The Deep Route Fantasy Notebook features recaps and thoughts about the recent action in the NFL and its implications in fantasy football, along with weekly awards, draft spotlights, and other random tidbits. Unless stated otherwise, all stats are accumulated using Pro Football Reference, ESPN, or 4for4.com.
With the NFL Honors this weekend, I felt it was time to unveil my own completely official list of awards for the 2017-2018 NFL season. I already named my picks for actual awards, so below I dished out some unnecessary but totally warranted awards to my favorite, and least favorite, moments of a hectic NFL season. Of course, I also have some things to say about a potentially impactful Super Bowl. Without further ado, let the show begin…
Fantasy Surprise of the Year: Alvin Kamara
There was no denying Kamara’s talent coming into the NFL, but the rookie was buried behind two proven veterans, thus deeming him fantasy irrelevant. Kamara not only worked his way into the starting rotation but the Saints’ actually created game-plans around the versatile running back. He is also up for Rookie of the Year.
Fantasy Disappointment of the Year: David Johnson’s Injury
I could have gone with Kareem Hunt or Adam Thielen, but Johnson was the most popular first pick, according to FantasyPros.com. This injury basically derailed any owners’ chances of winning, unless they listened to my advice…
Best Prediction: Kareem Hunt
The best advice I gave all season was in my second article. Hunt finished as the NFL rushing champion and could win Rookie of the Year.
Worst Prediction: Giants to the Super Bowl
I wish I could take this one back, as the Giants finished in second-to-last place instead of second place or better.
Biggest Surprise: The Rams’ Turnaround
Many people were high on new coach Sean McVay, myself included, but I think few saw the Rams going from worst to first in the division and leading the NFL in offense.
Biggest Disappointment: Injury Galore
The all-injury team looks eerily like an All-Pro team. Among those who fell to the injury bug were four MVP candidates, seven starting quarterbacks and a plethora of highly drafted fantasy players. Of course, there was also Ryan Shazier, who I hope gets better quickly.
The Award of Confusion: The Catch Rule
Ezekiel Elliot and his strange suspension timeline almost ran away with this, but the question of “What is a Catch?” baffled fans every single week.
Play of the Year: The Minnesota Miracle
If this was a normal play in a normal game, it would still be pretty cool. Stefon Diggs climbed the ladder before keeping his balance in bounds. However, it was not a normal play as the touchdown catapulted the Vikings and their tortured postseason history to the conference championship. Everything about this play was beautiful, except in the eyes of Saints’ fans.
Game of the Year: Vikings def. Saints to Advance to Conference Championship
Check out what I said a couple weeks ago.
Best Individual Celebration: Vikings’ ‘Duck, Duck, Grey Duck’
The best celebrations involve multiple players, but this creative ode to childhood (even if it was the Canadian version) tops them all. The Eagles’ bowling one was cool, too, and props to Justin Coleman, a Seattle Seahawk, for his level of savagery by jumping into the Salvation Army Kettle in Dallas.
Best Celebration Artists: Minnesota Vikings
From that celebration to freeze tag to the Thanksgiving feast and so on, the Vikings entertained us in the end zone as much as they did on the rest of the field. As for next year, I expect a lightsaber duel, a human limbo like we saw in the CFL and a full five-on-five basketball game.
The Road to Redemption Award: NFL
Speaking of celebrations, the NFL saved its reputation (in a season where it was arguably hurt) by easing up on the celebration rules. It allowed for another new, fun aspect of watching football. Next up: fixing the catch rule!
Uniform Set of the Year: Los Angeles Chargers
It was between the Chargers and Seahawks, but I chose LA due to their unique color scheme and surprising simplicity. They don’t have any fancy decorations; they utilize a great color scheme through a bold yet sleek style. Also, the Color Rush and powder blue uniforms are among the league’s elite.
Worst Uniform Set: Indianapolis Colts
Simplicity is not a bad thing, especially when it pays homage to the team’s history. However, these uniforms are straight up boring; they resemble the opponent a team plays in your favorite high school football movie. Not to mention that the helmet is atrocious; what the heck is with those ugly gray face-masks?
Individual Uniform of the Year: The Rams’ throwbacks
The Rams’ classic threads do a great job balancing the iconic Rams’ color scheme with a sweet old school/new school mix. The white name stands out on the royal blue and the horns-style shoulder pads honor the franchise’s history in a distinctive way.
Hands of the Year: Maurice Harris
I wrote about Harris’ beauty in week ten but for those wondering why I took this catch over DeAndre Hopkins’ bobbling catch, the logic is simple. Hopkins softened the impact when he couldn’t snag the ball up high. Harris was going full speed and had to grab it 36 yards downfield. Basically, Harris’ catch was harder to make than Hopkins’ catch was.
Fight of the Year: Green v. Ramsey
I would pay to watch this front row, although it would probably be more appropriate in the octagon rather than in a boxing ring.
