James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
Well Bengals fans, the 2012 NFL Fantasy Football season has officially come to a close. The draft came and went; the season came and went; the playoffs came and went; and now, you are either the league champion (more than a few of you are by your social media and email messages) or you learned the hard way that second place is just the first loser.
In the final article for this season I will take a look back at who helped you, who hurt you, who was a sleeper, and who never woke up from their sleep this season. So, without further adieu, let’s talk some fantasy football one last time this season!
Cam Newton – QB, Panthers: All we heard about this season was how Newton had regressed and wasn’t taking the steps forward we needed to see from him. His QB rating is up to an 88.0 (up from 84.5 last season), he is going to finish with basically the same passing yards, rushing yards, TDs and completion percentage that he did last season, and the only real measurable stat that he got worse in was in fumbles lost (10 this year, up from 5 last year). In fantasy terms, he finishes the season as the No. 4-ranked QB in NFL.com scoring, which is EXACTLY where he finished last season! Cam I Am was the No. 3-ranked QB in my preseason draft rankings, so hopefully you picked him and rode him all the way like I did.
Robert Griffin III – QB, Redskins: I don’t think RGIII wins the ROY award because the Colts went from dead last to clinching the Wild Card spot in the playoffs this season. But, I really do think he should win the award as the Redskins are 9-6 right now, lead their division, and RGIII has thrown just 5 INTs to Andrew Luck’s 18. Griffin’s 26 total TDs, 3,100 yards passing and 763 yards rushing were good enough to put him in the No. 5 spot for fantasy QBs this season, and that is ahead of stud QBs like Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and the aforementioned Luck. #RGIII4ROY
Adrian Peterson – RB, Vikings: AP was someone that I avoided drafting because I wasn’t sure how his knee would respond after tearing it up in 2011. All he did to prove me wrong was run for 1,898 yards, haul in 39 passes for 215 yards and score 11 TDs through Week 16 of the season. Oh, and to add insult to my ego, he also finished No. 1 in NFL.com PPR scoring this season with 314.30 fantasy points (FP), his highest total since 2009.
Doug Martin – RB, Buccaneers: Martin was someone not many people put in their top 10 for fantasy RBs heading into the draft, but he showed us that was a mistake more than once this season. Martin rumbled his way to 1,312 rushing yards, caught 45 passes for 454 yards, and scored 11 total TDs this season on his way to the No. 2 spot in NFL.com PPR scoring. Martin is sure to be taken in the first part of the first round next season; so if you want him, be ready to lay down your first overall pick for him.
Tony Gonzalez – TE, Falcons: At the age of 36, I don’t think anyone expected Gonzalez to finish atop the fantasy football rankings for TEs this season. But, that is just what he did thanks to the 88 catches for 889 yards and 8 TDs he has heading into the final week of the NFL season. Gonzalez was taken at the top of Round 9 and returned back top-end fourth round value to his owners. I want to mention once again that I traded Larry Fitzgerald for Gonzalez in one of my pro leagues on NFL.com this season. Even the good owners sometimes make bad decisions, and I will be happy to be there and scoop up your mistakes on my way to a league title!
Chicago Bears Defense: Even though the Bears are an old defense, they showed this season that experience and skill can and will overcome youth and athleticism. The Bears have allowed just 237 points so far, and lead the league with 23 INTs and 10 defensive TDs. They are No. 2 with 17 recovered fumbles and No. 7 with 40 sacks (the Bengals are tied for first with 48, WHO DEY!). Chris Da’ Bears Fan got to finally have something to brag about when it comes to the Chicago Bears fantasy players.
Cincinnati Bengals Defense: The Bengals defense finishes the 2012 fantasy football season ranked eighth in the NFL, but is owned in just 27.6 percent of NFL.com leagues (that is 16th in percent owned). Further, they are started in just 14.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, which is ridiculous when you consider that the Eagles are ranked 30th in fantasy points and are owned (and started) in more leagues than the Bengals (see below in the losers section for the Eagles percentages). The Bengals are tied for first in the NFL with 48 sacks, they are tied for 10th with 13 INTs, they are third with 16 fumbles recovered, and allowed the seventh FEWEST points scored with 279 this season. All told, the Bengals are a HIGHLY underrated team in the NFL!
