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Every Tuesday during the NFL season, WhatIfSports.com will release its fantasy projections for the upcoming week. The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically-based player rankings. In addition to our computer forecasts, WhatIfSports.com will also offer a "creative" perspective at its fantasy football coverage in a weekly feature called "Fantasy Fever." Enjoy.
Since the majority of leagues have concluded their seasons, this week’s Fantasy Fever will feature the inaugural Golden Cleatus Awards, highlighting the triumphs and tragedies of the 2010 fantasy season. First, an abbreviated forecast for Week 17:
QB: Eli Manning, Giants – New York needs a win to keep playoff hopes alive, Washington’s secondary is allowing 262.9 yards per game.
RB: Shonn Greene, Jets – With Tomlinson likely to get some rest, Buffalo’s dreadful run defense (162.5 yards per contest) should equate to an opportunistic day for Greene owners.
WR: Jacoby Jones, Texans – Andre Johnson’s status remains unclear. If the Pro Bowler stays on the sidelines, Jones is a viable option as the wideout hauled in five receptions for 115 yards against Denver.
TE: John Carlson, Seahawks – It’s been a disappointing year for Carlson, but with Whitehurst starting on Sunday, the Seattle TE should see numerous targets.
DEF: Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons need a win to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and Carolina is, well, Carolina.
QB: Tim Tebow, Broncos – Despite their collapse against the Bengals, the Chargers still have the top-rated passing defense in the league, stifling signal callers to 176.9 yards a game.
RB: Peyton Hillis, Browns – The Browns back is scheduled to play despite sore ribs, but a matchup against the Steelers, who are smothering opposing rushers to 64.1 yards a game, does not provide much upside for Hillis owners.
WR: Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs – No official word if Bowe will play this week against Oakland. Either way, keep the Kansas City WR on your bench, as the Raiders secondary is conceding just 196.1 yards through the air.
TE: Jeremy Shockey, Saints – He still might be the starter, but backup Jimmy Graham is clearly becoming a favorite of Drew Brees.
DEF: Green Bay and Chicago. Each respective team is a top-5 ranked unit in the league, but both opposing offenses have been on fire lately.
Waiver Wire Watch: Kevin Kolb, Jerome Simpson, Stephen McGee.
Now, on to what you have all been waiting for: the Golden Cleatus Awards! This ceremony will dignify and disparage those who made the 2010 fantasy season one to remember. On to the first category:
Shout It Out LoudFoster was a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
The 2010 Fantasy MVP
The nominees: Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Roddy White.
The winner: Arian Foster. The Houston halfback wreaked havoc in Week 1 with 231 yards and three touchdowns and never looked back. Foster currently has 1,436 yards on the ground, another 594 through the air and 16 touchdowns. Aside from a slipup against Tennessee in Week 15 (which happened to coincide in the midst of the fantasy playoffs), Foster was the most consistent producer in 2010. The fact that the Texan was a late-round pick in the majority of drafts is icing on the cake.
The Fantasy Flop of 2010
The nominees: Ryan Mathews, Randy Moss, Beanie Wells, Brett Favre, Shonn Greene
The winner: Randy Moss. In a landslide. Mathews was simply overvalued as a rookie. Greene wasn’t great, but wasn’t terrible either. Wells had to deal with injuries and a carousel at the QB position. Favre was pathetic in his own right, but injuries and Father Time played a role in his demise. Moss on the other hand? It appears an atrocious attitude and apathy is the root of his evil.
The Fred Taylor “It’s Not Your Fault” Injury Award
Given to the player who suffered the most due to health concerns.
The nominees: Tony Romo, Steve Smith (NYG), Reggie Bush, Kevin Kolb, Antonio Bryant.
The winner: Kevin Kolb. Poor Kolb. After waiting in the wings for three years, Kolb received just one half of playing time before getting knocked out with a concussion in the Eagles opening game of the season. Backup Michael Vick came in, and the rest, they say, is history. Here’s to hoping Kolb gets a shot at redemption in 2011.
The Kurt Warner “Who The Hell Are YOU??” Award
Given to the breakthrough player who came out of nowhere.
