Most fantasy football leagues are over for their regular season, and it’s off to the playoffs. Some have a week to go, depending on how your league manager configured things. Either way, it’s been fun to review the top 5 this year, and I’ll continue to do so while the NFL season is still going on.
8 months ago, would we have seen the #1 overall pick go completely crazy like he has all year long? If it wasn’t starting off the first 2 weeks throwing for 900 yards, then it was running in touchdowns to make Michael Vick look more like Tim Tebow. Cam has done it, despite what we all thought before. He’s shown up in 9 out of the past 12 top-10 blog posts. Woah.
I’m proud that my San Francisco 49ers clinched the first division title of 2011, and just hours later my Green Bay Packers followed Suit, when my New Orleans Saints defeated the Detroit Lions who were close enough to keep the Packers from locking it up. At this point, it seems as if the Packers and 49ers will have first round byes in the playoffs, but the road to the Super Bowl still goes through Green Bay. In January. Yeoch!
On to the guys who have done it all year long…
- Cam Newton – He did it all on Sunday, completing 12-of-21 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, running 14 times for 54 yards and three touchdowns and catching one pass for 27 yards during Sunday’s win over the Bucs. Newton’s 13 rushing touchdowns this year set a new NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season. Not only is it the most by a quarterback in a season but it also leads the league in rushing touchdowns this season. Newton has been absolutely fantastic this year and Sunday was no different. Expect to see Cam as a top-5 draft pickup for next year, as the Panthers, despite good play, have a horrible record and will receive a top-half draft pick for 2012. He burned the league with 37 fantasy points, and takes back the #2 overall spot ahead of Brees, and just second to….
- Aaron Rodgers – My favorite quarterback threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Rodgers continues to be one of the top fantasy players this season. Green Bay’s leaky defense means that he’ll need to keep putting up big offensive numbers each week. He’s the top QB of the season still after 31 fantasy points.
- Drew Brees – Can my seasons get any better? Brees threw for three touchdowns and 342 yards Sunday against the Lions on 26-of-36 passing. Drew continues to dominate and pick apart opposing secondaries with ease. Other than Aaron Rodgers, no other quarterback is playing on his level this season. Every time it seemed the Lions were going to creep back into the game, Brees engineered an answer to keep the Saints rolling. He’s on record pace in passing yards in 2011 and will likely be on many championship rosters this fantasy season. Drew Brees went for 25 fantasy points and is still a top-3 passer in the NFL.
- Philip Rivers – The Bolts QB completed 22-of-28 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns Monday against the Jaguars. It was easily Rivers’ best game of the season, and only the second time all year he had a turnover free game. The depleted Jaguars’ secondary was no match for Rivers and all his receiving options, as the Chargers snapped a six game losing streak and kept any hopes of a division crown alive. After Philip’s great 23 point game last night he ranks 9th overall.
- Christian Ponder – the rookie was 29-of-47 for 381 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in Sunday’s loss to Denver. He set a Vikings record for passing yards in a game by a rookie, but also threw two crucial interceptions – including one late in the fourth quarter that ultimately led to Denver’s winning field goal. Ponder also threw a bad interception returned easily for a touchdown earlier in the game and lost a fumble. It was a mixed performance and the Vikings have to hope he’ll learn from the bad interceptions and it’s not a sign of regression. Despite not starting the season, Christian Ponder’s 22 point day makes him 28th QB overall.
- Shonn Greene – Is the dream alive? With LaDainian Tomlinson teaching old tricks, Greene had 25 touches in Sunday’s win at Washington, a season high. He finished the day with 114 total yards and three touchdowns. With LT and Joe McKnight dinged up and handling just four touches between them, the Jets hitched up the offense to Greene; the rugged inside runner saw 57 snaps on the day, his highest count of the year according to Pro Football Focus. New York probably would like to run the same type of game plan in the next two weeks, up against Kansas City and Philadelphia. Greene ranks 23rd overall after 28 fantasy points.
- Ray Rice & Chris Johnson – Both runners scored 27 fantasy points for their owners.
Rice ran wild against the Browns on Sunday, rushing for 204 yards with a touchdown. Ray got off to a great start with an early 30-yard scamper, and later added a 67-yard gallop. In theory, Rice could have finished with close to 300 yards rushing, but Ricky Williams added 16 carries for 76 yards with a touchdown of his own. Ray Rice is the 2nd top running back.
