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NFL Football Column: The Morning After

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December 31, 2012
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That's a Wrap

Chet Gresham

Welcome to the last Morning After of the year. Since most of your fantasy seasons have you bathing in gold bullion or sleeping in abandoned warehouses by now, I thought I’d give out some fantasy awards. These all come with a cash prize hopefully donated from the winner to me. And the winners are . . .



Fantasy MVP: Adrian Peterson - This one is a bit of a no-brainer. After rushing for 199 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the season finale, Purple Jesus saved plenty of fantasy teams this season, especially those teams that took a risk and drafted him in the second round.


His list of accomplishments this season is long, but the biggest one for you fantasy footballers is that he’s the only non-quarterback in the top-10 of standard leagues this year. If you own that guy, your team has a huge upper hand on the competition.


He just missed the NFL record for rushing yards in a season by nine measly yards because Blair Walsh didn’t have the guts to shank the game-winning field goal to get them into the playoffs, but 2,097 yards is nothing to scoff at. Oh, and he did just happen to come off a devastating knee injury last Christmas, so, yeah, he’s inhuman. There is no doubt he’ll be the consensus number one pick next year and deservedly so. It will be tough to make any kind of argument against him that’s not based on pure speculation.



Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III – There were plenty of great rookies this season and I’ll make up some awards for them if I can, but finding a top six quarterback in the sixth round is worth its weight in fantasy gold.


RGIII finished the season with the best passer rating ever by a rookie quarterback and threw for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions, along with a great 65.6 completion percentage. He also ran for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns. Those 815 yards are a rookie record and made him the stud fantasy player that he is. The real rookie of the year vote will most likely come down to him and Andrew Luck (and maybe Russell Wilson), but the fantasy vote goes to RGIII every time.



Fantasy Disappointment of the Year: Ryan Mathews – There are several good possibilities here, including Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Fitzgerald, and Vernon Davis to name just a few, but for me, Mr. Mathews was the epitome of a fantasy bust this season.


There were few players I was higher on coming into the season, so this has something to do with that, but after a promising 2011 as a committee back, it is hard to stomach his horrible 2012 as what looked to be the lead back. Last season he averaged 110 offensive yards a game, 4.9 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns, but of course this season he averaged 80 offensive yards a game, 3.8 yards per carry and had ONE touchdown. He my turn it around at some point, but it will be tough betting on him.



Fantasy Quarterback of the Year: Drew Brees – Last season’s quarterback numbers were similar to this year’s, but the glut of huge numbers at the top settled back down.  We had seven 4,000+ and three 5,000+ passing yardage totals, two 30+ and three 40+ passing touchdown totals last year, and this year we had ten 4,000+ and one 5,000+ passing yardage total, with four 30+ and one 40+ passing touchdown total.


I think you can guess who that one player who topped 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns was, that’s right, Mr. Brees. After a record setting year, he just kept on going with his third straight 5,000+ yard season, which is a record and back to back 40+ touchdowns, which is also a record. Oh and he led all quarterbacks in fantasy points. He’s not going to be up for many real awards after this season, but he’s a fantasy God!



Fantasy Wide Receiver of the Year or The Breaker of The Madden Curse: Calvin Johnson – Megatron only scored five touchdowns this season, but led all wide receivers in fantasy points. Oh, did I mention he also broke Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season with 1,964? Yeah, he did, and that may have something to do with all those fake points.


The loss of Jahvid Best, Nate Burleson, Titus Young Sr. and Ryan Broyles probably helped him gather many of those yards, but also hurt his touchdown production some. Matthew Stafford did not look good all that often this season, but he also was without those key players and had to throw the ball an inordinate amount of times and the whole world knew it. So looking forward, I doubt Johnson will come close to this yardage total, but his fantasy production could actually rise if the team improves as a whole.



Fantasy Rookie Running Back of the Year: Alfred Morris – Morris came on strong to win this one. Trent Richardson and Doug Martin both had great years, but Morris finished with a 200 yard, three touchdown game to help his team get into the playoffs. And that huge game helped him finish the season with 1,610 yards and 13 touchdowns. That gives him the third best rushing season for a rookie ever. And he was also quite consistent, especially in the fantasy playoffs, when he scored four touchdowns in weeks 14-16.


