AS we gear up for the first weekend of NFL playoff action, we farewell another fantasy football season. Some of us, are glad to see the end of a gruelling 17 weeks, especially those of us who go 0/5 in you championship quest and lose two final matchups (congrats J-Lo). However, even if I wasn’t able to climb fantasy’s Mount Olympus there were some coaches who were able to win league championships with the help of some footballing superstars. For better or worse these nine individuals below stood out throughout the season, so to celebrate the 2018 fantasy campaign it’s time to hand out nine trophies to those very deserving recipients.
All numbers/stats provided are based on ESPN fantasy leagues
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The ‘Why’d I Trust You?’ Award
Winner: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Other nominees: LeSean McCoy (RB, Bills) & Kareem Hunt (RB, Chiefs)
IT’S quite clear that the glory days of Rob Gronkowski are behind us. In a season were reliable tight-ends were hard to come by, if I had have told you that Gronk would manage to play 13 games, most coaches would have used a top-30 pick on him. However, just 682 receiving yards and three touchdowns are not what coaches bargained for and we might be witnessing the final steep decline of one of the greatest fantasy careers ever.
The ‘Diamond In The Rough’ Award
Winner: Phillip Lindsay, RB, Broncos
Other nominees: James Connor (RB, Steelers) & Patrick Mahomes (QB, Chiefs)
LAST year it was Alvin Kamara, this season Phillip Linsay was the ‘win your league’ waiver wire pickup. What made Lindsay’s rise to fantasy fame so exceptional though was the fact that he entered the season as an undrafted free agent and became a Pro-Bowl calibre running-back who was a top-12 scorer in most fantasy formats. Lindsay never garnered 20 carries in any game which is good news as his body didn’t take a heavy pounding, signalling the best is yet to come for the Broncos halfback.
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The ‘That Guy’s How Old?!’ Award
Winner: Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins
Other nominees: Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Cardinals) & Frank Gore (RB, Dolphins)
I was one of the footballing fans who considered Adrian Peterson’s signing a puzzling decision. I was also one of the footballing fans who invested in the Redskins other running Chris Thompson, thinking that AP’s body wouldn’t hold up for the duration of the fantasy season. 1,042 rushing yards and seven touchdowns from ‘All-Day’ Peterson later, it’s pretty clear I was on the wrong side of history.
The ‘Mid-Season Saviour’ Award
Winner: Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
Other nominees: Gus Edwards (RB, Ravens) & Lamar Jackson (QB, Ravens)
WHO knew Nick Chubb was one Carlos Hyde trade away from becoming a household fantasy name? The Browns rookie managed to pleasantly surprise those who invested in him, establishing himself as a reliable RB2 over the second half of the year. After totalling no more than three carries in a single game before Week 7, he proved to be a game-changing add, good for 18 rushing attempts and close to that many points on a weekly basis down the stretch.
The ‘Rookie Of The Year’ Award
Winner: Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Other nominees: Baker Mayfield (QB, Browns) & Phillip Lindsey (RB, Broncos)
IN real life the Offensive Rookie of the Year award is going to be one of the closest in recent memory. In fantasy football, there’s clear daylight between Saquon Barkley and the field, with the Giants rookie clearly as good as advertised. Considering how miserable the rest of New York’s players were in 2018, Barkley provided a bright spark who couldn’t be slowed, totalling over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and making himself a first-round lock next season.
The ‘Welcome Back’ Award
Winner: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
Other nominees: David Johnson (RB, Cardinals) & Aaron Rodgers (QB, Packers)
NO one likes injuries and fantasy owners around the world were anxious to see how Andrew Luck would return to the gridiron. If you witnessed the Colts’ Week 3 loss to Philadelphia, coaches might not have been convinced he was 100% with Jacoby Brissett coming in to throw a hail mary on the final play of the game. However, that was the only blip on Luck’s radar this season as he put forth a top-5 QB season, returning to the peak of his powers and steering Indianapolis (and most of his coaches) into the post-season.
The ‘Playoff Most Valuable Player’ Award
Winner: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
Other nominees: Derrick Henry (RB, Titans) & Damian Williams (RB, Chiefs)
WHILE Derrick Henry probably produced the fantasy game of the season in Week 14 with his absurd 200+ rushing yards/4 touchdown outing, Christian McCaffrey was stellar throughout the entire fantasy postseason. Through Week’s 13-16, McCaffrey set the footballing world alight, going over 100 scrimmage yards in each contest and even adding a 50-yard passing TD against NOLA. Cometh the moment, cometh the man.
The ‘Least Valuable Player’ Award
Winner: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Other nominees: Rob Gronkowski (TE, Patriots), Leonard Fournette (RB, Jaguars)
BY definition Le’Veon Bell was the equal worst fantasy player this year, after failing to take a snap for the entire season. I was bullish all pre-season on drafting Bell, ensuring everyone this holdout would come to a close and the investment in Bell would pay dividends. I was wrong and I learnt a new important lesson moving forwards. Never, ever draft a player in the midst of a contract holdout. Ever.
The ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award
Winner: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
Other nominees: Christian McCaffrey (RB, Panthers) & Saquon Barkley (RB, Giants)
TODD Gurley continually denying his owner’s touchdown’s and running out of bounds or going down close to the goal line cost him a spot as a finalist for the MVP trophy, but there was only one real winner. With the real MVP award expected to be a hotly debated topic right up until NFL awards night, Patrick Mahomes can take solace in knowing he will leave 2018 with at least one MVP trophy. Becoming just the 3rd player in history to throw for 5,000 passing yards with 50 touchdowns, Mahomes electrified the NFL this year, executing viral plays with almost every snap. He provided another great example of why it’s worth waiting for a quarterback come draft night (his average draft position was 105.5), but don’t expect him to slip out of the top-50 (30?) in many leagues come 2019.
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