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Welcome to the official 2017 Fantasy Football Awards Show, presented by RotoBaller.

I'm no Michael Scott and this won't be The Dundies, but I'll do my best to entertain and educate as we honor some of the fine football players, coaches and teams who have had outstanding (for better or worse) performances in the 2017 season.

It’s always a bittersweet affair when the fantasy football season ends, as we all come down from the high of chasing greatness and mainlining Gus Hansen on Red Zone every Sunday. Though a blizzard comes down around me, nothing could stop this show from running!

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Most Valuable Player: Todd Gurley

As if, right? I should note that this was not unanimous, but those who didn’t choose him will be dealt with. Gurley led the NFL in all-purpose yards with 2,093, outpacing runner-up Le’Veon Bell by a healthy 147 yards, and he didn’t even play in the finale. And it wasn’t just a matter of staying healthy or not suspended, as only three players had over 112 yards from scrimmage per game -- Gurley (139.5), Bell (129.7) and Ezekiel Elliott (125.2). So Elliott sneaks into the convo on a per-game basis, but Gurley still takes the cake. Oh, and Mr. Todd also led the league with 13 rushing touchdowns, one above Mark Ingram, and his 19 total TDs were five more than second place. TDs do not maketh the man, but boy, do they help.

 

Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara

And who was it that scored 14 touchdowns to place second to Gurley in overall touchdowns? That’s right, it’s Kamara! While Kareem Hunt did steal a couple of votes, Kamara is your 2017 RoY. It’s pretty hard to argue with this, though the train did take a while to leave the station (glares at Adrian Peterson). Kamara had just 20 combined touches over the first three games of the season, with that third game hosting his first career TD -- a 25-yard rushing score that raised some eyebrows. He then put up a 10-71-1 receiving line in Week 4 and was off to the races after that (though Week 14 was also a wash thanks to an early concussion). Kamara’s 120-728-8 rushing line and 81-826-5 receiving line with just one fumble lost on the year are remarkable and have those in PPR formats thinking about taking him in the first round next year.

 

Playoffs MVP: Todd Gurley

Yeah, this was either going to be “Most Improved” or “Playoffs MVP” and honestly, Gurley would’ve won both. However, it is worth highlighting how ridiculously incredible his Week 15 and 16 box scores were. Talk about saving your best for last. Week 14 was nothing to scoff at, with two ground scores and 135 combined yards in a 43-35 loss to Philadelphia. He then turned in a season-high 152 yards and three rushing TDs against Seattle the next week, while also chipping in 28 receiving yards and another score through the air. The superstar would follow up his quartet of scores with an incredible 276 yards on 22 carries and 10 receptions, with his 80-yard TD catch standing as his longest play of the year. Those who gambled on him and this offense coming around in their second year of Jared Goff and a new coach in Sean McVay were handily rewarded.

 

Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen

Allen just eked this out over DeAndre Hopkins, but I’m satisfied with this result given how Hopkins still did alright last season compared to Allen’s lost season. Allen also edged out Hopkins in both receptions (102 to 96) and receiving yards (1,393 to 1,378), so there’s merit involved as well. While we all would’ve loved to see more than six touchdowns from Keenan, he stands as one of just five WRs to top 100 receptions on the season and was second only to Golden Tate in yards after the catch with 501.

 

Biggest Flop: Jay Ajayi

So this vote came down to my final ballot with a tie between Ajayi and Jordy Nelson. While Nelson did absolutely fall off the face of the planet, I’m cutting him a bit of slack due to the Aaron Rodgers fiasco. Ajayi also gets an excuse considering the coaches failing to use him all that well, but he’s still the floppiest in my eyes. Despite not being given much work through his first five games last year, he still totaled a 260-1,272-8 rushing line thanks to three 200-yard performances on the ground. He brought a similar boom-bust portfolio into 2017, except there was no real “boom”. He did top 120 yards in two of his first five games, but only scored one touchdown on the season -- and it was 46-yard scamper, he had to really work for it. The trade to Philadelphia ended up icing his poor value, as he was never given more than 15 carries in a game after notching more than 23 four times in his first six contests. No goal-line work also did him in. It’s safe to say, he will not find himself being taken in the first round next year.

