It was a great year of fantasy football in 2011. We saw countless great quarterback performances, the TE emerge as a primary threat and a scintillating array of new talent driving our teams to the playoffs and in some cases championships. In this article co-written by my friend DeadheadBill well known as being a fantasy expert in more than one sport we give you some retrospective on a wild and wonderful 2011 NFL season.
Fantasy MVP - This year we have co-MVP's.
Aaron Rodgers QB GBay Packers - Passing for a gaudy 4,643 yards and 45 TD's with only 6 int's...that is a ridiculous ratio. Arod's accuracy and week to week consistency carried even poorly drafted teams to the fantasy playoffs this season on the back of his many huge games.
Drew Brees QB N.O. Saints - Drew passed for an NFL record 5,476 yards(wow!) and 46 td's. Drew is the co-MVP because of his fantasy playoff performance which may have been the best ever. Drew was flat money when it counted.
Fantasy Rook of the Year
From a pure stats position this one is as easy as pie.
Cam Newton QB of the Carolina Panthers was a fantasy beast this year passing his way to 21 TD's and rushing for a jaw dropping 14 TD's to combine for a total of 35 TD's by the rookie. If you took a QB early that didn't work out for you and you got Cam late you were looking like a genius and starting him every week through most of this NFL season. If we had a "Sure To Be Drafted Too Early in 2012" award Cam would be the top candidate for that.
Fantasy Bust of the Year
Chris Johnson RB Titans...or CJ2K as he is called crushed the dreams of many owners who went ahead and took him in the first round after Chris held out during the preseason. CJ did have a game or two where he looked like the old CJ2K but he was mostly a huge disappointment to owners who invested heavily in him. Johnson did have over 1,000 yds again but only scored 4 times and literally had games when he had no impact from a real or fantasy perspective. It will be interesting to see where he is drafted next year.
Honorable mention goes to Mike Williams WR Tampa bay who followed up a great rookie campaign with one of the worst sophomore slumps in recent memory. In 2010 Williams had 11 TD's and in 2011 he posted just 3. Williams fall was never more evident than in a late season game at home vs. Dallas when he was not targeted once and ended up with zero catches for the first time in his 2 year career.
Most Underrated Fantasy Player
Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch (RB Seahawks) smashed his way through an 11 game scoring streak this year that ran through week 16. Lynch is usually the guy you draft when all the flashy RB's are gone and you just need to fill a hole in your lineup. Marshawn went Beast mode for your fantasy squad down the stretch providing much more production than many RB's drafted well ahead him him. He finished the season with 12 TD's rushing and another receiving and over 1,200 yds on the ground. With little competition in Seattle if an impact RB is not added to the team managers will not be able to overlook Lynch early in next years draft.
Breakout Player(s) of the Year
This was the year of the QB and TE....two TE's burst upon the scene sporting more value than most top WR's and their names are Rob Gronkowski (Pats) and Jimmy Graham(Saints). Fantasy managers rode these two monsters for a combined 2,600 plus yards and a mind boggling 28 combined TD's. To compare if you had drafted Wes Welker and Roddy White you would have got maybe 100 more yards receiving and only 17 combined TD's. These two TE freaks of nature who battled it out to the last game for an NFL record in yardage by a TE won by Gronk will be drafted as early as any no.1 WR not named Megatron.
The You Are Who We Thought You Were award goes to Chad Ocho-Cinco WR Patriots. Chad had an avg draft position of 82 yet finished with just 15 catches and just over 200 yds with one score. Chad is not a bust...he is a pretender...those of you who didn't buy it...knew exactly who he was and let others make the draft mistake.
The You Were Not Who We Thought You Were award goes to Reggie Bush(RB Miami)who finally showed fantasy managers that he can light up the scoreboard and boost fantasy scores weekly with a slew of good showings after injuries to Daniel Thomas slowed his rise to the starting position. Reggie had one game over 200 yds and you could hear Saints fans wondering aloud...where has this been the last few years. Good Job Reggie! You are not Bush league anymore.
The Better Late Than Never award goes to CJ Spiller (Rb, Bills) who stepped up after Fred Jackson was injured and gave fantasy owners yards, receptions and TD's just when teams needed it during their playoff push. Bills fans have been wondering if Spiller was a bust after a poor showing last year and a slow start this season. Once Freddy Jax is back in action now the Bills have a two headed RB platoon alot of teams would envy. Spiller will not be drafted highly next year due to the return of Fjax, but he could be a steal late in drafts.
Honorable mention is Toby Gerhart (RB Vikings). With All Day AP nursing injuries down the stretch Gerhart broke off some impressive games running with power, catching some balls and scoring TD's. The best part of this late break out was that it came during the playoff push when many owners were scrambling for replacements. Note: Toby tore his MCL during the last game of the season, but should be rehabbed more quickly than AP who sustained a more severe injury. Honorable mention number 2 goes to Dolphins QB Matt Moore who did a surprisingly good job in the second half for managers who had lost QB's like Sam Bradford and Matt Schaub to injury.
Fantasy Defense of the Year goes to the Seattle Seahawks DST...Seattle balled out down the stretch posting some ridiculous point totals that won many owners matchups late in the year and in the early playoffs. Again this is another reason not to take a Defense early in drafts....there are always defenses like Seattle's and San Francisco's that emerge every season.
The Tease Me Please Me award goes to Kenny Britt (WR Titans) - Kenny blew up early with 273 yds and 3 TD's in the first two games then promptly tore up his knee and sat out the rest of the year. Many owners like myself hit gold by taking Britt later in drafts than the top tier #2 WR's and were crushed when Britt suffered what looked to be a devastating knee injury..get well Kenny! Honorable mention goes to Andre3000 who battled injury all year and was a waste of an early draft pick. Andre teased us often about coming off the DL early only to make us wait...come back and get hurt again. I will think twice before I go too high on AJ in next years draft.
The First Half Stud / Second Half Dud award goes to Erik Decker(WR Broncos) who blasted out of the gates with 7 td's. Those TD's went more quickly than Tebow jerseys from the shelves and Eric finished with a total of 8 as the Bronco passing game was put on the back burner and WR D.Thomas took over the majority of the looks. Honorable mention is the Bill's TE Scott Chandler who had a early 6 TD's which sent TE hungry managers to the wire to claim him. Chandler failed to record any touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Now, give us your Awards. They can be funny or maybe they can be different players for the same awards we have listed here. Maybe you like Victor Cruz as your breakout player this season...can't argue with that...he was also one of my favorite players to own in 2011. Let's hear some of your 2011 Fantasy Football Awards. Write them in the comments section.
Thanks - Wes theShow
*co-written by DeadheadBill