Week 17 Rankings
The 1st Annual Commish Report Fantasy Football Awards
With the fantasy season now in the books, it’s time to take a look back on the year that was, and honor some of the players and performances that made an impact this season.
Named in (dis)honor of Mike Shanahan, this award goes to the coach that best thumbs his nose at fantasy teams, and frustrates owners nation-wide with an unwillingness to commit to one player at the RB position, even if that player’s performance seemingly separates himself from the rest of the pack. Past honorees have included Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, and of course, the venerable Mike Shanahan, who has made Shanahanigans a true art form. This year’s nominees include the Ravens’ John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron, not for their inability to establish a top RB, but for their inability to consistently get Ray Rice the ball. The Panthers’ Ron Rivera and Rod Chudzinski also deserve dishonorable mention for their frustrating refusal to define the roles of both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. The runners-up for this award are the Bills’ Chan Gailey and Curtis Modkins, for continuing to hold back C.J. Spiller at the expense of Fred Jackson, who was a popular and effective, but aging and clearly inferior option.
Winner- New Orleans Saints
. Pierre Thomas has been a poor man’s Fred Jackson over the years, frequently looking like one of the best players on the field anytime he’s been given an opportunity to play. Chris Ivory has also shown an ability to be effective when healthy. But the Saints refuse to establish any type of consistent running game. It’s only been since they’ve hit evaluation mode have they attempted to run on a somewhat more consistent basis, giving the mostly ineffective Mark Ingram 13 carries per game over the past 7 weeks.
Best Fantasy Team/Coach-
This is awarded to the team and coaches that have done the best job at establishing roles and putting their players in the best opportunity to be successful. This is the “anti-Shanahanigans award”, if you will. Honorable mention, ironically, goes to both the Redskins offensive coaching staff, and the Patriots offensive coaching staff. We all know of the masterful job that Mike and Kyle Shanahan have done in creating an offense that has worked perfectly for Robert Griffin III. And even with RGIII was forced to sit out a few weeks ago, they adapted the offense beautifully for Kirk Cousins. But it’s the Shanahans’ shocking committal to rookie Alfred Morris that puts them in this conversation. Named the starter prior to opening day, Morris has tallied 15 or more carries in all but 2 games, and has rushed for at least 50 yards in all but one, including 6 100 yard, and 2 separate multi-TD performances. In New England, Belichick’s recent teams are always consistent in the passing game, but this year, he and Josh McDaniels have added a consistent running game to the mix, with Stevan Ridley the main beneficiary. Ridley has averaged 18 carries and nearly 80 yards per game to go along with 10 TDs.
Winner- Denver Broncos (John Fox/Mike McCoy)
. No team has had more reliable production this year than Denver. The addition of Peyton Manning has allowed WRs Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker to put up pro bowl-caliber seasons, and TEs Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen have also proven to be decent backup options on a fantasy roster. But even more impressive is the job Manning, as well as John Fox and Mike McCoy have done in allowing the Broncos’ running game to flourish. Willis McGahee was one of the top RB performers prior to his injury in week 11. Following that injury, the Broncos coaching staff surprisingly named Knowshon Moreno as the starter, and he’s been a savior for fantasy teams this season, totaling 24 or more touches in each of his 5 starts. Together, Willshon MoreGahee has performed as a top 10 RB option.
Best Single Game Performance-
Regular Season- Doug Martin- Week 9
Aaron Rodgers deserves an honorable mention with a 6 TD, 300 yard game in a week 6 primetime matchup against Houston. Andre Johnson also deserves credit for a 14/273/1 line against Jacksonville in week 11. But no performance this season topped Martin’s effort in week 9 against Oakland. Doug Martin ran for 251 yards on 25 carries, with 4 TDs coming from 1, 45, 67, and 70 yards. In my home league, a PPR league that awards bonus points for yardage, Martin totaled a 10 year record of 73 points.
Postseason- Dez Bryant Week 16
I toyed with the idea of including the Seahawks defensive performance against Arizona in week 14 (8 TOs, 3 sacks, 1 TDINT, 1 Blocked Punt/TD), but week 14 is still a regular season week for many leagues, so instead I went with Bryant’s 9/224/2 performance from last weekend. Honorable mention also goes to Tony Romo (week 16- 400+/4) and Russell Wilson (week 15- PASS- 205/1, RUSH 92/3).
