Victor Cruz a top five receiver? Three quarterbacks throwing for 5,000 yards? Tim Tebow becoming a fantasy factor? Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Kenny Britt, Andre Johnson and Peyton Hillis all suffering significant injuries? No matter how you slice it, 2011 was one crazy year in dynasty fantasy football leagues.
One of our most popular installments of the season at DLF was the weekly aftermath, so let’s take it up a notch and look at the entire season, along with a look towards next year with our year-in-review version of the aftermath.
2011 Fantasy MVP
There are a ton of candidates here.
The running back corps had its fair share of hits and misses. However, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice,Maurice Jones-Drew and Arian Foster all led many a dynasty team to fantasy glory.
Rob Gronkowski has to be considered for the award as well. A tight end who can put up 99 catches, 1,310 yards and score 11 touchdowns has put together a ridiculous season. Amazingly, those were Jimmy Graham’s numbers and he finished in a distant second place to Gronkowski and his EIGHTEEN total touchdowns.
At receiver, Calvin Johnson finally had the breakout season we were hoping for as he came close to 1,700 receiving yards to go with his 16 receiving touchdowns. Jordy Nelson should merit some consideration as well since he finished with an inexplicable 15 receiving touchdowns of his own.
All those players are worthy of consideration, but I’m not going to give it to any of them. For my money, this year’s MVP has to be Victor Cruz of the New York Giants. While the players listed above all had amazing years, they were all drafted or on the roster in virtually every dynasty league.
After spending last season on IR after flashing some talent in the preseason, Cruz exploded for 82 catches, 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns on a crazy 131 targets. Getting what equates to the third best receiver in fantasy off the waiver wire sparked countless teams to the championship.
That’s enough for me.
2011 Fantasy LVP
As always, you can fill up a page with candidates for this one as well.
At quarterback, Donovan McNabb and Kyle Orton were absolute disasters. Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy each seemed to take a big step back for very different reasons (durability and performance). Michael Vick wasn’t near the player many thought he’d be, either. Josh Freeman looked lost as well.
There were more than a few running backs who destroyed some fantasy seasons. Peyton Hillis was non-existent. LeGarrette Blount was the victim of a very bad offense. Darren McFadden broke hearts once again with an injury. Daniel Thomas lost his job to a resurgent Reggie Bush.Knowshon Moreno was, well, Knowshon Moreno.
The receivers were especially disappointing this season. Mike Williams of Tampa Bay pulled a Michael Clayton, but was still better than Mike Williams of Seattle. Chad Ochocinco’s impact on the Patriots was in a word, minimal. Miles Austin and Andre Johnson battled injuries yet again. Mario Manningham lost his job to Victor Cruz.
Even with all those players listed, there’s still a pretty easy winner here. Chris Johnson of the Titans posted just 1,047 rushing yards and 418 receiving yards to go along with a measly four total touchdowns. He did set a career high with catches (57), but he’s seen his yards per carry drop from 5.6 two years ago all the way down to 4.0 this season. His owners have to be seriously concerned that his paycheck has thrown a little water on his fire. For a guy taken first overall in some leagues, that was unacceptable.
The virtually unbeatable lineup of the year…
QB Aaron Rodgers GB = 4,643 passing yards, 48 total touchdowns, six interceptions
RB Ray Rice BAL = 1,364 rushing yards, 704 receiving yards, 76 catches, 16 touchdowns
RB LeSean McCoy PHI = 1,309 rushing yards, 315 receiving yards, 48 catches, 20 touchdowns
RB Maurice Jones-Drew JAX = 1,606 rushing yards, 374 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns
WR Calvin Johnson DET = 96 catches, 1,681 receiving yards, 16 touchdowns
WR Jordy Nelson GB = 68 catches, 1,263 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns
WR Wes Welker NE = 122 catches, 1,569 receiving yards, nine touchdowns
TE Rob Gronkowski NE = 90 catches, 1,327 receiving yards, 18 touchdowns
The dominant underdog lineup of the year…
QB Cam Newton CAR = 4,051 passing yards, 706 rushing yards, 31 touchdowns
RB Marshawn Lynch SEA = 1,416 total yards, 13 touchdowns
RB Reggie Bush MIA = 1,382 total yards, 43 catches, seven touchdowns
RB Darren Sproles NO = 1,313 total yards, 86 catches, nine touchdowns
WR Victor Cruz NYG = 82 catches, 1,536 receiving yards, nine touchdowns
WR Antonio Brown PIT = 69 catches, 1,108 yards, two touchdowns
WR Nate Washington TEN = 74 catches, 1,023 yards, seven touchdowns
TE Brandon Pettigrew DET = 83 catches, 777 receiving yards, five touchdowns
You probably lost in your league if your opening day lineup looked like this…
QB Kevin Kolb ARI = 1,955 passing yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions
RB Peyton Hillis CLE = 587 rushing yards, 130 receiving yards, three touchdowns
RB Jahvid Best DET = 390 rushing yards, 287 receiving yards, three TDs, one scary injury
RB Knowshon Moreno DEN = 179 rushing yards, 101 receiving yards, one touchdown
WR Chad Ochocinco NE = 15 catches, 276 yards, one touchdown
WR Mike Williams SEA = 18 catches, 236 yards, one touchdown
WR Mike Sims-Walker STL = 12 catches, 150 yards, zero touchdowns
TE Marcedes Lewis JAX = 39 catches, 460 yards, zero touchdowns
I’d be worried if…
I have Blaine Gabbert as my project quarterback in my dynasty league. It’s early, but it looks like the Jaguars may have “David Carr-ed” him.
