Fantasy Football Truths
Six players who changed the NFL this season: New England Patriots have two of them — will a Super Bowl follow?
Well, it’s been another wild and woolly fantasy football season, but it’s time to wrap it up. I played for a title in one of my four leagues, came up just short in the semis in another, and couldn’t get it done in the other two.
Not bad, I guess, but I’ll remember the mistakes far more than the right choices.
Speaking of right choices, these six players were the best of the best at their respective positions this season. These were the right guys to grab in the early rounds to compose the foundation of your roster.
If you had more than one, you likely cruised into the playoffs.
QUARTERBACK: AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY
Rodgers would have been my first overall pick back in September, and he fulfilled all of those expectations. I suppose you could complain about his so-so performances in Weeks 14 and 15, often the time when the playoffs are held.
And Drew Brees certainly made a run at this spot with his yardage supremacy. But Rodgers’ touchdown total (48 combined passing and rushing) and the low interception total (just six) is hard to deny.
All this on a team that rarely even bothered to establish a running game. Opposing teams knew the Pack were going to throw, and they just couldn’t stop them.
RUNNING BACK: LeSEAN McCOY, PHILADELPHIA
I thought McCoy’s weakness coming into the season would be his struggle scoring touchdowns (he only had 13 in his previous two seasons in the league). It goes to show how much I know.
No matter how bad things got for the Eagles, Shady always found a way to the end zone. Twenty combined scores rushing and receiving are three more than his nearest competitor. In fact, there were just two games (before he sat out Week 17, a largely meaningless fantasy week) in which he didn’t manage a touchdown, and in one of those he chalked up 113 rushing yards to compensate.
Throw in the fact that McCoy racked up 1,600 total yards, and you’ve got a no-brainer selection here.
RUNNING BACK: MAURICE JONES-DREW, JACKSONVILLE
The fact that MJD even had a shot at consideration here is amazing considering he is the only discernible offensive weapon on this team. In the first seven games of the season, Jones-Drew had just two scores, but he helped compensate by averaging nearly 100 yards rushing a game.
The scores started to flow after that (nine in the next eight games) to the point where he finished in the Top 10 in the league in touchdowns. He won the NFL rushing title, and his worst fantasy effort was an 84-yard, no-TD game against New Orleans. That’s consistency, and that’s why he nips Arian Foster and Ray Rice for this spot.
WIDE RECEIVER: CALVIN JOHNSON, DETROIT
Megatron has had excellent years before, but this, his fifth season, was when it all came together and he became Randy Moss-like in his production. Johnson's amazing start (eight touchdowns in his first four games, at least one score in seven of his first eight games) was a revelation.
Johnson hit a bit of a swale after that, but rallied in Week 15 with a monster (214 yards, two touchdowns) effort that likely won a few fantasy playoff games singlehandedly — and he ended the season with an 11-catch, 244-yard game in Green Bay that has fantasy owners drooling for more next fall.
He finished No. 1 in wide receiver touchdowns with 16 (to Jordy Nelson's 15) and his late surge pushed him by our next choice to No. 1 in the NFL in receiving yards with nearly 1,700.
WIDE RECEIVER: WES WELKER, NEW ENGLAND
I’ve mentioned before that I hate the preponderance of point-per-reception scoring systems out there, but they’re out there nonetheless. And nobody scores better in that format than Welker.
But he has done more than just catch three-yard outs. Buoyed by an improved yards-per catch total, Welker finished with 1,569 yards and his nine touchdowns are a career high. That means that owners in old-fashioned scoring systems were getting much more production out of Welker than they might have in the past.
If you are in a PPR league, the bottom line is clear: Welker’s 122 catches are 22 more than his closest competitor.
TIGHT END: ROB GRONKOWSKI, NEW ENGLAND
About midway through the year, it seemed like a no-doubter that Jimmy Graham of New Orleans would take this spot. But Gronkowski, a fellow second-year player, went on a run that no other tight end has ever experienced. From November 6 through December 11, a span of six games, Gronk averaged 99 yards per contest (with three 100-yard games in that time period,) and scored a stunning 11 touchdowns.
He finishes with 17 touchdowns for the season, second-most in the NFL behind McCoy and most ever for a tight end. That’s not to mention that he’s fifth in the league in catches and sixth in receiving yards.
There you have it, folks. I hope your fantasy football season was a lucrative one, or, at the very least a fun one. See you next year.
Now, will two first-team fantasy all-stars (out of only six overall) mean a Super Bowl title for Bill Belichick and the Patriots? Or is that just fantasy?