These are the guys you wave in front of your leaguemates’ faces while you laugh and point and dance.
Brett Favre: 14th QB off the board, finished 3rd — It’s hard to give props to Favre after putting us through Favre-gate, Favre-tractor gate, Favre-ChillySUV gate, and Favre-from over gate, and some other words with gate after them, but on the football field he had a career year and finished as the third best fantasy quarterback. That’s ahead of The Manning. Sadly we have to ask if he’ll be back next season. He’s already said it is “highly unlikely” that he’ll return and his teammates believe he is done. Of course when he heals up from the beating the Saints gave him he may change his mind. His, do I stay or do I go, routine will have a huge impact on the Vikings skill players next season.
Ray Rice: 19th RB, finished 4th — This is why you reach for players you like. Rice got a lot of hype in the preseason, but even with that he was the 19th running back taken. Will all good young running backs that have been run through the hype machine turn out to be Ray Rice? Uh, do I really need to answer that? So the question comes down to, do you go with young upside or old downside? Or middle-aged backside? Scratch that last one. I tend to go with a young back like Rice over an old one like Portis or Westbrook, but that also means I grab the Darren McFaddens of the world too. Oh, and Ray Rice is awesome.
Thomas Jones: 25th RB, finished 5th — Here is the old downside that ended up going upside my head. Tom Jones was healthy and steady on a team built for running. Jones doesn’t break down and I could see him being worthwhile next season, but I could also see him not even being on the Jets if they rather not pay him and go with Shonn Greene and his amazing playoff run.
Ricky Williams: 55th RB, finished 7th — Ricky ran very well as Ronnie Brown’s backup and would have been a good value even if RB hadn’t been injured, but of course he was, and Ricky’s numbers went from buds to blossoms. I like Ricky and he should have some value next season. I don’t believe he can hold up for a full season with a full workload, but as long as Brown can come back, Ricky should be able to produce in a committee.
Miles Austin: 48th WR, finished 3rd — Austin didn’t come out of nowhere, but he might as well have. Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams showed that they aren’t good enough to play with the big boys every weekend and Austin is. It looked like Austin might slow down once he started getting more attention from defenses, but he adapted and showed that he can sustain his numbers as long as he continues to get targets.
Joseph Addai: 22nd RB, finished 9th — It looked like Donald Brown would cut into Addai’s numbers, but Brown never quite developed and then got injured. Next season should be a different story and I just don’t see Addai putting up the TD numbers he did this year.
Jonathan Stewart: 33rd RB, finished 11th — JStew had an achilles injury in preseason and it looked like it would linger so he dropped in ADP. Well, it did, but he still played every week in a committee role with DeAngelo Williams. It wasn’t until Williams went down that he had more than 20 carries in a game and he made those carries count. Stewart started four out of the last five games and totaled 560 yards averaging 5.9 yards a carry in those four starts. And in the finale he reinjured his achilles and left the game early. Extrapolate these numbers over a full season and you have 2,240 yards rushing. Him and Deangelo totaled 2,250 yards. But of course they totaled 421 carries as a pair, which would have hospitalized any one human being.
Jamaal Charles: 58th RB, finished 12th — I picked up and dropped JC a few thousand times while waiting for Todd Haley to get his head out of his arse. When he finally did, Charles went on an unbelievable tear that will get him in the top 10 of most drafts next season.
Sidney Rice: No ADP, finished 7th — I give a lot of credit to Favre for giving Rice the work he deserved. Rice has the skills, but he will be hurt the most if Favre stays home.
Vernon Davis: 17th TE, finished 1st — His ability was never in question, but he couldn’t quite get it done. Coaching, quarterback play, and his own work ethic all contributed to that, but he finally broke out and in a big way. His only real competition for receptions is Michael Crabtree so I don’t see him not being targeted a lot next season.
Rashard Mendenhall: 42nd RB, finished 14th — Mendenhall was in Mike Tomlin’s doghouse for the preseason and early in the regular season. He didn’t touch the ball once on offense in week 3 while being chastised by the smoldering-eyed Tomlin. But he must have learned somthin somethin because in week 4 he totaled 191 yards and 2 touchdowns. He didn’t have a lot of huge games, but he was steady, and since he’ll be the main back for a good team he’ll have a lot of value next season.
Steve Smith: 52nd WR, finished 11th — It was difficult divining who would fill the space left by Plaxico Burress. And when we did, it didn’t quite work out; yes, I’m looking at you Mr. Manningham. Mr. Smith went to NY and didn’t take it by storm, but slowly ppr’d them into submission. He’s not going to grab a ton of TD’s and rack up many 100 yard games, but he’ll get you 5-8 receptions and 50-75 yards a game, all without shooting himself in the leg.