 

Wake Me Up, I Can't Wake Up: DeVante Parker

Not just a hilarious song lyric, this line epitomizes a popular “sleeper” pick being physically unable to spring into action and actually do something during the season. Corey Davis and Terrelle Pryor both lost out by one vote, and while I allow for the liberal use of the term “sleeper”, I don’t think Pryor fits. In our RotoBaller Experts League (which I won), he was chosen with the 24th overall pick.

Anyway, while Parker was certainly the victim of poor quarterback play, Jarvis Landry still managed to lead the league in receptions and Kenyan Drake became a late-season hero, even Kenny Stills balled out when his boy Matt Moore was under center, so I’m not cutting Parker much slack. What’s interesting is how he actually tallied between 60-90 receiving yards in eight of his 13 games played, and that includes his injury-shortened Week 5. That said, this guy is 6’3” and touted as a big-play guy who was supposed to see his four-TD total from 2016 soar.

Narrator’s voice: It didn’t.

His one score came back in Week 3, leaving owners on the hook chasing that feeling all season long.

 

Midseason Savior: Alex Collins

Remember when Kenneth Dixon was all the rage in Baltimore’s backfield? Then you have a great memory because that was a long, long time ago. Terrance West came out of the gate as Baltimore’s lead back in his stead and then Danny Woodhead went to the IR with a severe hamstring injury. Enter: Mr. Collins. A buzzy cast-off from the Seahawks (who, you know, maybe could’ve used him), Collins would average 4.6 yards per carry -- one of only eight RBs to eclipse that mark -- en route to a useful season despite topping 18 carries in a game just twice. He had me skeptical with two lost fumbles in his first three games, along with seeing just 25 combined touches over that span. He didn’t even record a catch until Week 8 or score until Week 11! Of course, he would end up scoring six times over Baltimore’s final seven games.

 

Most Consistent: Antonio Brown

Brown owners need to look past the hurt caused by his last-season injury and remember the good times...aka every week of the season prior to Week 15. Also, let’s take a moment and laugh at the fact that DeMarco Murray won this honor a year ago. How time flies. Not counting Week 15 when he got injured, AB saw at least 10 targets a whopping 11 times in 14 games, topping 100 yards eight times. While he only found pay dirt three times over Pittsburgh’s first nine games, he then ripped off six TDs in the next three games. A bastion of yearly consistency, Brown will once again be a top pick in 2018.

 

Most Underappreciated: Adam Thielen

If I asked you to name the players who finished in the top-five in receiving yards, would you honestly have named Thielen? Probably not. Well, let us educate! His 1,277 yards finished only behind Brown, Julio Jones, Allen, and Hopkins. Thielen kicked off the season with a bang, hanging a 9-157-0 line on the Saints before catching at least five balls in his first 11 games of the ‘17 season. It took him until the eighth game to score, but this was the 40th WR to come off the board according to composite ADP data. Where will he fall next year? Wherever it is, it’s probably too low.

 

Biggest Headache: Amari Cooper

Cooper won this vote in a landslide, with boom-or-bust posterchild T.Y. Hilton standing as the only other player to receive more than three votes. After opening the year with a solid 5-62-1 line on 13 targets, his next five games would be absolutely atrocious. Coop would tally just 84 combined yards, failing to crack 10 yards in three straight games. By then, trust was completely destroyed and so many owners rightfully sat him for a Thursday night game against Kansas City in Week 7. All he did was go off for 210 yards and a pair of scores on 11 catches on everyone’s bench, illustrating his ceiling after making it clear he wasn’t afraid to illustrate his floor. He didn’t do much after that until posting 3-66-1 and 3-115-1 lines in his final two games, just to keep us all scratching our heads this offseason.

