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RotoBaller's Staff Awards - Fantasy Football Year-in-Review

The 2018 NFL season is officially over, so it's a good time to reflect on the ups and downs of a crazy year. Fantasy football is always unpredictable but it feels as if this season had more monkey wrenches than an auto shop. Between a unanimous top-three pick not playing a single snap all season to an undrafted free agent finishing as a top-10 RB to a Jets receiver leading teams to championships in the playoffs, none of us could have predicted the events that unfolded.

To recap these events, we recently polled our expert staff on who they would award as the best and worst of 2018 and asked them to explain their reasoning. Naturally, we received a variety of responses and some very strong opinions!

Without further ado, here is our year-end review of the best and worst performances of the 2018 fantasy football season.

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Who is this year's Fantasy MVP and why?

Patrick Mahomes. It is rare that QB earns this honor, but Mahomes averaged 4.8 more fantasy points per game than the next QB and gave you a legitimate edge at the position while repeatedly providing week-winning performances. He also was drafted after the 10th round most everywhere. - Jason Katz

With a tip of the cap to Pat Mahomes, I have to go with the highest scoring non-QB in fantasy football this year, Todd Gurley. It's a pretty good feeling when the guy you take number one in your fantasy drafts actually lives up to the hype and Gurley delivered huge numbers on a weekly basis in 2018. Some will hold Gurley's Week 16 absence against him, but keep in mind that he was a huge part of why your team made the playoffs to begin with. - Joe Nicely

Christian McCaffrey. When Ron Rivera said he wanted to get the ball to McCaffrey 30 times a game, he wasn’t doing any Riverboat-related trickery. McCaffrey ended up as a commodity whose value was limitless, especially in PPR, and there doesn’t seem to be a limit on how high that elevator will go for the talented back in 2019, where he will certainly be a top-10 pick. - Cliff Clinton

Davante Adams. A model of consistency throughout the season, Adams finished with the most points among receivers in PPR and was second in standard. His lowest PPR score was 16 and he only had single-digit points once in standard. No matter the format, Adams was always a reliable high-end WR1. - Steve Rebeiro

Patrick Mahomes. As a late pick, you were able to load up on other positions before snagging him. - Brendan Kennealy

Todd Gurley. Outside of Week 16 when he didn’t play, he has been arguably the most consistent performer at any position. He was probably the best player at living up to his ADP. - Gage Bridgford

Christian McCaffrey. You could have drafted him on the turn of the 1/2 and picked up one of the most reliable RBs in the game. - Richard King

Christian McCaffrey did exactly what his owners expected him to do every single week, and undoubtedly led many owners to a fantasy championship with his playoff performances. - David Marcillo


Who is MVP of the Fantasy Playoffs (Weeks 14-16)?

Derrick Henry. It’s close between him and Damien Williams, but Henry gets the edge due to the 50-point game he put up that won many players their week. - Gage Bridgford

Christian McCaffrey. He gets the nod over Henry because of Henry's low start percentage in Week 14. McCaffrey managed more than 25 PPR points in each of the three playoff weeks, carrying many teams to a championship. - Harris Yudin

Robby Anderson. Between Weeks 14-16, no one was a better must-start (SO CLOSE DERRICK HENRY.) Anderson clearly has some chemistry with Sam Darnold these days, so maybe it’ll continue in 2019, but if you were bold enough to slot in Anderson throughout the playoffs in your flex spot, you were rewarded handsomely. - Cliff Clinton

Damien Williams. The RB1 in Kansas City is always a fantasy RB1 , just a rule of thumb. Although D-Will didn’t start in Week 14, he ended up producing a solid game. In the following weeks, he probably helped win a boatload of championships with his multiple touchdowns and receptions. - Kev Mahserejian

Derrick Henry. He could have been acquired for next to nothing just before the playoffs (or a league's trade deadline) and destroyed every week of the fantasy playoffs. - David Marcillo

Derrick Henry. For those brave enough to even use him, he certainly delivered and then some. Henry had 492 yards rushing and seven TDs in Weeks 14-16. That'll get it done. - Keith Hernandez

Derrick Henry. Whether you found him on the scrapheap or deep in your bench, Mr. December showed up again when the moment mattered. Anyone who started him in Week 14 needs to send him a fruit basket. - Steve Rebeiro


Best Draft Sleeper?

