11 Defining Moments of the 2012 Fantasy Football Season

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2012

11 Defining Moments of the 2012 Fantasy Football Season

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    The NFL regular season is over, and so is traditional fantasy football. 

    Fake football can be a cruel mistress, its ups and downs toying with our emotions when we might otherwise be stoic. Whether you were sweating box scores out in the championship game or mired in misery for your 2-12 team, there was plenty of drama to be had in the fantasy realm.

    What were some of the biggest fantasy story lines of the season?

Rob Gronkowski's Injury

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    The tight end position rose to new fantasy football heights last year thanks to monster contributions from the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.

    As such, their fantasy stock nearly cracked the first round, making them vital cogs for their fantasy owners. Unfortunately for Gronkowski owners, the T-1000 was taken in for repairs at a critical time of the season.

    While expecting them to replicate their success was a bit optimistic, losing Gronkowski for the stretch run and the fantasy playoffs was a big blow for his owners.

Doug Martin Earns a New Nickname

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    The Buccaneers hopped the Giants in the NFL Draft just to ensure they got Doug Martin, and he has proven worth the effort.

    The Muscle Hamster got off to a slow start, but then he ran into Minnesota and Oakland. 

    Martin singlehandedly won some fantasy games, particularly during his four-touchdown explosion against the Raiders. 

    He was henceforth known as Dougie Howser. Or DMart. 

Aaron Rodgers Gets Off to a Slow Start

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    The beginning of the season was a rough one for Aaron Rodgers owners.

    The consensus top quarterback drafted had to play San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle to open up the season, and his fantasy outputs suffered. That was just enough to cause a bit of a panic, perhaps allowing another owner to buy low.

    Rodgers got things going against New Orleans and really ramped things up against Houston on the road. His slow start could have altered many leagues.

Adrian Peterson Becomes Wolverine

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    It was scarcely a year ago when Adrian Peterson fell to the turf writhing in pain. He was diagnosed with a torn ACL and MCL the week after being helped off the field, putting the 2012 season in serious doubt. 

    Even when he came back to practice unexpectedly early, few—if anyone—expected him to have a big year. Boy were we wrong.

    Peterson roared back in Week 1, scoring two touchdowns and immediately rewarding anyone who took a chance on him with a high draft pick. He has been the league and fantasy MVP this year despite the injury, very nearly breaking Eric Dickerosn’s record in the process. 

Tony Romo and Dez Bryant Buck the Fantasy Monkey

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    The two most prominent Cowboys were easy targets for derision.

    Tony Romo has had his moments over the years, but he built a reputation for wilting under pressure. Dez Bryant oozed talent coming out of college, but his antics on and off the field seemed to be dragging him down. 

    The duo has been anything but a fantasy joke this year, though, particularly in the second half. Bryant has finally emerged as the elite receiver we have expected since he was drafted, and Romo has reaped the benefits.

    So have their fantasy owners.

The Rise of the Pistol

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    The NFL is entrenched in tradition, but offensive innovation lurks. A few years ago, the Dolphins brought back the Wildcat and rode it to a playoff berth. This year, the pistol came back into vogue thanks to a couple of dynamic quarterbacks.

    Kyle Shanahan tailored Washington’s offense around their star rookie, Robert Griffin III, and he has thrived as a result. Griffin rewarded his fantasy owners for taking a chance on him by becoming a top five fantasy quarterback, following Cam Newton’s rookie act up with a splendid sequel. 

    Alfred Morris was also a big beneficiary, leading all rookies in rushing as a result.

    The pistol has also been a part of Russell Wilson’s second-half emergence as he was a top five quarterback over the final eight weeks of the season.

    Is the pistol another fad like the Wildcat, or will defenses continue to be stymied by the read-option?

The Alex Smith Affair

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    Alex Smith has been a fine quarterback over the past couple of seasons, working efficiently while leading the 49ers to a NFC West title, the NFC Championship Game and a great start to the 2012 campaign. 

    Then he was concussed.

    Colin Kaepernick had made waves before that point, scoring some big-time touchdowns in special packages, but nobody knew exactly what he would do when pressed into full-time duty.

    Unfortunately for Smith, Kaepernick was marvelous, and the rest is history. Whoever was lucky enough to nab CK in their fantasy league might have saved their season.

The Great Colts Turnaround

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    Indianapolis was 2-14 last season. They gutted their roster in the offseason and drafted nearly all offensive players, practically neglecting the offensive line and defense in the process.

    Who knew they would wind up 11-5?

    Even more surprising has been Andrew Luck’s immediate success, despite his status as the No. 1 overall pick. His fantasy star is nowhere near its apex, but the rookie gave Old Man Reggie Wayne and Oft-Injured Donnie Avery new life and helped fellow rookies T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen. Even Vick Ballard obtained some fantasy relevance.

Defensive Touchdowns Galore

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    Chicago ruled the first half of the season while Seattle went nuts during the last few weeks of the fantasy season, but team defenses scored plenty of fantasy points this year.

    This just goes to show that you should never spend a high draft pick on a defense. San Francisco was often chosen as the first defense off the board, and they were far outpaced by other defenses.

Megatron Breaks the Madden Curse

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    Calvin Johnson drew the short straw when he was put on the Madden cover, which prompted real concern that he would be hexed this season. His fantasy owners found no such thing to be true.

    The silly superstition did not affect Megatron, though, as he nearly eclipsed 2,000 receiving yards while breaking Jerry Rice's season record for receiving yards.

    He might not have scored as many touchdowns as last season, but the Madden Curse is no more.

Jason Witten’s Ruptured Spleen

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    The preseason was not kind to veteran Jason Witten.

    He ruptured his spleen, a dangerous injury, and his season was cast in doubt as a result. His fantasy stock took a subsequent tumble as owners were scared off by the combination of injury and age. Boy did that help whoever eventually nabbed him.

    Witten’s first couple of games were nothing special, but the Cowboys tight end eventually got healthy enough to break the all-time record for receptions at his position. He might not have the touchdown count of a Rob Gronkowski, but Witten was a PPR monster.