We’re almost done. But not quite.
Before we close the books on another exhilarating / frustrating / victorious / humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2013 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 – 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, A-Rod?)
3. Week 17 is dead to us. (Sorry, LeGarrette.)
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 8th Annual Biro’s Heroes and Zeros Awards
Most Valuable Player: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos. Manning stood so far above his so-called peers, they needed a telescope to see him. The next-closest QB (Drew Brees) had 16 fewer passing TDs, for crying out loud. Runner-up: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs.
“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Trent Richardson, RB, Colts. There are plenty of candidates here, including Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller and Doug Martin. But Richardson gets the nod because he was given a new lease on life (the trade out of Cleveland) and yet he still was unstartable virtually the entire season. His top rushing day? 64 yards. Runner-up: C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills.
Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers. The hard-nosed back proved that the Packers really can run. Runner-up: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers.
Comeback Player of the Year: DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. He suited up for only 11 games last season, managing just 700 yards and 2 TDs during that time. Thanks to Philly’s up-tempo offense, D-Jax nearly doubled his yardage and reached the end zone nine times. Runner-up: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers.
Mr. Reliable: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers. Delivered at least five receptions and 50 yards in every game. Usually much more. Runner-up: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints.
Surprise of the Year: Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos. If I was better at math, I’d tell you the percentage increase in Thomas’s production from his first two years in the league (1 reception, 5 yards, 0 TDs) and this season (65 for 788 yards and 12 TDs). I think it’s, like, 282 percent or something. Runner-up: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos.
Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. No quarterback gave you a better chance to compete with Peyton’s owner down the stretch than Foles. Runner-up: Julius Thomas.
Mr. Big Play: Josh Gordon, WR, Browns. Among his nine TDs were scoring jaunts of 37, 39, 43, 47, 74, 80 and 95 yards. Runner-up: A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.
Most Devastating Injury Loss: Julio Jones, WR, Falcons. He was the top receiver in the land went he went down in Week 5. Compounding the problem, he took Matt Ryan and the Falcons down with him. Runner-up: Arian Foster, RB, Texans.
Steal of the Draft: Knowshon Moreno. Montee Ball was supposed to win the starting role. Ronnie Hillman was supposed to be the change-of-pace back. Moreno took both of their jobs, and could have been had in the last round of most drafts. Runner-up: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills.
Most Overrated: Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. His owners seemed almost relieved when he was lost for the season in Week 7, thankful they no longer had to make the painful choice to bench him. Mike James, then Bobby Rainey, both looked better running behind the same offensive line. Runner-up: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: Fred Jackson. Despite a quiet consistency that led to his Top 10 finish, skeptical owners routinely questioned whether or not Jackson was start-worthy. Runner-up: Frank Gore, RB, 49ers.
Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Josh Gordon. On a team virtually bereft of talent to support him, and after being suspended for the first two games of the season, Gordon finished among the top three fantasy wideouts. Runner-up: Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders.
Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. Gained just 13 yards before injuring his groin and foot in Week 14. Missed the next week, then returned to post 47 combined yards before being pulled early in a blowout. Runner-up: Matt Stafford, QB, Lions.
Most Spectacular Bench Performance: Nick Foles. He was dreadful in Week 7 against the Cowboys before he was knocked out with a concussion. After sitting out the following week, there was no guarantee he would play in Week 9. But he proceeded to ravage the Raiders for 406 passing yards and seven, count ‘em, seven TDs, landing a perfect 158.3 QB rating for good measure. Runner-up: Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns (6 receptions for 66 yards and 3 TDs in Week 3).
Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings. The once-elite wideout’s talents were squandered by a rogue’s gallery of passers, including Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman. Runner-up: All Jets WRs.
“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers. Collected five TDs in his first two games. Then, aside from a couple of cameo appearances, pretty much disappeared. Runner-up: Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals.
Worst Sophomore Jinx: Trent Richardson. Awful. Just awful. Runner-up: Robert Griffin III.
Team Bust of the Year (a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): New York Jets. There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting. Runner-up: Oakland
Most Likely to Succeed in 2014: Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals. Who would be surprised if BenJarvus Green-Ellis plays elsewhere next season? Bernard is poised for greatness in Cincinnati’s high-octane offense. Runner-up: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings.
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…”
Be sure to follow the Fantasy Fools blog for all the offseason news you can use, and we’ll be back in August to chase another championship.
Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). He is a finalist for the award again in 2013. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).