 

Where’d You Go?: Tarik Cohen & Mike Gillislee

Remember when John Fox and the Bears intentionally didn’t use Cohen throughout the preseason so they could weaponize him in Week 1? Well, it worked. And then it worked again in Week 2. And Week 3. He would only touch the ball 15 times once more in ‘17. His 25 targets over that three-game span would never be replicated -- in fact, not even half of that mark would be tallied. It seems they’re playing at something bigger here, as they started to hide him again, resulting in a horrendous line over the final 10 weeks of the season. Look out in 2018 though, then the real utilization begins! Right?

As for Gillislee, he had the keys to the goal line in one of football’s highest-scoring offenses, and he blew it. While this gave way to Dion Lewis, the No. 2 vote-getter for “Midseason Savior” honors, it can’t be overlooked that his three TDs in Week 1 gave many fantasy owners immeasurable hope. He then scored against in Week 2, and while projecting him for at least a TD per week was silly, it wasn’t unreasonable to see a 15-18 TD season incoming. Even in an aggravating New England backfield, he seemed like he could provide some consistency. Shame on us for believing that could be the case.

 

Best Fantasy Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Edging out the Saints by two votes, the Killer B’s of Pittsburgh, which 100 percent includes Chris Boswell and not Martavis Bryant, are the owners of this title. Their 377.9 yards per game was third in the NFL, while their 25.4 points per game was eighth. Alongside Bell and Brown, Ben Roethlisberger’s 4,251 passing yards were fifth in the league as he polishes off yet another top-eight QB season. JuJu Smith-Schuster also needs to be mentioned alongside the B’s, as he ended 2017 as a solid WR2 despite missing two games due to injury and his first two games of the season playing under 60 percent of snaps as Pittsburgh realized he was better than Bryant.

 

"I'm Not Drafting Him in 2018": Isaiah Crowell & Doug Martin

The Bucs were a buzzy preseason pick to make noise in 2017, but the Hard Knocks team could never put it together. One of their bigger issues was the lack of a rushing attack, as Martin -- who was suspended for the first three games of the season -- disappeared after scoring in each of his first two games. Even including his solid 13-74-1 first game, his 2.94 YPC was laughably lower than the second-worst mark of 3.35 by Ameer Abdullah. You can’t win with that, you can’t play with that, and you certainly can’t draft that. I will grant that Tampa Bay’s offensive line was not good, but Peyton Barber managed a 3.92 YPC mark on his 108 rushing attempts.

Meanwhile, Crowell went from playing on 55.2 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps in 2016 to just 50.2 percent. This came while Duke Johnson saw his playing time jump from 44.4 percent to 53 percent, leapfrogging Crowell’s snap share. Both Johnson and Crowell would exceed 1,000 all-purpose yards, but while Johnson scored seven TDs, Crowell would only score twice. His YPC mark also fell from 4.81 to 4.17, as his down year is very poor timing with the 24-year-old Crowell set to hit the free agent market this offseason. Where he lands could change his undraftable status, of course, but he’ll be nothing more than a late flier for now.

 

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch Award: Jacksonville Jaguars Defense

So what if I was watching Monty Python clips while writing and felt like shoehorning a reference in? What are you going to do about it? The Jags defense played so well that they honestly should’ve come with ancient texts extolling their potential and how to use them. I’m fairly certain that Tom Coughlin has access to these considering what he did with the Giants in two Super Bowls. The Jags had 10 sacks in a game twice this season with 55 total QB smackdowns alongside 33 turnovers and seven defensive TDs. Their 262 points allowed trailed only Minnesota’s 250, but Minny had 18 fewer sacks, 14 fewer turnovers, six fewer TDs, and no blocked kicks compared to Jacksonville’s two. Shoutout to the Chargers, who also allowed just 262 points with 43 sacks, 27 turnovers, three TDs and a blocked kick, but the Jags are the real weapon here. Of course, mere holy weapons are no use against…

