FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 17
David Dorey
December 31, 2012
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 396 4
Aaron Rodgers 365 4
Eli Manning 208 5
Peyton Manning 304 3
Matt Stafford 281 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Alfred Morris 212 3
DeAngelo Williams 213 2
Adrian Peterson 201 2
Doug Martin 160 1
Mike Tolbert 47 3
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Michael Crabtree 172 2
Greg Jennings 120 2
Michael Floyd 166 1
Eric Decker 76 2
Demaryius Thomas 122 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 115 1
Jason Witten 56 1
Marcedes Lewis 103 0
Rob Gronkowski 42 1
Will Heller 29 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Graham Gano 5 3
Olindo Mare 2 4
Blair Walsh 4 3
Josh Brown 2 3
Shayne Graham 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Titans 4 7 3
Patriots 0 7 1
Steelers 0 4 4
Bills 1 1 2
Colts 1 4 2

The huddle awards

Quarterback

Best Player - Drew Brees

The Saints quarterback merely broke 5000 passing yards for the third time and finished with 42 touchdowns. He was easily the most consistent elite quarterback despite playing on a team with so much distraction because of Bountygate. He has to be considered the lowest risk pick in drafts next summer.

Best Draft Pick - Andrew Luck

The Colts #1 overall pick took over a team largely stripped of talent and had the bar lowered in this rebuilding year. But this rookie that was picked as the 16th overall quarterback in the average draft ended up as a starter on fantasy teams. He passed for 4374 yards and 23 touchdowns as a rookie and though he cooled down the stretch, his future could not be brighter.

Best Rookie - Robert Griffin III

This was the year of the rookie quarterback between Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Griffin. But if only in fantasy terms, Griffin was the better choice with more rushing yards (815), touchdowns (27) and only five interceptions. All three were standouts though and this was a historic year for first year quarterbacks.

Worst Draft Pick - Michael Vick

Though he had a down year in 2011, Vick was still drafted as the eighth overall quarterback on average and his value as a starter was never more than mediocre. In week ten he left with a concussion and was replaced by Nick Foles. Eli Manning and Philip Rivers were also drafted as starters but neither fell as far as Vick.

Comeback Player - Peyton Manning

This was an easy one. Manning went from not playing in 2011 and then changed teams to the Broncos. His neck surgeries meant drafting him assumed plenty of risk. And all he did was to throw for 4659 yards and 36 touchdowns. This was his second most productive season in a very storied career and a sign he is not done yet.

Best Free Agent - Colin Kaepernick

The third-year player finally got his chance in week 11 after Alex Smith was injured and took over the starting job for good. He scored twelve times in those final seven weeks and propped up his pass yardage with rushing 30 to 50 yards in most games.

Running Backs

Best Player - Adrian Peterson

This one is a slam dunk. This is also a season that should go down in legend and will still be spoken about around campfires after the collapse of civilization. Peterson is just now one year removed from shredding ligaments in his knee and instead of a career-ending injury, he merely rehabbed and ended with the #2 rushing performance in the history of the NFL. He came within nine yards of breaking the #1 mark of Eric Dickerson. He gained 2097 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns and 217 yards on 40 receptions.

Best Draft Pick - Alfred Morris

Hard to recall that for a time the debate last summer was between drafting Roy Helu or Evan Royster. Alfred Morris ended up being the 40th running back drafted on average and may have started the season on the waiver wire in smaller leagues. But he merely ended with 1613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Any time you can pick up a top ten running back with your eighth or ninth pick, that's going to be a tremendous advantage.

Best Rookie - Doug Martin

The Tampa Bay rookie usually went in the early third round last summer but ended up top five in his position. He rushed for 1454 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 49 catches for 472 yards and one score. He tended to be more inconsistent with several monster games balanced by a number of marginal efforts but ended with the second best rushing year in franchise history.

Worst Draft Pick - Maurice Jones-Drew

The top back from 2011 held out to the bitter end last August and then returned with nothing accomplished. Drafters were willing to take the risk on him as the #8 back drafted last summer but that ended up a waste of a first pick. He had only one decent game in the first seven weeks and left with a foot injury that only now is going to require surgery and keep him laid up until next May. Next summer you get to consider a player who is unhappy with his contract AND is coming back from injury.

