As you gear up for this weekend’s conference championships, let’s take a quick look back at the regular season’s studs in each position. (Note: Points listed are directly from the First and Goal Fantasy League and may not represent point totals in your individual leagues)
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers — In a year of QB headlines dominated by the Brett Favre saga, the (possible) farewell tour of Kurt Warner, and the leadership of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, it was Rodgers who had the best fantasy season, quiet as it may have been. Through the end of the season, Rodgers threw for an impressive 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions. Also quick on his feet, Rodgers picked up 316 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 3 2 pt. conversions, and just 4 lost fumbles, ending the season with 297 total fantasy points. What may make this stat line more impressive is that Rodgers got the snot beat out of him almost every game early in the season, sustaining a near record number of sacks. There should no longer be any doubt: Aaron Rodgers is the future of the Green Bay Packers and should be for a while. Expect him to be an ever hotter commodity next season. Rodgers was the best fantasy QB in Week 15 and earned an honorable mention in Week 8 for tying with Brett Favre.
*Fantasy Stud of the Year*
RB: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans — Honestly, who is surprised by this? Johnson dominated fantasy football this year and most of the defenses he faced throughout the season. By the time the dust had settled after Week 17, Johnson had accumulated 2,006 rushing yards, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in one season. He also had 14 rushing touchdowns, 503 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 1 2 pt. conversion, and just 3 lost fumbles, ending the season with a league-high 329 fantasy points. At just 24 years old, Johnson could have several more standout seasons left in the tank and will give Adrian Peterson a run for his money at being the top fantasy prospect in 2010. Johnson was previously honored in Week 2, Week 8, Week 10, and Week 14, earning Fantasy Stud of the Week honors in each of those four weeks. It is no doubt Johnson helped many fantasy teams to championships this year, including the NC Nittany Lions in the First and Goal Fantasy League (congrats, Dave!). Johnson also won the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year award.
WR: DeSeason Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles — In what may prove to be a breakout season, Jackson was the best fantasy wide receiver in just his second career campaign. On a team that appears to be loading up on young offensive talent, Jackson shined like a beacon for the Eagles, who struggled down the stretch. Jackson racked up 1,167 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns, 137 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 441 return yards, 2 return touchdowns, and just 1 lost fumble for a total of 206 fantasy points on the season. Just like fellow 2008 rookie Chris Johnson, Jackson appears posed to have a solid career, both on the field and in fantasy leagues, and may be the top receiver on many fantasy draft boards come next August. Jackson was the league’s best fantasy receiver in Week 14.
TE: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers — In what seems to be the theme of the 2009 season, the top fantasy tight end was also a young rising star. Davis had a breakout year with the Niners, leading the team in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. When all was said and done, Davis ended the season with 78 receptions for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns for a total of 168 fantasy points. While he was not one of the three tight ends to eclipse the 1,000 mark, his 13 touchdowns tied an NFL record, which Antonio Gates set in 2004. While many tight ends are valuable blockers and often have an unsung role in the offense, Davis is proving the position can be just as dangerous as any other for opposing defenses and will look to continue that trend in 2010. Davis was the league’s best fantasy tight end in Week 3 and Week 7.
K: Nate Kaeding, San Diego Chargers — Post season aside, Kaeding had a very solid season in 2009. Connecting for 32 field goals, including 9 40+ yarders, 3 of which were from 50+ yards out, and 50 PATs, Kaeding finished the season with 158 fantasy points. Kickers may never receive a lot of fantasy love from team owners, but some kickers, including Kaeding deserve some recognition for the support they provided their real-life and fantasy teams. In a true example of the tortoise beating the hare, Kaeding was the league’s top fantasy kicker by season’s end, despite not being the best kicker in any one particular regular season week.
D/ST: New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers — While I never did it during the season, I feel obligated to honor both of these squads, which finished the season in a tie for the top defensive squad with 181 fantasy points. The Jets allowed just 206 points on the season while accumulating 32 sacks, 17 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries, 3 touchdowns, 2 blocked kicks, and 1 return touchdown. The 49ers’ squad allowed a higher 275 points throughout the season, but racked up 44 sacks, 18 interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries, 4 touchdowns, and 2 blocked kicks. It has ofen been said that defense wins championships. Most people may not think that applies to fantasy sports as raw stats drive success, not necessarily a full team effort. Well, to all the nay-sayers, the First and Goal Fantasy League championship game between the NC Nittany Lions and Team Ham featured a face-off of the Jets and 49ers defenses. How’s that for defenses winning championships? The Jets were the league’s best squad in Week 12 while the 49ers earned the top spot in Week 4 and Week 14.
ROOKIE: Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings — While many people expected good things in the future, not many counted on Harvin making such an immediate impact for the Vikings. Starting the season as a dangerous kick returner, Harvin soon found his feet in a more traditional offensive role as well by mid-season. Despite missing some playing time due to injury, Harvin racked up 790 receiving yards, 6 receiving touchdowns, 135 rushing yards, 1,156 return yards, 2 return touchdowns and no lost fumbles for a total of 183 fantasy points. As Harvin continues to learn the professional schemes and settles into his role with the Vikings, we should only expect to see his fantasy production increase over the next several years. The kid has some obvious talent and should be able to put it to good use in 2010 and beyond. Harvin was named the top fantasy rookie in Week 1, Week 3, and Week 12.
Note: To quickly view all of my Fantasy Focus posts, simply click the Fantasy Focus banner at the top of any such post!