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Congratulations to all you Fantasy Footballers out there.  You somehow made it through another maddeningly frustrating season of this crazy sport we just can’t get enough of.  You’ll notice I referred to Fantasy Football (hence forth known as FF) as a sport because I firmly believe it should be considered as such.  I mean it has all the characteristics of a sport after all.  There’s competition, winners and losers, and usually some sort of injury is sustained after two grown men get into a fight over which backup Tight End is better. 

If you’re like me, FF takes a sport that ranks slightly below your wife, kids, and breathing on your importance scale and kicks it up a few notches.  It makes an early September game between the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs relevant and introduces you to players you had never heard of before like Seyi Ajirotutu and Tony Moeaki.  It gives average Joes the opportunity to “own” a football team, name it anything they want, and then run it into the ground.  It’s a great sport that continues to grow in popularity and because of my love for the game, it is my pleasure to bring you the first annual FF Awards, or as I like to call it, “The FFies”.  Ok, the name needs some work.  Maybe by next year I will have come up with something a little more clever.  Anyway, let’s get to the awards.

Note: Any reference to points scored by a particular player are based on standard ESPN league scoring.  Also, many leagues are currently in the midst of playoffs but most are at least done with the regular season so the awards are based on regular season performance.  Finally, these are only my opinions.  As always, your comments are welcome…but remember; my blog, my awards!

MVP: Arian Foster- Perhaps the toughest award to give out because there are so many factors to take into account.  Was the player consistently great?  Did he have any “let down” performances?  Was he likely the best player on any given fantasy roster?  There were several candidates for this award but many of them fit better in other categories.  If you look back at any particular point in the season there were many other players that could have been candidates at that time.  After week 2, many people thought Jahvid Best had MVP written all over him.  After the first 6 weeks of the season, Austin Collie seemed like the best receiver in the game.  But from week 1 all the way through the FF regular season, Arian Foster was a beast!  He had 8 games of over 20 fantasy points, 3 games of over 30, and perhaps more importantly, only 1 game of single-digit points.  Was he consistent?  Absolutely.  Did he have any let down games?  Only 1.  Was he the best player on any given roster?  I think his owners can attest to that…but they’re probably busy now preparing for the playoffs.

LVP (Least Valuable Player): Randy Moss- This is another tough one since it really is a matter of personal definition.  My take on a LVP is a player that you had high hopes for, you probably drafted him fairly early, and he proceeded to completely destroy your chances at a championship.  In considering players for this dubious honor, I did not include any player whose season was ended or significantly impacted by an injury.  For example DeAngelo Williams, a leading candidate for this award early in the season, did not make the final cut thanks to his season ending injury in week 7.  If anything, his placement on injured reserve gave you a reason to cut ties with this “top 10” RB and look elsewhere for the remainder of the year.

No, this award had to go to a player who gutted it out week in and week out in order to provide you with reason to keep playing him.  No injury could stop this guy from consistently underproducing and making you regret his high draft status.  Moss played for 3 different teams and 2 future hall of fame QBs during the course of this year and managed a total of 63 fantasy points over 13 weeks.  His WR ranking for the year was below unknown players such as Ben Obomanu and Danny Amendola and only slightly above rookie Jacoby Ford of the Raiders who didn’t play a single snap until week 7!  While he did manage to catch 5 TDs during the year, that number is only 1 more than the number of games that he posted zero fantasy points.  Considering his average draft position was 12th overall and 2nd among WR, I think he is certainly worthy of this pathetic honor.  Congrats Randy!

Biggest Draft Day Steal: Michael Vick- I considered Vick for the MVP award but felt he fit this category a little better.  Vick has been the talk of the NFL for most of the year and is currently the leading vote getter among fans for the Pro Bowl.  There is no doubt that his comeback season has been something special.  Vick has totalled 242 fantasy points this year, enough to put him in a tie for 3rd OVERALL.  Among QBs, only Aaron Rodgers has tallied a higher total.  Despite missing 3 1/2 of the 13 regular season fantasy weeks, Vick put up 6 games of 20+ points, 2 games of 30+ points, and one incredible 49 point performance in week 10.  These numbers are clearly MVP worthy but the reason he takes home the honor of draft day steal is his average draft position ranking.  While Rodgers was the consensus number 2 QB off the board in standard drafts and the #9 player taken overall, Vick wasn’t selected until the last round of most drafts.  Quarterbacks selected ahead of him included Alex Smith, Derek Anderson and rookie Sam Bradford.  The best part about Michael Vick’s career year is that if you were lucky enough to draft him, you didn’t have to spend a 1st round pick to do it, which is where he may wind up being drafted next year.

Best Season by an Undrafted Player: Peyton Hillis– This one was easy.  As a Hillis owner, I may be biased but as I mentioned before…my blog, my awards.  The truth is it would be hard to argue against Hillis for this award.  I suppose if Vick went undrafted in your league, you certainly have an argument there but otherwise, Hillis is your guy.  After the injury to first year RB Montario Hardesty ended his promising rookie season before it began, Jerome Harrison became the popular choice for lead back duties in Cleveland.  2 games into the season however, it was clear that a change was taking place.  Hillis, who was basically a fullback, began sharing carries with Harrison and by week 3 the job was officially his. 

