The NFL season is just now starting to heat up, yet here I am giving out awards.
What's up with that?
Well to us fantasy football players, the playoffs are already on our doorstep, or already upon some leagues. So, in honor of the approaching push for the championship, I figured it was a good time to list the best fantasy performers of the year. Plus, if you are still interested in your team there's a good chance you were smart enough to take one of these guys. And who doesn't like hearing praise for something that they did something right? Well here they are, the top 10 fantasy players (based on their preseason hype) of 2010:
10. Ryan Fitzpatrick QB, Bills-
Whoever said people in the NFL are dumb is, well, probably spot on. But not when it comes to the Bills' new savior. The Harvard grad has proven the skeptics wrong and taken control of a terrible offense and made it respectable. From relative obscurity, the former Crimson has amassed 2218 yards and 19 touchdowns. All this after sitting behind Trent Edwards for the first two weeks.
9. Terrell Owens WR, Bengals-
Fitzpatrick and TO could have been teammates this year, but no one can stand Owens. Well, except for his fantasy owners this year. It has been a renaissance for TO, as he has finally looked like the explosive talent from San Francisco... and the Philadelphia... and then Dallas. After slipping down draft boards following a rough 2009, his 914 yards and 8 TDs have been a sight for sore eyes.
8. Kyle Orton QB, Broncos-
Watching Denver this year is like watching a Texas Tech college football game. You know they stand no chance at doing anything towards a championship, but boy do they hang some nasty passing numbers. Not much was expected out of Orton outside of a few handoffs in Denver's traditionally run-centric attack. However, the offensive changes have led to 3369 yards and 20 TDs, which have welcomed by fantasy owners everywhere.
7. LeSean McCoy RB, Eagles-
There was a fair amount of hype surrounding LeSean entering the season, but he has destroyed all of the projections made by pundits, especially in PPR formats. Looking like vintage Brian Westbrook, McCoy has racked up just over 1350 total yards and tacked on 9 touchdowns. Not to mention his position leading 67 receptions, making him golden in leagues where that counts.
6. Dwayne Bowe WR, Chiefs-
Bowe is like McCoy, in that, there were fair shares of people who targeted him as a sleeper, but definitely not the #1 overall receiver. With touchdowns in the last 7 weeks -- 5 of which were multiple TD games -- fantasy teams with Bowe on them have seen even more success than Bowe's Chiefs. With only 885 yards, it may not seem like a career year, but 14 touchdowns through 12 games begs to differ.
5. Steve Johnson WR, Bills-
If you had asked me prior to this season who Steve Johnson was, my best guess would have been a cool homeless guy you had met earlier that day or the prom king from your high school. A fantasy king would have been the last answer to enter my mind. Like Bowe, Johnson exploded onto the scene after a streak of touchdown filled weeks, capped off by an 8 catch, 137 yard and 3 TD thrashing of the Bengals in week 11. Most experts didn't even take the time to project Johnson's stats for this year, let alone imagine 796 yards and 9 TDs through the fantasy regular season.
4. Brandon Lloyd WR, Broncos-
No one really knew who the go-to guy would be following the departure of Brandon Marshall. But like I said in Orton's blurb, it didn't really matter. The Denver offense was supposed to be a vanilla rushing attack behind Knowshon Moreno, not a high flying aerial attack that would allow Lloyd to snag 58 passes for a whopping 1122 yards and 9 scores. That's an amazing season by most standards, let alone 3/4 of a season.
3. Arian Foster RB, Texans-
It was originally Steve Slaton. Then it was supposed to be Brandon Tate. Then Derrick Ward was brought into town. During most fantasy drafts, it seemed to be a complete toss-up in Houston as to who the feature back would be. That all changed week 1. Foster busted down the door, with 231 yards and 3 TDs in the opener and has never looked back since. With league leading marks in rushing yards (1228) and rushing touchdowns (13), Foster has been the undisputed #1 fantasy player this year. If he had been on the waiver wire, he could have beaten out the top two guys on this list.
2. Peyton Hillis RB, Browns-
I know what you're thinking, "Ben, you must be racist. Arian Foster has blown every other player out of the water, and you have the nerve to put Peyton Hillis ahead of him? What's your deal?" Well let me assure you this, I'm definitely NOT racist. I repeat, NOT racist. But, I think what Hillis has done this year outshines Foster's accomplishments because of his situation. After being traded for Brady Quinn -- that should give you a hint as to the NFL preseason valuation of Hillis -- the lesser Peyton looked like he was going to be stuck behind Jerome Harrison after his incredible end to 2009. After starting the year with a touchdown in his first two games, he ripped the intimidating Ravens a new one by going off for 180 total yards, a TD and 7 catches. While he has had a few monster games as of late, what makes Hillis such a great fantasy performer has been his consistency. With a touchdown in every game, except week 6 at Pittsburgh, he has yet to disappoint his fantasy owners in any given week. His 1319 yards and 13 TDs have single-handedly brought the Browns back to respectability and made him a fantasy force to be reckoned with.
1. Michael Vick QB, Eagles-
So far, the talk of the NFL has been Michael Vicks' return to greatness. Heck, he's playing even better than he ever did in Atlanta. After being relegated to back-up duty behind Andy Reid's former love, Kevin Kolb, a week 1 concussion left an opening for Vick which he burst through. To put Vick's dominance into perspective, he is ranked as the number 1 QB in my league right now, and that includes missing 4 games due to injury. With some obscene point totals -- capped off by his Hall of Fame worthy performance against Washington in week 11 -- Vick has not only partially fixed his reputation, but solidified himself as a fantasy football workhorse. Undrafted in just about every normal sized league, Michael Vick has put on an otherworldly performance that will be remembered for years to come. That's why he is my pick for #1 fantasy MVP of the year.
Do you disagree with me that Vick is the best fantasy performer this year? Think I forgot someone on this list? Let me know by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org