By Josh Johnson, Nick Wagner, Vaney Hariri and RotoRob
It’s time to turn our attention to the Gridiron for the 2013 RotoRob Football Awards.
2013 RotoRob Awards
All stats are current as of Week 15.
Fantasy Stud of the Year
Jamaal Charles did a jig of joy when he won our coveted award. (Sportswunderkind.com)
The obvious and standard contenders here are guys like Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham, and sure enough, all these players had stellar campaigns. In fact, not giving this award to Manning take some major restraint on our part. However, we here at RotoRob.com will never just give you the obvious. That’s why Jamaal Charles is our choice as the 2013 Fantasy Stud of the Year. In world where workhorse running backs are almost non-existent, Charles is a beast. Like AP, Charles has gone under the knife for a major knee operation, and like Purple Jesus, he bounced back strongly. Charles has led Kansas City from 2-14 a year ago to the playoffs in 2013 by averaging 131.2 yards of total offense per game. He leads the league with 18 touchdowns and already has 65 receptions — 20 more than his career high. It should be notable we had already decided to give this award to Charles before his five touchdown outburst in Week 15. — JJ
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos and Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Fantasy Dud of the Year
Is RGIII still a sure thing after flopping? (watchdog.org )
Last year, like most of you, we had a great big glass of Robert Griffin III hype Kool-Aid forced upon us, and you know what? We drank it up — that’s right — the whole sugary glass. Now don’t get us wrong. We’re not crying buyer’s remorse or anything like that, because we do believe that RGIII is in fact the real deal, but his performance this year made it less of a certainty and more of a “we’re pretty sure” type of thing. Like most people, he has flaws; but unlike most people, he has a camera or a microphone in his face everywhere he goes, broadcasting all of his short comings in crystal clear high definition. Additionally, he is the face of a franchise that has made an art out of mishandling the media. The Washington Redskins — from owner, to coach, to players — have seemingly done their best to rehash and revive open ended questions of mishandled injuries, infighting, and a divided locker room. Hell, even the team name is a hot button issue. This time last year we were in awe of Griffin who at the time was touting a QB rating of over 100 and had only thrown five interceptions on the year — a feat for a rookie that falls just short of absurd. Did we expect too much for 2013? Did he set the bar too high? Griffin would tell you no, and that’s the problem — we don’t what you to tell us anything — just do it! (We don’t have to pay Nike, do we?) In fact, we remember someone coming up with the perfect phrase of what RGIII should do– that’s right — “Bill Belichick it.” Of course when Griffin spoke that phrase he was referring to how the New England Patriots head coach artfully avoids engaging the media; as for us, we just take it as shutting up and winning championships. So please, RGIII, go home and rest, get 100 per cent healthy and come back in 2014 fully ready to “Belichick it.” — VH
Dishonourable Mentions: Trent Richardson, Eli Manning and Ray Rice.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Keenan Allen (left) proved his knee was sound. (utsandiego.com)
A difference-making rookie can leave many trails of drool and many waiver budgets lacking in funds. Some smarter owners study enough to take chances on first-year players in the later rounds. Others will get overeager and take a guy like Eddie Lacy in round two. We here at RotoRob.com were placing our chips in two baskets. Those two rookies were DeAndre Hopkins (who was basically going to be the next Randy Moss) and Kenbrell Thompkins (whose emergence in training camp made him a sleeper candidate for the ages). Ultimately, the inconsistency sword would sever both their causes. Then Keenan Allen emerged in San Diego. A knee injury in college slowed Allen and destroyed his prospects for being a first round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. In retrospect, it’s clear he was certainly more than worthy. Tavon Austin (eighth pick), Hopkins (27th) and Cordarrelle Patterson (29th) were all drafted in the first round. Justin Hunter, Robert Woods and Aaron Dobson were second round draft picks. Then in the third, Terrance Williams was selected and two picks later Allen was finally chosen by the Chargers. On the year, Allen has 63 catches for 931 yards and seven touchdowns. He has 14 more receptions than the next closest rookie. Allen also leads all rookies with 14 catches of 20 yards or more. If the NFL doesn’t give this rookie an award we certainly will. The decision couldn’t be any easier. — JJ
Honourable Mentions: Kiko Alonso, LB, Buffalo Bills and Eddy Lacy, RB Green Bay Packers.
