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Tue Jan 10th 2023

Year-End Awards

What a wild end to the season! Thank God Damar Hamlin is recovering quickly and can talk to his teammates. That's the latest from the time I am writing this article. Hopefully, by the time it's posted, we'll hear even better news, like his release from the hospital.

From a fantasy perspective, there could be no more complicated way to end the season with the game canceled, its points erased, and the decision not to make up the game. I agree with the decision by fantasy platforms to call the championship games over after receiving this news. It's definitely how it should be handled in big-money leagues and leagues where managers do not know each other. In the more relational leagues that I commish, however, we opted to let the Bengals' and Bills' week-eighteen stats get added back to week seventeen. Thankfully, the results did not change the outcome in any of the games, so there was no dispute. What a relief as a commissioner!

It was a sad and strange end to the season, but it was a fun and entertaining season, as always. To end the season, it would be fun to present some year-end awards to players to reflect on the year and share briefly about the dynasty values of players now that the season has ended.

Here are my 2022 Year-End Awards.

Breakout Player of the Year

  • My candidates for breakout player of the year are Jalen Hurts, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, and T.J. Hockenson. Jalen Hurts averaged six more points per game than last year and finished as the QB-1 in average points per game. Josh Jacobs scored almost 100 more points than last season and finished as the RB-3. Tony Pollard far out-performed Ezekiel Elliot, finishing as the RB-7 in total points and average points per game. T.J. Hockenson finished the season as the TE-2, exploding after he was traded to Minnesota. Among these great candidates, I name Jalen Hurts as the breakout player of the year. Hurts improved his completion percentage by six points this season and would have shattered his rushing yards and touchdowns from the previous season had he not been injured in the last two games of this season. He's made the leap and is a bonafide starting quarterback, answering all doubters by drastically improving this season. He's moved up to third in my quarterback rankings behind only Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Congrats, Jalen Hurts, for winning my breakout player of the year award.

Surprise Player of the Year

  • My candidates for the surprise player of the year are Geno Smith, Jamaal Williams, Jerick McKinnon, and Juwan Johnson. Geno Smith did more than win the starting job in Seattle. He surprised everyone by finishing the season as the QB-5. Jamaal Williams was as reliable a touchdown scorer as we've ever seen, leading the league with 15 touchdowns and out-scoring teammate DeAndre Swift by 45 points. Jerick McKinnon ended the fantasy season on a hot streak, scoring eight touchdowns in the last five games of the season. Juwan Johnson scored a touchdown every sixth catch, scoring seven touchdowns on the year after being converted to tight end from wide receiver. All are deserving candidates, but my surprise player of the year award goes to Geno Smith in his age-32 year took the world by surprise. No quarterback in the NFL has done what he did this year at his age. He's a no-brainer winner for surprise player of the year.

Rookie Player of the Year

  •  My candidates for Rookie Player of the year are Kenneth Walker, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Christian Watson. I give an honorable mention to Breece Hall, who would have easily won this award had he stayed healthy. Kenneth Walker had a slow start, but by the end of the season, he led the league in explosive plays by a running back and ended the year as the RB-19. On the other hand, Chris Olave started the season hot but cooled off considerably to end the season. Still, he ended the season as the WR-25, three spots behind Garrett Wilson, who was more up and down than Olave but finished his rookie season as the WR-22. Christian Watson was more inconsistent than Olave and Wilson with a stellar four-game streak in weeks ten to thirteen but showed that he's a starting wide receiver in the NFL and a massive weapon for the Packers. It's hard to pick a winner between these four, but I chose Kenneth Walker, who has the most average fantasy points per game among these rookies. All four players are big plays waiting to happen, but Walker was tied for four in most 20+ yard rushes and third for most 40+ yard rushes. All dynasty managers should be pleased to have these young playmakers on their rosters.

Veteran Player of the Year

  • My candidates for veteran player of the year are Tyler Lockett, Davante Adams, and Travis Kelce. I selected from only players over thirty years old, which limited the pool quite a bit, making these vets rise to the top of the list. Tyler Lockett finished the season just outside the top twelve at WR-13, scoring 181 points with his new quarterback, Geno Smith. Davante Adams had a new quarterback, too, Derek Carr, who played far worse than Geno Smith. Still, Adams could not be stopped, finishing the season as the WR-3 and scoring as many points as he did in Green Bay for a year. Travis Kelce completely obliterated the rest of the tight ends this year, scoring 84 points more than the TE-2. The award has to go to the ageless Tarvis Kelce, who scored the second most fantasy points of his career this season, even though he's 33 years old. Every year, analysts predict his downfall, but every year he dominates and stays healthy. He's the best fantasy tight end of all time

Bounce-Back Player of the Year

  • My candidates for bounce-back player of the year are Saquon Barkley, Travis Etienne, Cam Akers, and Evan Engram. Saquon Barkley bounced back from several injury-plagued years to an RB-5 season, which could have been better had the coaches not decreased his workload near the end of the season. Travis Etienne returned from his ACL injury to become the Jaguars' starter, pushing James Robinson out of the lineup and onto the New York Jets. He struggled with consistency but had a string of game-winning performances and finished the season healthy as the RB-16. Cam Akers' final numbers don't look as great as Barkley's or Etienne's, but his late-season push proved that he's fully recovered from his Achilles injury, scoring six touchdowns in the final five games of the fantasy season. He proved he's ready to be the future lead back of the Rams. Evan Engram was not returning from injury but was seeking a new start on a new team, the Jaguars. He had his best season since his breakout rookie season, certainly earning a new contract with Jaguars or another team next season. All these players deserve a hand and have given their dynasty manager renewed hope, but the award goes to Saquon Barkley, who was the most productive among these candidates this season. Hopefully, all of these men can maintain their health and see their dynasty stock stabilize.

