So as most Fantasy Football leagues have reached the championship stage of the season, I thought I would go back and look over a few things. Biggest Fantasy busts, studs, surprises and share a few of my stories of the season along the way.
- Peyton Hillis- After last season Peyton showed the world that he could be an elite Fantasy running back with his ability to put the ball in the endzone and rack up chunks of yards as the Browns main threat on offense. Too bad the fans, many I'm sure play Fantasy Football, selected Peyton to be the cover boy for this years Madden NFL 12. As we all know there is the history of the Madden curse that has lived on since players like Eddie George first graced the cover of the highest selling Football game ever. The curse usually consists of players either getting hurt or having terrible seasons, the year they make the cover. So to follow suit, Peyton lived up to the historical curse. He started off the season on a pretty slow note, scoring two touchdowns in his first 4 games and under 200 yards. Not to mention he got hurt in his third game, then his fifth game again, and then didn't see time again until week 12. When he returned he didn't do too much to help Fantasy owners. Trust me, I was one of the fools who drafted him in hopes he would break the wretched Madden curse. He definitely didn't warrant many owners picking him in the first 3 rounds, which is were he seemed to go in most drafts I was involved in or heard about. Damn you John Madden and your stupid video game.
- Jamaal Charles- Jamaal Charles was poised to have a tremendous year in Fantasy this season. He's a 24 year old, electricÂ running back whoÂ was coming off a career year in which he posted numbers like 1,467 rushing yards, 468 receiving yards and 8 total touchdowns. His TD numbers were low due to the fact they handed the ball to Thomas Jones in the red zone pretty often. Charles wasÂ expectedÂ to have an even bigger season this year, being the Chiefs #1 backÂ and receiving more scoring opportunities. He was projected as the #4 overall fantasy players on ESPN's pre draft boards. Unfortunately that didn't happen. Charles went down in the second game of the season and had to go on season ending IR due to a torn ACL. Hearts of fantasy owners around the world were broken on this day, especially mine. Charles was my number one draft pick (4th pick in draft), also in the same league I drafted Peyton Hillis in. Just my luck. 2 of my first 3 picks go down with injuries, it gets worse.
- Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST- The Steelers defense and special teams was the highest pre ranked D/ST in ESPN's preseason projections. They were projected at number 30 overall amongst all Fantasy players to gain 199 Fantasy points. Ahead of the likes of Matt Forte, Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson & the 49ers D/ST to name a few. That didn't work out as planned for some owners who, I can only speak for personally, drafted them in the first 5 rounds of most drafts I was in. The Steelers are on pace to finish in the top 10 (at #10) by seasons end behind the likes of, The Bengals D/ST, The Texans D/ST & The 49ers D/ST. None of which even cracked the top 15 preseason rankings for D/ST's.
- Chris Johnson- I personally wanted to avoid Mr. Johnson in every draft due to the effect the lockout and his contract holdout would have on his 2011 season. Well I was right...for the most part. Johnson was basically a no show the first 11 weeks of the season, cracking the 100 yard barrier only twice. He will eventually end up with of over 1,000 yards on the season, but for a player who broke into the 2,000 yard category only 2 years ago, 1,000 seems paltry at best for CJ2K. He was projected as the number #3 scoring running back in ESPN's standard scoring projections. He will finish in the top 20 for running backs behind the likes of Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Beanie Wells & Fred Jackson who weren't in the top 20 preseason rankings.
- Andre Johnson- Remember when I said it gets worse? Meet my other top 3 pick in that same league. Andre Johnson was the #1 preseason ranked Wide Receiever in ESPN Fantasy leagues. Everyone knew what to expect coming into the season from Andre. He is a stud in every sense of the word. But one thing you cant project is injuries. Injuries derailed Johnson's season and caused major heart burn in Fantasy owners. Many owners like myslef, drafted Johnson in the first two rounds only to have him go down in week 4 with a hamstring injury. By seasons end Johnson wont even be ranked in the top 40 for receivers in Fantasy land. Johnson should be back next year strong and ready to help Fantasy owners dominate again. For this yearÂ thoughÂ owners have to think about what if they would have drafted the other Johnson, Megatron.
