By Matt Cott and Matthew Schwimmer of RotoAnalysis.com
With Week 17 marking the end of the fantasy season, we at RotoAnalysis have been looking back at exactly what shaped the way the season happened. Looking through each position, it became clear: rookies. From RG3 dominating the quarterback position to Doug Martin’s 51 point day, every league was
Robert Griffin III, Redskins QB
While there was certainly hype surrounding RG3 before the season, nobody expected this. He was largely an afterthought in fantasy football drafts, behind the “safer” picks of Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, and even Philip Rivers. When healthy, he has been the best fantasy QB in the league – he has 3 30+ point games and has driven countless teams to the playoffs. He’s going to be a dynamic talent that changes the game for NFL coaches and fantasy owners for many years to come.
Andrew Luck, Colts QB
Going into the draft scouts raved about Luck being a “pro-ready” quarterback. They said he could be more developed than any other 22-year old before him. While he’s made plenty of mistakes with a league leading 18 interceptions, they’ve come with plenty of great plays mixed in. Going into the last week of the season Luck ranks 9th among all fantasy QBs and advanced faster than anybody expected. He was drafted as just the 16th quarterback before the season started on CBS – he’ll continue to rise up the draft boards as his career and game progresses.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB
With the first and second overall picks there are huge expectations – the 75th? Not as much. The Seahawks had just paid $26 million to super-backup Matt Flynn and were planning to make Wilson his understudy. But a studly preseason from Wilson presented Pete Carroll with a huge decision to make. The Seahawks went with Wilson and haven’t looked back; their 10-5 record is the 4th best in the NFC and Wilson has been the 11th best fantasy QB. His surprise breakout has been what really solidifies this rookie QB class as the best in recent years.
Trent Richardson, Browns RB
It was a powerful year for rookie running backs and it all began with the first running back to go off the board in the NFL Draft and fantasy drafts, Trent Richardson. Although Richardson struggled at times with his yards-per-carry, he showed strength and physicality — especially near the goal line. Richardson’s 12 touchdowns on the season trailed only Adrian Peterson and James Jones. The touchdowns should be consistent for Richardson as he evolves in the NFL and I expect him to improve a lot with a full training camp, something he missed most of this year.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers RB
Another first round back who shined this year was Martin out of Boise State. Martin picked up a lot of preseason hype from experts, earning comparisons to Ray Rice. While those comparisons seemed absurd going into the season, Martin will finish the season ahead of Rice in fantasy points, rushing yards, and touchdowns. Martin is second in the league in yards-after-contact behind Adrian Peterson, who has played on a different level then anyone else this year. It’s important to keep in mind that Martin lost one starting offensive lineman in preseason and another Pro Bowl lineman in October. The Bucs have also begun using Martin more and more in the passing game as he finished September and October with only 16 catches, but has already surpassed that point this month. The Bucs offense had a few weeks when it was considered the most explosive in the league and Martin and the offense are only going to get more explosive as time goes on.
Alfred Morris, Redskins RB
While those two running backs would make for a strong rookie class, that was from it. For starters, sixth round pick Alfred Morris may finish sixth amongst running backs in fantasy points at the end of the season. This was quite an accomplishment for a guy who entered training camp third on the depth chart with a coach notorious for not playing a single back. In addition, Vick Ballard showed signs of burst late for the Colts, scoring double digit fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games and David Wilson provided value for owners late in the season for those that held onto the first-round draft pick of the Giants. Wilson will be more a factor next season for the Giants as he protects the football more and gets better in pass protection — the same will be said for LaMar Miller of the Miami Dolphins who averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry this year. Running back classes always has a ton of talent, but this year’s was spectacular.
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