It’s always fun to look back at ADP data well after drafts are completed, and this year in the NFL is no exception. What exactly compelled us to wait on RG3 until the 10th round, and behind the likes of Jay Cutler & Matt Schaub? How about Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson the 10th and 11th players off the board? It’s not that these were necessarily the wrong decisions at the time, but that we can evaluate them and hopefully improve our decisions in the future. Even the guy most irrationally high on RG3 wasn’t going to draft him over Tom Brady. From the MVP’s and LVP’s to some more humorous awards, here they are:
Most Valuable Player: Robert Griffin III, Redskins QB
While he has a mediocre last two weeks, considering that he was a 9th round pick, being the second player overall at this point is well worth the MVP label. Rookies have had an incredible year as a whole (well, ignore the WR position) with Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, and Alfred Morris filling 3 of the top 10 RB spots.
Least Valuable Player: Calvin Johnson, Lions WR
After a couple weeks it looked like Chris Johnson may repeat his title, but instead I’m giving the title to somebody who I clearly didn’t expect: Megatron. 8 weeks and 1 touchdown later, Johnson stands 17th among wide receiver, behind the likes of James Jones and Andre Roberts. While I will continue to rank him in the top 5 almost every week, there’s no doubt that Calvin has been the biggest disappointment for fantasy owners this season (barring injured guys).
Most Improved Player: A.J. Green, Bengals WR
While Green had a great rookie year to finish 16th among all wide receivers, he has officially made “the leap” in 2012. He has connected with Andy Dalton to tie Brandon Marshall for the points lead among wide receivers. He has had two 25 point games, something no other receiver in the league can say, and now has touchdowns in each of his last 7 games. Green is a bonafide stud that is my #1 WR the rest of the way with an easy schedule that should lead to another monstrous half-season.
Least Improved Player: Cam Newton, Panthers WR
We at RotoAnalysis were one of the lowest “experts” out there on Cam, and his sophomore slump has justified our relatively low ranking. Newton has had a couple great games (See: Weeks 2 and 4), but as a whole only has 3 games with more than 15 points, and 4 games with more than 12 points. To put that in perspective, out of 16 games last year he had 12 games with more than 15 points and 14 with more than 12 points. When your QB struggles, those are the kind of weeks that just require you to have somebody else have a HUGE game. That shouldn’t happen from a dude who was drafted as early as the 2nd round and was that good last year.
The “Reggie Wayne” Comeback Award: Reggie Wayne, Colts WR
While there have been plenty of comeback seasons in recent memory, they are least likely to happen in football and definitely not to this degree. Reggie Wayne was the 39th wide receiver off the board and 103rd overall in ESPN leagues. He leads the league in target with 101, putting him on pace for over 200 targets. Since ESPN began tracking targets in 2006, nobody has had over 183. At age 33 it appears 2011 was simply a Curtis Painter-filled aberration, and that Wayne is back to being legit.
The “Doug Martin” Award for Most Ridiculous Performance: Doug Martin, Bucs RB
This is a new one that is most certainly justified. The 8th best RB fantasy performance. Ever. Jason Lisk broke down just how impressive his 51-point game was. He was the first running back since 1940 to have three touchdown runs of 40+ yards in the same game. Crazy stuff for a guy who had 3.47 YPC in his 4 first NFL games. His next 4? 6.59.
The “Perenially Underrated” Award: Frank Gore, Niners RB
Gore went from a first round pick in 2011 to a fourth rounder in 2012 after a solid yet unspectacular year — that was probably too steep of a drop. With Gore, you know what you’re going to get: a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 who will give you 60-100 yards every week and a touchdown every other. He’s still only 29, and is just the kind of boring, solid, talented back that can be easily overlooked on draft day.
The “Team Killer” Award: Steven Jackson, Rams RB
SJax is a big name – while he was drafted far from RB1 range, expectations were still fairly high as a top 30 pick. At the halfway point, he’s barely in the top 30 running backs. He’s averaging just 6.5 points per week, has Daryl Richardson breathing down his neck for the job, and has looked like he’s on his last legs. Owners should act accordingly and view him as a very poor option in a second half with two Niners matchups where he’s essentially unstartable anyways.
The “Star Pickup” Award: Alfred Morris, Redskins RB
This one was no contest. Morris emerged from a 6th round NFL draft pick and 3rd in the depth chart to be Mike Shanahan’s clear #1 back. 8 weeks later, he stands 5th among all running backs. The Redskins have clearly been a surprising source of fantasy talent, but one that must be respected as RG3 and Morris should continue to run all over the league in the second half.
The “Fluke” Award: Kevin Ogletree, Cowboys WR
Oops. I don’t have our exact tweets or articles regarding week 1 pickups, but we were definitely one of the leaders of the “Next Laurent Robinson” movement.
- Ogletree’s Week 1: 11 targets, 8 catches, 124 yards, 2 TDs
- Ogletree’s Weeks 2-8: 20 targets, 13 catches, 134 yards, 0 TDs
- Ogletree’s Week 9: 4 targets, 3 catches, 96 yards, 0 TDs
It was apparent pretty quickly that that wasn’t true, and we can tuck that back under with some memorable starts from the Sam Fulds and Chris Sheltons of the fantasy football world. He’s not going to fool me a second time with that week 9 performance either.
The “Where the @#$& Did That Come From” Award: Andre Roberts, Cardinals WR
Not only has Roberts quietly outperformed his teammate Larry Fitzgerald in the first half, but he’s outperformed names like Wes Welker, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Mike Wallace. With Fitzgerald sucking all of the safety’s attention, Roberts has been able to find a niche with both Skelton and Kolb at the helm. While I don’t think he will be a top 20 option the rest of the way, he is definitely a solid option and one that no one saw coming at the beginning of the year (WR #83 on ESPN).
Matt Cott is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis and didn’t give Arian Foster a single award. I guess the #1 RB being the #1 RB is relatively boring. Read his work all year long on CBSPhilly.com and RotoAnalysis.com and follow him on Twitter @KidCotti21.
 There are a lot of improvements that came from a new QB (See: Demariyus Thomas, Eric Decker, Reggie Wayne, etc.) or an injury ahead of them (See: Randall Cobb, James Jones). Green has legitimately taken the biggest jump without any outside circumstances helping him out.
Photo Credit: http://media.mlive.com/lions_impact/photo/10256702-large.jpg