Actors have the Oscars. Broadway performers have the Tonys. Fantasy football players are stuck with Biro’s Heroes & Zeros.
Hey, nobody said life is fair.
Once again, before we close the books on another exhilarating/frustrating/victorious/humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2016 to examine the players we rooted for and against and — with as much objectivity as we can muster — give credit where credit is due.
As always, our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:
Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
Production during the fantasy playoffs — NFL Weeks 14 through 16 — is given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (We’re looking at you, Big Ben.)
Week 17 is dead to us. (Lucky for you, Zeke.)
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 11th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:
Most valuable player: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. See Criteria No. 1. Johnson was the model of consistency, scoring and/or amassing more than 100 combined yards in every game (until his Week 17 injury). He played up to his first-round billing in spades. Runner-up: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys.
“Peerless Price Memorial” bust of the year: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Last year’s undisputed Rookie of the Year wilted under the spotlight in La La Land. Gurley was inexplicably awful in most contests, but his owners didn’t dare bench him early on because he was bound to catch fire at any moment, right? Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.
Rookie of the year: Elliott. This one wasn’t even close. Like Johnson, Elliott scored and/or totaled more than 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first 16 games. Let’s just hope he doesn’t “pull a Gurley” next season. Runner-up: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints.
Comeback player of the year: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. All he did was return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him the 2015 season to lead the league in receiving touchdowns and fantasy points among wideouts. Runner-up: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans.
Surprise of the year: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Though he wasn’t always a fantasy stud, Prescott personifies this category. More than 3,600 passing yards, 29 total touchdowns and only four interceptions is pretty ridiculous for a young quarterback, much less a rookie. Runner-up: Davante Adams, WR, Packers.
Best waiver-wire acquisition: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. When Jeremy Langford got hurt in Week 3, Howard stepped in and became the Bears’ undisputed workhorse, finishing the season in the top 10 among running backs. Runner-up: Adams.
Mr. Big Play: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Maybe it just seemed like he scored every time he touched the ball. But whether it was as a receiver, runner or returner, Hill was a game-changer. Runner-up: Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints.
Most devastating injury loss: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. You could argue that losing Adrian Peterson was worse, but he failed to produce even before his injury. Gronk was his usual self when healthy, but that wasn’t nearly long enough. Runner-up: A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.
Steal of the draft: Matt Ryan, RB, Falcons. Available as late as the 13th round in many leagues, Ryan turned in the best season of his career and was even stellar while Julio Jones was sidelined. Runner-up: Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers.
Mr. Reliable: Nelson. Antonio Brown has set the standard for consistency the last four seasons, but even he played second fiddle to Nelson this year. Aside from a nine-yard disaster in Week 7, Nelson delivered week in and week out. Runner-up: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.
“Thomas Jones Memorial” most underrated: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. All he did was score touchdowns. He even racked up big yards as an occasional bonus. Runner-up: Frank Gore, RB, Colts.
Biggest postseason disappointment: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. If you survived Brees’ Week 13 meltdown, he likely knocked you out of the playoffs with his 257-yard, zero-touchdown, three-interception outing in Week 14. Runner-up: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers.
“Frisman Jackson Memorial” irrational exuberance award: Kenneth Farrow, RB, Chargers. Countless fantasy owners jumped on Farrow’s bandwagon after Melvin Gordon’s injury. The rookie then proceeded to stink up the joint in Weeks 15 and 16, when Gordon’s owners needed him the most. Runner-up: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers.
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