 

The Sliced Bread Award: Jimmy Garoppolo

Is Jimmy G the greatest to ever grace the game? Those in 2-QB, Dynasty and even some deeper standard leagues who were treading water at the position ended up with quite the treat come Halloween-time, as San Francisco traded for Garoppolo for a mere second-round pick before the trade deadline was up. He wouldn’t play until Week 12 when C.J. Beathard got hurt late and Garoppolo threw for a garbage-time TD on his only drive. He then led the 49ers, a franchise that had gone a combined 3-24 over the 2016-17 seasons prior to his starting, to five straight victories. One of these was an incredible 44-33 victory over the aforementioned Jaguars defense, and he didn’t even have Pierre Garcon. Utilizing all possible weapons in the Kyle Shanahan-orchestrated offense, Garoppolo would average 8.8 yards per pass attempt en route to what’ll surely be a glorious contract extension from GM John Lynch.

 

The Whitest Sneakers Award: Greg Zuerlein

This Pam Beesly-inspired award goes to the best kicker of the season, which unquestionably goes to Mr. Zuerlein. Despite missing the final two games of 2017 thanks to a herniated disk in his back, he stood as one of three kickers with at least 38 field goals made and one of four with a success rate of 95 percent or higher. His 44 extra points made were also in the top three, as those single points add up! He also had multiple FG attempts in 11-of-14 games played, which didn’t leave owners riding a roller coaster. Congrats and get healthy, Greg.

 

The Great White Buffalo Award: DeShaun Watson

Fans of the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine” will be familiar with the term, but you can just substitute “The One Who Got Away” instead. Watson was averaging a whopping 24.1 points per game through seven contests when he tore his ACL during a mid-week practice. To put that in perspective, Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz (who also got hurt, but made it through most of ‘17 at least) averaged 21.7 PPG. Todd Gurley averaged 23.4 PPG in a 0.5 PPR scoring format. The point is, Watson was doing ridiculously well, and while he may have cooled off instead of continuing to rise -- we’ll simply never know what his 2017 rookie season would have become. Here’s to a full recovery and dazzling 2018 for the young star. David Johnson is another obvious candidate given how well his 2017 went, but we’ve at least danced with him before. Dalvin Cook and many others could fill the role, but that PPG figure is too much for me to ignore. Watson leaves much more wiggle room to romanticize about the “what-ifs” that we lost out on.

 

The Assistant Regional Manager Award: Alex Smith

You read that right. No longer “Assistant TO the Regional Manager”, Smith and head coach Andy Reid shook the “mediocre manager” label and the QB21 average ADP that came with it. Despite some shaky managerial-like starts in the midseason before Reid handed off playcalling duties to his OC Matt Nagy, Smith easily set a new career-high in passing yards by eclipsing the 4,000-yard mark for the first time (previous career high: 3,502) alongside 26 TDs and just five interceptions. His 355 rushing yards were also the sixth-most by a QB in ‘17 while his average net yards per attempt (ANY/A) shot up from 6.39 last season to a career-high 7.65. He did this, all while taking a baby step forward in completion percentage from 67.1 percent to 67.5 percent -- good for third in the NFL. Congrats on the promotion, Alex.

 

The Bermuda Triangle Award: The Chicago Bears

This is where all fantasy appeal goes to die. Last year’s award went to the Rams, so maybe we’ve got special jinxing powers! The Bears’ 4,599 yards of offense was the third-worst in the league, but at least the two teams below them -- the Colts and Bengals -- boast No. 1 WRs that are worth owning and running backs that didn’t vie for “Biggest Headache” (Jordan Howard) or win an award based on disappearing. Howard had five games with 100-plus rushing yards, and three games with under 10. That’s not ideal. Their 2,811 passing yards were the fewest in the league as Mitch Trubisky was clearly sheltered from doing much.

 

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