Andrew Luck. He was being drafted as a QB2 in most leagues because everyone was afraid of the risk after a lost 2017 season, but he turned out to be a solid QB1 most weeks in a surprisingly good Colts offense. - Keith Hernandez

James White. White was considered a mild fantasy asset given that he'd likely be sharing touches with Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and possibly even Jeremy Hill. Due to injuries to other guys, though, White saw more rushing attempts than anticipated to go along with being one of the more reliable pass-catching backs in football. Despite an ADP outside the top 100, White finished as a clear RB1 and a top-50 fantasy contributor. - Harris Yudin

James Conner. Conner was just a handcuff to Bell on draft day and didn’t present much value to other owners. However, for those savvy enough to pick him up in the later rounds, he probaby carried you to at least the playoffs. - Kev Mahserejian

The tight end position doesn't get a lot of love, but I'm going to throw some George Kittle's way. The San Francisco phenom finished as the TE3 this season, despite losing QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the year in Week 3. Kittle displayed week-winning upside thanks to his tremendous YAC ability and will be a high priority in 2019 fantasy drafts. - Joe Nicely

Phillip Lindsay was an undrafted Free agent who not only worked his way up his team’s roster, but also fantasy rosters, to be a top-12 back in PPR in 2018. That’s a hell of an achievement that is worth celebrating, paired with the fact that Lindsay is sticking around for a long time, is worth feeling some satisfaction about. - Cliff Clinton


Biggest Draft Bust?

Is this even a question? Le'Veon Bell literally destroyed seasons for those that spent an early first-round pick on him this year. His backers were certain that Bell would report to the Steelers before the first game of the season...they're still waiting. - Joe Nicely

Even though Leonard Fournette’s potential for protracted injuries was a concern heading into the season, his owners were subjected to a series of frustrating events that involved issues beyond his health. 30 backs accumulated more carries, he only averaged 3.3 YPC, and the only three games in which he exceeded 100 total yards culminated with his ejection after Fournette left the Jacksonville bench to engage in an unnecessary fight. He is far too unreliable to be drafted anywhere near his 2018 ADP. - Phil Clark

Leonard Fournette. Sure, it's hard to call someone a bust for getting injured -- Fournette has missed seven games this year -- but he hasn't exactly been a strong fantasy producer in the games in which he did play. He failed to rush for 100 yards in any of his eight contests and found the end zone just five times (four of which came in a three-game span from Week 14 to Week 16). - Harris Yudin

Rob Gronkowski. In a year where tight end was as barren as it's ever been, you were usually better off grabbing somebody from the free agent pool than playing Gronk in a given week. It was a brutal and potentially final chapter in one of fantasy's greatest careers. - Steve Rebeiro

Royce Freeman. He was supposed to be the bell cow behind a good O-line, hence his third-round ADP. Then some undrafted rookie ruined everything. I’m not bitter. - Wai Sallas

Royce Freeman. See “Lindsay, Phillip” - Cliff Clinton


Mid-Year Waiver Savior? (Week 8 or beyond)

Nick Chubb. The rookie runner had no more than three carries through the first six weeks of the season. That all changed when Carlos Hyde was traded, and Chubb became the clear lead back and scored touchdowns in six of seven games at one point. - Keith Hernandez

Nick Chubb. Not a ton of guys who were on the waiver wire halfway into the season were projected to score 18+ points from week 10 on, but Nick Chubb became the workhorse back that the Browns simply didn’t know they possessed. His rookie campaign will be buried behind the Saquon’s of the world (or in IDP, the Derwin James’s) but Chubb was an immediate valuable for so many teams in the latter half of the season. - Cliff Clinton

Nick Chubb did not start for the Browns until Week 7, but he still managed to finish ninth overall with 972 rushing yards, while averaging 5.3 YPC. Once he became the unquestioned RB1 for Cleveland, he bolted for 799 yards, averaged 89 YPG, and generated six of his eight scores. He also became a locked-in weekly starter for anyone who secured him from the waiver wire in Week 8. - Phil Clark

Gus Edwards. Edwards came out of nowhere to supplant Alex Collins midseason, and proceeded to average just under 100 yards over the last six weeks of the fantasy season. While he only scored twice in that stretch, he provided fantasy owners with solid numbers on a weekly basis down the stretch. - Harris Yudin


I wish I would have sold high on ______ mid-season.