All Hillis did from that point on was rack up over 1,000 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving, and 13 total TDs.  These numbers put him in the top 10 overall in fantasy points for the year and #3 among RB.  His point total eclipsed first round “studs” Chris Johnson, Michael Turner and Maurice Jones-Drew to name a few, and fell short of only Adrian Peterson and MVP award winner Arian Foster.  As a Hillis owner, I can safely say he was the only solid week in and week out starter for my team and helped propel me to the playoffs.  He had only 2 games of single digit fantasy points while tallying 5 games of 15 or more.  Not too shabby for a guy who came into the preseason as the 3rd RB on his team’s depth chart.

Most Frustrating Player to Own: Brandon Marshall- Again, I think my bias is coming through a bit on this one as I had the privilege of owning Mr. Marshall this season.  Coming off 3 straight seasons of over 100 receptions and 1,000 yards, Marshall was the consensus #5 WR taken in drafts behind only Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne and rival candidate for this award, Larry Fitzgerald.  He seemed a lock to duplicate the feats of years past and possibly improve on his touchdown totals with Chad Henne at QB in Miami.  Instead, Marshall delivered a whopping 2 games of double-digit fantasy points and 8 games of less than 5.  What made Marshall so frustrating was the flashes of brilliance that kept his owners (me included) inserting him into the starting lineup each week.  In week 3, he dominated the Jets with 10 catches and 166 yards and again in week 6 against Green Bay when he totaled another 10 catches and over 100 yards.  It wasn’t until week 11 when he injured his hamstring that owners were finally relieved of the stress of deciding whether to start him or not.

Best Single Game Performance: Kenny Britt (Wk. 7 – 7 catches, 225 yards, 3 TDs = 40 fantasy points)- There were several incredible fantasy performances this year as there are every year in this sport.  Perhaps none can match the ridiculous 49 points posted by Michael Vick but since I have already given him an award today, let’s let someone else get some credit, shall we?  Thus, this year’s best single game performance goes to Kenny Britt.  There are several reasons why Britt takes home the trophy for this one.  One is the 225 yards receiving.  Another is that he totalled those yards on only 7 receptions which is an average of over 32 yards per catch.  For me though, what makes this performance so incredible is the fact that he did it in only 3 quarters!

2 days prior to the game, Britt was involved in a tussle at a local bar.  I know, it’s a shock that an NFL player would get in trouble off the field.  Anyway, as police and the league were investigating the incident, coach Jeff Fisher decided he would discipline Britt for the game that week.  The penalty was that he would not start the game and in fact, Britt didn’t see a snap until the 2nd quarter.  The rest is history.  Just think what he may have been able to do with another 15 minutes of playing time.

Most Unlikely Hero: LaDainian Tomlinson- After an incredible run with the Chargers where he amassed over 10,000 yards and 100 TDs, San Diego sent LT packing in the offseason to make room for promising rookie Ryan Mathews (Doesn’t seem like a great move in hindsight).  The Jets took a flier on Tomlinson, adding him to their roster as a backup to Shonn Greene.  In ESPN leagues, folks were high on Greene entering the year and his draft position of 21st overall showed it.  Tomlinson, on the other hand, went right around 100th overall in most drafts, essentially being picked as a handcuff to Greene in case of injury.  Whether LT was in better shape than anyone knew or he was just pissed that fantasy owners weren’t showing him any love, we’ll never know.  All we do know is that Tomlinson rattled off over 1,000 total yards during the regular season and 5 TDs.  In PPR (point per reception) leagues, he was even more valuable, catching 47 receptions in 13 weeks.  Meanwhile, Shonn Greene didn’t exactly live up to his hype, as he finished up the regular season with only 1 TD and just over 700 total yards.  I guess the old dog had a few tricks left to teach the young pup.

Best FF Team name: FF owners take pride in naming their team each year.  Some people come up with a name and keep if for years while others change it up every week.  Some name their team after their wife or kids and some name it after a favorite player or coach.  Rather than tell you which team name I came across this year that I enjoyed the most, I thought I’d list a few of my favorites.  Some of these I found online or heard through FF chats and others I made up on my own.  So in closing out the first annual “FFies” awards, here are some team names sure to make you laugh:

  • It’s on like Ndamukong!
  • Breaston Plants (nudge nudge, get it?, nudge nudge)
  • Favre Dollar Footlong
  • Texas Chainsaw Massaquoi
  • The Boldin The Beautiful
  • Flacco Seagulls
  • Whatchu Talkin Bout Hillis?!
  • Legedu my Eggo
  • Forgetting Brandon Marshall

And finally, my personal favorite:  Somewhere over the Dwayne Bowe.