(Need daily/one-week fantasy football advice for week 17? Check out Scout Shout!)
INDIANAPOLIS --- The fantasy season has come to an end (unless your championship is in week 17...if that's the case, it might be time to have an intervention with your commissioner). It is time to hand out some awards for the 2014 season, praising the players that brought us fame and fortune in our tiny (yet so important) fantasy cliques and asking why on Earth we draft some of the players we did.
2014 FANTASY MVP NOMINEES
QB: Andrew Luck (Colts) - On average, Luck was drafted in the 5th round of 12-team leagues in 2014 and the 5th QB off the board after Manning, Brees, Rodgers, and Stafford (unless you live in the greater Indianapolis area). He finished as the #1 player in fantasy football with 322 points, despite 22 turnovers. Think of how high his ceiling could continue to climb in future seasons if those turnovers get cut down. He didn't help you week 16 of your fantasy championships with 0 points (fantasy is a cruel mistress sometimes), but he was still a major reason many teams got there and didn't leave those teams' managers walking away empty handed. Honorable Mention: Russell Wilson (#3 QB in 2014, drafted 8th-12th round, 14th QB taken in drafts)
RB: Le'Veon Bell (Steelers) - DeMarco Murray did outscore Bell by 2 points in standard leagues this season, but over 13 weeks that's virtually a tie. Bell gets the nod for turning in on when it mattered most down the stretch of the fantasy regular season and in the playoffs. Here were Bell's point totals in standard scoring from week 11 on: 27,30,41,23,12. Bell was a guy in the preseason many owners shied away from, with LeGarrette Blount potentially poaching carries and goal line work. Bell's average draft position fell to the bottom of the 2nd round or top of the 3rd in 12-team leagues. He was the 12th RB taken in drafts, on average. What a return on investment! Honorable Mention: DeMarco Murray (#1 RB, drafted 2nd round, 8th RB taken in drafts)
WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) - There may not have been a more valuable waiver wire pick-up in fantasy football...ever. Beckham was largely undrafted in fantasy football, due to an injury that kept him off the field for the first four games of the season. He still finished as the #9 fantasy WR in standard leagues. Beckham scored 173 fantasy points from weeks 5-16. The next closest WR over that span was the #1 WR in fantasy over the course of the entire season, Antonio Brown, who only scored 154 points from weeks 5-16. Nobody was a better fantasy WR than Odell Beckham Jr. in the second half of the season. So it should come as no surprise that no player was on more fantasy finalist rosters than ODB (more than 35% across most fantasy websites). If you took Beckham's numbers and extrapolated them over a 16-game season, he would have finished with 115 receptions, 1629 yards, and 16 touchdowns. The receptions and yards would have been rookie records, and the 16 touchdowns would have been one short of Randy Moss's rookie record. It's not crazy to say Beckham Jr. might be the first WR taken in fantasy drafts next season. Honorable Mention: Antonio Brown (#1 WR, 2nd round, 8th WR taken in drafts)
TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) - This is a no-brainer. Gronk was taken on average in the 3rd round of drafts, sometimes after Broncos TE Julius Thomas and always after Saints TE Jimmy Graham, who often went in the 1st round. He finished with 178 points in standard leagues (82 catches, 1124 yards, 12 TDs), 36 points better than the 2nd best TE, Antonio Gates. That's 2.4 points per week better than the next best TE and twice as many points as the 10th best TE (Jason Witten, 89 points). Gronk gave owners a clear advantage over every other team in their leagues at the TE position this season. Honorable Mention: Antonio Gates (#2 TE, 12th round pick, 16th TE drafted)
And the winner is…
2014 Fantasy Football Friday MVP: WR Odell Beckham Jr. - To be able to get the top fantasy WR over most of the season off of waivers in most cases is unheard of in this day and age of fantasy football with pass happy offenses in the NFL. What Beckham did in 2014 was truly remarkable.
2014 FANTASY BUST NOMINEES
QB: Nick Foles (Eagles) - Sadly, injuries are a part of the real game and fantasy game. You can't predict them. You can only hope to withstand them when they happen. A broken collarbone sidelined him for the rest of the season after week 9, but even in his first 7 games Foles was not living up to his price tag of being the 6th QB drafted in fantasy leagues. In seven full games, Foles averaged just 15.3 fantasy points per week. That average would have made him the 14th best fantasy QB in 2014 just ahead of Joe Flacco but behind Jay Cutler. Honarable Mention: Colin Kaepernick (#17 QB, 9th round pick, 12th QB drafted)
RB: Adrian Peterson (Vikings) - Peterson played in one game. One. His legal issues sidelined him for most of 2014, after fantasy owners made him a top-3 pick in drafts, often selecting AP 1st overall. There was no way to predict this would happen. It's just dumb fantasy bad luck. You could make the argument that Montee Ball was a bigger bust, after he was sometimes drafted in the 1st round too, but hopefully owners saw his poor play the first few weeks and handcuffed him with Ronnie Hillman, then C.J. Anderson after that. Has there been a better example than the Broncos backfield of why handcuffing top RBs is important? Anyway, Peterson is still the bigger bust though because he was drafted ahead of Ball. Honorable Mention: Montee Ball (outside top-50 RBs, 1st-2nd round pick, 6th RB taken)
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings) - Think of the weapons we all thought rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would have at his disposal. Patterson was the 13th WR taken in drafts, on average, at the 3nd of the 3rd round or beginning of the 4th. He finished outside the TOP-80 wide receivers in standard scoring. Rookie WR Allen Robinson was hurt, played in 9 games, then went on IR and outscored Patterson for the season. Believe it or not, Patterson had 18 fantasy points week 1 (3 catches, 26 yards; 102 yards rushing and a touchdown). That one game made up more than 25% of his total yards for his entire 2014 season, and he did not miss a game. Honorable Mention: Pierre Garcon (outside top-50 WRs, 4th-5th round pick, 17th WR drafted)
TE: Vernon Davis (49ers) - Like Patterson, Davis had a big week one. 16 fantasy points in standard leagues at Dallas, after a two touchdown day. He finished with 30 fantasy points for the season. So, more than half of his points for 2014 came week one. That's not good for a player that only missed two games and was taken as the 5th TE in fantasy drafts in the 6th or 7th round. Honorable Mention: Kyle Rudolph (outside top-30 TEs, 7th-8th round pick, 7th TE drafted)
And the winner is…
2014 Fantasy Football Friday Bust of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson - When a player is taken 1st overall in some drafts and then goes on to miss 15 games (for whatever reason), nobody is going to be a bigger bust than that in fantasy football. But if Peterson is back for the start of 2015, I wouldn't hesitate to draft him in the 1st round again (especially, if he winds up on a different team with a better offensive line). This is not the same situation as a RB missing extensive time due to injury. It was an unfortunate and unacceptable off-the-field situation. In strictly fantasy football terms though, Peterson went through a season without any wear and tear. So the fact that he'll be 30-years-old next year (the so-called dreaded age for running backs) doesn't apply in this case, in my opinion, for the same reason it didn't apply to the Bills Fred Jackson, after he was used sparingly he first couple years in the league. Jackson is still going strong at age 33. The odometer is still not high for Peterson. I assume he'll be plenty motivated next season.