Every year without fail the fantasy football season takes us for a wild ride full of surprises, unknowns and disappoints. 2010 certainly fit the bill for this case with itâ€™s odd outcome for fantasy performers. In most other years, predicting what 90% of the fantasy players will do in the upcoming season will do is a no-brainer and that remaining 10% is often the key to being the difference between fantasy champs and fantasy chumps. This past year, that number may look more like 25% as plenty of people took their gambles on the Arian Fosters and Dwayne Bowes of the world and rode them into the fantasy sunset, hoisting trophies on the along the way. Others out there took a slightly different yet still successful route of picking up the key free agent at the right time, Michael Vick, Peyton Hillis or Brandon Lloyd....even the popular Ajirotutu saved a season or two. But for the mass majority of (now angry) fantasy owners of Shonn Greene, Brandon Marshall and Carson Palmer, the offseason came sooner than expected this year and our hearts (not really) go out to all of you. Without further adieu, your 2010 Fantasy Football Awards:
Fantasy MVP: Tom Brady, Arian Foster, Aaron Rodgers
Arian Foster - The year Arian Foster brought tears to fantasy ownersâ€™ eyes across the country; tears of joy to those that were smart enough to grab him in 5th and 6th rounds in their drafts and just plain tears to everyone else that didnâ€™t. Foster led the league in rushing in 2010 with 1,614 yards and tied the league lead with 16 touchdowns (Mendenhall). From week 1 owners that had Foster on their team had promise to look forward t the rest of the season when Foster ran for 231 yards and scored 3 touchdowns vs. Indy. His 8 100-yard outings was also a nice plus for
Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Forte, Matt Cassel, Darren McFadden, Terrell Owens, Dwayne Bowe
Darren McFadden â€“ This was definitely the toughest decision to make as all of the nominees were definitely capable and deserving of the award. Upon saying that, the person that had the furthest to come back from was Mcfadden as the rest of the players were only 1 year removed from fantasy relevance and in some aspects dominance. McFadden on the other hand has always been a promising disappointment in both Oakland and throughout the fantasy circles, both for his lack of production and his frequent injuries. So understandably this was the last year McFadden would be able to fool people with his blazing speed and good receiving ability not coming to fruition. Instead McFadden becamse the 6th highest scoring fantasy back turning in his 1st 1,000-yard rushing season and scoring 10 total touchdowns, including 3 from 50+ yards. Possibly his most impressive stat this year was his playing and starting in 13 games. McFadden in his previous years hadnâ€™t turned in more than 7 starts and that year he accounted for less than 400 yards rushing on his way to disappointing his usual 5th-6th round selection. McFadden proved this year that the Silver and Black turnaround is possibly with key players like himself. Letâ€™s hope the departure of Tom Cable doesnâ€™t affect his future value.
Sleeper of the Year: Brandon Lloyd, Mike Williams (Seattle, Mike Williams (Tampa), Hakeem Nicks
Hakeem Nicks (Tie) â€“ Though itâ€™s tough to make any case against Lloyd for this award, Hakeem Nicks was a player that started off with a bang and did a lot for fantasy owners in only 13 games this year. Nicks came right out in week 1 and separated himself from a muddled Giantsâ€™ receiving corps by going for 75 yards and 3 touchdowns against Carolina. From that point on Nicks was a go-to red zone target for Eli Manning totaling 11 touchdowns in 13 games, while adding 1,052 yards. Though Nicks was nicked up (pun intended) late throughout the year, he came back finishing strong scoring a touchdown in both weeks 15 and 16 helping many fantasy owners during important playoff and championship runs.
Brandon Lloyd (Tie) â€“ Brandon Lloyd became this yearâ€™s â€œOut-Of-Nowhere Manâ€ by doing nothing short of leading the league in receiving. Kyle Ortonâ€™s favorite target, literally (thrown at 153 times), Lloyd went often undrafted in many leagues as he only totaled 118 yards all of 2009. With fewer games under 70 yards than Lloyd had 100-yard performances, he turned into a big time fantasy producer. Even more impressive, in the 5 games where Lloyd didnâ€™t start he totaled 537 yards and 7 touchdowns. The best thing for Lloyd owners, many spent a draft flier to get him on the team, if he was drafted at all. Talk about outperforming your contract
Bust of the Year: Shonn Greene, Ray Rice, Randy Moss
Ray Rice - Though itâ€™s incredibly tough to not pick Shonn Greene here (65 fantasy points? 1 td, 2 double digit fantasy point games), the pick has to be Ray Rice. Rice was a consistent top 3 pick after his stellar 2009 campaign. His 2010 however was a forgettable one for fantasy owners as Rice only had 2 100-yard outings and 4 rushing touchdowns. Though his yearly totals looked good, it was a season of few big games and more consistent letdowns than anything else. His usual great receiving numbers also posted zero 100-yard performances and whatâ€™s more, Rice owners still had to deal with the evil vulture villain of Willis McGahee himself. Hopefully Riceâ€™s future will return to dominance as the Ravens are expected to release McGahee.
