Monday, December 29, 2014

9th Annual Biro’s Heroes and Zeros Awards

Movie stars have the Oscars. Sports stars have the ESPYs. Fantasy football players are stuck with Biro’s Heroes & Zeros.

I’m sorry. It’s just the way it is.

Once again, before we close the books on another exhilarating / frustrating / victorious / humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2014 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:

  1. Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
  2. Production during the fantasy playoffs – NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – is given extra weight.  Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn.  (I’m looking at you, Mr. Luck.)
  3. Week 17 is dead to us. (Sorry, Geno.) 
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 9th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:

Most Valuable Player: DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys. Andrew Luck lost his claim to the honor with his Week 16 implosion. Odell Beckham, Jr. deserves consideration after leading countless teams that added him early in the season to titles. Le’Veon Bell had an outstanding season, especially down the stretch. But Murray earns the nod thanks to his dominating rushing performance and remarkable consistency. Runner-up: Bell, RB, Steelers.

“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. The Top 5 pick racked up a combined 93 yards in the opener, then was never seen again thanks to his off-field transgressions.  Runner-up: Montee Ball, RB, Broncos.   

Rookie of the Year: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, Giants. In the “Year of the Rookie Wide Receiver,” OBJ was clearly the pick of the litter. Despite missing the first four games while recovering from a hamstring injury, Beckham worked his way into the Top 10 fantasy ranks. No receiver in NFL history has scored as many as his 12 TDs in his first 12 career games. Runner-up: Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers. 

Comeback Player of the Year: Julio Jones, WR, Falcons. After missing all but five games in 2013, Jones not only returned to form, but he piled up the most receptions and yards of his career. Runner-up: Arian Foster, RB, Texans.

Mr. Reliable: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers. We may soon need to name this award after Brown, who delivered receptions, yardage and scores at a consistently stellar clip for the second consecutive year. This time, he averaged 7.6 receptions for 98 yards per game, with 12 TDs, through 16 weeks. Runner-up: Murray.

Surprise of the Year: Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens. This was supposed to be Ray Rice’s backfield. Then Bernard Pierce’s. Lorenzo Taliaferro had his 15 minutes. But it was Forsett, who had never finished among the Top 30 RBs in his previous six seasons, who quietly took the reins and became an every-week fantasy starter on his way to a Top 10 finish.  Runner-up: Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots.

Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Beckham, Jr. Because he entered the season injured and destined for a backup role, OBJ typically was available well into October. When Victor Cruz went down in Week 6, the rookie’s prospects soared. After that, it was game over.  Runner-up: Eagles defense/special teams.

Mr. Big Play: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. Among his 13 TDs were scoring jaunts of 40, 45, 59, 60, 66, 73 and 80 yards, which makes the one that slipped through his fingers in Week 15 that much more painful. Runner-up: Beckham, Jr.

Most Devastating Injury Loss: Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals. Bernard was money until he hurt his hip in Week 8. The injury lingered while rookie Jeremy Hill slowly stole his job. By the time Bernard got healthy, it was too late. Runner-up: Victor Cruz, WR, Giants.

Steal of the Draft: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. His backup, Ladarius Green, was typically drafted ahead of Gates, who was available in the 15th round or later. All the wily veteran did was return to elite status and finish with one of the best seasons of his career.  Runner-up: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos.

Most Overrated: Percy Harvin, WR, Jets. He runs, he catches, he even returns kicks! He just doesn’t produce much in the process, whether in Seattle or New York.  Runner-up: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers.

“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts. His own team even refused to acknowledge that he was the most productive and reliable RB on the roster. Despite Top 10 production while healthy, Bradshaw was routinely benched by owners that just didn’t believe he could keep producing from his backup role. Runner-up: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks.

Might As Well Be Injured: Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. The perpetually sidelined tailback played in all 16 games, but who could tell? McFadden was so awful he wasn’t even owned in roughly nine out of 10 fantasy leagues. Runner-up: Reggie Bush, RB, Lions.

Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Mike Evans. Playing for a two-win team now on the clock for the first pick of the 2015 draft, Evans scored in more than half his games and finished just outside the Top 10 rankings. Runner-up: Chris Ivory, RB, Jets.

Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts. Posted the worst performance of his career in Week 16, and wasn’t terribly sharp the previous week either.   Runner-up: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos.

Most Spectacular Bench Performance: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers. After an up-and-down start to the season, Big Ben put on a masterful 522-yard, 6-TD performance in Week 8. Many of his owners were so incredulous, they didn’t start him in Week 9 either, thus missing out on his 340-yard, 6-TD encore. Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans (9 receptions for 238 yards and 2 TDs in Week 13).

Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. The future Hall of Famer’s talents were squandered by the lousy backups subbing for Carson Palmer.  Runner-up: Eric Decker, WR, Jets.

“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots. Countless fantasy enthusiasts positively swooned over his 199-yard, 4-TD breakout in Week 11. Even Sports Illustrated fell for it, making Gray the cover boy of their next issue. Then Gray slept through a team meeting, LeGarrette Blount was scooped up off waivers, and the rookie was rarely heard from again. Runner-up: Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts.

Starter in Name Only: Trent Richardson, RB, Colts. It’s bad enough when the starter is consistently outplayed by his primary backup. But Richardson not only paled in comparison to Ahmad Bradshaw, but to third-stringer Daniel “Boom” Herron as well. Runner-up: Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers.

Worst Sophomore Jinx: Zac Stacy, RB, Rams. Much was expected after Stacy’s midseason emergence as a rookie. But he never got on track in 2014 and was quickly relegated to the bench. Runner-up: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings.

Team Bust of the Year (a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): Jacksonville Jaguars.  There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting. Runner-up: Oakland Raiders.

“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Josh Gordon, WR, Browns. He was suspended for the first 10 games of the season because he couldn’t keep his head out of the weeds. Then Gordon capped off his lost year by skipping a team walkthrough prior to the finale and was suspended again. Runner-up: Ray Rice.

Most Likely to Succeed in 2014: Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints. Marques Colston has lost a step and Kenny Stills clearly doesn’t have the rapport with Drew Brees that Cooks developed early in his rookie season. Look for Brees and Cooks to soar with another offseason under their belts. Runner-up: Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons.

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…”

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