 fantasy passer heading into the season, Stafford generated plenty of yardage, but just six games with multiple TDs through Week 16. He also threw nearly as many interceptions (16) as TD passes (17). Runner-up: McFadden.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots. Despite a quiet consistency that led to his Top 10 finish, skeptical owners routinely questioned whether or not Ridley was start-worthy. Runner-up: Eric Decker, WR, Broncos.
Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Jamaal Charles. On a team virtually bereft of talent to support him, Charles still managed to produce at an elite level. Runner-up: Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars.
Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, WRs, Giants. Both performed well in Week 14, then imploded over the next two games. After a 40-yard outing in Week 15, Nicks was blanked the following game. Cruz had just 36 total yards during that stretch. Runner-up: Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens.
Most Spectacular Bench Performance: Shonn Greene, RB, Jets. After four straight scoreless weeks with no more than 40 rushing yards, Greene lit up the Colts for 161 yards and a TD trifecta in Week 6. Runner-up: Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars (7 receptions for 236 yards, 1 TD in Week 11).
Lived Up to the Hype: Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins. My “Most Likely to Succeed” runner-up in last year’s awards combined a deadly accurate arm with game-breaking running skills to deliver elite results right out of the gate. You’ll pay dearly for him in next season’s draft. Runner-up: Doug Martin.
Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Larry Fitzgerald. The once-elite wideout’s talents were squandered by a rogue’s gallery of passers, including Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer. Runner-up: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs.
“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: Kevin Ogletree, WR, Cowboys. Fantasy enthusiasts thought they spotted the 2012 version of Laurent Robinson as they watched Ogletree amass 114 yards and two TDs in the season opener. The most-added free agent of Week 1 promptly disappeared and was dumped weeks later by his disappointed owners. Runner-up: Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles.
Worst Sophomore Jinx: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers. He found his mojo late in the season; but prior to Week 12, Newton’s owners were cursing themselves for investing a premium draft pick on him. Runner-up: Roy Helu, RB, Redskins.
Team Bust of the Year (a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): Arizona Cardinals. There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting. And no, the defense doesn’t count. Runner-up: Oakland Raiders.
“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Titus Young, WR, Lions. Blessed with an abundance of natural talent, Young apparently has the intellect and maturity of a Jersey Shore character. He flashed his potential in Week 8, then was suspended by his coach for the rest of the season just a few weeks later. Runner-up: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers.
Most Likely to Succeed in 2013: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. Reggie Wayne is getting up there in age, but Hilton has already developed excellent chemistry with his fellow rookie and franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck. That duo should be explosive in their second season together. Runner-up: Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars.
As always, I’m open to your feedback on these awards. Feel free to comment below, and be sure to begin your message with “You’re an idiot because…”
Next week: The Perfect Draft: Final Cut, wraps up the season.