I expect anything from Marion Barber in the future. He just looked cooked this year. The whole thing reminded of Eddie George and Jamal Lewis when they just ran out of gas.
I own any Indianapolis running back. They’ll go with Luck in round one, but it’s hard to believe any of these guys on their roster is the long term answer. Donald Brown has a chance, but he’s had about 1,000 of them.
I own BenJarvus Green-Ellis. You just get the feeling that this is the last season we’re going to see double digit scores from the law firm.
I have Rashard Mendenhall, Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles. There are simply no promises these guys return to pre-ACL form.
I have Andre Johnson in my dynasty league. His talent rivals Calvin Johnson. Unfortunately, his injury history is getting pretty troublesome.
I expect anything more from Hines Ward. He broke more sweats on Dancing with the Stars than the football field this season.
I think Matt Hasselbeck is going to start next year for the Titans. Not happening.
I own Jahvid Best in my dynasty league. He has electrifying talent and game breaking ability. He also has a history of concussions that should have him seriously thinking about retiring.
I expect more from Mike Thomas. Gabbert was bad, but Thomas was a supreme disappointment this season.
I have Josh Freeman as my young quarterback. We were all in on Freeman this season and he was a total disaster. It’s only one season, but he’s no longer a given as a quality dynasty asset.
I own LeGarrette Blount in my dynasty league. He’s a bruiser for sure, but having stone hands on a team that trailed a lot was a pretty bad combination. There’s no guarantee the Bucs take a step forward next year, limiting his upside.
I have Daniel Thomas on my roster. He rallied from a horrific preseason, but Reggie Bush is going to make it a timeshare mess at the very, very least.
I have Arian Foster on my roster. What!?! What’s that, you say? Until he’s locked up long term in Houston, I’m concerned.
I own Peyton Hillis or Montario Hardesty. There are a lot of scenarios where you see neither of these guys starting in Cleveland next year and very few that do.
I have Dez Bryant on my dynasty roster. He’s certainly far from a bust, but don’t you think we should have seen some more consistency at this point? If Laurent Robinson goes back to Dallas as expected, it’s hard to see any Dallas receiver be a WR1 in fantasy.
I have Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, Carson Palmer or Darrius Heyward-Bey. With Hue Jackson out, there are no guarantees on anything in Oakland.
I have Christian Ponder as my developmental quarterback. He was good enough to keep his job this year, but he’ll have to improve next year if Joe Webb keeps flashing his potential.
I have Mark Sanchez. Ugh.
I expect Shonn Greene to ever become a RB1. He just has flex play written all over him and it’s a real bummer for his owners.
I have Mike Wallace as my WR1. Look, Wallace is a stud. It looks like Antonio Brown may be, too. It’s awfully tough for a team to sustain two wide receivers performing at an elite fantasy level. The Giants pulled it off with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz for much of the year, but it’s very unusual.
I have Braylon Edwards. Wow, what a fall.
I own Peyton Manning in my dynasty league. If you own him, you’re stuck. You can’t trade him because nobody will give you much and you could be destroying your team if he comes back strong. On the other hand, you can’t hold on to him because you risk getting nothing back for him. Maybe you should just quit playing fantasy football.
I have Sam Bradford as my QB2. To say it’s a big year coming up for Bradford would be a huge understatement. His owners have to hope the Rams take Justin Blackmon.
I have CJ1K. Enough has been chronicled on him, but HALF of his production from two years ago? That’s just inexcusable. How ridiculous does his prediction of 2,500 yards look now. That would have taken him around 37 games at the pace he set.
I expect Michael Vick to regain his 2010 form. Look, he’s a solid QB1, but he also has issues that aren’t going away, including a checkered injury history.
I have Santonio Holmes. Do you see a theme here with Jets players?
I own Roy Helu. My stance on this won’t change until we go an entire offseason without the Redskins adding another running back.
I have DeSean Jackson on my dynasty roster. Now he says he’ll take the franchise money. Of course he will! After a season that awful, he should take anything he gets. He’s turned into a one trick pony and when you drop half of those long passes, it equates to overblown value.
I have Kevin Kolb. We never liked him much from the start and his first year in Arizona didn’t exactly prove us wrong.
I’m buying ANY running back right now in a dynasty league. This is the single worst time to acquire running back talent. You never know what’s going to happen in free agency or the draft and you can’t assume starters from 2011 will be starters in 2012.
I’m not looking to sell my high rookie draft picks in my dynasty league. We’ll have an article out later about the bust rate on these, but if you have an owner willing to trade proven, solid talent for a high pick, odds say you should jump on it. Picks hold their highest value right now, before the draft occurs.