Fantasy Football Awards
We’re at the halfway point of the 2017 NFL season. Naturally, mid-season awards must be handed out. Following the end of the regular season and just before the Super Bowl, a bevy of awards are distributed to deserving players. A few of the most highly regarded awards include Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year. For the sake of fantasy, and because there has been so much disappointment this season, I’m adding a Most Disappointing Fantasy Player Award (MDFP).
To do what Watson has done during the first half of the season is nothing short of remarkable. And oh yeah, he’s a rookie and wasn’t even the Texans’ starter heading into the season. Watson’s early success can be attributed to many factors, including uncharacteristically good pocket presence for a first-year signal caller, fleet feet, deep-ball accuracy and even some helpful garbage time touchdowns in a lopsided defeat versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5.
He most recently totaled 469 yards in what was a barn burner of a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8. Watson did throw three interceptions, but he is now the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback — and overall fantasy player — and has already had his bye week. It’s rare to say a rookie quarterback is matchup proof, but Watson has officially achieved that status. There’s no doubt he is capable of throwing and carrying fantasy squads to a title this year.
Honorable Mention: Carson Wentz, Todd Gurley, Russell Wilson
Rookie of the Year
Chiefs Running Back
Watson already has the MVP award, so it’s only fair that Kareem Hunt earns Fantasy Rookie of the Year honors. In a year full of standout rookie stars, Hunt has shined the brightest, although Leonard Fournette’s season has been nearly as radiant. Realistically, this award could have co-winners with Hunt and Fournette. As we know, though, the most likely candidates are on playoff-contending teams, giving Hunt a slight edge. To boot, Hunt is currently the No. 1 scoring fantasy running back on the season in PPR and standard leagues.
Oddly enough, the Toledo alum’s first NFL carry resulted in a lost fumble in the league’s opening contest on a Thursday night against the New England Patriots. The entire Kansas City offense, including Hunt, had not committed a turnover since that play, that is, until Week 8 versus the Denver Broncos. Hunt’s big-play ability and consistently productive runs have paved the way to a featured role in Kansas City. Of course, Spencer Ware’s unfortunate season-ending ACL tear helped. Nevertheless, if Hunt continues his steady production, he could be well on his way to a real-life Rookie of the Year honor.
Honorable Mention: Leonard Fournette
Comeback/Rebound Player of the Year
Rams Running Back
The Comeback Player of the Year Award is traditionally bestowed upon a player who bounced back from a serious injury or harrowing life circumstance to have a great season. While Gurley played all 16 games last season, his pride was severely injured, so we’ll count it.
Remember the alcoholic hillbilly pilot dad in the first Independence Day movie? Towards the end of the film, he sacrificially flies his aircraft straight into the invading mother alien ship to save Earth, yelling, “I’m baaaaack!” as he does so. Well, Todd Gurley is having his “I’m back!” moment in 2017, with opposing defenses serving as the mother alien ship.
The third-year running back is on pace for over 2,100 total yards and 24 total touchdowns. His 293 receiving yards are just 34 yards shy of his career high and he still has half a season to play. New head coach Sean McVay — the man who breathed life into and revitalized Chris Thompson’s career with the Washington Redskins — is utilizing Gurley in a similar fashion, taking advantage of his skills as a runner and a pass-catcher. If Gurley can maintain good health and keep from being overworked (fourth in NFL at 145 carries) then his rebound from a dismal and disappointing 2016 campaign will be complete.
Honorable Mention: DeAndre Hopkins
Biggest Disappointment (Non-Injury)
Redskins Wide Receiver
Oy vey. In what has seemingly been a down year for the NFL so far, Pryor is one reason for it, or a byproduct of it. He was one of the most coveted free agents of the offseason coming off a breakout campaign with the Cleveland Browns that saw him catch 77 passes for just over 1,000 yards and four touchdowns. We figured Kirk Cousins and the Redskins would be a massive upgrade from Cody Kessler and the Browns, so we drafted Pryor as a low-end WR1 to high-end WR2. Well, through seven games Pryor is the WR74 on the season.
The quarterback-turned-receiver is fourth on the Redskins in targets (34), managing a measly 18 catches for 223 yards and one touchdown. The 6-foot-4 Pryor, who should be a mismatch for opposing defenses, has only tallied 70 yards in a game once and was only targeted once in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. It’s far too late to sell high on Pryor. He’ll simply have to be a wasted stash on fantasy benches going forward, assuming an injury to Washington’s receiving corps doesn’t spark new life into Pryor’s year to forget.
Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch, Martavis Bryant
Thanks for reading!