After a long and grueling season, it is now time for Coach Dennis to hand out his awards for unique and completely fabricated categories.
The Least Sexy Pick of the Year
Winner: Marshawn Lynch (RB-SEA)
On draft day you would probably heard a lot of people say good pick as you put Marshawn’s name on the board. Not great, but good is the moral of this story. No one was super excited about drafting Lynch with an unknown commodity starting at QB in 2012. The smart GMs saw the late season matchups and knew the offense would run on Marshawn slipping into “Beast Mode” if the Seahawks were to reach their potential. Marshawn put up ten 100 yard rushing days and 12 total touchdowns during the season. His biggest games came at the most important times for fantasy GMs. Weeks 13 through 16 Lynch put up huge numbers carrying GMs into the playoffs, and onto the winners stand. Lynch averaged 109.75 yards rushing and 1.75 touchdowns during the most critical weeks of the year, earning him a Post Season award from yours truly, and a place in the hearts of Fantasy GMs around the country.
The Dennis Green “They are what we thought they were!” Award
Winner: Michael Turner (RB-ATL)
The entire world was ready for Michael Turner to fall off the list of must start running backs, and he did not disappoint. The talking heads on TV and even the guy at your draft that shows up with a draft guide printed in April all knew to stay away from this aging former fantasy stud. His decline in production was a perfect storm of factors for the Atlanta Falcons. The team was finally full of healthy weapons all over the field, and was moving more to a pass first offense, which did not bode well for the old war horse. The continued maturation of Jacquizz Rogers was just another nail into the coffin. While Turner did produce 11 combined touchdowns, he only totaled 800 yards rushing while only topping 20 carries once.
Same Team, Same Stats, Different Guy
Winner: Steven Ridley (RB-NE)
Stevan Ridley’s 1,263 rushing yards were well beyond Benjarvis Green-Ellis’s last few seasons in New England, but the 12 touchdowns was exactly what you could count on from the law-firm in his final two years in New England. Ridley was a steal as a top notch Running Back 2 in most leagues as he topped 100 yards four times and was the consistent goal line back piling up 12 touchdowns (when he was not in Belichek’s doghouse for fumbles). While he may not be Adrian Peterson, he is definitely the most talented back to feature for the Patriots since Corey Dillon.
Different Team, Same Stats, Same Guy
Winner: Peyton Manning (QB-DEN)
Peyton Manning was a steal in most drafts. He would have easily been the fourth or fifth quarterback taken if not for his career-threatening injury coupled with an address change to Denver. Manning was snapped up in the middle rounds in most drafts and threw 37 touchdowns, placing him third in the league while also eclipsing his totals during his previous two healthy years (2009-2010). He also threw for over 4,600 yards without breaking a sweat and seemingly getting better as the season progressed. Manning single-handedly made Demaryious Thomas and Eric Decker a dynamic receiving duo. Having these receivers and a solid running game, Manning’s renaissance is not a one-year wonder and he should return to the top of draft boards in 2013.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Winner: Darren McFadden (RB-OAK)
While fantasy owners constantly salivate over Darren McFadden’s potential and raw skills, he has proven again and again that he cannot hold up over the course of a season. This year proved no different as he missed four games due to constant foot and ankle injuries. Even when he was in the lineup, he had trouble adapting to a new zone read scheme. McFadden registered 700 yards rushing and just three touchdowns after being a late first or early second round pick. Two of his three 100 yard rushing days were against the Chiefs – enough said. I know there are a lot of you reading this cringing like a girlfriend constantly scorned, but I am willing to bet that you will probably draft him again next year based on potential.
Worst Deep Round Sleeper
Winner: Titus Young (WR-DET)
No matter where you looked, everyone and their mother were touting Lions wide receiver Titus Young, the second-year pro out of Boise State. I was almost swept up into the madness until I realized that he had more personal fouls during his rookie season than the entire New York Giants defense. Not exactly the calm, cool under pressure young receiver I wanted for my team, to say the least. With Calvin Johnson constantly seeing double coverage, Young was supposed to reap the rewards. Young was expected to almost double his 2011 stats of 600 yards and 6 touchdowns, but instead he cut that in half as he regressed into a banished draft bust. Young is the first receiver I have ever seen who purposely lined up in the wrong position, as well as ran the wrong routes in protest of how he was being used in the Lions’ offense. I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but I think his will come on the waiver wire both in the NFL and in fantasy leagues.
Most Valuable Surgeon
Winner: Dr. James Andrews
Dr. Andrews once again worked his magic as Adrian Peterson came back from a torn MCL and ACL to come within 9 yards of breaking the all-time single season rushing record. Peterson was only held in check by his own coaching staff as he was eased back into his workhorse role. He was a man amongst boys from Week 7 through Week 17 as he averaged 159.8 yards rushing and just over a touchdown per game. Peterson was nothing short of phenomenal as he carried many fantasy owners to the Promised Land.
(Honorable Mentions must go out to the surgeons for Jamaal Charles and Peyton Manning as they returned to their old selves sooner than anyone could have anticipated.)