By Jordan Branson, Herija Green and RotoRob
Today we finally (and yes, somewhat tardily… damn you, real world!) wrap up our 2015 Awards ceremony with a look at the top pigskin performances from last year.
Other 2015 RotoRob Awards:
Fantasy Stud of the Year
After losing star WR Kelvin Benjamin before the start of the season, Carolina was written off by experts everywhere. Sports Illustrated projected the Panthers to finish the season in last place in the dreadful NFC South. Twenty weeks later and Carolina was the favourite in Super Bowl 50. The reason? Cam Newton. Being selected as the 11th QB off 2015 Fantasy draft boards had no effect on him. A WR corps consisting of free agent signing Ted Ginn Jr., rookie Devin Funchess, old man Jerricho Cotchery and unknown Corey Brown had no effect on Newton. Newton finished the season as the number one ranked Fantasy player, leading his team to a near perfect 15-1 regular season record.
He filled the stat sheets with 3,837 passing yards and 35 TDs, and added an additional 636 yards and 10 TDs on the ground. There were still skeptics of Newton heading into the playoffs as some experts had the nerve to float Carson Palmer’s name into MVP discussions. Well, after handling Seattle, and completely blowing the cleats off the Cardinals, there is no doubting now. Cue the Dab. — JB
Honourable Mentions: Tom Brady, New England Patriots; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers; Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons; and Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons.
Fantasy Dud of the Year
Selecting a Fantasy dud for 2015 is akin to choosing who you’d like to sleep with at a Miss Universe contest — there’s a robust selection and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. So, let’s go about whittling it down a bit by dismissing those whose seasons were ruined by injury. Adieu Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Dez Bryant and Andrew Luck. We hardly knew ye.
With all due disrespect to Peyton Manning’s dumpster fire of a season, he wasn’t a first-round pick, which removes him from the running in lieu of this triumvirate of suck: Eddie Lacy, C.J. Anderson and DeMarco Murray.
Lacy’s weight made him an easy target (both literally and figuratively), and Anderson did less in 16 games than he did in his final eight in 2014, but Murray gets the nod by split-decision. While both Lacy and Anderson experienced statistical shortfalls, they pale in comparison to Murray, who went from 2,261 total yards and 13 scores to 1,024 and seven.
We say “boo” to you, Mr. Murray. Boo indeed. — HG
Dishonourable Mentions: everyone above (especially Anderson, who we drafted repeatedly); Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks; Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers; Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins; Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers; and Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
The Rams surprised many when they selected Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. But there is no surprise with this award selection. Starting in only 12 games because he was recovering from a knee injury suffered in college, the 2015 AP Rookie of the Year finished third in the league in rushing with an impressive 1,108 yards. Gurley’s 10 TDs on the ground were tied for fifth in the NFL. He finished the year as the fifth-ranked Fantasy RB, and 16th player overall.
Not too shabby for a guy that opposing defenses would obviously stack the box against because of the Rams’ complete lack of a passing game.
In too-early 2016 preseason Fantasy rankings, Gurley is projected as a top five player for the upcoming season, and potentially the first RB off the board. This is just further proof of what we already knew, that he was Fantasy football’s most productive and valuable rookie in 2015. — JB
Honourable Mentions: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders; David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals; and Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings.
Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year
To most Fantasy football owners, 2015 was the worst season for the running back position since the invention of digital sports. Thanks to piss-poor performances from top guys like Eddie Lacy, Jeremy Hill, C.J. Anderson, Carlos Hyde and DeMarco Murray, hope was all but lost in those who tote the rock. But then there was one, an emergence that would bring balance to the force. That man was the Muscle Hamster.
After a breakout rookie campaign in 2012, Doug Martin had two consecutive seasons with less than 200 rushing attempts and 500 yards, with a combined three total TDs. This led to a deflated ADP in 2015 Fantasy drafts, in which he lasted until the sixth round of standard leagues. What a profit Martin returned, as he finished the season second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,402 while finding pay dirt six times.
Just to add a cherry on top, he totaled 271 yards through the air with an additional TD. Martin was extremely effective behind a shaky O-Line, ranking third among RB with 4.9 yards per attempt and seventh overall in all-purpose yards. After all was said and done, he finished the season ranked as the 11th best player in Fantasy leagues. The Dougernaut has returned. — JB
Honourable Mentions: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals; DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers; and Brandon Marshall, New York Jets.
Goalpost Love Award
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is one of the most dangerous players in the NFL, but we never knew that beyond terrorizing opponents with his blazing speed and skill, he also posed a threat to goalposts. Well, in a December blowout over the Colts, he returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown, leaping to straddle the goalpost upon scoring as if he had intentions of impregnating the innocent piece of equipment. For good measure, Brown grabbed the hair of the security guard who was leaning on the other side of the post. Yes, Brown’s antics resulted in a flag, as he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct (read: trying to make the goalpost his bitch). — RR
Antonio Brown can do it all.
This includes putting Pat McAfee on skates en route to a 71-yard punt return TD. https://t.co/mM49sFLARg
— NFL (@NFL) December 7, 2015
The Master of Disguise Award
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has certainly turned “can’t miss” into a misnomer since he entered the league, disappointing us with his ineptitude and off-the-field hijinks. He took those hijinks to a new level in late-December when he entered a famous Las Vegas nightclub — in disguise. Perhaps not wanting to add more fuel to the fire that is the Legend of the Screwup First Round Pick, Manziel was wearing a blonde wig, a fake mustache, glasses and a hoodie, while introducing himself as “Billy.” Man, this guy has had more embarrassing episodes than touchdown passes in his career. — RR
Waiting in the Weeds Award
Marshawn Lynch did it again last year, once again prompting Seattle area potheads to name a strain of marijuana after him. Given the huge success of the Beastmode strain that came out just in time for the 2014 Super Bowl, why not make an even better one with the Seahawks returning to the Super Bowl in 2015? Enter Beastmode 2.0, which has five per cent more THC than the original strain. Because nothing says football like Marshawn Lynch, a big fat doobie and a bag of Doritos. Game on! — RR
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who you think deserved Fantasy football hardware in 2015?
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