Breakout of the Year: Mike Williams (TB), Peyton Hillis, Mike Wallace
Hillis (Tie) â€“ I donâ€™t know about you but Peyton Hillis was a thorn in my side all year. First, I sought out Jerome Harrison at the beginning of the year, especially after the loss of Hardesty. Then, instead of Harrison stepping into the role of fantasy stud, it was Hillis who became a dominant fantasy player to be feared week after week. Hillis went on to turn in 1,177 and 11 touchdowns for a Browns team that became a difficult out for many teams around the league (see Steelers). He also added in 477 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns which often turned some of his great fantasy performances into monster days.
Wallace (Tie) â€“ How often have you heard this phrase, â€œSpeed Kills.â€ Nothing sums up Mike Wallace better as he consistently beat secondaries around the league for deep touchdowns. In 8 games this year Wallace averaged over 20 yards per catch and his 10 touchdowns didnâ€™t hurt his case either. With the departure of Santonio Holmes someone needed to step up and fill that void and Wallace did that by amassing 1,257 yards was also a large reason for Rashard Mendenhallâ€™s good season as secondaries had to account for the speed of Wallace.
Best Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Michael Vick
Tom Brady - With 36 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions itâ€™s tough to find someone that played better quarterback than Tom Brady. Though he didnâ€™t have as many yards as the other nominees but his 5 interceptions is less than half of the next closest (11 â€“ Rodgers) and in those tight games an interception or 2 could be the difference. A strong argument could be made for Rodgers who also tallied 356 rushing yards and 4 rushing tds but Brady was also more consistent than Rodgers. Rodgers had 2 games of 6 fantasy points or lower, including a 1-point outing against Detroit of all people.
Best Running Back: Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Jamaal Charles
Arian Foster â€“ After a year like that, pretty much every award Arian Foster is up for heâ€™ll win. He was the best and most consistent fantasy player for most of the year on a team typically known for wanting to run but eventually airing it out. The only people that didnâ€™t love Arian Foster were Andre Johnson owners as it became increasingly clear that Foster was a force to be reckoned with and must get the ball for Houston to have the success they wanted. Though it didnâ€™t exactly play out that way for the Texans this year, it certainly did for Fosterâ€™s fantasy owners. Foster led all RBs in touchdowns, rushing yards, receiving yards and ultimately fantasy points.
Best Wide Receiver: Dwayne Bowe, Roddy White, Brandon Lloyd, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings
Brandon Lloyd â€“ What more can we say about the guy that went primarily undrafted and turned in a 1,448 yard, 11 touchdown performance? With Eddie Royal and rookie Demaryius Thomas expected to get all the stats in Denver, it was Lloyd that owned opposing secondaries week after week. If you were fortunate enough to have Lloyd in a league with bonuses for long touchdowns Lloyd earned you quite a few as most of his plays were of the deep kind averaging 18.8 yards per catch.
Best Waiver Wire Pickup (Season): Michael Vick, LaGarrette Blount, Steve Johnson
Michael Vick â€“ Thereâ€™s no better feeling than free money and thatâ€™s what Michael Vick was to his fantasy owners this year. When Kolb went down in Week 1, Vick stepped in and possibly with more time couldâ€™ve beaten the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. From that point on Vick was here to stay and a force to be reckoned with. Aside from his 9 (yes 9!) rushing touchdowns, his qb rating of 100.2 was incredible, with over 3,000 passing yards and 21 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions in only 12 games. The crown jewel of Michael Vickâ€™s season came on a Monday Night game where Vick saw all the stars align on a night McNabb was supposed the story. Vick threw for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns with another 80 on the ground and 2 more touchdowns. No other player would have a game like that in the 2010 season.
Best Waiver Wire Pickup (Short): Seyi Ajirotutu, Jason Snelling, Lance moore
Seyi Ajirotutu - Who can forget Seyiâ€™s one week of fantasy dominanceâ€¦and relevance. Not even joining the team for games until week 7, in week 9 vs. Houston Seyi saved a few injury-riddled fantasy ownersâ€™ lives by catching 4 balls for 111 yards, including 2 for touchdowns. Those in yardage and long score bonus leagues were please to see him top 100 yards and score from 55 yards. I dare you to find a better come and go performance, what say ye?
There you have it, 2010 is closed. Though itâ€™s rare, Iâ€™m sure not everyone will agree. Like what you see? Anyone we missed? Let us know.