Fantasy Football 2012 Awards Banquet
Last fantasy football season, like any other, was interesting and wildly unpredictable. The Year of the Tight End turned out to be the Year of the Quarterback. Nine cracked 300 standard points and 13 scored more than 265, and those don’t include late-season darling Colin Kaepernick.
Rob Gronkowski broke his arm and his fantasy owners’ hearts while Adrian Peterson almost broke an all-time record with a sports hernia. Rookies broke tradition by becoming valuable fantasy assets in their first season—it is typically one or two that does all the damage, not the litter of newborn NFL players that laid waste to the fantasy landscape this year.
With all that happened last year, there is plenty of fake hardware to hand out for the fake football season. Here now are the fantasy awards for the 2012 fantasy football season.
The Dark Knight Rises Award: Adrian Peterson
Honorable Mention: Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III
How often can we say that players are both deserving of the Comeback Player of the Year and MVP awards at the same time? Both Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning fall into that category, both in the real and fantasy football realms. Both were fantastic values to boot, based on their ADP, but only one can win.
Who better than Wolverine for this award? The regenerating X-Man came back from a shredded knee just nine months after the injury and tore up the NFL. Perhaps it was because someone gave him an orange peanut.
His improbable assault on the record books fell just short, which should only serve to motivate him to try harder. That is good news for his dynasty owners and those fortunate enough to get the top pick in fantasy drafts this summer.
All Day was the only running back to crack 300 standard points, outscoring his closest competitor—Doug Martin—by over 40 points. He blew away any competition with at least 250 touches by scoring 0.55 points per opportunity (PPO). Peterson was so good, his average of 3.9 yards per carry after contact would have beaten out half the league’s total yards per carry. He rushed for over 1,500 yards in his final 10 games with a sports hernia. Adrian Peterson is Monty Python’s Black Knight—everything is a flesh wound. He might rush for 1,000 yards on a severed foot.
The Keith Stone Smooth Moove Award: Russell Wilson
Honorable Mention: Colin Kaepernick
If you were tattoo-averse or wary of short people, you may have cost yourself the waiver wire pickups of the year.
Both Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson lit up the league during the second half of the season. If you managed to pick Wilson up and tab him as your starter, you were rewarded with a special run.
Wilson scored an eye-popping 0.81 points per dropback (PPDB) from Week 9 on. That’s close to one point for every time he dropped back to pass. To put that into perspective, Robert Griffin III was the league leader on the year with 0.7 PPDB. Aaron Rodgers (0.56), Peyton Manning (0.53), Drew Brees (0.52) and Tom Brady (0.52) were well off that pace on the year. And he did it all while being 5’10”, refusing to wear platforms on the field.
If the Seahawks can find him some quality at receiver—Golden Tate was their best one last year, which should tell you something—Wilson could be one of the best values in 2013 fantasy drafts.
The Russell Crowe as Javert Award: Ryan Mathews
If you saw Russell Crowe grunt and bellow his way through Les Miserables, you know what it was like to see Ryan Mathews go through 2012 on your fantasy squad. He had promise and a decent surrounding cast, but—like Javert at the end of the story—taking Mathews with a high pick was fantasy suicide.
Not only did Mathews predictably appear in just 12 games, he wasn’t very valuable in those games. He scored just once, a huge factor in his abysmal 0.28 PPO, giving way to Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown at times. That would be like Madonna bringing LMFAO and Nicki Minaj on stage, except Madonna doesn’t have an easily broken clavicle.
The Manti Te’o Disappearing Girlfriend Act Award: Eli Manning
Honorable Mention: LeSean McCoy
There is plenty of evidence out there showing that waiting to draft a quarterback is better than spending a high draft pick on the position. Eli Manning, as a result, became a mid-round target for a potential quarterback-by-committee (QBBC) for value-hunting fantasy footballers across the globe.
Boy was that a mistake.
Manning had roughly 75 percent of his year’s fantasy production in a meaningless Week 17 game where he threw for five touchdowns. He was the bane of many owners who took him without much else, winding up 15th in fantasy scoring despite that final-game explosion. Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick were nipping at his heels, which is all you need to know.
After scoring 20 total touchdowns in 2011, LeSean McCoy saw the end zone just five times last season. He might have had more opportunities had he not been concussed during the season, but he was a severe disappointment to fantasy owners who took him in the top five.
The Beyonce “Lights Out” Award: Rob Gronkowski
The halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII was electrifying thanks to the sweet voice and rocking gyrations that surely mean an early hip replacement for Beyonce. Then the third quarter started, and the lights went out. Just like that, Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm Keyser Soze’d his fantasy owners’ seasons.
Normally losing a starting tight end—no matter how good—wouldn’t be that big of an issue. But Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham led a tight end revolution that saw them get drafted as fringe first-rounders last summer. Their production merited the high draft status—Gronkowski blew away the competition by scoring 0.44 standard PPO, and he was still second in fantasy scoring despite missing the last five games of the season—but it made things that much more devastating when the Terminator went in for repairs.
The Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes Award: Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas
Honorable Mention: Tony Romo and Dez Bryant
Your eyes do not deceive you—Tony Romo actually almost won an award.
Close is no cigar here as Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas took the cake, which you almost certainly ate if you managed to have both on your roster. The duo combined for 425.5 standard fantasy points on the season despite Thomas’ occasional to drop the football while running. They were also relative bargains considering their combined ADP. Not too shabby for a 36-year-old with a fused neck and a raw receiver with a surgically repaired Achilles heel.
Romo was very good during the second half of the season, a pleasant surprise to his owners as Dez Bryant—he was the second-best fantasy receiver after Week 8 with 148.4 standard points—finally became the big-time receiver we had been expecting since he was drafted. But nobody will give them credit because Tony Romo is Tony Romo.
The “I Can’t Think of Anything Clever” Most Overlooked Award: Jamaal Charles
Honorable Mention: Marques Colston
Lost in the well-deserved Adrian Peterson hoopla was another player who came back from a torn ACL with a vengeance: Jamaal Charles.
The five-year veteran might not have kept pace with his career 6.0 YPC heading into the 2012 season, falling off to a sarcastically woeful 5.3 YPC on the season. He eclipsed 1,500 yards rushing despite a coaching staff that seemed to forget he existed in some games. Now that he has Andy Reid, Fantasy Kingmaker at head coach, JC Superstar could turn into a supernova. Just dream about Brian Westbrook’s best years and LeSean McCoy’s incredible 2011 season and replace them with Charles, who is more talented than both.
I almost forgot to mention Marques Colston, who was the 11th-best fantasy receiver on the season and scored 0.27 PPO. This is par for the course for the underrated receiver with Drew Brees throwing to him.
The “Whoa, Heath Miller Is Actually Good?” Award: Heath Miller
Honorable Mention: Shonn Greene
There are plenty of fantasy football teases out there, but few have been more promising with less delivering than Heath Miller over the years. That is until he broke out in 2012. Miller wound up being the fourth-best fantasy tight end on the season thanks to eight touchdowns. Though he was a bit touchdown-dependent—those eight scores were tied for fourth in the league at the position—he was also fifth in the league with 71 catches and 816 yards. Not too shabby from a guy we never expected to have this kind of year.
Unfortunately for him, Miller went and tore his ACL at the end of the season. The Pittsburgh tight end is going to be 31 next season, and not everyone has ligaments like a newborn baby. Just look at Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, neither of whom sniffed the 2012 regular season after injuring their knees during Super Bowl XLVI.