No Flash (in the Pan) Gordon: Josh Gordon emerged as a fantasy superstar under shaky circumstances.
It is all over for fantasy football owners. The championship is crowned. The money is doled out—and, certainly, in most cases, it is already spent.
All that is left is the shouting. We do the shouting here by giving shout-outs to Bleacher Report's 2013 fantasy football award winners. This is a packed 12-part slideshow, so let's get right into it.
LeSean McCoy finished as the NFL's rushing title belt-holder and earned a spot on the All-Fantasy Team.
Winning fantasy football leagues is never easy. It is made a lot easier when your picks finish as the leading scorers at a number of positions.
It would have been impossible to wind up with this collection of talent on Bleacher Report's All-Fantasy Team, but it doesn't make announcing these names in one monstrous lineup any less fun:
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
This officially goes down as the greatest season for the position in fantasy history: 5,477 yards passing and 55 touchdowns.
- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
- Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
- Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
- Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
- Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, and Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (tie)
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
This duo not only put their names in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick for 2014, but they are also the only options. Both have high-powered offenses that feature the running back heavily in the rushing and passing games.
- Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
- Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
- Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
- Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Many might have seen Thomas and Gordon as burgeoning stars, but no one could have predicted them outscoring the once-incomparable Megatron—especially because both had hurdles to overcome. Gordon had to deal with shaky quarterbacks and a non-contending team, while Thomas had a trio of Manning receivers to compete with for targets and touchdown throws.
- A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
- Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
- Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
- Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
There was only going to be one answer here with Rob Gronkowski starting his season late coming off back and arm surgeries. Not only is Graham the only preseason No. 1 at a skill position to come through, but he also finished with that lofty ranking convincingly...in a contract year.
That's how you debate.
- Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
- Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
- Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
- Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
- Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
This was quite a rebound season for the Panthers. They might not have been drafted in your league, but they wound up as one of the few defenses you could trust even against the likes of a Drew Brees. That is what happens when you have a defensive-minded head coach (Ron Rivera). Let that be a lesson to you for future years.
- Kansas City Chiefs
- St. Louis Rams
- Seattle Seahawks
- Buffalo Bills
- Arizona Cardinals
Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
He might not have been No. 1 on everyone's board, but he was on ours. There were some huge moments from these also-rans below, but the Pats kicker was the most consistent week to week, just like he is year to year.
- Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
- Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
- Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
- Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
- Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers, and Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers (tie)
Sorry, Nick Foles, you had to be snubbed in the selections for the All-Emack Team, despite a great run.
OK, so that list on the previous slide might not have done much for you, because you couldn't have come up with that team out of any draft. There were too many preseason premium fantasy picks who finished at the top.
Here is a lineup you might have been about to cobble together. It is the All-Emack Team, a collection of fantasy players who dramatically outproduced their draft position.
Finding these middle- to late-round gems is how you truly win your league year to year.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
As much as you might have liked his having A.J. Green as a leading target and getting Tyler Eifert in the first round of the NFL draft, you couldn't have drafted Dalton as a starting fantasy quarterback—much less expected him to become elite with almost 4,300 yards passing and 33 touchdowns.
Dalton quietly finished not only among the viable starters, but as an elite one as the No. 3 scorer at the position. Heck, in some eight-team, two-quarterback leagues, he might have been drafted as a third quarterback. That's some serious return on investment.
Honorable mention: Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles, and Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
You might struggle to remember who many fantasy analysts had atop the Broncos depth chart in the preseason. Your first guess might be second-round rookie Montee Ball if you think this was a trick question. Your second guess would be Moreno, if you didn't.
It was Ronnie Hillman. Who?
Moreno finally became a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown back, and he did it in a season in which he could have been considered third on the depth chart going into training camp.
Honorable mention: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
While you had to love the talent and potential of this second-year receiver, you couldn't have expected elite numbers out of him. He just had too many things working against him:
- He was raw at a position that tends to be dominated at the top by veterans.
- He has a poor supporting cast with no reliable secondary target to draw double coverage off him.
- He had to endure and ingest a new coaching regime and offensive system.
- He had to deal with a poor quarterback to start the season, Brandon Weeden.
- He had to deal with multiple quarterback changes, from Weeden to Brian Hoyer to Jason Campbell.
- No running game to take the pressure off. Willis McGahee led the Browns with 377 yards rushing!
- He missed the first two games of the season to a suspension.
Gordon overcame a lot to lead the NFL in receiving yards and fantasy football wide receivers in standard scoring. It sure sets him up for a huge career.
Honorable mention: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears, and Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
This defines an All-Emack Team player, someone who might have been picked up off waivers after Week 1 of the season. Darn you, Emack! How did you not rank this guy as a fantasy starter in the preseason?!
