Just call me the Barbara Walters of fantasy football!
Ms. Walters revealed her 10 most fascinating people of 2010 a couple weeks ago. Now it is my turn.
While LeBron James and Lady Gaga failed to make my final cut, there are 10 players that fantasy football owners should have found fascinating for one reason or another this season.
Some of the players on this list were the best at their positions. Some made their fantasy owners giddier than Jerry Jones gets when another punt misses his blimp of a scoreboard. And some of the guys in this top 10 caused more problems for us fantasy geeks than Lindsay Lohan does for the security guards at her rehab clinics.
Without further ado, here are the 10 most fascinating players in fantasy football for 2010.
I would have bet that my mother had a better chance of dating Fabio than Williams had of triumphantly returning to the NFL after he ate and slept his way out of the league.
But Williams made a miraculous comeback this season and made Seattle head coach Pete Carroll (and, to a lesser extent, Matt Millen) look like a genius.
After catching just 44 passes over three seasons with three different teams earlier in his career, Williams was a huge help in PPR fantasy leagues with 65 receptions in the 14 games he dressed for, including snagging double-digit catches in three separate contests.
Williams finally slimmed down enough to have the speed required to get open and he finally used his big body to his advantage when well covered, banging smaller cornerbacks out of the way like he was going for a rebound in basketball. He just signed a new long-term contract, so let’s hope he does not start visiting White Castle and Taco Bell again.
In Vick’s first season after spending a couple years in jail, it looked like he had lost his foot speed and would not have beaten Vince Wilfork in a 50-yard dash. But what a difference a year, and an opportunity, makes, huh?
After Kevin Kolb’s season-starting concussion, Vick stepped in as Philly’s signal caller and turned the NFL and the fantasy football world on its ear.
Vick is in a neck-and-neck battle with New England’s Tom Brady for the NFL MVP trophy and he should be mentioned in the same breath with Houston’s Arian Foster for fantasy football’s MVP crown too. He threw for a career-high 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for 676 yards and a career-best nine more touchdowns.
His past transgressions have been forgiven, at least in the minds of the fantasy owners who fortunately had him this year.
Favre fooled fantasy owners, and every news anchor at ESPN, into thinking his gunslinging ways were over and that he had transformed into a QB-rating machine who stopped throwing ill-advised passes at the worst possible moments. His 33-TD, seven-INT 2009 campaign conned everybody.
Favre’s addiction to interceptions was never worse than in 2010, though. Betty Ford, Dr. Drew and every specialist on Intervention would have been powerless to stop Favre from throwing passes to his opponents.
His 11-to-19 touchdown-to-interception ratio killed many fantasy owners who believed he had one last great season left in his holster—and his off-the-field nonsense made fantasy owners even more embarrassed to have him on their rosters.
He sounds more like a character from Gossip Girl or a street to build hotels on in Boardwalk, but Hillis went from unknown to as a popular as a cheerleader overnight.
He slowly seeped into the consciousness of fantasy owners when he split carries with supposed starter Jerome Harrison during the Browns’ first couple contests and then totally took over and bowled defenders over from Week 3 on.
Probably undrafted in 99 percent of fantasy leagues before the season, Hillis shocked the fantasy world with 1,177 rushing yards, 477 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns.
While he deflated his owners late in the season by only managing 107 yards and zero scores over the final three weeks, his surprising stats from Weeks 1-14 more than made up for it.
Not many NFL teams were inquiring about T.O. during the offseason. It was as if he had been blacklisted like a Communist sympathizer from the 1950s.
But the Bengals, who snatch up problem children like kidnappers, finally inked Owens to a deal. Fantasy owners were just happy that Owens was out of Buffalo, but they became even happier as the season went on.
Owens showed he is not over the hill at 37. He still has the speed to get open and get deep. Owens caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns despite getting injured in Week 15 and missing two full games and most of another. His 10-catch, 222-yard bonanza against Cleveland was his biggest highlight of the season.
T.O. proved he is more than just a future Hall of Famer and a reality show star with this bounce-back effort.
His long, hyphenated name is fascinating. The fact that at one point in 2009 he was New England’s fifth-string tailback is fascinating. That he is part of the biggest collection of what’s-his-names Tom Brady has ever played with is fascinating.
Green-Ellis replaced the injured Fred Taylor and the dumped Laurence Maroney and piled up an impressive 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
New England has always believed that any running back could be plugged into its pass-happy system and perform, and Green-Ellis proved the point yet again.
With a team as crazily inconsistent as the Chargers were, Rivers was the one constant.
Even though his receiving corps was ravaged by injuries and contract holdouts—favorite targets Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson were only a couple of the pass catchers that missed multiple games—Rivers kept putting up Pro Bowl numbers despite throwing to no-names and has-beens.
Rivers’ career-high 4,710 passing yards, along with his 30 touchdown passes, made him ultra valuable to fantasy owners. He will be ranked as a top five QB on fantasy draft lists heading into the 2011 season.
Foster was just a little-known practice squad player in 2009, only recognized by college football fans who remembered how well he ran for the Tennessee Volunteers on the field and the trouble he ran into off it.
But thanks to a preseason injury suffered by rookie phenom Ben Tate, Foster stepped in as Houston’s top tailback and proceeded to lead the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards and best all backs with 18 total touchdowns.
He also added 66 receptions for 604 yards to easily make him the most valuable player in fantasy football for 2010.
Keeping track of Moss from week to week was harder than tying Jenna Jameson to you-know-who in a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Moss started the season with New England, but contract demands and lackluster play got him shipped to Minnesota, where food demands and lackluster play got him released.
Moss ended up signing with Tennessee, but he was no life preserver for that Titanic. Moss caught five passes in seven games with the Titans, doing his free agent stock no good in the process.
Considering he was ranked as a top five WR in most magazines back in August, Moss was arguably the biggest bust in fantasy football.
If you predicted Lloyd to be the best WR, please pick my Mega Millions numbers!
I dare you to find a fantasy expert who predicted that Lloyd, a 29-year-old journeyman who had never caught 50 passes or accounted for more than 740 yards during a mediocre at best NFL career, would lead the league in receiving yards. I double dog dare you!
Well, that’s precisely what Lloyd did, racking up 1,448 yards on the season and beating out All-Pros like Houston’s Andre Johnson, Atlanta’s Roddy White and Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne.
Most people would have rather had Kesha give the midnight toast at their New Year's party than own Lloyd in a fantasy league. But 2010 was a little sadder for those people.