Michael Vick – QB, Eagles: I thought Vick had one good season left in him. It looks like I was off by one year. This season Vick managed to throw his way onto the bench and finished with 2,165 passing yards, 11 TDs and 9 INTs, stats bad enough for the No. 27 ranking in NFL.com QB scoring. To put that in perspective, Mark Sanchez only finished 23.28 FP behind Vick this season!
Eli Manning – QB, Giants: Being from San Diego, CA originally, it never sat right with me what Manning did to force his way to the Giants. So, it kind of puts a smile on my face to see him sitting in the No. 19 spot for fantasy QBs in NFL.com leagues this season. While he did throw for 3,740 yards and 21 TDs, he also threw 15 INTs, which cut his fantasy numbers by 30 points. I have never liked this particular Manning brother as a fantasy option because he proves the point that NFL value doesn’t always equal fantasy value.
Roy Helu – RB, Redskins: Helu was taken in the 10th round by fantasy owners because he finished the 2011 season with 1,019 total yards and entered the 2012 season as the starting RB on the depth chart. Despite being drafted in 58 percent of fantasy football leagues, he played in just three games this season and racked up 11.70 FP in NFL.com PPR scoring. And, it’s only that high because of the receptions; if you look at standard scoring leagues, he had just 4 FP thanks to his 45 yards receiving. Alfred Morris has taken control of the RB duties in Washington and he isn’t going to relinquish them unless he gets injured.
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB, Jaguars: You could honestly put virtually every Jaguars offensive player on this list outside of Cecil Shorts, and you wouldn’t get an argument from Jaguars fans. But, MJD makes the list because he is a perennial stud at the RB spot that finished with just 500 total yards and 2 TDs this season. It is safe to say he will not be back with the Jaguars next season unless the Jaguars new owner digs his heels in and forces him to play out his contract. You have to wonder if the relationship is beyond repair, or if the $4.95 million he is going to make smooths his ruffled feathers.
Larry Fitzgerald – WR, Cardinals: I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I don’t see any way possible that Fitzgerald doesn’t ask for a trade out of Arizona after the debacle that was the 2012 season for the Cards. Fitzy has 69 catches for 785 yards and 4 TDs this season, and the Cardinals are wasting his talent away by running practice squad QBs out on the field and playing pitch-n-catch with the defense every week. Despite being taken at the end of Round 1, Fitzgerald returned mid-ninth round value in PPR scoring formats this season.
Greg Jennings – WR, Packers: Jennings was drafted in the middle of the third round typically, but he returned undraftable numbers after injuries cost him eight games this season. All total Jennings put up just 28 receptions for 246 yards and 2 TDs this year, and hurt a lot of fantasy teams with a wasted third-round pick.
Fred Davis – TE, Redskins: Davis was put on IR with a torn left Achilles tendon, limiting his 2012 season to just seven games and 325 yards receiving on 24 catches and no TDs. With fantasy owners spending a seventh round pick on the TE, you can be sure he will fall into the lower rounds next season.
Jermichael Finley – TE, Packers: You can’t talk about fantasy busts this season without Finley’s name being one of the first to be mentioned. Finley’s season high of 70 yards receiving didn’t come until Week 16, and he scored just 2 TDs that were spread nine weeks apart (Weeks 1 and 11). There is a lot of speculation that Finley won’t return to Green Bay next season, so we will have to take a wait-and-see approach to see where he lands before discussing his 2013 draft stock.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense: The Eagles defense was drafted in the middle of the eighth round, and was the fifth defense to come off the board typically. But, in spite of the high expectations of this “dynasty” (as Vick once referred to them), they returned back undraftable numbers and finished ranked 29th out of the 32 NFL teams. They also allowed the eighth-most points this season at 360, and were able to haul in just 8 INTs, one higher than the two teams tied for last place with 7 (Chiefs and Cowboys). They are a LONG way away from those Invincible days!
Matt Ryan – QB, Falcons: Ryan was far from an unknown before the season started, but quarterback is not a typical position for a true sleeper to succeed. However, if you remember, I said in the preseason that “Matty Ice is a value pick at No. 10, and could be worth even more.” He was taken on average as the 10th QB off the board, and he finished as the No. 6-ranked QB in NFL.com scoring.
