Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Fantasy Awards, Pt. 1

Time for my annual season review and the handing out of some well-deserved honors. No popularity contests or personal biases here: These awards are based strictly on the cold, hard numbers and the players' direct impact on fantasy success.

Let's do this.


I was tempted to give the honor to Aaron Rodgers, who produced as well as any quarterback this season but could have been taken in the 3rd or 4th round or later at most drafts. But while there were a few QBs at the top of the rankings with similar stats - Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning - one running back stood out from the pack at his position.

Chris Johnson's 2,006-yard rushing season will go down as one of the greatest in league history. CJ had a few disappointing games in the early weeks of 2009 - he had four sub-100-yard rushing performances in his first five games and failed to score a TD in any of them. But a monster Week 2 against Houston (197 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 87 receiving yards and a TD catch) showed us just what he was capable of. Johnson finished the season with 11 straight 100-plus-yard games. He scored 14 TDs on the ground, plus 2 more through the air to go with more than 500 receiving yards. In short, he was a fantasy beast, and in many leagues he wasn't among the top 5 or even 10 players drafted. That won't be the case next year.


I tended to be a little more bullish on Matt Forte's 2009 fantasy prospects than some publications. With the Bears' offseason acquisition of Jay Cutler, I thought Forte might significantly improve on a standout rookie season. Boy, was I wrong. He finished with just 929 rushing yards, down from last year's 1,238. He scored 4 rushing TDs, down from last year's 8. He caught 57 passes, down from last year's 63. He caught 0 TDs, down from last year's 4.

In other words, he was a bust.


QB - Drew Brees
RB1 - Chris Johnson
RB2 - Adrian Peterson
WR1 - Andre Johsnon
WR2 - Randy Moss
TE - Vernon Davis
K - David Akers
DEF - EaglesBold


Receivers Miles Austin of the Cowboys and Steve Smith of the Giants deserve recognition for going from off the radar to bona fide fantasy starters in 2009. But the honor goes to Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, who started the year blocked by Larry Johnson but finished as a 1,000-yard rusher. After the Chiefs unceremoniously dumped Johnson, Charles immediately stepped in with 103 yards and a TD against Oakland in Week 10 and never looked back. He scored 7 times in the season's final 8 weeks and topped 100 rushing yards in each of his final 4 games during a critical stretch of the fantasy season, culminating with his 259-yard, 2-TD showing in Week 17.


First-year running backs Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells and LeSean McCoy were all valuable fantasy commodities at various times, but WR Percy Harvin gets the nod after catching 6 TDs. That's more than such fantasy stalwarts as Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Terrell Owens, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Antonio Bryant. Harvin also rushed for 731 yards and scored two return TDs, making him one of the season's best flex players.


I hate to say it, but it's got to be Favre. He tied Rodgers for the third most pasing TDs with 33, his most since 1997. He also threw only 7 TDs, his fewest ever in a full season. That was a whopping improvement on last year's ratio (22 TDs/22 INTs). Favre entered the year considered a marginal fantasy backup but was one of the game's best QBs in 2009.

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