Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Winners and Losers

Anybody on the Denver Broncos Offense
Before the season started, many fantasy football players questioned how productive any single player on the Denver Broncos offense would be; there are just too many weapons.  Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, and Knowshon Moreno are all superstar-caliber players, and it seemed impossible for them all to provide consistent fantasy performances within the same offense. The remedy for the overcrowded nature of this offense was one we should have seen all along: Peyton Manning.  I guess 5211 yards and 51 touchdowns (plus any stats that he compiles in week 17) was enough to go around.

Defenses Going Against the Giants, Jets, or Jags
The quickest thing to go every week on the waiver wire this year was any defense facing up against the Giants, Jets, or Jags.  The Giant's Eli Manning threw a league high 26 interceptions, while the Jet's Geno Smith was right behind him with 21 interceptions and was also sacked 43 times (third in the league). The Jags dynamic quarterback combo of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne also never failed to impress, racking up an impressive 20 total interceptions.  Don't be surprised if you find yourself constantly picking up defenses playing any of these three teams next year too.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
Give me one person who thought that Josh Gordon would have more fantasy points than Calvin Johnson after week 16 and I'll give you a liar.  Megatron has had an incredible season, but Gordon's has been just as good if not better, despite playing in one fewer game.  Nine touchdowns and seven games with more than one hundred receiving yards (two with more than two hundred) make for a pretty damn impressive season.  Congrats if you jumped on the bandwagon early; I'm dearly sorry to those of you who passed on this gem of a player.

Top Tier Tight Ends
Receiving tight ends are making a comeback in the NFL, and it is largely thanks to an elite group of a few truly special tight ends.  Included in this remarkable group are the likes of Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten (fringe stars include James Cameron, Charles Clay, Greg Olsen, and Antonio Gates). Jimmy Graham has caught an incredible 15 touchdowns, while Vernon Davis has managed 12, Julius Thomas has recorded 11, and Gronk got 4 in just 6.5 games.  The immense consistency of Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten cannot be overlooked either. We may never see a group of tight ends as productive in fantasy terms, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Running Backs outside of the Elite
By elite I mean AP, Jamaal Charles, Shady McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch.  Outside of them, this year's running back group has disappointing.  Sure, there have been a few bright spots, like the emergences of Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Knowshon Moreno, and DeMarco Murray as good fantasy producers.  However, first round running backs like C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, and Steven Jackson have failed to perform.  Where did the projected breakout seasons of David Wilson and Lamar Miller go? Why are Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, and Reggie Bush so inconsistent? Why won't the Redskins give Alfred Morris the ball in the red zone? Where is MJD? Sorry to be cliché, but there are so many questions and really so few answers.

The NFL has a real problem, and it is the injury bug. Injured quarterbacks have included Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, and Tony Romo.  Meanwhile the injury list for running backs is much larger, including Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Steven Jackson, Stevan Ridley, MJD, David Wilson, Darren McFadden, Eddie Lacy, Reggie Bush, and pretty much anybody else that you can name outside of Ryan Mathews (how weird is that).  The list goes on and on for wide receivers and tight ends too, but I'm not going to make you read through another long list of injured players.  All I'll say is that something needs to change in the NFL.

Keeping the Same Defense for the Whole Season
It used to be common to draft a defense pretty high and use them consistently throughout the entire season.  To put it simply, there was a remarkable amount of scoring this year, and not even the best defenses were safe from a horrid performance.  The much more reliable technique has become to rotate defenses weekly based on matchups.  The reality is, not even the best defenses are a good start against a team like the Broncos.

Blair Walsh, K, Minnesota Vikings
Walsh was supposed to be the bee's knees this year, and through the first four games it looked like he was just that.  He had more than eight fantasy points in each of those four games, but it went sharply downhill after that, with consecutive fantasy performances of 4, 0, 7, and 5 points.  He has recovered to a certain extent, but still, we expected more out of Walsh.  The morale of the story is, kickers are about as unpredictable as they come, so don't go about drafting a kicker anywhere near the top/middle of the draft next year.

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