Best Quarterback to Sit Out a Season After Multiple Spinal Surgeries Only to Return to Have One of His Best Seasons Ever: Peyton Manning – And you thought it was going to be Mark Sanchez! The MVP race looks like it will come down to a 36 year old coming off neck surgery or a 27 year old coming off a blown out knee. Both seasons are ones for the ages.


After being out of football for a season and switching teams, Manning was able to lead the Broncos to the best record in the NFL and have his second most touchdown passes and second most passing yards in his career. And he also came pretty cheap as the eighth quarterback drafted, while finishing in the top five.



Breakout Fantasy Player of the Year: Dez Bryant – After underachieving his first two years, he finally caught on and finished with 88 receptions, 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns. Most of those touchdowns came from Week 10 on, but he helped a ton of teams get into and win their Week 16 fantasy championship with a monster game. He finished the season as the third best fantasy wide receiver and was drafted as the 16th best.



Best Running Back to Return From a Blown Out Knee Not Named Adrian Peterson: Jamaal Charles – J.C. Superstar had his ups and downs this season, but for him to have the season he did, coming off a knee injury and playing on arguably the worst team in the NFL, well, it’s nothing short of remarkable.


He ended up having his highest yardage total with 1,509 rushing yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. This of course came with Brady Quinn and company at the helm. He’s an elite talent and showed it through adversity this season.



Waiver Wire Player of the Year: Cecil Shorts – This really depends on your league. I’m sure Alfred Morris or Randall Cobb were on many a waiver wire to start the season, but Shorts was truly a waiver wire wonder this year. He only started nine games and played in 14, but finished the season with 55 receptions for 979 yards and 7 touchdowns.



Best Fantasy Running Back in the Fantasy Playoffs: Marshawn Lynch – I figured this would be Adrian Peterson, but Mr. Skittles himself wins this one with a great stretch weeks 14 through 16. Beast Mode had 385 total yards and six touchdowns in those three games compared to Peterson’s 472 total yards and three touchdowns.



Most Underutilized C.J. of the Year: C.J. Spiller – Hey, I get it, Spiller probably isn’t a 25 carry a game back, but his ability to break huge plays should get him more chances than he had this season. But what he did with those chances was pretty amazing.  On just 250 total touches, he gained 1,703 yards, which puts him fifth on the running backs list. The next best with similar touches was Reggie Bush with 263 total touches for 1,278 yards, ranking him 15th. And Arian Foster had 391 touches for 1,641yards. Really, any comparison is crazy. His 6.8 yards per touch is amazing.



Twitter Talk


@RotoPat  -- The Bears' playbook is contained in a box you can only open by inserting a square peg into a round hole.


@greggrosenthal -- Something is wrong with the universe if Shaun Alexander won an MVP and Peterson doesn't get one here.


@SC_DougFarrar  -- How about if Peterson's knee gets Comeback Player of the Year, and the rest of him gets MVP?


@MoveTheSticks  -- Seems like such a special year for pass rushers but the top 3 guys in 2011 totaled more sacks than this year's top 3... 59.5 to 58.5.


@MoveTheSticks  -- 6 of the top 8 rushing teams made the playoffs while the top 3 passing teams didn't.


@ESPN_Numbers  -- RG III joins Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson in playoffs. This will be 1st season in NFL history w/ 3 rookie starting QBs in postseason.


@michaelsmith  -- And to think, Adrian Peterson is REALLY going to be something NEXT year, when he's all the way back.


@fbgchase  -- Matt Stafford has thrown for 10,005 yards the last 2 years, and I don't even know if he's a top 15 quarterback.


@AdamSchefter  -- Top 10 draft picks: 1. KC; 2. JAX; 3. OAK; 4. PHIL; 5. DET; 6. CLEV; 7. ARIZ; 8. BUFF; 9. NYJ; 10. TEN.


@ESPNStatsInfo  -- #Broncos Peyton Manning: 73rd career game with 3 TD passes, passing Brett Favre for most all-time.


@Dexters_Library  -- I bet Jason Hanson takes his kicking shoe to a cobbler.

Chet Gresham writes Target Watch and The Morning After for and is the founder of The Fake Football. Chet can be found on Twitter .

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