For most fantasy football owners, another one is in the books. League champs knew who they were as soon as Week 16 ended, but the polls have just closed for the individual hardware. It's time to pay tribute to the players who helped to make this season a success - or, in some cases, a colossal failure.
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and some other signal callers produced the kind of numbers that guide fantasy teams to the Promised Land. But that's just it: Plenty of quarterbacks hung out in the same fantasy-points neighborhood in 2012. Peterson stood out among his peers, even distancing himself from the rusher many considered this year's top overall choice: the Houston Texans' Arian Foster.
Dez won leagues for some
The sixth-year running back did it with the help of an improved offensive line, while facing the same kind of overloaded fronts that helped to make him a disappointment in 2011. And it'd be one thing if Peterson put up these ridiculous numbers (2,113 total yards, 6.0 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns) once he was a couple of years removed from reconstructive knee surgery. But he tore his ACL last year - in Week 16! He shouldn't even be eligible for the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
There are simply not enough superlatives to describe AD and what he accomplished in 2012. To those who were unwaveringly committed (like, second-round committed) to the other-worldly being (not human - can't be) who ended up as fantasy's top running back: We salute you.
Comeback Fantasy Player of the Year
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: It took Jamaal Charles a few games to dispel doubts about the condition of his surgically repaired knee, and he was MIA in a handful of weeks, or he might've taken home this trophy. But in case you've forgotten, because of multiple neck surgeries that put his career in jeopardy, Manning last played in an NFL contest in 2010 - for a different organization. Most fantasy drafters were afraid to trust him as their QB1, so the former Indianapolis Colt turned out to be one of the best bargains of the year because he ended up, once again, as a top-five player at his position.
Unsung Fantasy Hero
RB Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan finally rekindled some of his sixth-round magic in the form of this decisively humble Florida Atlantic product. Morris put an end to the curse of Terrell Davis, aka "Shanahanigans," by putting a stranglehold on the RB1 position and never letting go on his way to 1,413 yards and 10 touchdowns. He saved his best work for the stretch run of fantasy's regular season and playoff period.
Breakout Fantasy Player
WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: Bill Belichick's resurfacing commitment to the running game helped to make New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley an every-week fantasy starter. The second-year back amassed 1,189 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Thomas, with the aid of his new quarterback, entered a new realm of receiver-hood, though. He caught 87 of Manning's passes for 1,312 yards and nine scores easily outpacing his marks of his first two seasons, which were marred by injuries and the quarterbacking of Tim Tebow.
Fantasy Postseason Savior
WR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton saved his best for last. His 1,226 yards and 10 touchdowns, with one interception, passing and 313 yards and four scores rushing from Week 11 on were enough to catapult him into the top five at his position at season's end. The timing of that stretch as well as its impact certainly turned out to be enough to justify the cost of a top-25 draft choice, and that seemed unlikely midway through the season.
Only Calvin Johnson came close to rivaling the production of Bryant from Week 10 through Week 16, however. Tony Romo's new No. 1 target saved some seasons and then won some titles with his 46 receptions, 808 yards and 10 touchdowns in those seven games. He scored in seven straight and posted multiple TDs three times. And he played in the last three contests with a hairline fracture in one of his fingers; the Cowboys had feared the injury would end his season.
Golden Booter, IDP MVP, Chad Johnson and Donovan McNabb awards, and more!
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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