With the final whistle-blown of the 2012 NFL regular season, fantasy football owners once again find themselves thinking over all the mistakes they made over the year. Unless you were some of the fortunate few who won your leagues, mistakes were made and to be learned from.
Now is the time to start thinking about next season and a big part of that is looking at who performed best this year. Below is the best of the best that 2012 had to offer and all are names that should be on the radar come opening round of the 2013 draft.
In honor of some of fantasy football's greatest performers, each position award is titled after arguably the best fantasy player ever to play it.
(Quarterback) The 'Brett Favre' Award: Tom Brady, New England Patriots (310 points*)
Tom Brady eeks out Drew Brees with a consistent year that featured the New England passer tossing 32 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. In a year that saw the Patriots turn more to the run due to Brady's greatest target, tight end Rob Gronkowski (who was sidelined and slowed with injuries), Brady still managed to rule all signal callers. With his style of play and skill level, expect Brady to be in the top five of the fantasy club on a yearly basis.
Runner Up: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (308 points*)
(Running Back) The 'LaDainian Tomlinson' Award and 2012 Fantasy Football MVP : Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (266 points*)
Here is a portion of what CBSsports.com had to say about Adrian Peterson before the 2012 season:
“For the first time since his rookie year, Peterson is not worth the risk in Round 1. In fact, he's a moderate risk in Round 2, especially with limited work prior to the start of the regular season. Figure Peterson to fall in between 15th and 30th overall in drafts.”
That sentiment pretty much summed up what the majority of fantasy sites across the internet and TV were saying of Peterson. Coming off of a horrendous knee injury last Christmas, nothing much was expected of the Vikings rusher, but he took all the doubts and channeled them into a fantasy season for the ages. Considering where he was drafted this year and what he accomplished, calling him a major steal is an understatement.
The only reason he doesn't wrap up comeback player of the year is that in a pure fantasy perspective, Peyton Manning surpassed him in both injury and production.
Runner up: Arian Foster, Houston Texans (231 points*)
(Wide Receiver) The 'Jerry Rice' Award: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (207 points*)
Madden curse? What Madden Curse?
Being the cover boy of the most popular sports game of all time has been a mixed bag of nuts for those who have done it in years past but for Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson, there was no let-down in his performance this season. With an NFL record in receiving yards this season, Johnson more than made up for his lack of endzone appearances (he had five touchdowns).
Overall, it looks as if the curse decided to take it's frustration out on the Lions as a whole since it couldn't do a damn thing to slow down 'Megatron'.
Runner Up: Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears (206 points*)
(Tight End) The 'Tony Gonzalez' Award: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons (131 points*)
That's right, you know you are a bad mo-fo when you have been good enough to get the top tight end award named after you and still produce enough to earn it. Since coming into the league back in 1997, Gonzo has been the name for premier tight end play; and even in 2012, he still puts up the numbers with eight touchdowns grabs.
Runner Up: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (129 points*)
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (280 points*)
From not playing last year to the number one seed in the AFC, it's safe to say that this has been a good year for Peyton Manning. With 34 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions, Manning made a ton of fantasy owners happy they took a flier on him. Like Tom Brady, Manning has a style of play and intelligence that transcends his age and he should be putting up good numbers for years to come.
Runner Up: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (266 points*)
Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (288 points*)
The Washington Redskins took a big gamble trading up to take RGIII second in the NFL draft and he has rewarded their efforts with a glorious rookie year. Likewise, fantasy owners who took a flier on the QB are equally happy as they have more than likely had a number of wins that rested solely on the arm and legs of Griffin. With 26 total touchdowns to just five interceptions, RGIII was the man and a draft steal for smart owners.
Runner Up: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (249 points)
(Most Disappointing Player) The 'Ryan Leaf' Award: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals (98 points*)
To be fair to Larry Fitzgerald, his poor year wasn't his fault; it was the Arizona Cardinals'. Once again, they failed to give their franchise player even a halfway decent quarterback and it showed in his lackluster season. Unless things rapidly improve at the position heading into 2013, Fitzgerald is only worth a mid-round look at best.
*some of the points reflected above may not reflect week 17 results.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty