Well fantasy players, here we are at the end of another fantasy season. Some of you won and some of you lost, but the most important part is that you ALL played! Since most leagues end in Week 16, this final article will be a look back at the fantasy studs and duds for the 2008 season.
QB: Drew Brees and Philip Rivers
Brees is threatening Dan Marino's single-season passing record, but the Saints say they will not change their plan of attack in Week 17. Brees is 401 yards behind Marino for the record books, so I am betting that Sean Payton will give him every chance possible to finish off his season in record fashion. Rivers has almost 1,000 fewer yards than Brees, but he holds the NFL lead in passing TDs with 32 heading into the final week. The TDs coupled with the least amount of INTs for QBs in the top 7 makes Rivers the No. 2 fantasy QB behind Brees.
RB: DeAngelo Williams and Michael Turner
Williams came out of nowhere to take top-dog honors heading into the final week. With 18 rushing TDs and two receiving TDs, added to his 1,337 rushing yards and no fumbles, Williams is the most unlikely No. 1 RB. Turner was in LaDainian Tomlinson's shadow for years in San Diego and now he finally had his chance to shine. Michael "The Burner" Turner has rushed for 1,491 yards and 16 TDs so far and that is more than his owners expected when they took him on average in the fifth round.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson
I put three WRs in here because most formats use a 1-2-3-1-1-1 set-up (QB-RB-WR-TE-K-DEF). Fitzgerald here is no surprise since he and Kurt Warner have formed a nice chemistry with each other. Calvin Johnson finally lived up to the hype he got when the Lions drafted him as the "yet ANOTHER receiver." What is amazing is that he kept on doing it without Jon Kitna really after Week 3. Andre Johnson also had his share of QB problems with Matt Schaub going down. But, Johnson No. 2 proved those right who took him early in Round 2.
TE: Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten
Gonzo had a Pro Bowl season with his 91 receptions, 1005 yards and 9 TDs. Those are fine numbers for a receiver, never mind a TE. Jason Witten is really about even with Dallas Clark, but Witten has 902 yards to Clark's 789. To be fair, Witten has four TDs to Clark's six. I give the No. 2 spot to Witten because they have nearly the same amount of catches (77 for Witten and 74 for Clark) but Witten has 113 more yards right now.
Defense: Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans
The Ravens did what they have done best for years now: allow little points, force interceptions and fumbles and take those turnovers to the house. Whenever your defense scores six TDs, you are going to have a top tier defense. The Titans forced 11 fumbles and snatched 20 INTs, and that was enough to land them in the No. 2 spot for fantasy defense.
QB: Tom Brady and Marc Bulger
Brady got hurt early on, so the only way owners that took him in the first round survived is if they snatched up Matt Cassel the second they learned of Brady's injury. Brady was taken on average in the middle of the first round. Marc Bulger was touted by most publications as a viable top 10 fantasy QB. Since he was taken on average with the 83rd overall pick, owners shouldn't have been expecting a top-tier season if they waited that long to take the most productive member of a fantasy team. But, when you throw 13 INTs and 10 TDs, you are destined to destroy more than you build.
RB: Joseph Addai and Willis McGahee
I had top 3-5 aspirations for Addai when the season started, but those hopes quickly dissolved when the team hit Week 6. Addai still didn't have a 100-yard game and then he went down with an injury that kept him out three weeks (I count Week 6 since he left after just two rushing attempts). McGahee was more in the lower end of the top 15, making him a top-tier RB2 in the preseason. But, heading into the final week, McGahee is a part of the dreaded RBBC (Running Back By Committee) and has amassed just 647 rushing yards, 6 TDs and 128 yards via the air. A far cry from his projected 1,200 yard season.
WR: Braylon Edwards, Chad Ocho Cinco and Torry Holt
Like we couldn't have predicted this list when you first heard the term bust right? You see, I took Edwards as my WR1 and Ocho Cinco as my WR3 in my "friends and family" league. Needless to say I didn't win. Edwards has battled butter fingers all season long and is heading into the final week with 54 receptions, 872 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Still not close to his projected 75 receptions, 1,300 yards and 12 TDs. Ocho Cinco's QB went down after Week 5, so his value was pretty much nullified right then. I projected him at 85 receptions, 1,325 yards and 8 TDs, but he has just 53 receptions, 540 yards and 4 TDs. Ocho Cinco is going to finish the season on most fantasy waiver wires. Torry Holt was taken with an average pick of No. 31, but he is ranked around No. 42 for fantasy WRs right now and that makes him a bust in the first degree.
TE: Kellen Winslow and Alge Crumpler
Pretty much any Browns player is going to make the bust list this season, and Winslow is no exception. I had hoped he would reach around 80 receptions, 1,000 yards and 5 TDs, but he is sporting a tightly sum of just 43 receptions, 428 yards and 3 TDs. Crumpler is about the most worthless person to have made a preseason rankings list. With just 257 yards and a lone TD, I'd have to say Crumpler's No. 6 preseason ranking is about as embarrassing as it gets.
Defense: San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots
The Chargers lost Shawne Merriman in the preseason and that pretty much sealed their fate then. The defense allowed 308 points and totaled just 28 sacks, ranking them around No. 20 for fantasy defenses when they had many of the top publications giving them a No. 1 overall ranking. The Patriots have allowed 309 points and racked up just 14 INTs and seven forced fumbles, ranking them around No. 25 after a preseason ranking of No. 7.
This week I am going to give you an exchange between a reader named Chris and myself. This exchange landed him with the league title and proved why you should listen to me and not those "other" guys!
Chris: I've relied on you in the past with your advice via bengals.com so now I'm coming to you in my moment of greatest need - the Fantasy Championship game! I'm struggling with my QB and WR choices and would appreciate your help. Do I go with Warner who brought me this far but is struggling and now on the road, in bad weather and without one of his top receivers, or do I go with Cassel, who is at home and seemingly the hotter pick? Also, with Antonio Bryant as a chic pick against a bad pass defense, do I dare sub him in for either Roddy White or Steve Smith? Thanks for your advice and Happy Holidays!
James: The Cardinals couldn't be a more one dimensional team if they tried. What did they have last week, 7 total rushes? Even if Boldin misses the game and it snows, Warner should have no problems throwing. New England's defense, especially their secondary, can't slow down any decent passing game. No amount of scheme can overcome their lack of talent. Warner will also have to throw plenty to keep up with the Patriots. The reason he's struggled relatively in recent weeks is that defenses are finally getting consistent pressure on him. But New England isn't a great pass rushing team and snowy conditions hurts the pass rush. All signs dictate using Warner, but I have a feeling the Patriots are going to rack it up like they have been doing. I am using Cassel in my league where I also have Jay Cutler.
I've got Roddy ranked in my top 5 for WRs, Smith in the top 6-7 and Bryant right behind Smith at 7-8. If I had to pick just one, I'd go with White.
Chris: The fact that you were willing to start Cassel over Cutler showed me you were confident in his performance and gave me the confidence to stick with my gut on Cassel. I started him over Warner and was rewarded with 32 pts vs. 1 pt. He singlehandedly won me my Super Bowl and an extra $115! I normally "stick with my studs," but at least this time it worked to my advantage. Of course, many would argue that Cassel has been the second-half stud anyway. Thanks for your help this year, see you next season! Merry Christmas!
James: I am glad I helped. I used to read and watch Rotoworld's stuff to help me out, but those guys are wrong more than they are right. Like this week, they weren't even riding the Cardinals bandwagon, they were conducting the train! What did Warner and the Cards do? NOTHING. They were telling everyone not to play Cassel or Moss because of the winds at Foxboro, but I told people to start them and I won titles while they put their readers into second place due to stupid advice. The Patroits running game stinks. There could be a Cat 5 hurricane out there and Cassel is STILL throwing the ball for 300+!
You see Chris, you go to sites that project but do not play and that is what you get. But, me, I play too, so I have a stake in what advice I give because I own some of those very players I am telling you to start or sit. On the season I was around 75 percent on my predictions, FAR better than Yahoo, ESPN, Rotoworld, NFL.com, etc. and that is why I write for teams and not websites. Webby's want you to do it THEIR way, teams will let me have the freedom to do what I do and leave them to do what they do. That is just how I roll.
Got any questions or comments of your own? Shoot me an email and I will be glad to give you some one-on-one attention.