Most Disappointing Player-
For the second year in a row, Philip Rivers disappointed fantasy owners around the globe with his below-average performance. Other QBs who have under-performed this season include Eli Manning, Michael Vick, and Jay Cutler. At RB, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, DeMarco Murray, and Maurice Jones-Drew all disappointed for one reason or another. And at TE, Jimmy Graham had a miserable 2nd half of the season, while Antonio Gates appears to be nearing the end of the line. But this year's most disappointing player is one of the most talented receivers to ever play the game, but who is currently stuck in a desert wasteland.
Winner- Larry Fitzgerald
Best Career Renaissance
The easy answer here is Peyton Manning. Manning has played as well as he’s ever played this year, but we’ve never not seen top level production from him. Same with Reggie Wayne, but his return to the top shouldn’t really be all that surprising considering the gigantic upgrade at QB. Instead, I’ll go off the grid a bit and select a 3rd year WR who, on average, was the 45th WR taken in fantasy drafts this past year. Following a promising rookie season, and a very disappointing 2nd act, he’s on pace for 1000 yards, and has totaled 8 TDs so far this season.
Winner- Mike Williams
Rookie of the Year
There are so many great candidates for this award that Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Alfred Morris, who most years would run away with it, are stuck on an honorable mention list. The runner up for this award is Robert Griffin III, who finished as the 5th overall QB, averaging the 3rd most points at the position in standard leagues. While Griffin certainly helped lead many teams into the playoffs, the winner for Rookie of the Year was also a mid-round pick, and showed incredible consistency this season, finishing 3rd in total points in a standard league, and 2nd in PPR leagues at what is still the most important position in fantasy leagues.
Winner- Doug Martin
Breakout Player of the Year (Non-Rookie)
Matt Ryan has been a solid QB for a few years now, especially when it comes to fantasy football. But this year, Ryan has established himself as a star. At RB, C.J. Spiller has finally begun to fill out his massive potential, putting up over 1000 yards rushing, and only 17 carries away from potentially breaking the record for most yards per carry by a player with at least 200 carries in a single season. But the winner is a 2nd year emerging star in Denver who has made the most of his new opportunity catching balls from Peyton Manning.
Winner- Demaryius Thomas
MVP- The Candidates
QB- The 1st round QBs, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees all had great seasons, but none are MVP candidates, based on their premium draft-day cost. The obvious candidates at QB are Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III, who turned mid-round selections into early-round production for fantasy owners. Matt Ryan also deserves mention, outperforming Peyton Manning, and fully delivering on a draft status that rose as high as the 3rd or 4th round by the end of the preseason. Down the stretch, the two most consistent QB performers were Cam Newton and Tony Romo. Considering all factors, the most valuable QB was Robert Griffin III.
RB- Arian Foster delivered on his status as the #1 overall player in drafts, finishing as the #2 RB this season. Alfred Morris was a top 10 performer this season, despite being undrafted in most leagues. C.J. Spiller was selected in the 2nd half of many drafts this year, and was a consistent performer despite his inconsistent usage in Buffalo. Doug Martin finished within the top 3 at the position, and was selected as late as the 6th or 7th round in some drafts. But the clear choice as the top RB was Adrian Peterson, who fell to the 3rd or 4th round in drafts due to his ACL recovery, but ultimately ended up putting together one of the most impressive fantasy season’s in recent memory, reestablishing himself as the top RB, and one of the best players in the game.
WR- A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall both consistently delivered this season, while Dez Bryant finally appears to have turned the corner into superstardom. But the MVP at WR was also the first WR taken in drafts this past summer. Calvin Johnson finished as the top point producer at WR, and surpassed Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a season, obliterating the supposed “Madden Curse” in the process.
TE- Tony Gonzalez is the only real MVP candidate at the TE position. Selected on average as the 11th TE off the board, behind such luminaries as Fred Davis, Jermichael Finley, and Brandon Pettigrew, Gonzalez finished as the top TE this season, putting together a renaissance-type performance.
The Official Commish Report Fantasy Football MVP- Adrian Peterson
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Andy, Cris, and all of the FP contributors who have allowed me to share my hobby with everyone this season. I have truly enjoyed this experience, and hope that my opinions, analysis, and insight have been beneficial and interesting, regardless of your level of experience or participation in fantasy football. And to Biggie, wherever you are, thanks for the encouragement, and for being instrumental in making sure that this particular column would make it into the weekly rotation. We miss you, Big Man.