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2009 Fantasy Football Superlatives: 4 Out Of 5 People Owe Chris Johnson

With the help of 316 yards and five touchdowns rushing, Aaron Rodgers was the most productive fantasy QB. But he wasn't the most valuable

A few days ago, I was asked to put together my list of fantasy football MVPs, busts, surprises, etc, for a fantasy podcast. As one of my final fantasy-based posts for quite a while, I thought I would show those picks here.

Most valuable player

Quarterback: When I think most valuable, I take that value word literally. Aaron Rodgers scored the most points, but my pick is someone you could have taken 3-4 rounds later. I’m going to go with Matt Schaub. I know Brett Favre was drafted much later and put up slightly better stats. But more was expected of Schaub and he delivered. He led the league in passing yards. He shook off the injury-prone tag, even playing through the pain of a separated shoulder for the final five weeks. He was more consistently productive than Favre, especially in the weeks most important to fantasy owners (14-16). In standard leagues, Schaub outscored Favre in those weeks, 51-36. For a seventh-round draft pick in many deep leagues, Schaub ended up as the fourth-best fantasy QB. And with a full season from Owen Daniels and Steve Slaton next year to go along with Andre Johnson and all of the other weapons, I think an argument can be made that Schaub is a top-3 fantasy QB next season.

Running back: No question, it’s Chris Johnson and this stat sums it up: I play in Yahoo! fantasy football and of the top 500 fantasy football teams in Yahoo!, 79.8 percent of those them own Chris Johnson. Second on that list is Aaron Rodgers at 49.6 percent. That’s your most valuable player. And to think there were questions regarding his workload coming into this season. Most total yards from scrimmage of any running back in a single season ever? This is an easy pick.

Wide receiver: I want to save Miles Austin for best free agent pick at this position, so I’ll go with DeSean Jackson. He was barely a top-20 WR in the preseason and many players — including myself — saw him as too streaky or boom-or-bust to trust. But 12 total touchdowns later and he’s arguably a top-5 fantasy wide receiver for next season. And in leagues that reward bonus points for long TDs, he was an absolute king. He scored eight touchdowns from at least 50 yards out.

Tight end: Vernon Davis, like Miles Austin, would fall into the best free agent category. But he is the MVP among tight ends as well. He had one of the top-5 most productive seasons of any tight end since 1984. I don’t have a link or exact stats to back that, but I know it’s true. Almost 1,000 yards, 78 catches, 13 touchdowns and he scored in six of his final seven games? That’s most-valuable production.

Vernon Davis has always looked good (or looked like a horse). This season, he finally lived up to his talent

Best sleeper/free agent

Quarterback: Matt Schaub. Yes, again! I’m sorry. Maybe I’m biased because I had Schaub on my team this season. And maybe I just dislike Brett Favre too much because of the gratuitous touchdowns and attention he steals. But as I said above, Schaub was absolutely tremendous for a mid-round pick. Beyond he and Favre, I would probably put Kyle Orton on this list.

Running back: In week eight, Larry Johnson gets cut and literally hundreds of thousands of fantasy owners hustle to their league’s free agent market to pick up Jamaal Charles. After one week of stupidity in which head coach Todd Haley didn’t know whom to trust, he made the smart move and began giving Charles at least 17 touches per week and more than 20 many times. From weeks 10-17, Charles gained 1,126 yards from scrimmage and scored nine times, capped off by an amazing 262-yard, two-TD performance in the season finale. In that time period, the only running back who recorded more fantasy points than Jamaal Charles was Chris Johnson.

Wide receiver: Now this is where Miles Austin comes in. Through the first four weeks, he caught just five passes for 81 yards and one touchdown. Then came week five and a 250-yard performance and he catapulted to the overall No. 4 WR in standard fantasy leagues by the end of the season. He scored 10 touchdowns in his final 12 games. The Giants’ Steve Smith has to be in this conversation for PPR leagues.

Tight end: Vernon Davis is too obvious. He was hardly drafted, but for the sake of conversation, I present Brent Celek. He finished fourth among tight ends in yards and touchdowns. He is looking like a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick next year. Not bad for a guy who was picked in the 18th round of my 12-team league this past summer.

Biggest Bust

Quarterback: I would consider Matt Ryan — whom I absolutely loved in the preseason — but I’ll give him a bit of break because of the turf toe. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler was projected to score similarly to Matt Schaub this preseason. And really, the first nine weeks were pretty good. But then, in weeks 10-15, Cutler turned into a one-man fantasy team cancer. He scored 41 TOTAL points in standard leagues during that stretch, thanks in large part to a 5:13 touchdown-to-interception ratio. There were a couple of weeks in there that owners would have been better off starting no quarterback at all as Cutler’s point total dropped sub-zero. He bounced back very nicely in weeks 15 and 16, but it was probably too late for Cutler’s owners to care by then. He had already doomed their seasons.

