As the end of the NFL season has come and gone, it is now the time to look back at what happened over the course of the season, both good and bad. It was a season of ups and downs, comebacks and collapses … and that was just the Dallas Cowboys! All 32 teams had a major impact on your fantasy football season, whether with a surprise player that stepped up into a major role or with a player that suffered a disappointing season due to injury. This article will take a look at some of the major storylines in the style of “an award show” (if you have any others that I missed, please comment below).
I studied the taped, watched most of the games, and made the hard the decisions. So, without further ado, here is Part One of your 2013 NFL Awards according to this Western New Yorker (Regular Season only):
**Information in this column is based on the ESPN.com standard fantasy football scoring system and average draft position**
Best Quarterback Value: Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) – This guy was likely picked as a second quarterback on most fantasy rosters or not even selected in the draft at all. He finished with a top five point total and as a viable starter each and every week. While he was not topping the charts with his point totals week in and week out, he did provide steady and consistent points from a guy that not too many expected to contribute much in the fantasy world after his bad performances over the last few seasons.
Worst Quarterback Value: Tom Brady (New England Patriots) – Aaron Rodgers is not selected as the winner here as it was an injury that knocked him low in the final rankings. Tom Brady, on the other hand, played all 16 games and ended up ranked 15th at the end of the season. For a guy picked as a top five quarterback and a third round draft pick in most drafts, that is awful production where he was drafted.
Best Running Back Value (Non-PPR): Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos) – While Jamaal Charles dominated the running back position this season, this category is all about value and Moreno was the much better value, especially since he was fighting for his job on the team with two other running backs in the preseason. With an average draft position of 124th, Moreno was thought of as a flex play/RB3 on most fantasy teams. Well, Moreno finished as a top five running back in 2013 and a guy that was leaned on by many fantasy teams as they made a run at the title. He totaled 13 touchdowns and 1,039 yards on the ground and this makes him good enough to take this award.
Worst Running Back Value (Non-PPR): Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) – Rice takes this award because at least Arian Foster has the excuse of injuries for his struggles this year. Rice, on the other hand, has none and was a top five selection in most drafts that finished 29th in the running back rankings. He only contributed four touchdowns and fewer than 1,000 total yards, and that was a killer shot to most fantasy owners’ title chances.
Best Wide Receiver Value (Non-PPR): Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns) – He was selected as the 121st player overall and the 43rd wide receiver according to average draft position; he ended up as the number one receiver in fantasy football and he only played in 14 games. Gordon caught 87 balls for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns this season and became a WR1 right away, despite the lack of a consistent quarterback in Cleveland. For a guy that was overlooked by so many fantasy players to produce at such a high level is quite rare and he is the far and away winner of this award.
Worst Wide Receiver Value (Non-PPR): Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons) – You can throw Julio Jones and his injury into this award as well. Roddy White was one of the most consistent options at the wide receiver position coming into the 2013 season. He was almost guaranteed to get you over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. Well, his 2013 season was marred with injuries that limited him to 13 games played and many of those less than 100%. He did get 711 receiving yards and three scores, but most of his damage happened too late in the season for his fantasy owners to enjoy that success. Instead, he sat on the bench in most leagues with the hope of a healthy and productive game in the future.
Best Tight End Value (Non-PPR): Julius Thomas (Denver Broncos) – I wrote in my column at the beginning of the season that Julius Thomas would be a top five tight end in 2013. It was a bold prediction since he never really played in an NFL game in his career, but based on his athletic ability and the reports out of Denver, I believed he would have a monster season. Well … Thomas ended up as the number three tight end behind Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis and only participated in 14 games. It was an amazing season for a guy that was picked as a TE2 or as a flier pick at the end of most drafts. He put up 12 touchdowns and 788 yards on 65 receptions and has established himself as a top option in years to come.
Worst Tight End Value (Non-PPR): Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings) – He was out for a portion of the season with an injury, but his performances when healthy left a lot to be desired. He caught 30 balls for 313 yards and three scores in eight games played as the number six tight end in average draft position. He struggled as his offense kept shuffling quarterbacks and this gives him the award.
Best Kicker Value: Nick Novak (San Diego Chargers) – He was the 19th kicker in average draft position that finished tied as the third kicker overall.
Worst Kicker Value: Blair Walsh (Minnesota Vikings) – The carousel at quarterback in Minnesota hurt the number one kicker from 2012. He was most likely the first or second kicker picked … he finished 15th.
Best Defense Value: Kansas City Chiefs – They were the 19th defense off the board based on average draft position that finished as the clear number one defense in 2013. They had seven defensive touchdowns and four special teams scores. With all of the turnovers and touchdowns, it is hard to see any other defense coming close to taking this award.
Honorable Mention: St. Louis Rams; Carolina Panthers
Worst Defense Value: Houston Texans – They were the number three defense in average draft position and were seen as the one of the best units in the NFL. They finished as the worst fantasy defense in the NFL this season, even lower than Jacksonville.
Dishonorable Mention: Denver Broncos; Pittsburgh Steelers
Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy (Green Bay Packers) – He actually gave Green Bay a running game that was a threat to opposing defenses. Lacy ran hard and punched it in 11 times on the ground on 1,178 yards. He ends up as the clear rookie of the year choice to me.
Biggest Surprise: Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos)
Biggest Bust: Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens)
Most Improved Player: Julius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Most Outstanding Player: Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) – Manning grabs the MOP award this year. He was just plain lethal slicing and dicing opposing defenses and putting up record breaking stats in 2013. He accumulated 5,477 yards passing and 55 touchdowns over the 16 week season (both records). He was outstanding mostly every week and put up the best point totals in fantasy football this season.
Most Valuable Player: Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs) – Charles gets the MVP award this year. While Manning did put up amazing stats, so did Charles at a position that is coveted more in fantasy football than quarterbacks. He was an extremely valuable option at running back by putting up top five numbers at the running back position seven of the 15 weeks he played and top 25 numbers all 15 weeks he played. His high level of performance and consistency week in and week out gives him the MVP in 2013.
Cue the cutaway music … we are at the intermission of the award show. We will be back soon with a look at the weirdest ending to a game and the best game of the year categories.