Handing out my awards for the 2013 fantasy football season
We're tying a bow on the 2013 fantasy football season, but we still have a few loose ends to wrap up before we can officially put this season behind us. No season is complete without handing out some awards. Sure, Peyton Manning might have his eye on the Lombardi Trophy and his fifth NFL MVP Award, but do you honestly think he isn't hoping to be named SI.com's 2013 Fantasy Football MVP? Exactly.
The envelopes please...
MVP: Peyton Manning
When you break two high-profile records while playing at the helm of one of the best offenses in history, you're basically a shoo-in for the MVP award. Manning dominated the NFL and fantasy world this year, throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. He scored fewer than 20 fantasy points only three times this season. He scored more than 30 points four times. Jamaal Charles would have been a great choice, as well and would have won the award in most years, but owning Manning was the surest path to fantasy success this year, and that makes him the MVP.
Bust of the Year: Trent Richardson
C.J. Spiller and Ray Rice get a pass on this award thanks to likely one of the worst fantasy seasons we'll see from a top pick for a long time. Richardson was no worse than an early-second round pick in every format, and he ended up rushing for 563 yards and three touchdowns, 34th among all running backs in fantasy points this year. To add insult to injury, two of his three double-digit games were in the fantasy playoffs, long after anyone who drafted him had any use for the Colt.
Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy
Keenan Allen has a legitimate beef here, but Lacy wins this one by a few lengths. The fourth running back selected in last April's draft, Lacy ended up in a great spot with the Packers. He missed one full game and nearly all of a second, but still racked up 1,178 rushing yards, 257 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. If Aaron Rodgers hadn't missed half the season, Lacy's numbers almost certainly would have been even better. Allen, Giovani Bernard and Le'Veon Bell will all be ranked in Lacy's neighborhood next year, but he's the man for 2013.
Injury of the Year: Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone
With apologies to Julio Jones and his broken foot, Rodgers' broken collarbone suffered Week 9 against the Bears wins this award. Jones was averaging 14 points per game before going down in Week 5, but Rodgers' injury sent widespread ripples across the fantasy community. Not only did his owners lose the fourth-highest scoring quarterback, in terms of points per game, in the league, but his injury seriously curbed the value of Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin and, to a lesser extent, Lacy. Jones' injury had a deleterious effect on Matt Ryan, but nothing like what Rodgers' injury did to the skill players on Green Bay. That, and Rodgers' status as one of the most dangerous players (in real-life and fantasy), gives him the edge here.
Pickup of the Year: Nick Foles
Michael Vick held down the starting gig in Philadelphia for the first month of the season, but a recurring hamstring injury opened the door for Foles. All he did with that was lead the Eagles to the NFC East crown while completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,891 yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He tied with Cam Newton for the sixth-most points per game at the quarterback position, trailing only Manning, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford and Rodgers. In shallower leagues, Knowshon Moreno could have been a waiver-wire addition, but Foles went nearly universally undrafted. That will not be the case next season. Speaking of Moreno...
Steal of the Draft: Knowshon Moreno
Way back at the end of August, Moreno was a late-round flier. Montee Ball was the Bronco to own, going as high as the fourth or fifth round in most drafts. Moreno, however, was the starter from day one and took advantage of a great environment in Denver, piling up 1,586 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns. He scored the fifth-most points among all running backs, finishing behind only Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch. There was no greater return on investment than Moreno this season.
Second-Half Stud of the Year: Josh Gordon
Gordon caught five passes for 125 yards and a touchdown Week 11 against the Bengals. The next week, he had 14 grabs for 237 yards and a touchdown. When his owners thought it couldn't get any better, he racked up 10 receptions for 261 and two scores, setting an NFL record for receiving yards in back-to-back games. He capped off his ridiculous four-game explosion with a seven-catch, 151-yard, one-touchdown game against the Patriots. Over the final six games of the season that matter for fantasy purposes, Gordon totaled 135.4 fantasy points, riding that wave to the top of the wide receiver crop this year.
Shooting Himself in the Foot Award: Stevan Ridley
Ridley hit his stride in the middle of the season, picking up for 340 yards and six touchdowns in a four-game stretch from Week 6 through Week 9. At the end of that run, however, he lost a fumble against the Steelers. He then lost fumbles in each of the next two games, earning himself a permanent spot in Bill Belichick's doghouse. That made him all but worthless at the most crucial time of the fantasy season. Meanwhile, teammate LeGarrette Blount took advantage of the extra touches, going for 209 yards and three touchdowns from Week 13 through Week 16. Those could have been Ridley's stats if he didn't fumble away Belichick's trust.
Model of Consistency Award: Jamaal Charles
It took nine weeks for Charles to score fewer than double-digit fantasy points in a game this season. He scored fewer than 16 points just three times all year. That sort of consistency is invaluable in fantasy leagues. I would talk about him more here, but he's taking home a bit more hardware.
Playoff MVP: Jamaal Charles
Charles' five-touchdown game against the Raiders Week 15 was one of the most legendary fantasy playoff performance we've ever seen. It was nearly impossible for any of his owners still alive in the fantasy semis to not make it to the fantasy championship. He was no slouch in Weeks 14 or 16, either, scoring 27.9 points in the first round and 20.4 points in the championship. McCoy led all running backs in both of those weeks, but he barely managed to crack double-digits in the semifinals. Charles' 99.8 fantasy points in the playoffs would have ranked 39th among all backs for the entire season.