Russell Wilson – QB, Seahawks: Wilson wasn’t someone that very many people drafted this season (roughly 8 percent), but he finished as the 11th-ranked QB in NFL.com scoring. His 2,868 passing yards, 431 rushing yards, 28 total TDs and 10 INTs were a pleasant surprise off the waiver wire, and he gives Seahawks fans something to look forward to if the team upgrades his WRs and TEs this offseason.
C.J. Spiller – RB, Bills: With Fred Jackson holding down the starting spot in Buffalo, Spiller was drafted in around 35 percent of fantasy leagues. After he exploded for 169 yards and a TD in Week 1, he never looked back and finished ranked No. 7 in NFL.com PPR scoring thanks to his 1,185 rushing yards, 41 catches for 387 receiving yards and 7 TDs this season.
Alfred Morris – RB, Redskins: Morris was drafted in just four percent of fantasy leagues and entered the preseason in a backup role for the Redskins. But he quickly took control of the touches and finished with 1,413 yards on the ground and scored 10 TDs. He is virtually non-existent in the passing game (9 catches for 65 yards this season), so his value takes a hit in PPR leagues.
Brandon Myers – TE, Raiders: Myers really didn’t come into the fantasy spotlight until he exploded for 14 catches, 130 yards and a TD in Week 13. But before that he was a steady fantasy producer with 55 receptions, 591 yards and 3 TDs. But, after that Week 13 game teams started keying in on him and he has just six catches for 32 yards in the following three games. Myers won’t enter next season as a TE1, but you can’t ignore him as a backup after his stats this season.
San Diego Chargers Defense: Did you know that the Chargers are currently the No. 5-ranked NFL.com defense this season, despite being owned in just 16.1 percent of their leagues? Their 168 FP is just one point behind the Patriots at No. 4, and they could actually move past them this week as they face the Raiders and a tandem of QBs that feature Terrelle Pryor and Matt Leinart.
Blaine Gabbert – QB, Jaguars: At a certain point you have to just call it like it is, and Gabbert has shown no real improvement and ability to succeed at the NFL level as a QB. The Jaguars revamped the WR position this year by bringing in Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans, then drafting Justin Blackmon, but none of that helped as Gabbert went 1-9 in his second NFL season, completing just 58.3 percent of his passes while throwing 9 TD and 6 INTs. I’d be surprised if the Jaguars don’t take a look at Geno Smith or Matt Barkley in the coming draft.
Tim Tebow – QB, Jets: I told fans this past offseason that I saw Tebow on the mission field, not the NFL field in five years, and I don’t think he did anything to prove me wrong this season. With as bad of a QB as Sanchez is, when he got hurt the Jets turned to Greg McElroy to take the snaps over Tebow. The reality is that Tebow will never be an NFL starter at the QB position, and is going to have to move to more of a Kordell Stewart “slash” type of role in order to stick around in the league. No matter what position he plays, he isn’t going to be a fantasy option in the future.
Ryan Mathews – RB, Chargers: Much like Gabbert, it is time to call Mathews what he is, an average NFL RB that will never again see a top 10 ranking for fantasy purposes. With an average of 58.9 YPG on the ground and one TD this season, Mathews did nothing to justify the high second-round pick most owners spent on him in the draft. I’d be shocked to see him taken as anything more than a low RB2 in 2013.
Mark Ingram – RB, Saints: After being taken by the Saints in the first round, many fantasy owners hoped he would take over as the lead RB in a potent Saints offense. But, the bounty scandal rocked the Saints organization and turned the Saints into a one-dimensional team that passed, passed, passed and then passed some more. Ingram enters Week 17 with just 563 rushing yards and 5 TDs and he isn’t worth owning in anything less than a 16-team or deeper league.
Jacob Tamme – TE, Broncos: Tamme was taken in the 12th round on average, and that puts him at about the 11th TE taken. By default that makes him a TE1, but he finished as the 21st-ranked TE in NFL.com PPR scoring. Joel Dreessen is holding down the starting TE spot for the Broncos right now, and Tamme won’t have even low-end TE1 value next season as his backup.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense: I’ve already laid out why the Eagles were a bad fantasy team, so there isn’t much more to say than that they were a complete and total bust this year.
There you have it Bengals fans, the 2012 fantasy football season wrap-up. It was a great season and I always have fun talking fantasy (and regular) football with my WHO DEY nation faithful. Now it’s time to gear up for a Bengals playoff run and see if we can bring that trophy to Cincinnati and break out the Ickey Shuffle on the new generation of NFL fans!