It’s Week 17, which means that unless your commissioner has no idea what he’s doing, your fantasy season is over.
As such, we’re forgoing the usual mailbag this week, and instead handing out our first-ever year-end fantasy awards (It’s kind of like the Pro Bowl roster announcement, except this matters). I’ve broken down the best and worst of fantasy football players into three categories: the All-Meast Team, the A-1 Value Team, and the All-Disappointment Team. Let’s start with the best of every position:
Inaugural KSK All-Meast Fantasy Team
QB: Aaron Rodgers. True, Brees has more yards passing, but Rodgers has more TDs, half as many INTs, and three times as many rushing yards and rush TDs. Rodgers’s five touchdown passes in the Week 16 championship seals the deal.
RB: LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice. No one came close to touching McCoy this season. Rice edges out Arian Foster (who had slightly more rushing yards) for catching more passes and not being injured early in the season.
WR: Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker. Megatron gets the nod for being the best human in the world at catching TD passes on a week-to-week basis; Welker gets it for total yards and the off chance that you have a PPR league.
TE: Rob Gronkowski. Here’s me in August: “Yeah, Gronkowski’s good, but Hernandez is going to affect how many touches he gets.” I wil never forgive myself for thinking that.
K: David Akers. Seven field goals of 50+ yards. I mean, you can only give Alex Smith’s stalled drives so much credit.
D/ST: Detroit. Whaaaaa? Yes, the 49ers or Ravens may seem like the logical choices here, but those daunting defenses scored five touchdowns combined this year; the Lions scored an NFL-best seven. Throw in 39 sacks and 32 turnovers, and the Lions D accrued more points than any other unit in most scoring formats.
The 2011 KSK A-1 Value Team
Awarded to the players whose fantasy production far exceeded their average draft value.
QB: Cam Newton. Son of a bitch. I don’t have many fantasy tenets, but one of the few I have is “Rookie quarterbacks are awful.” Newton blew that up with almost 4000 yards passing. And any quibble about his 20/16 TD-INT ratio is more than negated by his 674 rushing yards and 14 rushing TDs. Fourteen! That’s second in the NFL. He’s a quarterback. The world I know is gone. Honorable mention: Matt Stafford.
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Darren Sproles. Depending on the size of your league and how many keepers you have, Lynch was generally available somewhere in rounds five through eight of the typical fantasy draft. In my .5 PPR league, he finished as the 5th overall RB, his slow start negated by scoring at least one touchdown in his final 12 games. As for Sproles, he was available even later — I got him in the 11th round of a 12-team, 2-keeper league — and he turned out to be one of the Saints’ best weapons, accruing over 1200 rushing and receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Bonus points if you had him in a PPR league (81 receptions). Honorable mentions: Fred Jackson, Michael Bush.
WR: Victor Cruz, Jordy Nelson. Two monsters of different makes. Cruz is all talent and speed, making the most of Eli Manning’s catchable passes. Nelson’s no slouch either, but he clearly benefits from a great relationship with the best quarterback in the game. He’s the game’s first white deep threat since… uh… since… come back to me on this one. Honorable mentions: Steve Smith, A.J. Green., Stevie Johnson
TE: Rob Gronkowski. Fuck me. I’d love to give the nod to Jimmy Graham here, but Graham was coveted in every draft I was in. Gronk always went several rounds later.
K: David Akers. If you drafted a kicker before the 14th round, punch yourself in the groin.
D/ST: Seattle. Listen, no one’s more critical of the Seattle defense than I am. They were a no-show in losses to the Niners, Pittsburgh, Cincy, and Dallas. But for a team that you could pick up off of waivers on most weeks, the numbers are great: 31 sacks, 29 turnovers, five touchdowns, and an NFL-best six blocked kicks.
The 2011 All-Disappointment Fantasy Team
I don’t care if they’re injured. Fuck these guys.
QB: Michael Vick. It’s hard to imagine now, but in August, people with mid-first-round picks were actually contemplating, “Vick or Rodgers?” Honorable mention: Josh Freeman.
RB: Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson. Two magnificent busts for vastly different reasons. Charles, a can’t-miss first-round draft pick, had the kindness to get his season-ending injury in Week 2, which at least let owners get rid of any expectations early on. Johnson, whose prolonged holdout was enough of a worry for anyone who drafted him, rewarded his faithful by recording just one touchdown and one 100-yard game in the first half of the season. To date, his only 100-yard performances have come against Carolina, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Buffalo — four of the worst defenses in the game. And yet he’s totaled 89 yards rushing in two games against the Colts. Fuck this guy. Honorable mention: LeGarrette Blount; Tim Hightower. But you deserve that pain if you listened to Peter King.
WR: DeSean Jackson, Andre Johnson. Wide receiver is such a tough field, because there are so many disappointments every year. I had a team whose top receivers were Kenny Britt (injured) and Reggie Wayne (useless until Dan Orlovsky), and yet that team won a chamipnship because of Miles Austin’s hamstring: I traded for Dez Bryant and picked up Laurent Robinson off waivers. Wide receivers are awful. But none more so than DeSean Jackson, who underachieved despite being the only healthy Eagles wideout all year, and Andre Johnson, who’s on par with Calvin Johnson when healthy but never had the decency to just be seriously injured and let his fantasy owners move on. Don’t tease me, man. Honorable mentions: Miles Austin, Kenny Britt, Reggie Wayne, Mike Williams (TB), Austin Collie. If you expected anything of Chad Ochocinco, you’re an idiot and you deserve it.
TE: Jermichael Finley. Don’t be fooled by his solid year-end numbers: this sonofabitch was supposed to be a key target on the Packers’ high-powered offense, and he had ONE good game. It was a preposterous 3-TD game against the Bears, but that was pretty much it for the season. If you wasted an early pick on him, you spent the rest of the season wondering why he wasn’t scoring more TDs. But if you watched the Packers in Week 15, you saw the answer: he gave up what should have been a TD catch that became instead an INT. Damn you! Don’t sully Aaron Rodgers’s stats that way! Honorable mention: Dallas Clark.
K: I will not dignify this with research.
D/ST: Pittsburgh. True, the Steelers pitched two shutouts, but they only forced 14 turnovers all year long. Of course, this is what you get if you go grasping for a traditionally solid defense as soon as other people draft the Ravens and Bears.