Easy. The Broncos had just too many wide receiver weapons to pick through. Still, Thomas has emerged as a new-wave star at the position.
Honorable mention: Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
This is the only pick—if this unit wasn't a waiver claim in almost all leagues—that earned All-Fantasy and All-Emack status this year. They have positioned themselves well for the future and might be the No. 2 defense pick next year to the Seattle Seahawks.
Honorable mention: Kansas City Chiefs
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
There was debate whether the Packers would even bring this maligned kicker back after a disappointing 2012 season. There is no debate now; he is an elite option all over again.
Honorable mention: Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
There are many ways to look at an MVP in fantasy football.
It can be the highest scorer—check.
It can be one who wildly outperformed his draft position—check.
It can be someone who came through late in the season in fantasy crunch time—check.
It can be someone who made everyone around him a more productive fantasy player—check, check, check, check and check.
It has to be the Broncos' Manning, who put together the greatest season in fantasy football history.
- Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
- Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
- Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
- Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
- LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Eddie Lacy's outstanding rookie year for the Green Bay Packers has helped him leap into Round 1 consideration.
This past April was the first NFL draft that failed to have a running back go in Round 1 since 1963—when there were only 14 teams picking. There are perhaps as many as 20 teams kicking themselves for not picking Eddie Lacy.
The Green Bay Packers aren't. They gobbled up Lacy in the second round as the fourth running back selected.
Lacy was a top-10 talent if not for injury issues. While he didn't stay healthy for 16 games, he did do things Green Bay Packers backs haven't done in years, if not decades.
He had 100-yard games. Four of them.
He had a 1,000-yard season, leading all rookies in rushing.
He had 11 touchdowns, leading all rookies in scoring. Five of them came in the last four games!
He finished strong.
He outscored the consensus preseason No. 1, Adrian Peterson, in standard leagues.
He has become a sure-fire fantasy first-rounder. Lacy is the sure-fire fantasy rookie of the year.
- Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
- Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
- Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
- Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
No, Keenan Allen, we salute you for what you were able to accomplish as the top rookie fantasy wide receiver.
Fantasy football is a veteran's game for the most part, but it was a productive rookie class in 2013. You might not have started these rookies every week, but they were useful options in spots, particularly through the bye portion of the season.
Geno Smith, New York Jets
There might have been times when Tim Tebow looked like a more viable NFL quarterback than Smith, but here are some names Smith was able to outscore in fantasy leagues: Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford.
That's some decent company. The spoils of recent fantasy rookie quarterbacks were not sustainable.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
They are big backs that don't figure to have lengthy careers because of the punishment we should expect them to take, but they are grinders that do their own finishing at the goal line. You take the good with the bad in keeper leagues. These are first-rounders.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
Rookie wide receivers are always a mixed bag and rarely regular fantasy starters. Allen was. He was the only one here to be listed without debate. Marlon Brown, Kenny Stills, DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Ace Sanders and Justin Hunter all had their moments, too.
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This was Jordan Reed's honor to lose at midseason, and he did. Wright has built a decent future for himself with fellow rookie Mike Glennon in Tampa.
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
This wasn't a bonanza rookie year for kickers like 2012 was, but Sturgis held his own and will wind up a perennial fantasy option—especially if Ryan Tannehill continues to improve.
Robert Quinn (left) deserves a friendly hug for all of those unfriendly hugs he gave quarterbacks.
He doesn't get the name recognition of his bookend St. Louis Rams teammate Chris Long, perhaps, but Robert Quinn took the torch from J.J. Watt as the best pass-rushing defensive lineman.
Unless you play in an Individual Defensive Player league, you probably don't care, but Quinn was second in the league in sacks (19) and forced fumbles (seven) and had the third-most solo tackles among defensive linemen. He is our defensive player of the year.
- Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts
- NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers
- Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
- Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals
Second-round linebacker Kiko Alonso outperformed a number of more highly drafted defensive rookies in '13.
There are generally too many individual defensive player options to truly value those positions in fantasy, much less those who are rookies. NFL draft hype tends to overrate the first-year impact of defensive players, too.
The impact of Buffalo Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso cannot be understated, though. Alonso led all linebackers with 72 assisted tackles and was tied for third in interceptions (four).
Honorable mention: LB Alec Ogletree, St. Louis Rams
Stevan Ridley's fantasy season got flipped upside down amid his fumbling woes and frequent benchings.
No, it wasn't this writer for calling Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham potential busts at their positions. It is Stevan Ridley for fumbling away his first-round fantasy chances and winding up in the Bill Belichick doghouse.
That is as bad of a place to be as the fumbling, bumbling fantasy idiot of the year.
