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Fantasy football

Posted by Ed Ryan December 11, 2008 05:54 AM

The fantasy (regular) season is over, the playoffs are here, and itís time to hand out some awards.

MVP: Letís get this one out of the way quickly. In the three major positional categories ó quarterback, running back, wide receiver ó no one has distanced himself from others at his position. The fantasy point leaders in each ó Roddy White (receiver), Adrian Peterson (running back), Drew Brees (quarterback) ó are all just a handful of points ahead of the competition. So Iím handing this award to Drew Brees, who has been terrific from the beginning of the season, when he opened up with a 32-point effort against a strong Tampa defense. Brees leads the NFL in touchdowns and passing yards and has been tremendous despite some of his key weapons suffering injuries.

The "I Should Be Drafted No. 1 Overall In 2009" Award: Adrian Peterson, come to the podium. Peterson may have been drafted No. 1 overall this year in some leagues, ahead of Tom Brady and LaDainian Tomlinson (Tomlinson went first in my league), but Peterson should be the consensus top pick next year. Heís explosive and consistent, putting up big yardage numbers week after week. Peterson owners probably wish he had more than nine touchdowns, but he makes up for that with his total-yardage numbers and his ability to break long touchdown runs, which are worth extra in most leagues.

The "Do I Draft This Guy In The First Round Again?" Award: Hometown hero/aspiring supermodel Tom Brady, come on up! Brady was taken third in my draft, and for good reason ó he was the NFLís 2007 MVP and set a league record with 50 touchdown passes. Obviously thereís a long way to go in Bradyís rehab between now and next September, but if he progresses and gets a full training camp under his belt, thereís no reason to think he canít come back to his All-Pro form. He may not be worth a first-round gamble, but he will still have Randy Moss and Wes Welker to throw to, and he should not last past the second or third round.

The "Guaranteed To Be First-Round Picks In 2009" Award: Michael Turner, Matt Forte, and DeAngelo Williams, this means you! All three running backs put together monster seasons and established themselves as stars of the future. Turner, signed as a free agent in the off-season by Atlanta, leads the NFL in touchdown runs and is already well over 1,000 yards for the season. Forte, a rookie in Chicago, has been incredibly steady and has offset his lack of touchdown runs (six) with great production running and catching (402 receiving yards). Williams has emerged as the top back in Carolina with nearly 1,000 yards thus far and 11 touchdowns. He has been a monster in the second half of the season. During a season in which Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson, and Jamal Lewis were all disappointing first-rounders, you received terrific value if you picked up Turner, Forte, or Williams later on. All three should be considered top 12 material in 2009.

The 2009 "Buyer Beware" Award: We have a tie. Earning this not-so-prestigious hardware are Clinton Portis, Reggie Bush, and LaDainian Tomlinson. In the case of Portis, who has been a top 10 fantasy back this season, itís all about wear and tear. Heís fourth in the league in rushing attempts and plays every week despite a variety of ailments. Youíll need a quality backup in í09 if you have Portis, because he cannot be expected to continue carrying such a gigantic workload. Tomlinson, meanwhile, is not the player he once was and is 14th in fantasy points among running backs. All of his touches during his peak years are beginning to catch up to him, and while he is still a terrific, hard-working performer, heís no longer the type of back to go first in the draft. As for Bush, itís the same old story: dynamic performances mixed with injuries. Figuring out where to draft Bush is a year-to-year mystery, but I think itís becoming clear that heís the perfect No. 3 fantasy back.

The 2008 "Biggest Bust" Award: Braylon Edwards, this oneís for you. I selected the Browns wideout early in the second round and have begrudgingly left him in my starting lineup all season. Sure, the Browns are on their third quarterback, and theyíve underachieved all season, but this is a guy who had 16 touchdown receptions in 2007 and predicted he would eclipse that number in 2008. Not even close. Edwards has only three touchdowns and 45 receptions. The fact that I took him over Andre Johnson has bothered me throughout the season.

Projected 2009 First Round

Adrian Peterson RB Minnesota
Michael Turner RB Atlanta
DeAngelo Williams RB Carolina
Brian Westbrook RB Philadelphia
Drew Brees QB New Orleans
Matt Forte RB Chicago
LaDainian Tomlinson RB San Diego
Larry Fitzgerald WR Arizona
Andre Johnson WR Houston
Thomas Jones RB New York Jets
Chris Johnson RB Tennessee
Jay Cutler QB Denver

Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com

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