Adam Thielen. The Minnesota slot receiver went over 100 yards receiving in a mind-blowing eight consecutive games to start the season, but topped the century mark only once after Week 8. - Joe Nicely

Cam Newton. He was healthy and threw 13 TDs to only four interceptions through the first eight weeks. Newton was noticeably limited in what he could do downfield as the season wore on and the offense literally went through Christian McCaffrey. - Keith Hernandez

Adam Thielen. After a dominant first half of the season, he just fell off in the final few weeks, and he was nearly nonexistent in the playoffs. - Gage Bridgford

Sony Michel. This one hurts me deeply. In my main home league, I was offered DeAndre Hopkins for Michel and Golden Tate. I declined and a week later, Michel hurt his knee again and Golden Tate was traded to Philadelphia. Not my most shining fantasy moment and it’s fair to assume I wasn’t the only one who held onto Michel too long. - Kev Mahserejian

As the regular-season approached its halfway point, it appeared that Alex Collins was finally being entrusted with feature back responsibilities that did not include seemingly random usage of Javorius Allen. But after Collins produced 49 yards and a touchdown on the ground in Week 8, he only accumulated 53 rushing yards during his next two matchups combined, before he was placed on injured reserve with a foot issue on December 1. If I had moved him from my rosters at mid-season I likely would have received a reasonably productive player in return instead of eventually being forced to drop him. - Phil Clark


I wish I could have bought low on ______ mid-season.

Amari Cooper. Not that he was the most consisted guy in the second half, but he had two absolute monster games and enough solid outings to justify his place here. - Kev Mahserejian

Amari Cooper is the only right answer here. Despite having more real football than fantasy success in the second half of the season, Cooper was both widely owned and yet a terrible reminder of bad decisions by the ones who drafted him. - Cliff Clinton

T.Y. Hilton. He was a mild disappointment in the first half, especially with Eric Ebron getting all the red zone love in Indy. Hilton averaged 58.8 yards per game over the first half of the season and missed a couple of games due to injury. From Week 10-16, he averaged 122.3 yards per game on nearly seven receptions, including a huge 199-yard outburst in Week 14 and 138 in Week 16, helping fantasy owners who either stuck with him or were smart enough to buy-low. - Pierre Camus

Chris Carson. His value never felt as high as it should have due to the injury history and emerging backups behind him, but Carson proved to be one of fantasy's top running backs come playoff time. He would have been nice to have. - Steve Rebeiro


The biggest lesson I learned from the 2018 NFL season is_______

Never draft a player in a holdout. - Gage Bridgford

It’s almost imperative you nail your first round pick. Draft a stud and you have set yourself up for maximum points. Draft a dud, and spend the rest of the season on tilt. - Wai Sallas

Don’t draft two-down backs in the early rounds. Jordan Howard and Royce Freeman had their value crushed by backs who were shiftier and more capable in the passing game. Let someone else buy touchdown-dependant RBs early on. - Kev Mahserejian

I should've spent up on one of the elite tight ends (Kelce, Ertz) in the earlier rounds instead of waiting. Streaming the position for most of the year because of injuries to Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen pretty much killed me. - Keith Hernandez

Zero-RB can work with the right in-season moves. In my keeper league, most of the appealing backs were either kept or gone by the time my second pick came around. I ended up with Jay Ajayi, Sony Michel and Ronald Jones to begin the season. However, my championship week lineup featured Melvin Gordon, Damien Williams and Derrick Henry, with Gus Edwards and Kenyan Drake on the bench. The running back position is so fickle that it's not hard to build a strong RB corps with proper in-season management. - Harris Yudin

Exclusively target players on good offenses. One of my biggest draft blunders in a league was selecting Leonard Fournette over Alvin Kamara based on projected workload. Hindsight is obviously 20/20 and it surely would've looked a lot better had Fournette not gotten hurt, but, as always, process > results. It was an objectively bad process to target a higher volume player on a far, far worse offense. In 2019, I will prioritize players on offenses that score a lot of points. - Jason Katz

I did a good job of remaining diversified in terms of which players I drafted throughout the spring and most of the summer. During that final week before the season began, I had a draft every night, and started selecting several of the same players on many of those rosters. Having Christian McCaffrey on multiple teams worked out just fine. But having to replace Emmanuel Sanders on five teams at once served as a reminder that it can be risky to become overly fixated on any one player, even if you are convinced that they are going to be extremely productive. - Phil Clark

Don't ever stop working the waiver wire, no matter your record or how stacked you think your team is. Star players like Odell Beckham, Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, James Conner and others were absent for the most important part of the season. Meanwhile, grabbing players like Jaylen Samuels, Jamaal Williams, Damien Williams, C.J. Anderson, Robby Anderson, Evan Engram, Josh Allen and others right before the fantasy playoffs led many to championships - myself included! - Pierre Camus


RotoBaller Staff Awards (Consensus)

  • Fantasy MVP - Christian McCaffrey
  • Fantasy Playoffs MVP - Derrick Henry
  • Best Draft Sleeper - James Conner
  • Biggest Draft Bust - Leonard Fournette
  • Best Midseason Pickup - Nick Chubb
  • Best Sell-High - Adam Thielen
  • Best Buy-Low - Amari Cooper

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