By Herija Green and Todd Habiger
Fantasy Stud of the Year
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: This was a two-horse race between Rodgers and Chris Johnson, the breakout running back from the Tennessee Titans, but ultimately we’re giving Rodgers the nod since he was chosen later in drafts than Johnson, who was a consensus first-round selection. Rodgers is an absolute machine offensively, passing for 4,199 yards and 29 touchdowns against only seven picks with one game left to play. He makes big plays, is willing to stand in the pocket (sometimes too long) and take hits to deliver a pass. Rodgers’ most underrated skill is his scrambling ability, where he leads all quarterbacks with 314 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The second-year starter has also shown he can still post big numbers even as the weather gets colder, something his predecessor no longer could. Even if he isn’t viewed on the same level as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees yet, that day is coming sooner than you think. Rodgers is an elite talent that continues to improve and is a likely first-round Fantasy selection as early as 2010. — HG
Fantasy Dud of the Year
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: It’s been a tough season for running backs with first- and second-round picks like Steve Slaton, Clinton Portis, Ronnie Brown, Michael Turner and Brian Westbrook struggling to stay healthy. However, we wanted to go with someone that stayed healthy and simply didn’t perform. That left us with three choices: Forte, Marion Barber and Matt Cassel. Of that group, only Forte was a first-round selection so he received the honour. One year after producing 1,715 total yards and 12 touchdowns, the Tulane product enters Week 16 with 1,209 yards and a paltry four scores. The arrival of Jay Cutler, which was supposed to invigorate the Chicago offense, has instead caused an identity crisis for the Bears, who now feature the passing game despite an underwhelming group of receivers. Forte’s fall is a major disappointment considering many pegged him as a top two or three selection. — HG
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
It wasn’t really a stellar year for Fantasy rookies, but out of a weak group, I give the award to Minnesota wide receiver Percy Harvin. The Vikings went out and drafted a playmaker despite his questionable reputation. For the season, he has six touchdowns, 49 catches and 691 yards. He’s also helped Fantasy owners with his rushing and return skills. Harvin been also an asset on kick returns.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: He’s been solid for the Broncos, but not exciting. He only has five TDs and hasn’t logged a 100-yard game yet.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: He looked good early on only to stumble with the rest of his team.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Gained some points in my book for that gutty win against Cleveland. The kid’s got promise but only two multi-TD games isn’t good enough to warrant Fantasy consideration.
Chris “Beanie” Wells, Arizona Cardinals: The potential is there, he just need more carries.
Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts: has quickly gained Manning’s confidence. He hasn’t really had a big game, but has been fairly consistent.
Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens: If I had any guts, I’d give the award to a guy who doesn’t score your Fantasy team a damn point – at least not outwardly. However, Oher has helped Ray Rice become a 1,000-yard rusher. — TH
Comeback Player of the Year
Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings: Yeah, this one pains me. It seemed like the offseason was one big will he or won’t he unretire – again. Well he finally said he was staying retired, only to un-retire. Yes, it got annoying. Anyways, once Favre hit the field he looked like a completely different player. He played smart football, cutting down on his interceptions, but still tossed in some of that Favre flair, leading the Vikings to an 11-3 record, but more importantly for Fantasy purposes, he tossed 27 TDs against a career-low seven interceptions. Love him or hate him, Favre’s turned Minnesota and many a Fantasy team, into winners.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers: For ccoming back from that big Ray Lewis hit.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys: For coming back from obscurity.
Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins: For coming back for the dead to be a 1,000-yard back again.
Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals: For reinventing himself after Chad Johnson went to parts unknown.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots: For returning from his devastating knee injury. –TH
You Killed Me You Bastard Award
Every year, Brian Westbrook kills me whenever my team plays against him. Absolutely kills me. This year, I figured “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and picked up Westbrook in both of my football leagues. Uh, bad move. I got two TDs and 225 yards rushing and more head trauma than Westbrook from banging my head against the wall. Let’s just say I’ve got that out of my system now. Westbrook will add his name to next to Daunte Culpepper (2005), Emmitt Smith (1997) and Steve Young (1995) – all guys who destroyed my season with off years and whom I’ve never liked or drafted again. — TH