By Eric Pehowic
The Daily Item
Last weekend was a sad one for fantasy football fans. My emails kept telling me it was my last chance to play fantasy football this season.
Surely some of you are out there playing in playoff leagues, survivor leagues and pick’em leagues. Good luck in the Super Bowl. If you’re submitting a lineup somewhere for the Pro Bowl this week, I’m holding up my hand to give you a long-distance high-five.
Me? I’m feeling good about the NFL in the rear-view.
I had a roller coaster of a season on the daily fantasy sites, suffered some serious injuries at inopportune times in some standard leagues, and just plain dreadful performances in others.
But the season ended nicely. I played minimal lineups in DFS, but doubled my meager bankrolls.
I’ll throw my hat into a few NBA dailies over the next month or two, but that meager bankroll is going to stay mostly dormant until fantasy baseball season.
Yep, it’s soon time to start hunting fantasy baseball sleepers and busts. But before we start yearning for spring, we’ll look back on the fall and winter and dish out some fantasy football awards.
Let’s start with the quarterbacks:
The 2013 Peyton Manning Award (for dominance): Peyton Manning
Um, yeah, Peyton Manning. I don't know if there's more to be said about Manning's 2013 performance. That's not going to stop TV personalities from gushing over the next week and a half lead-up to the Super Bowl. Manning's career has been legendary, and 2013 might be his most legendary season.
The 2013 JaMarcus Russell Award (for biggest flop): Aaron Rodgers
His talent is without question, but fantasy owners who spent a pick on Aaron Rodgers in the first three rounds of 2013 drafts can back me up on this one. Rodgers played just seven games during the fantasy football regular season. He missed the playoff stretch run, and two of his performances were sub par (12 points in Week 3 before GB's bye and 16 points in Week 5 after the bye). The light at the end of the tunnel: Some fantasy owners will devalue a healthy Rodgers in 2014, meaning he could fall in drafts and provide value.
The 2013 Nick Foles Award (for most neck-snapping arrival): Nick Foles
I hear you over there saying you saw this coming. You may have seen Nick Foles as a potential star, but you absolutely did not see this coming. Foles tied a record with seven touchdown passes in a game -- Manning did it this year too. And he fell just short of Manning's 20 consecutive TD passes without an interception record. Foles also completed 238 passes, dating back to last season, without throwing an interception, the eighth longest such streak in the history of the game. Foles finished with 27 TDs, 2 INTs, 3 rushing TDs and 2,891 yards passing in 13 games. Foles looks like a future star. I'm excited to see what he does in 2014, but fear fantasy owners will overpay for him in 2014.
The 2013 Tom Brady Award (for quarterback who got no respect on draft day): Andy Dalton
There are several candidates for this award. Some will appear on comeback quarterback of the year, but the final choice was easy: Andy Dalton. Dalton was drafted on average in the 10th or 11th rounds and was considered the No. 16 quarterback. He finished 2013 as a top-5 fantasy quarterback (depending on your scoring system, of course). Dalton finished with 33 TDs, 4,296 yards and a pair of rushing TDs. His 20 interceptions are troubling in leagues that penalize for turnovers, but Dalton was a win for fantasy owners who waited on QB and "settled" for Dalton. He scored 20 or more points in nine of 16 weeks and posted 32.9 points in Week 14, either the first week of playoffs or a playoff play-in week. He also scored 35.3 points on championship weekend.
The 2013 Kurt Warner Award (for career comeback performance): Philip Rivers
After he posted 27.6 points against the Texans in Week 1, everyone was saying "target the Houston D!" Then Rivers went for 34.1 points against the Eagles. The battlecry became, I'm targeting the Texans and Eagles defenses every week. I picked up Rivers in any league I could. After a 13.2-point performance in Week 3, Rivers went on to post two more 30-point games and finished the season as a top-6 quarterback. Not bad for a quarterback left for dead after a horrible 2012. He was the No. 20 quarterback in the preseason and was drafted on average in the 14th round, in leagues where he was drafted at all.
The 2013 Cam Newton Award (for rookie of the year): Geno Smith
Wow, put down those torches and pitchforks. Let's discuss this calmly. Yes, Smith's season was a disaster on paper and at first glance of his stats. However, he did score more fantasy points than any rookie quarterback in 2013. After being benched in a loss against Miami in Week 13, Smith posted a 4-game stretch that could provide a window into his future. Over those four games, he posted a 4:2 TD to INT ratio, he also threw for 200 yards twice. But what was more exciting was a commitment to the running game. He rushed for at least 44 yards in each of the games and scored 3 TDs. He rushed for half of his 366 rushing yards and half of his 6 TDs in that four-game stretch. He finished with the eighth-most rushing yards by a quarterback and tied for the most rushing TDs -- and before those final four games he only had three games with 21 or more yards rushing. If he can keep the turnovers in check and the Jets commit to his running abilities in 2014, we have a sleeper on our hands.