Fantasy Impact: The best - and worst of fantasy football in 2016
Another season is in the books, and we've got what else - awards for the good, bad and ugly.
But first a bit of housekeeping. With the fantasy season over for most of us one week ago, there were still things that stood out in the NFL's Week 17.
Avoid DeMarco Murray on draft day 2017 - With the way rookie backup Derrick Henry emerged at the end of the season, it won't be long before he's the starter for the Titans. Henry carried the load Sunday and looked good doing it, making one wonder for next year. Murray avoided IR somehow in 2016 and will likely be over drafted for his production this season. Next year looks like a more traditional timeshare for the Titans before Henry eventually takes hold of the job.
Racing stripes: Will the Bengals' Rex Burkhead be the No. 1 back in Cincinnati next season? With Jeremy Hill out on Sunday, the former backup rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns against the No. 5 ranked Baltimore run defense. This year as the starter, Hill hit the 100-yard mark only twice - both times against woebegone Cleveland. Burkhead is set to be a free agent, so whether the Bengals keep him, draft a back or resign itself to Hill, leaves the outlook cloudy but he might just be the answer.
Watch the Bucs backfield: Doug Martin's future is in jeopardy getting rehab treatment after admitting a PED problem. Martin got a fat $30 million deal in the offseason but needs to get well first while pint-sized backup Jacquizz Rodgers appears to be the starter. Fantasy handcuff squatters have been in love with Charles Simms the past two years on draft day, but he's done nothing yet. The Bucs have one of the youngest and most interesting offenses in the league but the starting RB choice is going to be critical for fantasy owners.
Patriot (passing) Games: Michael Floyd was a troubled late-season pick up after the Cardinals parted ways with him. I never thought to see him end up in box scores playing meaningful snaps, but these past two weeks he's done just that - even catching a TD Sunday. I'll be curious to see the Patriot passing game pecking order in 2017 between the emerging Malcolm Mitchell, fading Julian Edelman, resurgent Floyd and resurrected Rob Gronkowski.
Without further ado, let's get into The 2016 Fantasy Impact Awards:
Fantasy MVP: RB David Johnson. The Cardinals running back edges Ezekiel Elliott here - barely. Johnson scored 20 touchdowns and tied Barry Sanders' 15-game record of 100 combined yards per game and provided receiver production. DJ cranked out 1,200 yards on the ground and nearly 900 receiving yards.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott - some owners turned heads by suggesting in preseason he should be the top overall pick in fantasy drafts and they reaped the rewards from the Ohio State product. Elliott scored 17 touchdowns and was an instant plug and play hit behind the NFL's best offensive line. He should be the No. 1 pick overall in 2017.
Fantasy Bust of the Year: Todd Gurley - and it isn't even close. Gurley got dragged down by the Rams' historically bad offense and also didn't seem to run with the same power or determination. It's like he knew he was doomed - and after Week One's disastrous outing against the 49ers - his owners knew too.
The Penthouse to Outhouse Award: Christine Michael, Packers. He went from starting for the Seahawks putting up great numbers to being a healthy scratch, to getting cut and being picked up by the desperate Packers. What happened, man?
The Mr. Disappointment Award: Drew Brees, Saints. When looking at the total numbers, he's easy to love but look closer. Brees was the king of bad timing. He came up empty with zero TD passes in Week 13 - the start of fantasy playoffs or final regular season game for owners, and in Week 14 a big fantasy playoff week. He totaled four interceptions in those two games then bounced back in Week 15 but had just one scoring pass in championship Week 16 in an easy matchup with the Bucs.
The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Award: Russell Wilson, Seahawks. With a revolving door at running back, and Wilson fighting injuries at the beginning of the year, he had some cards stacked against him. But it's still no reason to go five games without a touchdown pass and four games with one touchdown pass, just killing his owners.
Runner-up: WR Marvin Jones, Lions. Through the first seven weeks, he scored four touchdowns with two 100-yard-plus games and two more just under 100. The last eight games he went scoreless with a high of 67 yards including a dandy 5-yard effort against the Vikings.
The Garbage Time Award: QB Collin Kaepernick and QB Blake Bortles. Can it be a tie? Both spun some hopeless second halves of real football games into usable and useful fantasy box scores. The only problem was Bortles was a mid-round pick and Kaepernick a waiver wire gem, leaving expectations pretty damaged for the Jags starter who at times looked just plain bad (although not quite Brock Osweiller-bad).