In-Season Waiver Wire Player of the Year

  • My candidates for in-season waiver-wire player of the year are Latavius Murray, Zonovan Knight, Juwan Johnson, and D'Onta Foreman. After Javonte Williams was injured, dynasty managers ran to the waiver wire to pick up Mike Boone or Latavius Murray. Murray was the Bronco to add, and he became a viable starter in deep leagues, averaging about ten points per game from week s six to seventeen. Knight surprisingly burst onto the scene to surpass Michael Carter and James Robinson as they battle injuries after Breece Hall was lost for the season. Knight's flash was much shorter than Murray's, but he shined bright for three weeks with 13 points per game before fading in the season's final two games. Juwan Johnson saw limited snaps all season but was a red-zone target. I have him nominated for this award because I don't believe he'll become a starting tight end in dynasty lineups, even though he was at various points this season. D'Onta Foreman was added off the waiver wire after Christian McCaffrey was traded. He had several highly productive games following and several complete duds. He was hard to start by the end of the season because his production was so up and down, but he was a player that helped dynasty teams win games this season. It's close between Foreman and Murray, given the length of times they played this season, but I favor Murray and name him my in-season waiver-wire player of the year. He's the player I spent the most FAAB on this season, buying him while other managers paid for Boone. He started many games for me since I picked him up and provided a good floor for my final flex position weekly. 

Dynasty Waiver Wire Player of the Year

  • My candidates for dynasty waiver-wire player of the year are Isaiah Hodgins, Jaylen Warren, Brock Purdy, and Chig Okonkwo. After signing with the Giants midseason, Isaiah Hodgins worked his way into a starting role and became Daniel Jones's favorite target by the end of the season. Coach Daboll knew Hodgins from his time with the Bills, and he believes he can revive Hodgins's career in New York. Jaylen Warren was not drafted in most of my rookie drafts but was picked up by managers in the preseason in most of my leagues. I picked him up in most of my leagues when it became apparent during the preseason that he was the Steelers' best back behind Najee Harris. Brock Purdy was a late-season pickup in dynasty leagues after Jimmy Garoppolo got injured. He surprised everyone by leading the team to five consecutive wins to end the fantasy season. He has a chance to become the 49ers' starter next year, making him a massive steal for managers who had enough FAAB to pick him up in superflex leagues. Chig Okonkwo was drafted in a few of my leagues but was available on the waiver wire in most. He never had a dominant game, but he had flash plays throughout the season and, at one point, led all tight ends in average yards per target. He showed enough to make me believe he can become a productive starter for the Titans in the future. This award is a tough call because I nabbed many of these players except for Purdy, who I could not afford then, so I like them. It won't be a popular take, but I am naming Isaiah Hodgins my dynasty waiver-wire player of the year because he has less competition to become the top wide receiver for the Giants where, as Warren has Harris in front of him and Purdy still has to beat out Trey Lance for a permanent starting role. Chig is likely to earn a starting role too, but I'd rather have an upside receiver than a tight end on most of my teams.

Most Disappointing Player of the Year

  • My candidates for the most disappointing player of the year are Justin Herbert, Alvin Kamara, Michael Pittman, and Diontae Johnson. Justin Herbert finished as the QB-12 since he played every game, but he was the 17th in points per game, which feels more accurate for dynasty managers who trotted him out as their starter every week. Alvin Kamara finished as the RB-20 but scored 40 fewer points than last season and more than 150 fewer than the year before that. Kamara is on a downward trend after his career-worst four-touchdown season. Micahel Pittman was affected by terrible quarterback play, but he did nothing to overcome it on his own. He only scored three touchdowns and one of the worst yards per target among wide receivers in the NFL. Diontae Johnson set an NFL record for the most number of targets and catches without a touchdown. He did not score a touchdown all season, despite having 137 targets and 84 catches. All of these players disappointed dynasty managers this season. Still, Alvin Kamara deserves the most disappointing award because of his lousy season and the sense that he's over the hill and dynasty managers can no longer have high expectations for him. 

Most Valuable Player

  • My candidates for most valuable player of the year are Patrick Mahomes, Austin Ekeler, Josh Jacobs, and Justin Jefferson. Mahomes was as consistent as it gets this year and ended the season as the QB -1. He doesn't feel as flashy because his production is just what dynasty managers have come to expect every week and every season. Austin Ekeler finished as the RB-1 after catching 103 passes and scoring 18 touchdowns, 13 on the ground, and 5 in the air. His involvement in the passing game gives him one of the league's safest floors and highest ceilings each week. Josh Jacobs took well to the new offense in Las Vegas by having the best year of his career by far, finishing as the RB-3, which far surpassed his expectation. Dynasty managers who saw him as a fringe RB-2 on their rosters heading into the season were treated to a top-tier RB-1 season this year, and he carried their teams far further than they expected, I'm sure. Justin Jefferson blew away the competition to become the highest-scoring wide receiver this season, building upon his breakout rookie and sophomore seasons. He had a career-high in catches and yards, even though he did not get into the end zone as much as he would have liked. He confirmed this season that he's the top-ranked wide receiver in dynasty. All these players deserve this award, and three of the four finished as the highest-scoring player in their position. Still, Josh Jacobs deserves this award because he added the most value to teams this year, while the other candidates did close to what we expected. I've never believed in Jacobs, but I was proven wrong this season. It will be an exciting off-season to see where this MVP plays next year since he will become a free agent this off-season.

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Tue Jan 10th 2023

Year-End Awards

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