The nominees: Stevie Johnson, Mike Tolbert, Danny Woodhead, Blair White, Christopher Ivory.
The winner: Danny Woodhead. Those who watched “Hardknocks” were accustomed to the stylings of Mr. Woodhead, but the former Division II Player of the Year put the rest of the NFL on notice during New England’s slugfest with Baltimore. Woodhead rushed for 63 yards and garnered five passes for 52 yards to aid in a Patriot win. In a related note, to all you crazy college kids out there: Don’t participate in any drinking game involving Woodhead and the announcers invoking the description of “scrappy.” You will die.
The Wes Welker Waiver-Wire Award
Given to the player who was picked up on free-agency and contributed throughout the season.
The nominees: Michael Vick, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Lloyd, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LeGarrette Blount.
The winner: Michael Vick. Despite facing stiff competition, Vick runs away with this title (although negative points to Vick for the stink-bomb in Week 16, which doubles as championship week in most leagues). Vick has thrown for over 3,000 yards and accumulated another 676 on the ground, totaling 30 scores on the season. Speaking of fantasy free agents, is there a more satisfying feeling than striking it rich with a waiver-wire pickup? Almost alleviates the pain from taking Moss in the third round.
The Earnest Graham “Late-Season Asset” Award
Given to a free agent player who contributed during the fantasy posteason.
The nominees: Joe Webb, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Graham, Jacoby Jones, Marshawn Lynch.
The winner: Joe Webb. This comes with a proviso, as Webb was only beneficial as a wideout. Additionally, you had to possess the audacity to piss off the rest your league by taking advantage of the eligibility loophole. Hey, who said Machiavellianism couldn’t be applied to fantasy football?
The Jon Kitna “Pedestrian Player Who Puts Up Deceiving Fantasy Stats” Award
Given to the player who put up decent stats despite not being very good.
The nominees: Thomas Jones, Kyle Orton, Jon Kitna, Chad Ochocinco, Tim Hightower.
The winner: Jon Kitna. Since taking over for Tony Romo, Crazy Legs Kitna has crossed the 300-yard plateau four times. On the season, Kitna has compiled over 2,300 yards and 16 touchdowns. Yet the Cowboys are just 4-6 under his leadership, and Kitna has thrown a relatively high number of interceptions (12) in his short stint as signal caller.
The Shaun Alexander Washed Up Award
Given to a once-great player who simply lost the edge.
The nominees: Randy Moss, Clinton Portis, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Smith (CAR).
The winner: Matt Hasselbeck. Given that Brett Favre was a gimmie selection, the Golden Cleatus selection committee went off the board to illustrate the awfulness of Hasselbeck. The Seahawk QB battled through injuries in ’08 and ’09 campaigns, and to his credit, has dealt with varying ailments this season as well. But even when healthy, the three-time Pro Bowler has been a shell of himself. On the year, Hasselbeck has thrown just 12 touchdowns compared to 17 picks. Caron Palmer was a serious candidate for this award, but his shocking rejuvenation in the absences of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens spared him from the shame.
The Kevin Curtis One-Hit Wonder Award
Given to the player who had one stellar fantasy week and was never heard from again.
The nominees: Rex Grossman, Jason Snelling, Seyi Ajirotutu, Maurice Morris, Charlie Batch.
The winner: Rex Grossman. Did anyone predict Grossman going off for four touchdowns against the Cowboys? I didn’t think Sexy Rexy would toss four more touchdowns in his career after leaving Chicago, let alone in one game.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The recipient: Peyton Manning. Hard to believe that Manning is “underrated,” but his 2010 campaign is testimony to the man’s greatness. Despite missing Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, Pierre Garcon, and Joseph Addai at varying points in the season, Manning managed to toss for 4,436 yards (his eleventh season of 4,000 yards or more) and 31 touchdowns. More importantly, Manning has his Colts one game away from a postseason berth. Manning will more than likely lose the MVP to Tom Brady, but hey, the Golden Cleatus Lifetime Achievement Award is something, right?
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