Almost-Fight of the Year: Jefferson v. Jaguars’ fans
The Worst Actor: Johnson Bademosi
I don’t know about an Oscar, but that horrendous flop deserves only one thing: A contract from the WWE!
Future Superstar: Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy G has never lost a start and he doesn’t look like he will anytime soon. (That’s an exaggeration, but he does look like a franchise quarterback.)
Number of the Year: 10,363
That is how many consecutive snaps Joe Thomas has played since 2007, his rookie year. The streak was unfortunately broken when Thomas hurt his arm in week seven, and no ones knows if the future Hall of Famer will be back next fall.
I guess we know the moment when the Eagles’ really got the idea of acting like dogs.
Best Quarterback: Marcus Peters
Faith in Humanity Restoration Award: Chris Long
Long has been one of my favorite players for a while (and I highly recommend following him on Twitter) but when he said he’s donating his game checks to charity, I knew I had to honor him. We need more Chris Longs.
Trend of the Year: Donating to Charities
The idea of “donating to an opposing player’s charity” has grown this past season and I hope it never stops. A good example is when Andy Dalton’s touchdown helped the Bills make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Bills fans responded by donating to Dalton’s charity. Just two days later, Dalton’s charity received a whopping $170,000 in donations. Bravo.
This trade was terrible for Washington (if they’re gonna overpay for an above-average quarterback, it should have been for Kirk Cousins) but that’s not why this trade is so crucial. It guarantees that Cousins will be taking his talents elsewhere. If he was smart, Cousins’ first choice would be Denver. If Denver was smart, they would go after Cousins and not waste the fifth overall pick on a quarterback. Ironically, Smith and Cousins were the only two quarterbacks at Radio Row on Tuesday.
The Cleveland Browns Annual Award of Atrocity: Cleveland Browns
This fictional, first-time award had to be named after the Browns because, well, they suck in almost every way. The main factor is obviously their winless season, but they missed out on two quarterbacks (the A.J. McCarron gaffe was more embarrassing than not landing Smith), cleaned house again and blew their only chance at winning a game. With the first and fourth pick in the draft, the Browns’ have a good chance of ending their cycle of sadness, but that’s been said many times before.
The New England Patriots Annual Award of Accusations: Fogs-borough
Fan of the Year: You
Thanks so much to everyone who reads my articles, especially the regulars. I have loved sports for as long as I can remember and hope to make a successful career out of sports journalism. Next week will be the last DRFN until I transition it to the NFL Draft, where I’ll provide scouting reports, rumor breakdowns and so much more. If you have any ideas, want to talk or need to spice up your timeline, hit me up on Twitter @ZachCohen12.
ONE LAST THING
There was no way I was going to get by this week without making a Super Bowl prediction. I predicted the 49ers-Ravens Super Bowl accurately but haven’t gotten another one since then. (I was four points off last year’s game.) This year, as much as I despise the Patriots, I can’t see them losing. I think the Eagles will keep it close early but the Patriots will win 27 to 16.
The Eagles will score first but the Patriots will disguise their game-plan perfectly and just dominate the rest of the game. Also, two of the Eagles’ three losses have all come on the road against a team not on the East coast (Seattle, Kansas City). In addition, the Eagles’ five lowest-scoring games all were losses or they had Nick Foles at quarterback, whereas the Patriots’ allowed 27 or more points in their three losses. Finally, the team wearing white jerseys has won 12 of the past 13 Super Bowls, which the Patriots are undefeated in.
Here is where my personal dilemma lies. I am basically expecting another New England championship, so I am trying to think of possible outcomes if they win. The likely, static outcome is that the Patriots win and nothing happens; they win this year and they’ll win next year. As a Dolphins fan, this is where things get tricky, and I would love any opinions in the comments below. If the Patriots win, I think it is very possible that Bill Belichick retires. First, he is old. Second, he is successful. The most important factor, however, has to be the rift. If you haven’t read the story of the year, you should. Belichick has done something he has never done before: preparing his coordinators, the heirs to his throne, for head jobs elsewhere. On top of that, he traded Garoppolo, whom many within the organization deemed as the next Brady. I think that when Kraft sided with Brady, Belichick wanted to prove that he was the true mastermind so he shipped away the team’s future (Patricia, McDaniels, Garoppolo). Once Belichick leaves and the Patriots falter, people will credit the greatest dynasty ever to Belichick, and he knows it.
On the flip side, I can’t stand the Patriots. (I’m not fond of the Eagles, either.) I’d rather New England win and Belichick retire, though, because I believe they will struggle without him. It is a better option than the Patriots losing because they’ll just win next year. Where’s the fun in that? As for Brady, I am not sure how the 40-year old will fare without his head coach. Look at the loss to the Dolphins, when Belichick allegedly created a flimsy game-plan to prove Brady could not carry the team. With all that said, I might actually root for the Patriots to win because I think Belichick could retire, but if they lose he’ll stay and just keep winning. Again, this is just me trying to create hope and to not get depressed when the Patriots win, because it will happen. I might just watch the Puppy Bowl instead.