Yup Peyton, Charles & Johnson, my first three picks. Needless to say, I didn't make the playoffs in that league. Bah HumBug.
- Aaron Rodgers- Rodgers was projected as the #1 overall Quaterback in ESPN's preseason rankingsÂ coming into the season, but I dont think anyone seen this kind of season coming. Rodgers is having an absolutely sensational year, not only in Fantasy butÂ overall by starting off 13-0 and having the Packers on pace to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Rodgers was projected to have 311 fantasy points, he's surpassed that with ease. He has 353 pointsÂ through 15 weeks, with two still remaining. What kind of statistical season is Rodgers having? Try 40 Touchdown passes, 4,360 yards passing, 3 rushing Touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. S T U D written all over him. Fantasy owners took him in mainley the first round with Rodgers ranked #7 overall amongst all eligiable players. Owners were not dissapointed.
- Michael Turner-Â What more can you say about Michael Turner. He just produces. He was ranked #11 amongst Running Backs in ESPN's standard scoringÂ and will finish in the top 7 in Running Back scoring. With 1,129 and 9 Touchdowns through 15 weeks, he has been a consistant and reliable.
- Ray Rice-Â The man from Rutgers is the Ravens number 1 threat on offense and was worthy of most Fantasy owners picks from the top 2 rounds. He was projected in ESPN's standard scoring at #6 and will finish #2 amongst Running Backs and #9 amongst all players. His value was even greater in PPR leagues, with 71 catches and 648 yards receiving. Those numbers were only second to Darren Sproles. He has 234 Fantasy points through 15 weeks with 2 games remaining, and was projected to have 238. So he's right on pace to surpass that number this week.
- Calvin Johnson- They call him MEGATRON. That alone should describe the player that Calvin is. Coming into the season Johnson was projected as the #6 Wide Receiver in ESPN's standard scoring format. By seasons end he should still be the #1 overall Receiver in Fantasy football. With 1,335 receiving yards and 14 Touchdowns through 15 weeks, Johnson has solidified himself as a Fantasy stud and made owners happy that they drafted the 6'4 receiver. I myself, were one of those owners who were happy to draft him. He helped me make the playoffs in one of my leagues, but ultimately choked when I needed him to come through though. Come'On man !
- Wes Welker- If you drafted Welker in a PPR league, than you had a hell of a season. Through 15 weeks Welker has 103 catches, 1,380 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. With 2 more games to play, he has the possibility to pass Calvin Johnson as the #1 overall Wide Receiver in Fantasy land. Which to the delight of owners in championship rounds, will be highly hoped for. Coming into the season, Wes was projected as the 25th! overall Wide Receiver in standard ESPN scoring leagues with 122 points (not counting PPR). By seasons end he should pass 200 overall points. plus the PPR points if your in that league format. Truly worthy ofÂ #1 receiver status next Fantasy season. (You can thank Tom Brady later)
Now for my biggest Fantasy surprises of the season. To be considered as a surprise a player had to be ranked outside the top 20 in their respective position. (with exception to the first player mentioned below)
- LeSean McCoy- Wow. LeSean was looked at as the #7 overall Running Back coming into the Fantasy season, and will leave the #1. He was projected to score 232 overall points (not counting PPR leagues), by the end of the season he has the ability to crack the 300 point mark. With 266 standard points though 15 weeks, he's easily surpassed Fantasy expectations and made onwers giddy with joy. If you were like me and got him in the 4th roundÂ or laterÂ in one of your drafts, consider that a steal of a pick. The electric McCoy has 2 more games to help give Fantasy owners the Christmas gift of a new Fantasy championship. Except me, I didnt make the playoffs (THANKSÂ SANTONIO HOLMESÂ & THE OTHER COUNTLESS BUMS I WAS FORCED TO DROP)
