Photo: Harry How, Getty Images
Actors have the Golden Globes and Oscars. Musicians have the Grammys. Fantasy-football players are stuck with Biro’s Heroes & Zeros.
Hey, nobody said life is fair.
Before we close the books on another exhilarating/frustrating/victorious/humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2017 to examine the players for whom and against we rooted, and — with as much objectivity as we can muster — give credit where credit is due.
As usual, our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:
Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
Production during the fantasy playoffs — NFL Weeks 14 through 16 — is given extra weight. Players who let down their owners at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (We’re looking at you, Mr. Cooks.)
Most Valuable Player: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. See Criteria No. 1. Gurley was the model of consistency, scoring and/or totaling more than 100 combined yards in every game but one. He led the league in rushing (through Week 16) and scored more TDs both rushing and receiving than any other RB. Even better, virtually no one had to use a first-round pick to get him. Runner-up: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers.
Bust of the Year: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. He started strong but was completely worthless after Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 6. Davante Adams flourished as Brett Hundley’s go-to receiver while Nelson disappeared — yet his owners didn’t dare bench him for weeks because he was bound to catch fire at any moment, right? Runner-up: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.
Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints. Kareem Hunt seems like the obvious choice, but from Week 6 through 13, the Chiefs’ rookie was little better than average. By contrast, once Adrian Peterson was traded to Arizona, Kamara was money. A game-changing force both running and receiving, Kamara amassed the second-most total TDs among RBs despite being a backup. Runner-up: Hunt, RB, Chiefs.
Comeback Player of the Year: Gurley. When you go from Rookie of the Year to Bust of the Year and then back to MVP form, you pretty much embody the Comeback criteria. Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.
Surprise of the Year: Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs. Like his team, he began the year en fuego and then petered out thereafter, with a few exceptions. But he finished the season as a Top 3 fantasy QB, and nobody saw that coming. Runner-up: Jared Goff, QB, Rams.
Steal of the draft: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. Available as late as the 13th round, Wentz delivered elite results all the way through his final game in Week 14. Runner-up: Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings.
Mr. Big Play: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Among his 8 TDs were scoring jaunts of 40, 56, 64 (twice), 75 and 79 yards, and an 82-yard punt return. Runner-up: Hunt.
Most devastating injury loss: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. When the consensus No. 1 pick goes down in the opener, it doesn’t ruin just your day. It can ruin your whole season. Runner-up: Rodgers, QB, Packers.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Hasn’t his “final chapter” been written for years? Runner-up: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers.
Favorite Fantasy Guru riding into the sunset:
Yours truly. It has been a great, 13-year run and the best side gig a lifelong football fan could ever want. But my day job is keeping me busier than ever and something had to give. Thanks so much for reading and for giving me the perfect excuse to stay glued to my TV for 10 hours every Sunday during the NFL season.
Ladd Biro is a freelance writer. Twitter: @ladd_biro