Fantasy Football: 2009 Awards

While the 2009 NFL season leaks into 2010 this weekend, the fantasy football season is already over in a vast majority of leagues. Since that is the case, I thought it would be appropriate to give a few 2009 awards for fantasy football excellence.

If you have any differences of opinion, or any categories to add, leave a comment. Note that all statistics are through Week 16 of the NFL schedule.

Quarterback of 2009: Aaron Rodgers, Packers – It’s a close call between Rodgers (27 pass TD, 4 rush TD) and Drew Brees of the Saints (31 pass TD, 2 rush TD). Brees has outpassed Rodgers 4,388 to 4,199, but Rodgers has 281 more rushing yards, and that’s the source of some hidden points. So this is basically a draw, and so we’ll go with the QB who was drafted later. While Brees was a top-2 quarterback coming into the season, Rodgers fell into the 5 to 8 range in most leagues. The fact that he’s put up No. 1 QB numbers from that spot is a huge boon to owners who passed on Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady and waited a round or two for Rodgers instead.

Breakout quarterback of 2009: Matt Schaub, Texans – In a year where most quarterbacks delivered on their potential, the one true breakout was Schaub, who overcame injuries to play in every game and throw a career-high 27 touchdown passes and for a career-best 4,467 yards. Considering his previous highs were 15 touchdowns and 3,043 yards, and considering that injuries limited him to 11 games in each of the last two seasons, that was a huge step forward. The bottom line is that anyone who took a shot on Schaub in the 10 to 12 range at quarterback was rewarded with a top-6 performance on a weekly basis.

Running back of 2009: Chris Johnson, Titans – Johnson was pretty much a consensus top 10 pick entering the season, but he has delivered beyond even that lofty status with 1,872 rushing yards, 483 receiving yards, and 14 total touchdowns. While he’s a tick behind Adrian Peterson (17) and Maurice Jones-Drew (16) in touchdowns, Johnson’s massive yardage total outpaces each of those guys by 600 yards or more.  That’s enough to put Johnson over the top.

Breakout running back of 2009: Ray Rice, Ravens – Rice had a hard time weaseling into the top 25 at running back before the season, but he blew up with a huge season – 1,269 rushing yards, a RB-best 683 receiving yards, and eight total touchdowns. That’s enough to make him a top-5 running back for the season and a huge benefit to any owner who spent a mid-round draft pick on him.

Wide receiver of 2009: Andre Johnson, Texans – Like his teammate Matt Schaub, Johnson played every game this season, and he delivered with 95 catches for 1,504 yards and nine touchdowns. Randy Moss had 13 touchdowns to Johnson’s nine, but with more than 300 more yards Johnson narrowly gets the nod.

Breakout wide receiver of 2009: DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Jackson was a borderline top-20 receiver entering the season, but he busted out in a monster way. The second-year man had 1,120 yards receiving, nine receiving touchdowns, 131 rushing yards and a touchdown, plus two punt return touchdowns to earn a spot as a top-5 fantasy receiver. He was the kind of mid-round pick that makes fantasy teams into championship contenders.

Tight end of 2009: Dallas Clark, Colts – In an easy call, Clark, who had 1,054 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, became the clear-cut No. 1 tight end over Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten. In a year where four tight ends were thought to be at the head of the class, there was only one, and it was Clark.

Breakout tight end of 2009: Vernon Davis, 49ers – Davis, who had been a disappointment both on the field and for fantasy owners in his first three NFL seasons, became a monster in 2009 with 72 catches for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the kind of late-round pick or waiver claim that makes a difference for a fantasy team.

Pickup of the year: Miles Austin, Cowboys – Austin didn’t start the first five games of the year for the Cowboys, but once he entered the lineup he blew up with 10 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City. From that point on, Austin was a No. 1 fantasy receiver, scoring eight touchdowns after his breakout game. If you claimed Austin after that game, he rewarded you with top-5 fantasy receiver performance. No other pickup made that kind of difference.

Rookie of the year: Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – It wasn’t a great year for rookies as fantasy forces, but Moreno did a good job for fantasy owners who drafted him as a top-25 running back. With 896 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards, and seven total touchdowns, he provided a nice fantasy threat, especially once he fully got over a preseason injury. So he gets the nod over WR Hakeem Nicks of the Giants, who had six touchdowns and 795 receiving yards.

Disappointment of the year: Matt Forte, Bears – Forte was a top-5 pick in many leagues, but his fantasy performance (828 rushing yards, 448 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns) was incredibly disappointing. Take out what he did in three games against the sorry Lions, Rams, and Browns, and his weekly numbers looked even worse. He was barely a top-20 running back and a team-killer as a first-round pick.

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