Fantasy Golden Booter
PK Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings: He finished just behind the New York Giants' Lawrence Tynes (33) and tied with the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Bryant (32) for field goals made. Walsh, however, connected on all nine of his attempts from 50-plus, shaming the Oakland Raiders' strong-legged Sebastian Janikowski (6-for-9). The rookie kicker missed only three three-pointers all season, and the distance bonuses he racked up put him over the top.
Fantasy IDP MVP
Spread your wings and ... plop
DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans: His 20.5 sacks placed him one ahead of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith. Watt finished with more total tackles as well, and his performance in most contests helped the second-year offense disrupter produce LB-like numbers in DL spots everywhere. The Wisconsin product edged out rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers because of the distinct advantage he gave his owners week after week.
RB Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: Stafford was on plenty of ballots for this award, too, but in the end, Mathews' history of repeated disappointment, however unfairly - because it's an annual award, not a Lifetime Lack of Achievement honor - swayed voters in his favor. Let's face it: If you owned this third-year running back, either before or after he broke his collarbone (the first time), you felt thoroughly fleeced ... and probably cursed.
Chad Johnson Award
RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Before he was Ochocinco, he was pretty good, although his fantasy production often came in chunks. As did that of Martin, the rookie runner who proved to be everything the Bucs hoped he'd be. Unfortunately, of the 274 PPR points the Boise St. product earned this season, almost exactly one-third of them came in his combined Week 8 and Week 9 efforts. Hey, Muscle Hamster: Your average of about 14 points per in your other 13 games ain't bad, but next time, spread it out a little!
Fake Fantasy Trendsetter
TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: Rob Gronkowski's broken forearm prevented him from affirming that he warranted a top-20 fantasy selection prior to this season. Graham, however, came up with a lone 100-yard effort and didn't hit paydirt in seven different contests.
In his defense, a wrist injury nagged him for a portion of the season and likely contributed to his league-leading total of drops. But the third-year pass-catcher is short on football experience and has dealt with those problems before. Although Graham's average for fantasy points per game placed him in the top five at this position, Graham clearly didn't provide the advantage that his eager takers expected.
Donovan McNabb Award
QB Eli Manning, New York Giants: Some quarterbacks have masqueraded as something close to the overused "elite" before they nose-dived, dragging fantasy teams down with them. The San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers watched his draft stock dip because of his precipitous decline in 2011, so expectations for him were already tapering. And folks were far too trusting of Matthew Stafford after he finally delivered his first full - and magnificent - season for the Detroit Lions, but he has (hopefully) many bright years ahead of him.
But Manning was a high-end QB2 for a few seasons and a top-10 fantasy passer in each of the past three years before tanking it in 2012. In terms of fantasy points per game, he finished outside the top 20. Maybe Mario Manningham and Jake Ballard were just that good.
WR Titus Young, Detroit Lions: Many fantasy owners had high hopes for the second-year wide receiver who appeared to be physically ready to take another step toward fantasy dependability in Detroit's explosive offense. Young Sr. - as the back of his jersey read shortly after the 23-year-old became a father this past summer - proved that, psychologically, he still has a ways to go, however.
He was virtually nonexistent until Week 7, when Nate Burleson broke a leg and ended up on IR. Young was the fantasy shebang for a couple of weeks because of this newfound opportunity, but he failed to capitalize on it in the long run because of poor preparation and a lack of familiarity with his role. It culminated with his benching for lining up incorrectly on several occasions in a Week 11 loss and his eventual placement on IR for a supposed knee injury.
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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