Before we turn our attention to the 2017 Fantasy Football season let’s take one last look and crown those that led us to Fantasy Football Championship glory in 2016.
Most Valuable Player – Matt Ryan
@cpgmHeadley’s take: Consistency… Consistency. Consistency! Matty Ice started the season hot and ended the season the same way. Aaron Rodgers scored more overall fantasy points but Ryan showed up for your fantasy team each and every week. Against tough defenses like the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, Ryan still put up solid numbers. What makes his fantasy prowess more impressive was his average overall draft position in the 13th round, making him more of a bargain than the other fantasy MVP candidates. Yes, he has Julio Jones but he showcased what he can do without Julio by putting up monster games with Julio either out of the lineup or used as a decoy. Ryan played at another level this season in his second year under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s tutelage and deserves to be the Most Valuable Player in fantasy and reality.
Best Fantasy QB – Aaron Rodgers
@cpgmHeadley’s take:With Ryan earning the fantasy MVP in my ballot, the best fantasy quarterback has to be Aaron Rodgers. If you were able to edge out early fantasy wins with a human-like Rodgers in your lineup, then you reaped the benefits as he went on an absolute tear from Week 7 on. He led all quarterbacks in fantasy points and finished with the sixth highest points in fantasy history at the position.
Best Fantasy RB – David Johnson
@cpgmHeadley’s take: To those of you who drafted Todd Gurley over David Johnson this season, I feel your pain. Johnson was the entire Cardinals offense this season as he was unstoppable all season long and punched it in the end zone 20 times! Johnson became the first player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in each of the first 15 games of a season and could of easily accomplished this feat in all his games but suffered an injury in Week 17. Johnson was easily the best running back in fantasy and will be a Top 2 pick in next year’s fantasy draft.
Best WR – Mike Evans
@cpgmHeadley’s take: Big play Mike Evans started his fantasy campaign with a touchdown catch in each of his first three games and didn’t look back the rest of the season. He was consistently a WR1 and produced even with opposing defenses focusing on him as the Buccaneers failed to get any other receivers involved in the passing game. After last year’s three touchdown debacle of a season, Evans rebounded nicely and has entrenched himself as a first round pick for years to come.
Best TE – Travis Kelce
@cpgmHeadley’s take: What a down year for the entire tight end position. This isn’t saying anything new in recent years but the position came in with a lot of hype in 2016. Gronk was still going to be Gronk, Jordan Reed’s arrow was pointing up after a huge second half in 2015, Greg Olsen’s consistency was something that couldn’t be passed up, Coby Fleener was now in New Orleans which also would free up Dwayne Allen, Ladarius Green in Pittsburgh and yadda yadda yadda. None of that came to fruition as injuries, bad quarterback play and players under-performing played a role in absolute insanity at the position. As the dust settled, one of my favorite tight ends in the league Travis Kelce continued his rise to stardom as he has improved his statistics in consecutive seasons. Kelce finished as the TE1 catching 85 passes for 1125 yards and 4 touchdowns. The touchdown numbers could be better but those are absolute monster numbers for a down position.
Best Sleeper – Michael Thomas
@cpgmHeadley’s take: I remember thinking Michael Thomas was nothing special and could be the next Michael Jenkins in the league. They both looked average in my mind playing for Ohio State. Then right before the draft I went back and watched tape on Thomas and came away impressed with his ability to separate late in routes and his agility with the ball in his hands. I remembered thinking, “He’s sneaky quick.” And when he got drafted by the Saints with the opportunity to play with Drew Brees, I thought, “Watch out!” He was a trendy sleeper pick coming into 2016 fantasy drafts and those of who were lucky enough to snag him got the benefit of a Top 10 WR.
Best FA/Waiver Wire Pick Up – Jordan Howard
@cpgmHeadley’s take: Here is a guy that came out of nowhere to lead many fantasy teams to a championship. Jordan Howard was not drafted in many leagues but his rise to “fantasy baller” status came after an injury to then starting Bears running back Jeremy Langford. Howard got his first start in Week 4 and never relinquished his starting position as he gained at least 77 yards rushing in 11 of his 13 games, including 7 games with at least 100 yards rushing. Playing for John Fox, who usually takes a running back by committee approach didn’t slow down the production of the big, physical back with sneaky good hands. Howard was an absolute stud and steal for anyone who picked him up from the waiver wire when Langford struggled early and eventually went down with an injury. Fantasy owners felt some pain as he was victimized by a vulture at the goal line on multiple occasions but they can’t complain too much with a Top 10 fantasy back in a year where running backs reclaimed their title as king of fantasy.
Best Stash – Le’Veon Bell
@cpgmHeadley’s take: Tom Brady could have easily been the choice here as he was another great stash player but I have to go with Le’Veon because he was a bigger risk in large part to where you had to draft him. To acquire Bell in your fantasy drafts you would have to get him at the end of the first round or beginning of the second round for a player you know wouldn’t play until Week 4. Bell didn’t hit the ground running until Week 11 but he provided a safe floor, especially in PPR leagues. When you needed him the most from Week 11 through Week 16 he was the absolute best player in football, gaining 835 yards on the ground to go along with his usual dual threat abilities and 7 total touchdowns. He could have received my vote for best fantasy running back but Johnson just had way too many touchdowns. Those two will battle it out for the number 1 overall pick in 2017 fantasy drafts.
Best Late Round Flier – Jay Ajayi
@cpgmHeadley’s take: Those of you who went “zero” running back strategy this season probably was looking for a back to produce the numbers Jay Ajayi produced as a late round fantasy pickup. If you didn’t drop him between Week 1 and Week 5 then that was probably the smartest fantasy move of the season. I honestly would of dropped him if I had him as head coach Adam Gase didn’t want to commit to one main running back at the beginning of the season. Then the world turned upside down in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers when Ajayi went wild for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns showcasing a physical running style with the speed to go the distance. Was this a fluke? After another 200 yard rushing game the very next week, Ajayi was a mainstay in fantasy lineups. The cherry on top was in Week 16 (championship week) where he again ran for another 200 yards cementing himself as the best late round draft pick this season.
Biggest Bust – Todd Gurley
@cpgmHeadley’s take: It hurts to say but I was one of those guys who drafted Todd Gurley in the first round and dealt with a mild case of insanity all season long. There is a plethora of options that were big fantasy bust this season but Gurley was drafted higher than all of those guys. By no means was it all on Gurley as he had to deal with terrible quarterback play, a mediocre offensive line and Jeff Fisher. All that being said I have to call a spade a spade and go with Gurley as the biggest disappointment because many owners had no choice but to start Gurley each week as he was still getting around 20 touches per game. No 100 yard games, 30 yards less a game than in 2015, 3.2 yards per carry, eclipsed 80 yards in only 1 game and the negative stats go on and on. This season will sting many fantasy owners for seasons to come but you can’t give up on a talent like Gurley and I expect him to bounce back in short order or maybe I’m just still insane.