- Cam Newton- He wasnt even projectedÂ to beÂ among theÂ top 29 Quaterbacks in Fantasy football, he came in atÂ #30.Â Man were the Fantasy Analysts wrong. Going into week 16 Newton has shocked many by having the season he has had. He has 311 Fantasy points through 15 weeks, he was projected to get 108. I think he did ok. He blew away all expectations and had a historical season. Setting the record for most rushing Touchdowns by a Quaterback, breaking Dante Culpepper's record. Through 14 games Cam has 3,722 yards passing, 17 passing touchdowns, 609 rushing yards &Â 13 rushing touchdowns. As all Fantasy owners know, Rushing touchdowns are valued more than passing touchdowns due to scarcity in comparrison. So you can imagine how happy Fantasy owners were to find him roaming the waiver wire after the first 1 or 2 weeks of the season. Fantasy owners should thank the Panthers poorus defense for allowing Cam to throw so much, and for the Panthers getting stopped at the 1 yard line so many times to allow Cam to get his many rushing touchdowns.
- Victor Cruz- The 114th ranked Wide Receiver on ESPN's projections list took the league and Fantasy owners by storm. Unless of course you were, like myself, a huge Giants fan. Then you might have seen this coming, then again maybe you wouldnt. He was possibly the waiver wire pickup of the year, along with Demarco Murray &Â Cam Newton. He was the main beneficiary from Eli Manning stepping up his play this season. Victor also benefited from the Mario Manningham being injured often this season as well as the Giants switching it up and becoming a pass first offense. Victor is currently the #7 scoring receiver in ESPN standard scoring leagues. Not bad for a player who was projected to not even surpass 400 yards receiving, let alone on pace to break a Giants record for receiving yards in a season. One final thing... Crruuuuuuuuuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
- Demarco Murray- When one of my Fantasy drafts finished this season, I looked at the last player on my team and said "Who the heck is Demarco Murray ????" I quickly went ahead and released him and picked up Reggie Bush who happened to be in the free agent pool. Did I luck out with Bush? (read next person). I could have really shot myself in the foot by doing what I did. Murray ending up taking over the starting job in Dallas once Felix Jones went down with an injury. He sure as heck took over! Murray erupted for 253 yards rushing during a week 6 matchup against the Rams and was one of the bright spots in Fantasy during aÂ 6 week span, that seen him become a legit stud week to week. Unfortunatly Murray ended up getting hurt and put on season ending IR. Murray is more than likely a player worth watching on most draft boards next Fantasy season, depending on what the Cowboys do with Felix Jones who seems to have found his spark again lately.
- Reggie Bush- Reggie was sent shipping out of New Orleans, and landed in Miami. He was never considered an every down back and was never thought of as a 1,000 yard rusher. He came into the season as the 30th rankedÂ Running BackÂ on ESPN's preseason projections. He probably was only as high he ways due to his opportunity as a receiver out of the backfield. He was projected to gain only 615 yards rushing, 8 total touchdownsÂ and 143 Fantasy points. Through 15 weeks he has 973 rushing yards, 7 total touchdowns & 152 Fantasy points. His receiving numbers arent as high as I expected (mainley receiving touchdowns) but he still has 2 more games to go. He broke out last week with 203 yards rushing and hasÂ three 100+ yard games in a row. With a total ofÂ four 100 yard games this season, he surpassed his total for his whole career! It looks likeÂ Reggie could have re-booted his career in Miami, he's a player worth watching going into next season. Dont expect him as a waiver wire pick up next year, but dont over do it and reach for him either.
Good luck if you're in the Fantasy championship round! and if not, hopefully theseÂ lists can possibly help you and take over your league next year.
Happy Holidays !