Johnson had his second huge game in a row against the Bills on Sunday. He rushed for 153 yards and two scores on 23 carries. CJ2k’s run game has been reignited in the second half of the season. Maybe he was saving himself, or a push towards the playoffs has provided the necessary motivations. Either way, Johnson has been given the ball to carry 23 times in each of the last two games and provided 343 yards and two touchdowns in two straight wins. Chris Johnson is working his way back up, and is the 13th top RB.
- Marshawn Lynch – The beast had 22 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns Thursday night against the Eagles. Lynch continues to run like a man possessed as he set the tone for the game after emerging from a pile and spinning his way to a 15-yard first quarter touchdown run. Heading into a dream matchup against the Rams’ league worst run defense and with a touchdown in eight consecutive games and over 100 rushing yards in four of the last five, there are few hotter or more physical backs in the league right now. Marshawn Lynch is the 9th best rusher after his 26 point performance.
- LeSean McCoy & Maurice Jones-Drew – Both runners gave their owners 24 points, tying for 5th for the week.
McCoy had 17 rushes for 84 yards and a touchdown and added four catches for 49 yards and another touchdown Thursday against the Seahawks. So much for the toe limiting him in this one. Even with Vince Young throwing four interceptions and killing drives, McCoy was still able to get his with two short touchdowns. Things may get a little tougher next week against Miami’s top ten run defense, but with an extended week to rest up the toe, he should be a rock solid start just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Shady McCoy is still the top running back.
Jones-Drew had 20 carries for 97 yards and caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown Monday against the Chargers. Despite the quarterback woes, MJD continues to put up big numbers, which is truly remarkable. The six catches were a season high as he is becoming more involved in the passing game of late. He now has 17 catches in his last four games, so make sure to give him a nice little boost in PPR leagues when determining your lineups. Thanks to an injury free season, MJD is the 4th best running back.
- Percy Harvin – Being sick means nothing when you can grab eight passes for 156 yards with a pair of touchdowns, while still losing to the Broncos. Percy also had five rushes for 19 yards. Harvin was awesome after the catch on his two touchdowns, and did not appear to be affected by the illness that forced him to miss Friday’s practice. Percy Harvin’s 28 point game makes him 11th overall, thanks to Adrian Peterson being out.
- Pierre Garcon – The Frenchie Garcon grabbed nine passes (12 targets) for 150 yards with a pair of touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. Garcon scored both of his touchdowns in the final couple of minutes, but showed a strong rapport with Dan Orlovsky in general. Garcon’s fantasy value did not look good with Curtis Painter at the helm, so there appears to be some hope for Garcon over the final four weeks. No Peyton Manning, but hey, Pierre Garcon is 14th overall after last week’s 27 points. Where’s Reggie Wayne?
- Demaryius Thomas – He’s starting to be a huge name, and will enjoy a nice fantasy draft position next season. Too bad he has Tim Tebow throwing the rock, who would rather run it in himself. Thomas had four catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday’s win over the Vikings. A huge game for Demaryius, who was targeted seven times by Tim Tebow. His 144 yards on Sunday were more than he had all season going into the game. Demaryius Thomas is the 80th ranked receiver after 26 fantasy points.
- Hakeem Nicks – The Giants top receiver caught seven passes (12 targets) for 88 yards with a pair of touchdowns in Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the Packers. Hakeem looked as good as he has all season, beating the Packers deep on numerous occasions (one long reception of 51 yards), as well as making really tough catches in the end zone (both of his touchdowns came from inside the five-yard line with a defender all over him). Victor Cruz had another big game, catching seven passes for 119 yards, which should eventually take some of the coverage off of Nicks. After 20 fantasy points Hakeem Nicks is ranked 11th overall.
- Robert Meachem – One of the many Saints receivers, you know they’re going to pop up from time to time with Drew Brees looking for that Dan Marino record. Meachem finished with 119 yards on three receptions, including a 67-yard touchdown Sunday versus the Lions. Robert has the ability to post big numbers, which was purely evident Sunday against Detroit, but his inconsistency is what drives fantasy owners crazy. The Saints have so many weapons on offense that it would be hard to feel confident starting Meachem next week in what figures to be a playoff game for most, despite the big game Sunday night. Robert Meachem is now ranked 39th overall with his 17-point game.
And as usual, your once-again top tight end is Rob Gronkowski, 5 receptions for 64 yards and 2 scores, totaling 24 fantasy points. He’s still the top TE of the year.
Only a few more to go, stay tuned!