Fantasy: 2011 Awards Banquet

| January 25, 2012

I am a bit late to the party, but the Super Bowl lull has hit us, so what better time to introduce my fantasy awards?

The Discount Double-Check Fantasy MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Honorable mention: Rob Gronkowski

The Packers may have oxidized Rodgers by sitting him in week 17 just before a bye week, but he was on another planet the rest of the season. He dusted the competition during the Sane People’s Fantasy Season (16 games), going for 26.89 points-per-game (PPG), 0.42 points-per-snap (PPS) and 0.72 points-per-attempt (PPA). There are rarely players you can count on for great fantasy production on a weekly basis, and Rodgers was that club’s president in 2011. Gronkowski would have won this award if he had completed his mission to terminate DeAngelo Hall.

The Fabio “I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Wide Receiver” Award: Rob Gronkowski
Honorable mention: Jimmy Graham

The Terminator narrowly missed being my fantasy MVP, outscoring almost every position player as a tight end. Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez put up some pretty crooked seasonal numbers in their heydays, but Gronkowski put the tight end score out of reach. What nearly made him MVP was his ADP, routinely going in the teens. Gronk saved some fantasy seasons with his massive fantasy scores down the stretch, and you will find him drafted with the top dogs in 2012. That he is indestructible is a bonus. Almost all of the same superlatives can be given to Graham, who also seems to be invincible.

The Jamaal Charles “Just Give Me the Damn Ball” Award: Darren Sproles
Honorable mention: Pierre Thomas

Lucky for Sproles, Todd Haley and his scruff beard came nowhere near the Saints offense. Unfortunately for Sproles, they are stockpiling running backs in New Orleans like alcohol before Mardi Gras. The little guy did big things in New Orleans this season with the number of opportunities he got. Aside from breaking the all-time record in total yardage, Reggie Bush 2.0 led all running backs in PPS at 0.51 and annihilated them in points-per-touch at 1.47. I can’t say he would have kept up those averages had he been on the field more often, but he was a fantasy scoring machine (of the PG-rated variety) when he lined up on offense. It’s too bad Thomas is one of the heads on the running back Hydra that lives in New Orleans’ backfield, because he was almost as efficient as Sproles.

The Britney Spears “Oops I Did It Again, This Is So Old It’s No Longer Cliche” Award: Bill Belichick
Honorable mention: Mike Shanahan

Admit it, at some point during the season you picked up any one of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and/or Kevin Faulk – Kevin Faulk! — and thought, “That’s it, he’s going to be the guy the rest of the way.” None of those guys cracked the top 25 running back scorers, and if you were lucky enough to have one of them during their one big game, I hope you booked a trip to Vegas that very afternoon. Bill Belichick sees Shanahanigans and laughs.

The Vanessa Bryant “Fooled Me Once…” award: Tim Hightower
Honorable mention: LeGarrette Blount

Maybe you all didn’t hear me when I wrote that Hightower was completely overhyped at the end of preseason, but he proved me right despite having some luck scoring touchdowns at the beginning of the season. Let that be a lesson to you: never draft Tim Hightower in a single-digit round. On the bright side, Hightower did average a better-than-usual 3.8 YPC. Blount’s problems largely stemmed from his utter uselessness in passing situations to go along with his coach’s silly notion that benching a good player for a fumble is a good idea.

The Bachelorette “Okay, I Accepted Your Last Rose So Let’s Give This A Try” Award: Roy Helu
Honorable mention: Marshawn Lynch

There will be more on this later this offseason, but Helu defied Shanahanigans and took over lead back duties for a fleeting-yet-glorious three-game stint before injury forced him to miss one game and limited him in the season finale. The rookie managed to crack 50% of his team’s snaps, a feat in and of itself because Hightower and Ryan Torain began the season ahead of him on the depth chart. The main obstacle I see for Helu’s playing time is Evan Royster and his two great games when Helu was injured. I put Beast Mode in the running for all the Skittles here because he was in a contract year; his great season will boost his ADP to an area of great risk for a guy who has had one good season after many bad ones.

The Parks ‘N Rec “Why Are You Watching That Rob Schneider Show Instead?!” Award: Steven Jackson
Honorable mention: Brandon Pettigrew

He may be getting on in years, but S-Jax stayed healthy and quietly came in at RB10 last season despite a passing attack that resembled a hot potato contest among a group of children. His 0.3 PPS and 0.73 PPT were unspectacular, but he is very much the man in St. Louis until they get him help. If they can get some receiver help for Bradford and Brian Schottenheimer can develop a quarterback properly for a change – a wistful hope right now, I realize – Jackson should be a good bargain next season while other running backs get more attention. Brandon Pettigrew is mentioned honorably because he quietly ranked sixth as a PPR tight end this year, and he still has room for improvement.

The Chevy “Like A Rock” Award: Thomas Jones
Honorable mention: Greg Little

Oh, you thought I meant which player was most dependable? Thomas Jones was like a rock alright, as in he was just about as useful as a boulder in the backfield. Jones ranked dead last with a 0.37 PPT and his 0.19 PPS did not fare much better. The man let Jackie Battle take his job. Just think about that for a minute. If Jones’ job was to injure rookie wide receivers in fistfights, he did a marvelous job, otherwise he might consider moving on to announcing or the UFC. Little almost received this award, but I was afraid he would drop it with his stone hands.

The “Green Lantern” Award: Michael Vick
Honorable mention: Chris Johnson

For a guy touted by some as the no. 1 overall draft pick last summer, Vick was a huge disappointment. While Vick was a lock for 20+ fantasy points in 2010, he averaged just 19.62 PPG last season. While that number is still pretty good, it is nowhere near worth a first round pick. The good news is that other quarterbacks have performed so well that Vick might go under the radar this offseason, so you might get him at a bargain in the fourth or fifth round. CJ1K almost snatched defeat from the jaws of worse defeat here, but his offseason holdout was warning enough and there were plenty of us warning you not to draft Vick in the first round.

The “Hangover II” Award: Sam Bradford
Honorable mention: LeGarrette Blount

Many, including myself, thought Bradford would improve on his good rookie campaign, especially during a soft second-half schedule. Unfortunately, the sequel was simply disappointing. Even when the Rams eventually got him a wide receiver whose hands aren’t made of stone (Brandon Lloyd), Bradford remained stuck in a funk because of a 6.0 YPA, third-worst in the league. Part of that was, indeed, his receivers’ penchant for dropping balls, but Bradford was a big disappointment for anyone who thought he might be a good sleeper pick. See my earlier comments about Blount to know why he was such a disappointment this year, aside from one Skittles-worthy, Beast Mode of a run against the Packers.

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