Actors have the Golden Globes and Oscars. Musicians have the Grammys. Fantasy football players are stuck with Biro’s Heroes & Zeros.
Hey, nobody said life is fair.
Once again, before we close the books on another exhilarating / frustrating / victorious / humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2017 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.
As always, our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:
• Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
• Production during the fantasy playoffs – NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – is given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (We’re looking at you, Mr. Cooks.)
• Week 17 is dead to us.
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 12th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:
Most Valuable Player: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. See Criteria No. 1. Gurley was the model of consistency, scoring and/or totaling more than 100 combined yards in every game but one. He led the league in rushing (through Week 16) and scored more TDs both rushing and receiving than any other RB. Even better, virtually no one had to use a first-round pick to get him. Runner-up: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers.
“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. He started off strong but was completely worthless after Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 6. Davante Adams flourished as Brett Hundley’s go-to receiver while Nelson disappeared – yet his owners didn’t dare bench him for weeks since he was bound to catch fire at any moment, right? Runner-up: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.
Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints. Kareem Hunt seems like the obvious choice, but from Week 6 through 13, the Chiefs’ rookie was little better than average. By contrast, once Adrian Peterson was traded to Arizona, Kamara was money. A game-changing force both running and receiving, Kamara amassed the second-most total TDs among RBs despite being a backup. Runner-up: Hunt, RB, Chiefs.
Comeback Player of the Year: Gurley. When you go from Rookie of the Year to Bust of the Year and then back to MVP form, you pretty much embody the Comeback criteria. Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.
Mr. Reliable: Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins. When healthy, nobody is more reliable than Antonio Brown. But this year, Landry was the model of consistency with Jay Cutler, of all people, flinging him balls. Landry never caught fewer than five passes in a game, and he contributed week-in and week-out rather than padding his year-end ranking with a handful of big performances. Runner-up: Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs.
Surprise of the Year: Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs. Like his team, he began the year en fuego and then petered out thereafter, with a few exceptions. But he finished the season as a Top 3 fantasy QB, and nobody saw that coming. Runner-up: Jared Goff, QB, Rams.
Steal of the Draft: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. Available as late as the 13th round, Wentz delivered elite results all the way through his final game in Week 14. Runner-up: Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings.
Best Waiver-Wire Acquisition: Kamara: It’s not often you can pickup an elite RB, and Rookie of the Year candidate, multiple weeks into the season. Runner-up: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans.
Mr. Big Play: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: Among his 8 TDs were scoring jaunts of 40, 56, 64 (twice), 75 and 79 yards, and an 82-yard punt return. Runner-up: Hunt.
Most Devastating Injury Loss: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. When the consensus No. 1 pick goes down in the opener, it doesn’t just ruin your day. It can ruin your whole season. Runner-up: Rodgers, QB, Packers.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Hasn’t his “final chapter” been written for years now? Runner-up: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers.
Most Overrated: Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins. After a better-than-expected 2016 season in Cleveland, hopes were unreasonably inflated when Pryor was traded to Washington. I didn’t buy it, and it certainly didn’t materialize. Runner-up: Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins.
Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills. Buffalo’s offense was as mediocre as it gets, yet Shady was able to soar within it. Runner-up: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears.
Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots. If you survived his Week 14 letdown, Cooks’ 19-yard implosion in Week 16 may have cost you a title. Runner-up: Thielen.
Team Bust of the Year(a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): Browns. There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting. Runner-up: Giants.
“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys. His most serious transgressions were committed before this season, but he and his fantasy owners paid for them this year. Elliott’s continued lack of maturity is cause for long-term concern. Runner-up: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (suspended Week 14).
Most Likely to Succeed in 2018: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers. The rookie already proved that he’s ready for the NFL spotlight. Lining up opposite Antonio Brown with a full year of experience under his belt, Smith-Schuster could flirt with elite status next season. Runner-up: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers.
Favorite Fantasy Guru Riding into the Sunset: Yours truly. It’s been a great, 13-year run and the best side gig a lifelong football fan could ever ask for. But my day job is keeping me busier than ever and something had to give. Thanks so much for reading and for giving me the perfect excuse to stay glued to my TV for 10 hours every Sunday during the NFL season.
Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).