Fantasy Fool: Season-ending heroes and zeroes awards
January 10, 2017 11:06 AM
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
Cowboys rookies Dak Prescott, left, and Ezekiel Elliott made more than a few fantasy owners happy this season.
By Ladd Biro
Actors have the Oscars. Broadway performers have the Tonys. Fantasy football players are stuck with Biro’s Heroes & Zeros.
Hey, nobody said life is fair.
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 2016 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. (We’re looking at you, Big Ben.)
3. Week 17 is dead to us. (Lucky for you, Zeke.)
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 11 th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:
Most Valuable Player: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. See Criteria No. 1. Johnson was the model of consistency, scoring and/or amassing more than 100 combined yards in every game (until his Week 17 injury). He played up to his first-round billing in spades. Runner-up: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys.
“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Last year’s undisputed Rookie of the Year wilted under the spotlight in La La Land. Gurley was inexplicably awful in most contests, but his owners didn’t dare bench him early on since he was bound to catch fire at any moment, right? Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.
Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott. This one wasn’t even close. Like Johnson, Elliott scored and/or totaled more than 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first 16 games. Let’s just hope he doesn’t “pull a Gurley” next season. Runner-up: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints.
Comeback Player of the Year: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. All he did was return from a torn ACL that cost him the 2015 season to lead the league in receiving TDs and fantasy points among wideouts. Runner-up: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans.
Surprise of the Year: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Though he wasn’t always a fantasy stud, Prescott personifies this category. More than 3,600 passing yards, 29 total TDs and only 4 INTs is pretty ridiculous for a young quarterback, much less a rookie. Runner-up: Davante Adams, WR, Packers.
Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. When Jeremy Langford went down to injury in Week 3, Howard stepped in and became Chicago’s undisputed workhorse, finishing the season in the top 10 fantasy RB ranks. Runner-up: Adams.
Mr. Big Play: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Maybe it just seemed like he scored every time he touched the ball; but whether it was as a receiver, runner or returner, Hill was a game-changer. Runner-up: Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints.
Most Devastating Injury Loss: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. You could argue that losing Adrian Peterson was worse, but he failed to produce even before his injury. Gronk was his usual beast self when healthy, but that wasn’t nearly long enough. Runner-up: A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.
Steal of the Draft: Matt Ryan, RB, Falcons. Available as late as the 13th round in many leagues, Ryan turned in the best season of his career and was even stellar while Julio Jones was sidelined. Runner-up: Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers.
Mr. Reliable: Jordy Nelson. Antonio Brown has set the standard for consistency over the last four seasons, but even he played second fiddle to Jordy this year. Aside from a 9-yard disaster in Week 7, Nelson delivered week in and week out. Runner-up: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. All he did was score touchdowns. He even racked up big yards as an occasional bonus. Runner-up: Frank Gore, RB, Colts.
Most Overrated: Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Universally projected to build on his spectacular 2015 campaign, A-Rob was virtually non-existent most weekends. Blake Bortles didn’t do him any favors. Runner-up: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers.
Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills. Despite the dearth of talent around him, and some pretty pathetic quarterback play most of the season, Shady turned in another elite season. Runner-up: Jordan Howard.
Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. If you survived Brees’ Week 13 meltdown, he likely knocked you out of the playoffs with his 257-yard, zero-TD, three-INT outing in Week 14. Runner-up: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers.
“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: Kenneth Farrow, RB, Chargers. Countless fantasy owners jumped on Farrow’s bandwagon after Melvin Gordon’s injury. The rookie then proceeded to stink up the joint in weeks 15 and 16 when Gordon’s owners needed him the most. Runner-up: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers.
Team Bust of the Year (a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): 49ers. There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting. Runner-up: Browns.
Most Likely to Succeed in 2017: Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins. Last year’s pick, David Johnson, held up his end of the bargain. We’ll see if Crowder can build on his impressive sophomore campaign, especially with both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon likely moving on in free agency. Runner-up: Tyreek Hill.
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…”
That does it for this season. Thanks, once again, for following my column. Check in on the Fantasy Fools blog for offseason developments and we’ll be back in August to prep for another title run.
Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).
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