Ridley was supposed to be a 1,200-yard, 10-plus-touchdown back and could have been if not for Belichick's repeated benching of his preseason starter every time he fumbled. It was four lost fumbles in all and hundreds of thousands of ticked off Ridley fantasy owners.
This was a hard one to decide on, because error-prone Giants quarterback Eli Manning was a close second. In fact, they're both bums. It is just that more people had higher expectations of Ridley.
Ray Rice's year was so bad, his running was disparagingly and notoriously described as a "kid in a snowsuit."
Most of these picks are due to injury, but fantasy owners don't care about the excuses. They wanted the results. They didn't get them with these bums.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The Packers were overly cautious with their star quarterback's broken collarbone, holding him out extra weeks until after most of Rodgers' fantasy fates had long been decided. Curse them!
- Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
- Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
- Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
- Eli Manning, New York Giants
- Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dishonorable mention: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There were tons of options here, particularly because this is the position that always burns the majority of premium picks. We go with two early first-rounders in Rice and Martin. At least in Martin's case, you could have replaced him once he was seriously injured. Rice just continued to force you to keep him active, all the while putting up single-digit scores every week.
- Arian Foster, Houston Texans
- Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
- C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
- David Wilson, New York Giants
Dishonorable mentions: Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, and Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
Jones owners' seasons were all but over before they started. Nicks and Amendola at least had their moments. The latter two never came around to be the impact players they were drafted to be, though.
- Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
- Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
- Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
- Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
- Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Dishonorable mention: Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
There was a slim hope he would come back each of the first handful of weeks of the season. It was a huge tease—much like his season as a whole wound up being.
- Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
- Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
- Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
- Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
- Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
Dishonorable mention: Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
As for defenses and kickers, they are drafted too late to truly be considered busts relative to draft position.
Da'Rick Rogers went from undrafted free agent to a fantasy surprise in Week 14.
It is fantasy Week 14, the first playoff round in most standard leagues. Naturally, you start your studs.
Forget about considering Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill, secondary options for Andrew Luck going on the road to face a solid but banged up Cincinnati Bengals secondary.
When the dust—err snow drifts—cleared, Rogers and Brazill had themselves career days. Rogers totaled six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Brazill chipped in three catches for 53 yards and two more touchdowns.
Combined fantasy points (standard scoring): 39.
Combined leagues in which these two bozos were active in CBS leagues: 0 percent.
Look on the bright side of those performances, though: At least no one was playing those one-hit wonders against you in your first round of the fantasy postseason.
- Week 1: WR Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins (5-0)—80 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
- Week 6: TE Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions (2-0)—34 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
- Week 6: QB Thad Lewis, Buffalo Bills (2-0)—216 yards passing, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
- Week 10: WR Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins (1-0)—120 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
- Week 11: QB Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders (1-1)—197 yards passing with three touchdowns.
- Week 12: WR Tiquan Underwood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)—108 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Charles in charge: Jamaal Charles had a Week 15 you want to wipe from your memory if you faced him.
Peyton Manning surely induced a lot of fantasy bitterness—but you had to fear him any week you were playing against him—en route to his record for passing yards and touchdown passes. The performance that made fantasy owners more spiteful than any, though, was the Week 15 effort put forth by probable 2014 No. 1 pick Jamaal Charles.
It was your fantasy football playoffs, if not your semifinal or final. It was not the time to be facing Charles, apparently.
The Chiefs had historically limited Charles' touches, especially in games that were out of hand. Charles went biblical on the Oakland Raiders with 51 fantasy points—the seventh-biggest non-quarterback performance in NFL fantasy history.
Charles produced that total with just eight rushes for 20 yards, too. It was the rushing touchdown, eight receptions, 195 yards receiving and four receiving touchdowns that made his day soar. It catapulted his owners into countless Super Bowls and Charles into fantasy lore.
For every Charles owner, there are seven, nine, 11 or even 13 other owners in your leagues who are kicking themselves and who lost for not picking him. That is a lot of people hating on his success.
You want to leave an indelible image in the minds of a fantasy owner? Just save a record-setting performance for the waning seconds of a Monday Night Football game in Week 15, the fantasy semifinal or championship in many leagues.
Then, in the on-field interview seconds after, congratulate your fantasy owners on their good fortune because of your own performance. Oh, and cop to owning yourself in your fantasy league and leading your fantasy team to victory.
That is the legend of Justin Tucker.
If not for a movie named John Tucker Must Die, we would have had to make this the I Hate You Performance of the Year. There were countless tweets from Tucker's fantasy opponents and Detroit Lions fans saying "Justin Tucker must die." We have to assume they were being cute and not truly serious.
But, as a fantasy fan, you have to love when a player respects our game the way Tucker did in the on-field interview afterward.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.