Comeback Player - Jamaal Charles

While some think that Adrian Peterson deserves this, he never missed regular season play last year. Charles missed almost the entire year and came back on what proved to be a horrible team. He still rushed for 1509 yards and five touchdowns and added 35 receptions for 236 yards and an additional score. Considering how the entire team imploded around him, his seven games over 100 rushing yards was even more remarkable.

Best Free Agent - Knowshon Moreno

Certainly Bryce Brown in a consideration with two straight games of 170+ yards and two scores but he then disappeared. When Willis McGahee went down in week 11, the natural assumption was that Ronnie Hillman would get an expanded role. Instead we saw Moreno get dusted off after eight weeks on the inactive list and return as the primary back with surprisingly good results. He turned in around 100 total yards in most games and scored in half of them.

Wide Receivers

Best Player - Calvin Johnson

While he finished 36 yards shy of 2000 yards, Megatron buried Jerry Rice's single season yardage record when he ended with 122 catches for 1964 yards. He fell to only six touchdowns this year after a career best 16 in 2011 but more than made up for that short fall with consistent production. He had an eight game streak of 110+ yard games and he's tied with four other players with the third-highest receptions in a season.

Best Draft Pick - Brandon Marshall

You could make an argument for Marshall or any of Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Vincent Jackson. All were likely taken as a second wideout for fantasy owners and yet performed as if they were first round picks. Marshall in particular was effective and reversed the previous Bears passing scheme that preferred no one player and created no fantasy relevant wideouts. With Marshall on board, he took over and ended with 118 receptions for 1508 yards and 11 touchdowns. In leagues rewarding reception points, he was a top three wideout most of the season.

Best Rookie - Justin Blackmon

As the first wideout selected in the NFL draft, it would be assumed he would end up the best receiver. But this was a year where rookie wideouts had minimal impact and Blackmon was never a factor until week 11 when he exploded for 236 yards and one score in Houston. The change to Chad Henne helped spark the improvement and he still ended with 64 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns.

Worst Draft Pick - Larry Fitzgerald

Plenty of fantasy owners were burned when they drafted Greg Jennings as the sixth wideout taken on average but he missed most of the year with a torn groin so you knew to replace him. Fitzgerald was usually the second wideout drafted and was struggling with Kevin Kolb as the starting quarterback. Once Kolb was injured and the Skelton-Lindley-Hoyer show started it was over for the immensely talented wide receiver. From week seven onward, he only scored once and six of his final seven games gained fewer than 35 yards each.

Comeback Player - Andre Johnson

You could make a case for Reggie Wayne who many had written off since he was 34 years-old and playing on a stripped-down team starting their rebuild. But Johnson only played in seven games last year and ended with 492 yards and two scores thanks to injury and then suffered a groin injury in training camp. And then he proceeded to turn in his career best 1598 yards and four touchdown on 112 receptions. He set the NFL record with the most yardage from two successive games when he gained 461 yards against the Jaguars and Lions.

Best Free Agent - Cecil Shorts

Danario Alexander is a consideration here to be sure but Shorts brought it over a longer period and on a team with marginal quarterbacking. He was not drafted and yet ended with 979 yards and seven scores which mostly came from week eight onward once the change to Chad Henne was made. From week ten through 15 when you needed him most, he averaged 94 yards per game and scored in all but one.

Tight Ends

Best Player - Jimmy Graham

He ended with 982 yards and nine touchdowns which was a bit short of the 1310 yards and 11 scores of 2011. But in this year where the tight ends all fell back in production, Graham continued to hold his own. He was still drafted a bit early in most leagues though and won't be seen in the first round again in 2013.

Best Draft Pick - Heath Miller

After stringing together a couple of 600 yard, two touchdown seasons, Miller fell to the 28th tight end drafted in fantasy leagues. But he ended as a top five player with a total of eight touchdowns and 816 yards. He scored six times over his first seven games to give fantasy owners a nice starting push to their season. He tore his ACL and MCL in week 16 unfortunately but still ranks highly in a season of overall declining stats for the position.