Running back: I’m not going to include injured stars, so the likes of Michael Turner, Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis don’t qualify. They had no control of their failure. I’m sure many would say Matt Forte, but even in his sub-par season, he still finished with 1,400 yards from scrimmage. My pick is Brandon Jacobs. He looked old and slow all

Brandon Jacobs didn't play with this kind of authority often in 2009

year. He started avoiding contact. He tip-toed around the goal-line and stopped using his size to be a monster in short-yardage downs. All that led to a season in which he barely topped 1,000 total yards in 15 games, didn’t run for 100 yards in any contest and saw his touchdown total plummet from 15 to five in one year. You had to love the way he ended his season against Carolina: six carries, one yard. Disgusting for a player who was a late first-round pick in some leagues. It looks like after only five years in the league, Brandon Jacobs is done.

Wide receiver: Lot of good candidates here, but I’ll go with Braylon Edwards. I thought this would be a rebound season for him. I was sorely mistaken. He whined, bitched and punched his way out of Cleveland. He was given to the Jets and never developed good chemistry with Mark Sanchez. Plus, whenever he had a chance to make a big play, he would just drop it anyway. He was drafted as a top-20 WR, but ended the season with just four TDs and outside the top-40 in receiving yardage.

Tight end: It may be a bit harsh, but it’s Jason Witten for me. He was either the first or second TE off all draft boards and was expected to have a huge season with Terrell Owens out of Big D. But two touchdowns? None from week 3-16??? The yards were nice, but he needs to get more looks around the goal line next season.

Biggest waste of roster space

Boy, pick a name. Anthony Gonzalez? Willie Parker? I’ll take LenDale White, though. I’ve always hated him and always thought he was a waste, even when he was scoring TDs last season. He’s just lazy and untalented. And after all that preseason talk about how much he had slimmed down, it was awesome to see the Titans just move away from him for the better of the team. He was a sixth-round pick in 12-team leagues on average.

Biggest tease

Mike-Sims Walker. While he had a breakout season, the description of his chronological game logs starting in week two look something like this: Fantastic, decent, gigantic, surprise suspension announced just before kickoff — aka, back-breaker — very solid, putrid, tremendous, satisfactory, salvageable, terrific, disappointing, horrid, nauseating, then uplifting, followed by pathetic and forgettable. Sims-Walker has the skills to be a top-10 WR, but he HAS TO BE MORE CONSISTENT! His season was maddening. Although, David Garrard does deserve some blame.

Jerome Harrison ran into the hearts of fantasy owners everywhere this December

Billy Volek award

This goes to the player whose unexpected production changed fantasy leagues worldwide. It’s named in honor of Titans quarterback Billy Volek’s 2004 season. And for this year, the award has to go to Jerome Harrison. We may have to re-name the award in his honor. Weeks 1-14: 88 total carries for 301 rushing yards and no touchdowns. Weeks 15-17: 106 carries, 561 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Um … OK.

One-week wonder

The one that pops into my mind is Ryan Moats, week eight. He comes in relief of the fumbling Steve Slaton. He had just 15 carries for the entire season before that game — all coming in week four — and explodes for 23 carries, 126 yards and three touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. Then he gains admission into Gary Kubiak’s Witness Protection Program for some reason and gets just 53 carries for 208 yards for the rest of the season. He even spent two weeks on the sideline as a DNP — coach’s decision for no reason. And yet, Kubiak still has a job.

Preseason sleeper that hit

Ray Rice was a sleeper in early August, but by late August, everyone was so excited about him, I think he lost that tag. I’ll choose Percy Harvin instead. I didn’t think he would do much in his first year, but 925 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns later and I’m looking like a fool. He has a chance to be was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year and was taken in the 12th round of league.

Preseason sleeper that missed

For me, it was Cleveland Browns running back James Davis. The rookie had everyone excited in the preseason with his speed and there were rumors that he might split carries evenly with Jamal Lewis. With Lewis’ injury history, many thought he would be the starter sooner than later. I bit. Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly turn out well. In very limited action, it was obvious that he wasn’t ready to face top NFL competition, then got into a car accident and he was put on IR after week three due to a suspicious shoulder injury. In all, Davis gained 20 total yards on 13 touches. He’s still sleeping soundly.

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