FOR some, the end of the NFL regular season is a welcome sight after experiencing hell during the fantasy season. For others, 2019 was a successful campaign likely buoyed by some of the players who crack this list. Whether your season was memorable for all the right or all the wrong reasons, it’s time to hand out eights awards to deserving recipients for their efforts during the fantasy season.
All numbers/stats provided are based on ESPN fantasy leagues
Players are not eligible to win multiple awards
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The ‘Why’d I Trust You?’ Award
Winner: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Other nominees: David Johnson (RB, Cardinals) & O.J. Howard (TE, Buccaneers)
THE writing was on the wall. Another offseason shoulder surgery saw Cam Newton enter the season with a lot of doubt surrounding him, but that didn’t stop coaches from drafting the former MVP. His season with Carolina didn’t last long with Newton managing just two games before succumbing to a foot injury that ended his fantasy year. It’s a bit unfair to hand Newton this award, but given all his injury woes in the past, those who drafted him highly should have known better.
The ‘Diamond In The Rough’ Award
Winner: Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
Other nominees: Darren Waller (TE, Raiders) & Austin Ekeler (RB, Chargers)
LONG live Jameis Winston! While I’m glad I’m not a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, there’s no denying the fact that Winston was a marvel to watch this year. Becoming the first player to throw 30 touchdowns AND 30 interceptions is what he’ll be remembered for this year, but Winston had a great fantasy outing finishing as the 5th highest scoring QB. On average, he was the 23rd ranked quarterback drafted with an ADP (average draft position) of 167. Those who invested would have watched in anguish as he continued to turn the ball over, but you don’t become just the 8th quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000+ yards without having some unreal games in the process.
The ‘Mid-Season Saviour’ Award
Winner: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
Other nominees: Deebo Samuel (WR, 49ers) & Darius Slayton (WR, Giants)
THERE weren’t too many coaches who cashed in on Ryan Tannehill’s golden form in the middle of the year, but those who did would have likely gone a long way this season. After becoming the Titans’ full-time starter in Week 7, Tannehill led Tennessee to six wins in seven tries, averaging over 22 PPR points a game and turning heads in the process. He didn’t fall off in the playoffs either, finishing behind only Drew Brees as the 2nd highest scoring QB for the final month of the fantasy season. There where likely more popular waiver wire targets at the time, but if you capitalised on Tannehill’s success, take a bow.
The ‘Rookie Of The Year’ Award
Winner: Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
Other nominees: Miles Sanders (RB, Eagles) & A.J. Brown (WR, Titans)
THIS one was tough to split, with a bunch of noteworthy fantasy rookies in 2019. However, I think it’s safe to say that Kyler Murray did enough throughout the year to outlast a fast-finishing Miles Sanders and A.J. Brown. The Cardinals QB started all 16 games in year one, finishing the season as the 8th highest scoring player at his position and putting up better fantasy numbers than the likes of Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and LaDainian Tomlinson in their rookie campaigns. It’s likely that Murray either didn’t start or let you down a bit in the fantasy postseason, but if you made it that far he would have been a big reason why.
The ‘Welcome Back’ Award
Winner: Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
Other nominees: Dalvin Cook (RB, Vikings) & Le’Veon Bell (RB, Jets)
THE L.A. Rams weren’t able to replicate their success from a year ago, but it was through no fault of Cooper Kupp. The most productive slot receiver in the NFL returned from an ACL tear with a bang, becoming the 4th highest scoring wideout and hauled in over 1,100 receiving yards with 10 TD’s. In one half against the Bengals in Week 8, Kupp was the talk of the fantasy town, chalking up 165 receiving yards, eventually finishing the game with 220 in one of the best single-game performances of the season. He won’t be as easy to swipe in fantasy drafts of the future, but we won’t mind selecting Kupp early if he produces another season like this.
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The ‘Playoff Most Valuable Player’ Award
Winner: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
Other nominees: Drew Brees (QB, Saints) & Kenyan Drake (RB, Cardinals)
OVER the final four weeks of the season, no NFL player scored more points than Panthers running back Christian McCaffery. Drew Brees was impressive, stepping up down the stretch after a rough showing in the 2018 fantasy playoffs (I’m over it I swear) and Kenyan Drake burst onto the scene to lead the league in playoff touchdowns with seven, however, four of them game in just one game. If you have a reliable commissioner, chances are they would have had your playoffs scheduled for Weeks 13-16, to avoid any players who might have been rested in the final week. If that was the case, CMC STILL scored more points than anyone over that month long period. He is simply unreal.
The ‘Least Valuable Player’ Award
Winner: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers
Other nominees: David Johnson (RB, Cardinals), Adam Thielen (WR, Vikings)
FOR the second consecutive year a Steeler wins the LVP award and there was a time where it looked like a Pittsburgh running back would get the nod two years in a row. While James Conner did struggle, his teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster was much more of a disappointment. JuJu seemed poised to have a breakout campaign with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown departing, but instead, he failed to fire. Ben Roethlisberger going down didn’t help his cause and injuries did play a factor as the Steelers offense sputtered. That being said, for someone who was coming off the board 15th overall on average Smith-Schuster let a lot of us down, posting just one game with more than 20 points and catching only three touchdowns in 12 games.
The ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award
Winner: Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
Other nominees: Michael Thomas (WR, Saints) & Christian McCaffrey (RB, Panthers)
FOR the second consecutive year a young quarterback made a catastrophic jump in production that likely won you your league. Last season it was Patrick Mahomes and in 2019, it was Lamar Jackson. Sitting out the meaningless Week 17 for the Ravens saw Jackson finish just 14 passing yards shy of the all-time single-season fantasy points record from a QB, posting 415.7 points on the year. Jackson became the first player in NFL history to throw for 3,000+ yards and rush for 1,000+ yards and his dual-threat ability made him the favourite and deserving winner of this year’s MVP trophy.
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