Mr. What-Might-Have-Been: Melvin Gordon, Chargers. It was a breakout season for the second-year back who led the NFL in touchdowns at one point and had 10 rushing scores in 12 games by the time he went out with hip and leg injuries. Although cut down just before many owners' fantasy playoffs, Gordon cemented his spot as a first-round pick in 2017.
All-Fantasy First Team
QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers - Week 15 was his only outing without a touchdown pass, as he seemed to get even better without a run game.
RB David Johnson, Cardinals - A total of 20 touchdowns with more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage, he carried the Cards offense and was the most consistent player in football.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys - The rookie made a splash with seven games of more than 100 yards and will likely be one of the top two picks in 2017 fantasy.
WR Jordy Nelson, Packers - Led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches and didn't look like he lost a step after missing all of 2015 on IR.
WR Antonio Brown, Steelers - Considered by many the No. 1 overall pick, Brown scored 12 TDs and balanced splash games with consistent production.
WR Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants - After a tough opening month, Beckham settled down for owners and was consistent, capable of scoring from any spot on the field.
TE Delanie Walker, Titans - One of the few reliable players at a position that was difficult to fill this year. Walker wasn't explosive, but steady.
PK Justin Tucker, Ravens - Especially if you play in a league with distance bonuses, Tucker was often the only consistent highlight of Baltimore's offense.
All-Fantasy Second team
QB Matt Ryan, Falcons
RB LeSean McCoy, Bills
RB LeGarrette Blount, Patriots
WR Mike Evans, Bucs
WR Devante Adams, Packers
WR TY Hilton, Colts
TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs
PK Matt Bryant, Falcons
All-Bust First Team
QB Cam Newton, Panthers
RB Todd Gurley, Rams
RB Eddie Lacey, Packers
WR Allen Robinson, Jaguars
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
*Adrian Peterson was well on his way to this designation before being injured early missing nearly the whole season. Whereas Gronk owners had to endure his first injury, then three games of him being a decoy or getting pulled from games early followed by his last injury which twisted the knife.
All-Bust Second Team
QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks
RB Doug Martin, Bucs
RB Mark Ingram, Saints
WR Brandon Marshall, Jets
WR Alshon Jeffrey, Bears
WR Jordan Matthews, Eagles
TE Eric Ebron, Lions
The All-Injury Team
QB Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
WR Keenan Allen, Chargers
WR Sammy Watkins, Bills
WR AJ Green, Bengals
TE Jordan Reed, Redskins
The All-Waiver Wire Team
QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys
RB Jay Ajayi, Dolphins
RB Jordan Howard, Bears
WR Jamison Crowder, Redskins
WR Rishard Matthews, Titans
WR Terrelle Pryor, Browns
TE Martellus Bennett, Patriots
All-Waiver Wire Second Team
QB Collin Kaepernick, 49ers
RB Robert Kelley, Redskins
RB Tevin Coleman, Falcons
WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
WR Taylor Gabriel, Falcons
WR Tyrell Williams, Chargers
TE Cameron Brate, Bucs
The All-Fantasy Rookie Team
QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
RB Jordan Howard, Bears
WR/RB Rob Kelley, Redskins
WR Mike Thomas, Saints
WR Sterling Shepard, Giants
WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
TE Hunter Henry, Chargers
And lastly a personal one for me. These are players so frustrating from my own four leagues that I never want to own any again. All in all, I had two teams play in championships with one team winning, so it wasn't all terrible for yours truly.
But whether these players produced inconsistently, or just plain never, or had bodies made for IR, all they did was cause anger. And sadness, so much sadness.
My All-Never Again Team
QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks - Up, down and useless. Welcome to the Seattle rollercoaster.
RB Jeremy Hill, Bengals - You know what you did. Week 16, much?
RB Doug Martin, Bucs - Personal problems aside, the 2015 rushing champ was a constant tease.
WR/RB Jonathan Stewart - Either hurt or vultured by Cam at the goal line, with flashes of production.
WR Doug Baldwin, Seahawks - Three of his seven TDs came in one week. Thanks man.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans - Was a fantasy box score widow thanks to bad QB play.
TE Coby Fleener, Saints - Never did a thing despite playing in a fantasy funhouse offense.
About the Author:
David Komer is a web producer/multimedia journalist for FOX 2. He is a former fantasy sports columnist for SportsIllustrated.com where he wrote for three years and he has won more than 20 Michigan Press Association awards in news and sports coverage in his career.