The First Annual Wide Writeys!
Another fantasy season has come and gone, with Mike Shanahan and the Broncos going through not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but SEVEN featured running backs. Normally we’d attribute this horrendous luck to karmic justice caused by him introducing the plague known as running back tandems to the fantasy world, but since Shanahan got fired Tuesday after 14 seasons in Denver, we’re going to give him a pass. Don’t invent any more anti-fantasy mayhem in your next job, OK, Mike?
And now, without further ado, we’d like to honor 2008’s fantasy standouts with our first annual Wide Writey Awards. Please hold your applause until all the honors have been given out, since we don’t want to run over our allotted time and get pre-empted by tonight’s edition of “On the Record.” Thank you.
FIRST TEAM ALL WIDE WRITEY (based on FOXSports.com fantasy points)
QB Drew Brees, Saints (5,069 yards passing, 34 TDs)
RB1 DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (1,636 total yards, 20 TDs)
RB2 Michael Turner, Falcons (1,740 yards, 17 TDs)
WR1 Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (1,431 receiving yards, 12 TDs)
WR2 Andre Johnson, Texans (1,575 receiving yards, 8 TDs)
FLEX Matt Forte, Bears (1,715 total yards, 12 TDs)
TE Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs (1,058 receiving yards, 10 TDs)
PK Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (36 FG, 40 XP)
DST Eagles (48 sacks, 15 INT, 14 FR, 5 DTDs, 1 safety)
BIGGEST SURPRISE AND WIDE WRITE MVP
DeAngelo Williams’ average draft position was 100, meaning that he went in the ninth round of most 12-team drafts, and among running backs he was taken just after Julius Jones and right before Rudi Johnson. Rudi Johnson! If you think Williams’ overall numbers were terrific, check out his totals for Weeks 10 through 16: 815 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. That’s an all-timer of a fantasy stretch drive, folks. We’re going to waive the five-year waiting period and immediately induct Williams into the Wide Write Hall of Fame, which is conveniently located next to the craps tables at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Welcome to fantasy stud-dom, Matt Forte. The Bears’ back looks like a keeper thanks to his versatility (1,238 rushing yards, 477 receiving yards).
BIGGEST FLOP (non-injury)
After a breakout All-Pro season, Browns WR Braylon Edwards was a popular fantasy pick last fall, going fourth among wideouts and 18th overall on average. Then the season started, and Edwards was as mediocre as they come, catching 55 passes for 877 yards and three TDs. If your league included Drops as a category, Edwards probably carried you to a title, as he led the NFL with 16 of them. We did some research, and found that “Braylon” derives from the Latin phrase braylonem dropsem, which means “can’t catch.”
Tom Brady went in the top five in most drafts after throwing 9,000 touchdowns in 2007, and then got hurt eight minutes into the first game of the season. We don’t need to examine any other candidates, right? If you’re a Brady owner who pounced on Matt Cassel, you probably made a nice recovery considering the circumstances. If you picked up, say, J.T. O’Sullivan instead, you probably got pretty good at flipping channels on Sunday afternoons, watching HGTV or The Food Network instead of paying attention to your hapless fantasy team.
HEADING DOWNHILL (tie)
If you want reasons for the Chargers’ slide into mediocrity, look no further than former fantasy superstars LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. LT is a lock to be replaced as fantasy’s consensus top overall pick in 2009 after a subpar (for him) 1,536 total yards and a dozen TDs. Maybe injuries were a factor, but after averaging 3.8 yards per carry for the season, it’s fair to think that LT might be preparing for a visit to the old fantasy running backs’ home in a couple of years. We’ll probably hedge our bets and keep him in the top five in 2009, but we’ll have our fingers crossed.
A few spots over in the Charger huddle stands Gates, who ruled the fantasy tight end kingdom from 2004-07. This season, his receptions (60), yards (704) and touchdowns (eight) were the lowest since his rookie season, and he finished fifth among tight ends in fantasy points. Maybe we were greedy to think Gates’ reign would last forever.
Broncos WR Brandon Marshall was suspended for the first game of the season, which caused his draft stock to slip a bit. In Week 2, Marshall caught 18 passes, and as his proud fantasy owners we had visions of him catching 150, 160 … the ceiling seemed limitless? Instead, he wound up with a paltry 104 for 1,265 yards and six measly touchdowns. Booooooo!
PACKER VS. FORMER PACKER
Aaron Rodgers easily outpointed Brett Favre, thanks mainly to Favre throwing a putrid five touchdowns and 10 interceptions over the final six games. Rodgers threw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns, narrowly losing out to Philip Rivers for second place in points among all fantasy quarterbacks. Rodgers is a keeper, folks.
GUY WE’RE NEVER AGAIN DRAFTING IN THE FIRST ROUND
Colts RB Joseph Addai gets hurt all the time. We heard he sprained his wrist opening a present on Christmas morning. But maybe we’re just mad because we drafted him sixth overall in one league.
WIDE WRITE’S TOP 12 PICKS FOR 2009
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
4. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
5. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
7. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
8. Matt Forte, RB, Bears
9. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
11. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
12. Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants
Thanks for stopping by every week this season, folks. Have a very happy New Year.
John Halpin covers fantasy sports for FOXSports.com, writing a morning fantasy blogon weekdays and baseball columns once or twice each week, depending on the season. His "Wide Write" appears every Thursday during the NFL season on FOXNews.com. Send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more fantasy sports coverage, visit FOXSports.com/fantasy.