It has been a long and tough season, but we made it, fantasy football brethren. We started off with hundreds of thousands of faithful players, but we lost many along the way. Some didn't have the time, others listened to the wrong advice from some website that wanted to charge them for useless information. But you stayed true to the game and came back week after week to the Jaguars website to get the advice that would eventually lead you to victory. And for that, I thank you. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!
And yes, I will still answer your start/sit question via email, Facebook or Twitter for those whose league runs into week 17.
Winner - Cam Newton: Cam I Am was clearly the best QB from the 2011 draft, but I don't think anyone actually expected him to put up the impressive stats that he did as a rookie. Heading into the final week of the regular season, Newton has racked up 3,893 passing yards, 674 rushing yards and scored a total of 34 TDs (20 passing, 14 rushing) this season. There is a case to be made for Newton having the single greatest rookie season in the history of the NFL, and the proof is that he is currently ranking #4 in fantasy football with 437 fantasy points on the season.
Loser - Michael Vick: Vick wasn't completely terrible this season, but he certainly didn't justify the #1 pick (at QB) that he was taken at in many drafts. Right now, Vick is sitting at 2,968 passing yards, 586 rushing yards and 16 total TDs (15 passing, 1 rushing), but he also has 13 INTs to his name. His 270 fantasy points put him right around the #13 spot, which is a QB2 and below guys like Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
* Honorable Mention: Drew Brees should get some love here despite being the fantasy stud we all knew he would be. Brees broke a 27-year-old record for most passing yards in a single season, previously owned by Dan Marino. Brees is a stud and was expected to be great this season, but for a guy to run out there and play Tecmo Super Bowl in real life, and light the NFL up for 5,087 passing yards and 42 TDs (41 passing, 1 rushing), that is something that legends are made of.
* Blaine Gabbert is going to be the fall guy for all the offensive problems the Jaguars had this season, but it is largely unfair. Without getting too deep into it, you have to take some perspective on it and look at the big picture this season. Time will only tell how good this kid can really be, but if the new ownership does what I think they will do, the future is going to be a bright one.
Winner - Darren Sproles:Sproles has been nothing short of a draft day steal this season as he has been a beast for those in PPR leagues. He only rushed for 563 yards and 2 TDs, but he more than made up for it with 81 catches that went for 681 yards and 6 TDs. He even returned 1 kick to the house this season and all that combined puts him in the top 6-7 at RB for this fantasy season. Not bad for a guy taken at the end of the 11th round and drafted in roughly 11 percent of fantasy leagues!
Loser - Peyton Hillis:The man who graced the Madden cover this season was taken at the top of the 3rd round and that made him the second half of a fantasy teams RB corps. He rewarded his owners by playing in just nine games this season and putting up 557 rushing yards, 133 receiving yards and he scored 3 TDs. Those stats were enough to rank him in the 40-41 range for RBs, and that is below both Toby Gerhart and Ben Tate.
* Maurice Jones-Drew is a stud, plain and simple. He finishes the fantasy season ranked #4 with 1,487 rushing yards, 370 receiving yards on 42 receptions and 11 TDs (8 rushing, 3 receiving). He is all but certain to finish the season as the league's leading rusher, and it takes him one step closer to getting in the Hall of Fame talk. MJD is A-OK in my book!
Winner - Victor Cruz: Should we start a petition for him to change his name to Victor-ious? Cruz set sail on this fantasy season and finished with a robust total of 76 catches for 1,358 yards and 8 TDs. Cruz wasn't even drafted in most standard fantasy leagues and despite that he still finishes the fantasy season as the #3 WR with roughly 232 fantasy points scored. WINNING!
Loser - Andre Johnson: Johnson is the victim of his QB, both before and after the injury to Matt Schaub, and a pulled hamstring. Schaub only hit the 300-plus yard mark twice before he went down, and T.J. Yates has hit it once since taking over. Due to the problems under center and his own injury, Johnson has managed to finish the fantasy season with just 31 receptions, 471 yards and 2 TDs. The worst part is that Johnson was taken with the 8th pick on average.
Winner - Rob Gronkowski: Gronk wasn't the Patriots TE that people were drafting when the season started, but he is the one people are talking about now that the season has ended. The 2nd-year TE set an NFL record for TD catches in a season by a TE (15), and that lead him to be the #1 TE in fantasy football this season as well. Oh, and he added 82 catches for 1,219 yards just to make it interesting. Not bad for a kid that went undrafted in virtually all leagues.
Loser - Dallas Clark: And finally a Colt player makes this list. Clark was the big box websites' go-to guy once Jermichael Finley and Antonio Gates were off the board. However, I warned everyone from taking him since Peyton Manning wasn't going to play this season and thus Clark would be worthless. What did he do? Well, he managed to haul in 29 passes for 299 yards and 2 TDs, and finished the season being owned in just 39 percent of leagues despite being drafted in virtually every single draft. If you owned Clark this season, shame on you for not listening.
* Marcedes Lewis had high projections heading into this season, but problems in the passing game limited his production. He finishes with 427 receiving yards on 36 receptions and failed to score. Wait to see what happens in the off-season before moving him up on your 2012 fantasy draft chart.
Winner - Seattle Seahawks defense: I know… I know, but I have to give the Seahawks their due because their defense did put up some impressive numbers this season. Despite going undrafted, the Seahawks finish ranked #5 this season with their 197 fantasy points. The 31 sacks, 21 INTs, 8 fumbles recovered, 6 blocked kicks and 5 defensive TDs were pretty impressive off the waiver wire. Game recognizes game, Seahawks fans!
Loser - New Orleans Saints defense: If there is one thing the Saints are known for, it sure isn't their defense. However, Yahoo, ESPN and NFL.com all had their defense projected in the top 7-9 defenses this season. Why? I can't even begin to tell you how wrong that projection was; the team doesn't give me enough bandwidth to explain it! That being said, they finished with just 8 INTs, 6 fumbles recovered, 3 defensive TDs and 2 blocked kicks, while allowing 316 points scored (13th-most in the NFL).
- The Jaguars defense actually finishes the fantasy season as the #18 ranked defense, better than the #31 they had thanks to those previously mentioned websites that don't know how to pre-rank fantasy football people. No matter what they say, the defense stepped up and was a top play just a few weeks ago. For that it was a win in both fantasy and reality.
There you have it fantasy football fans, the best and the worst of the 2011 fantasy football season. Not everything turned out as we hoped, and even I had to navigate the injury minefield on more than one occasion this season. Hopefully you had fun while playing and I know my advice helped more than a few of you win your league title as you've been posting Twitter and Facebook updates to let me know.
Thank you all for reading this season, and I will see you all again in 2012 when we try to repeat as fantasy football champions!