Comeback Player of the Year
Knowshon Moreno hurdled his way to Comeback Player of the Year. (Robert Backman/CSM/Landov)
While the 2012 Comeback Player Award really only had two serious contenders (Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning), the field for 2013 was wide open, with a number of worthwhile contenders. We feel that Knowshon Moreno is the most deserving of the bunch, given that last spring the fifth-highest scoring running back in Fantasy was not even guaranteed a roster spot. As recently as mid-August, most observers thought that even if Moreno made the team he would still be buried behind Ronnie Hillman (remember him?) and rookie Montee Ball on the depth chart. Then came a Denver preseason filled with Hillman fumbling and Ball missing blocks in pass protection, opening the door for Moreno to become a feature back in one of the highest powered offenses the NFL has ever seen. Moreno did not disappoint, through Week 16 he’s rushed for a career high 1.015 yards, including a 224-yard performancer at New England in Week 12. He also has racked up a personal best 12 touchdowns and only has one fumble on his 290 touches. This year Knowshon has fought through injuries to play in every game, the first time he’s been able to do that since his rookie year in 2009. He even took the high road in early October when fellow NFL running back LeSean McCoy tweeted “Knowshon sucks” during the Broncos’ Week Five match-up with Dallas. “Glad @CutonDime25 was watching our game tonight. Great team win, let’s keep rolling…” was a far classier response than many athletes would have made, giving us just one more reason to name Moreno as our 2013 Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year. — NW
Honourable Mentions: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers, Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals, Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs and Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals.
The Big Tease Award
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before… Darren McFadden got hurt this year. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
This award has a stellar chance of become a reoccurring one. Had we been handing out this honour on a yearly basis, Darren McFadden might have a full trophy case. In case you have never owned or have never had any desire to own him, we will fill you in. This is McFadden’s sixth year in the NFL and his career high in games played is 13, established in 2010 when he totaled 1,664 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. He’s a tall back 6′2″), but is listed at only 210 pounds. His lack of girth and long body have been the main reasons for his lack of durability. Former Charger and Jet LaDainian Tomlinson (5′10″, 221) seemed to cast the mold, physically, for the current successful running backs. McFadden looks bigger than his weight and that is why he is tease. Some would dare call him a power back. Yet, his speed and athleticism would suggest he is the perfect mix of quickness and power. Real perfect mix backs are guys like Adrian Peterson (6′1″, 217) and Earl Campbell (5′11″, 232). Neither ever shied away from contact and they scampered like gazelles in the open field. McFadden is in a contract year and apparently too much contact limited him to just eight games this season. — JJ
Honorable Mention: Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons.
The Mr. Underowned Award
Ryan Tannehill gets no Fantasy love. (Topteamfantasy.com)
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill came in at number 18 in our preseason rankings. We also recommended him in our Week Five and Week 15 editions of The Wire Troll. Yet Tannehill remained widely available (32 per cent owned in Yahoo leagues). His QB rating improved 5.6 points this season (and that would have been even more if not for those final two ugly games). Tannehill threw 24 touchdown passes this season compared to just 12 in his rookie campaign. That’s amazing, because he has been missing two-thirds of his offensive line for a chunk of the season. Through Week 15, Tannehill had outperformed Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Carson Palmer in Fantasy points. Tannehill also had as many touchdowns passes as Tom Brady at that juncture. We see Tannehill only getting better here on out. He has speedy deep threat Mike Wallace, the ever-steady Brian Hartline and the quickly maturing Charles Clay all returning for next season. If they are able to add to Tannehill’s offensive line this offseason, he could be a Fantasy starter all season in 2014. So maybe you were lucky enough to own Peyton Manning this season, good for you. Unfortunately, he is the only Manning worth owning. Tannehill, meanwhile, had scored double-digit Fantasy points in every game through Week 15, whereas Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees and Andy Dalton could not say that. — JJ
Honourable Mention: Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Deadliest Receiving Corps
Demaryius Thomas led a potent WR group in Denver (Nobodywinsontheblue.com).
With Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker all ranking in the top 25 Fantasy receivers, the Denver Broncos could easily win this award on offensive production alone, but we think they deserve it based on also having so many sub par games to go with their point explosions. While Thomas was fairly consistent, Decker has failed to reach double digit Fantasy points nine times, and since Week Eight, Welker has only hit that mark once. Their low scores down the stretch killed as many Fantasy owners as their big games shot down opponents, leaving us no choice but to name this group the deadliest in the league. — NW
Justin Blackmon ruined many a Fantasy season. (Jaguarsgab.com)
Justin Blackmon ended 2012 on a tear, racking up 615 yards and four touchdowns over the last seven weeks. The offseason brought news of a four-game suspension, vastly lowering his draft stock. Many owners held on, figuring Blackmon would come through when he returned, and they were not let down. His first two games back were outstanding: 19 catches for 296 yards and a score. That left many Fantasy owners ecstatic, dreaming of a low-cost player leading their team to glory. Unfortunately, Blackmon’s return was short lived, as he played in just four games before being suspended again, this time for a year. He cost himself millions of dollars, but perhaps more importantly for us, Blackmon crushed the championship dreams of many Fantasy owners. — NW
Johnny Cash Impersonation Award
Peyton Manning didn’t have many reasons to sing the blues — yet he did, regardless. (Backseatfan.com)
Apparently, Peyton Manning isn’t just a pretty face (which you will realize, if you look at him closely, is a damn good thing). He can also sing, or at least fake his way through fairly well. Back in late-April, Manning held his children’s hospital gala in Indianapolis and he had pop country star Luke Bryan as the entertainer for the event. But Manning — being a showman and all — opted to get on stage with Bryan and perform Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” Okay, so Peyton wasn’t dressed in black from head to toe, nor was he sporting a Stetson, but we’ve got to admit — he held his own. — RR
Worst Timed Pat on the Rear of the Year
Chad Johnson’s troubles ended his Dolphin career before it began. (espn.go.com)
When one of your football teammates does something good, it’s accepted practice to pat them on the ass. So perhaps we should overlook Chad Johnson patting his lawyer on the rear end in court in mid-June — a move that pissed off Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh enough that she rejected a plea bargain Johnson and his team had reached with prosecutors that would have limited his battery charges to community service and counselling. McHugh was all set to approve that plea bargain when Johnson patted his lawyer, Adam Swickle, on the ass as if to say “nice work, dude.” That caused an uproar of laughter in the court, and McHugh — clearly not a football fan — was in no mood to make light of this issue considering the seriousness of the charges. So she tossed out the deal and sentenced Johnson to 30 days in jail. How’s that for a smack on the ass, Chad? Johnson, having played for the Bengals and gone through camp with the Dolphins, is used to wearing orange, so the transition should be seamless. As for his being used to touching other men’s butts? Suffice to say that Johnson must have been an All Pro in the shower. — RR
The Rankee Strikes Back Award
Antonio Gates has an issue with the “experts.” (AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance)
All of us Fantasy sports “experts” think nothing of assessing players’ values on endless preseason cheat sheets and weekly rankings lists. Rarely, if ever, do we consider that we might be pissing a player off with a low ranking. But that’s exactly what happened in May with San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who took issue with being ranked just 73rd on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013. “Apparently they don’t watch football,” Gates said of those responsible for the rankings. However, it’s patently untrue, as this list is voting on by fellow NFL players. Oops. Sorry, Antonio, but you’re actually getting dissed by your peers, not some stat-loving geeky armchair quarterbacks. — RR
The Taking Fantasy Football Serious Award
MJD’s Fantasy comments were taken a bit too seriously. (Fantasypros.com)
Maurice Jones-Drew’s statement in mid-July during a SiriusXM interview that one of his former teammates almost didn’t throw a block for him because they were playing against each other in Fantasy football was taken very seriously by some. But MJD insists he was joking, Tweeting: “Stop the madness!! Listen to the broadcast…it was a JOKE people…made during the Sirius fantasy draft. #commonsencejournalism!” Jones-Drew was responding to a question about how seriously he and his teammates take their Fantasy football match-ups against each other. Several media outlets picked up the story, prompting MJD to explain he wasn’t being serious when we claimed they take their Fantasy so serious that it could affect their real play. Did you catch all that? If so, congrats. You deserve an award, too. — RR
Sophie’s Choice Award
Save the pizza or the car? For Nate Burleson, it’s an easy call. (Offtherecordsports.com)
Sometimes in life, we are faced with a near impossible decision in which our life will be altered one way or the other. It’s our Sophie’s Choice moment. For Detroit Lions’ WR Nate Burleson that moment came in late-September when he was driving along with two piping hot deep dish pizzas sitting on his passenger seat, their scent sending him into a stupor in which sensible decision making is the first attribute to go. Pizza has that kind of power. Suddenly, Burleson had to hit the brakes, and one of the pizzas started slipping off the seat (why, oh why, he didn’t buckle up his precious cargo, we will never know). With his pizza in danger, he did what anyone would have done — he reached down to save his tasty pie, and in so doing, made a decision to lose control of the vehicle, putting not only his $15,000 2009 GMC Yukon in danger, but also endangering his own health and livelihood. Well, the car hit the median and as we all know, Burleson suffered a broken arm in the accident, missing over a month of the season as a result. Pizza or your life? That may sound like a hard decision, but let’s flip it around a bit: is life without pizza worth living? — RR
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below if you agreed or disagree with our awards. Who would have gotten your hardware?