Best Rookie - Dwayne Allen

Rookie tight ends rarely merit any fantasy consideration and while Allen was tops, he only ended with 521 yards and three touchdowns. All those Coby Fleener draft picks only further illustrate why you never draft a rookie tight end.

Worst Draft Pick - Antonio Gates

This could be a four-way tie between Gates, Aaron Hernandez, Vernon Davis and Jermichael Finley. But Gates was drafted usually as the third tight end selected and over half of his games ended with fewer than 50 yards and no touchdowns. The one-time stud of all tight ends ended outside the top 12 for the first time and there is every reason to believe that will be the new standard.

Comeback Player - Jason Witten

This is a cop out of sorts since he did not miss time last year. But Witten opened the year doubtful to play in week one with a spleen injury and there were some questions as to whether turning 30 years-old meant Witten was due for a downturn. That never materialized and Witten went on to set the single season NFL record with 110 catches by a tight end. He ended with 1039 yards and three touchdowns.

Best Free Agent - Dennis Pita

He was never much more than a low-end fantasy starter but that still says something for a position largely devoid of fantasy value. Pitta ended with seven touchdowns while catching 61 passes for 669 yards. He wasn't above turning in a handful of bad games but scored five times between weeks 10 and 15 to help propel owners into their playoffs.

Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Terrelle Pryor 199 3 QB Matt Schaub 275 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 213 2 RB Ray Rice 5 0
RB Mike Tolbert 47 3 RB Jamaal Charles 67 0
WR Michael Floyd 166 1 WR A.J. Green 26 0
WR Earl Bennett 109 1 WR Torrey Smith (-4) 0
WR Rueben Randle 58 2 WR Reggie Wayne 40 0
TE Marcedes Lewis 103 0 TE Jermaine Gresham 0 0
PK Graham Gano 5 XP 3 FP PK Sebastian Janikowski 3 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 152

Huddle Fantasy Points = 27

Sunday's Couch Commentary

The regular season comes to a close and the playoffs are now set.

Saturday - Bengals at Texans, Vikings at Packers

Sunday - Colts at Ravens, Seahawks at Redskins

Waiting in the wings are the Falcons, 49ers, Broncos and Patriots

Taking a look back at 2012, here were the Games-O-The-Week:

1 - Redskins 40, Saints 32

2 - Buccaneers 34, Giants 41

3 - Lions 41, Titans 44

4 - Saints 27, Packers 28

5 - Packers 27, Colts 30

6 - Cowboys 29, Ravens 31

7 - Titans 35, Bills 34

8 - NY Giants 29, Dallas 24

9 - Buccaneers 42, Raiders 32

10 - Rams 24, 49ers 24

11 - Jaguars 37, Texans 43

12 - Falcons 24, Buccaneers 23

13 - Colts 35, Lions 33

14 - Ravens 28, Redskins 31 OT

15 - 49ers 41, Patriots 34

16 - Saints 34, Cowboys 31 OT

17 - Packers 34, Vikings 27

Game of the year? The week three tilt between the Titans and Lions produced 85 total points. In week ten, we suffered the first tie in the NFL in five years. They were all good for different reasons but I'd have to call the Game of the Year as the week 16 matchup between the Saints and Cowboys since it happened in most fantasy championships and the players on both teams delivered the fantasy points right when you needed them most.

And so another year concludes. After 2011, we were enamored with all the passing yardage and how Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Aaron Hernandez propelled their position into the tops of fantasy drafts last summer. Those top three combined for 269-3547 and 35 touchdowns in 2011 but this year only produced 204-2049 and 26 scores. What are we going to overvalue from this year? Rookie quarterbacks?

Are we finally going to stop drafting running backs so often and early knowing how badly first rounds picks went for LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray and Maurice Jones-Drew?

We have eight months to ponder those questions and decide what is hype and what is a true trend. If you get a chance, play in a playoff league or contest just for fun like the Smackbowl that I will run for the 17th season from our message board next week. If not, sit back and enjoy the playoff games and your family and friends for a while.

Hey - the Mayans were wrong. We're all still here. Here's wishing you and yours the happiest of all new years!

Now get back to work...


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