Week 9 is over and many of us are finding ourselves half-crazy, halfway to gone, half-drunk on the drama that has been the 2008 NFL season. Ah, it seems like just yesterday that the Heartbreak Kid Tom Brady broke the hearts of many a fantasy owner that took him with their oh-so important first pick, going down in the first game with a season-ending injury. Then there was Willie Parker looking like this year's LT right out of the gates, only to fall to injury for most of the first half. Some of you thought that this would be the breakout year for Vince Young and the Titans. Well, you were half right. Then, there were those of us that took the Lions' 4-0 preseason start as a sign of a fantastic year. I believe I actually said to someone, "Our road to the Super Bowl starts in Atlanta!" Sigh. My delusions aside, there have been some really incredible and incredibly dreadful performances that warrant some recognition, an award if you will. Being that I think each player is unique, I have named these awards to personally match the players themselves. I have no actual trophies to hand out, but being mentioned on the pages of a website of such high repute as the FFC is a fine prize in itself. So congrats to those of you savvy owners who found success in the first half, and to those who didn't: There is still time to draft a fantasy basketball team.
And for our first award...
The "Ground Assault Award" - Clinton Portis, RB for the Washington Redskins. Through 9 games played, Portis has accumulated 995 rushing yards, on top of 7 TDs and 130 receiving yards. He averages 5.0 yards per carry. He is a running fool, and he has the ability to make the defense look stupid. Pittsburgh slowed him down last week, but there are few teams that can stop a run like the Steelers. Definitely an MVP candidate.
The "Relentless Air Strike Award" - Drew Brees, QB of the New Orleans Saints. In 6 of 8 games this year, Brees has thrown for more than 300 yards, once for more than 400. In four of those games, he threw 3 TD passes. He is on pace for more than 5000 passing yards on the season. Any secondary that opposes him finds themselves fighting to earn their paychecks.
The "Under Pressure" Award - Aaron Rodgers, QB of the Green Bay Packers. With the whole Brett Favre off-season debacle, all eyes were on Rodgers in front of not only the tough crowd at Lambeau, but in front of the whole nation on Monday Night Football. Under immense pressure, Rodgers proved that he belongs on the field, and will no longer be holding the clipboard on the sideline. He has played smart, and finds himself a top 5 fantasy scorer at the halfway point. He has won over the Green Bay home crowd for now, but his next test will be a playoff run.
The "Shock and Awe" Award - The Tennessee Titans D/ST. Scoring double digit fantasy points in half of their games (by ESPN fantasy scoring), with their very lowest total being 4, is a winner for any fantasy team. Sacks, picks, fumbles, and only 103 PA after 8 games has been a primary reason for the Titans' hot first half.
The "Hit The Ground Running" Award - Chris Johnson, RB TEN, Matt Forte, RB CHI, and Steve Slaton, RB HOU. There have been a number of awesome rookie performances this year, but none like those of these three running backs. My Rookie of the Year vote goes to Johnson up to this point, but I'm sure it will be a close vote at season's end.
The "Aging Like Fine Wine" Award - Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals. Warner is making a run at another MVP title this year. Like Brees, he is also on pace for 5000 yards by season's end. With targets like Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, both top 5 fantasy receivers, Warner has found the fountain of youth. Could the playoffs be in their future?
The "Mr. Consistency" Award - Calvin Johnson, WR of the Detroit Lions. On a team that consistently loses, with a coach that persists in preaching consistency despite the losses, young Johnson has been a consistent fantasy scorer, and a bona fide starter on any roster in any league.
The "Top Vulture" Award - Tim Hightower, RB Arizona, and LenDale White, RB Tennessee. These two may not put up huge numbers of ground yardage, but when it comes to the red zone, they are the specialists, and therefore get you fantasy points. As of last week, Hightower's role has expanded to the main man for the run game, which basically doubles his value for the rest of the way. If he's available, don't hesitate to grab him.
The "Fine Fill-in" Award - Mewelde Moore, RB, PIT. While there have been several fine performances by backups this year - Darren Sproles for LT, Dominic Rhodes for Joseph Addai, and Correll Buckhalter for Brian Westbrook - I find Moore's fine performance in place of the injured Willie Parker deserving of the top honors.
The "Breakout Year" Award - Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta. While not every week has been explosive, he has the running skills to scare the hell out of weak defenses. No longer in LT's shadow, it's Turner's time to shine.
The "Overachiever" Award - Bernard Berrian, WR, Minnesota Vikings. Since QB Gus Frerotte has taken the reins in Minnesota, his target of choice has been Berrian, who now finds himself a viable starter on your roster.
The "Super Tight" Award - Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego. Gates is usually money in a spot where any points are gold.
The "Get A Leg Up" Award - John Kasay, K, Carolina Panthers. Yeah, I'll even give the kickers some love. Kasay is perfect for both FGs and PATs so far this year.
And now for some less prestigious awards...
The "Failure to Launch" Award - Derek Anderson, QB, Browns. Ok, Ok, I know that Braylon Edwards is just as much to blame for Anderson's lack of fantasy production (see next award), but it all comes down to the fact that Anderson was expected to be a top fantasy QB this year, and he is now being benched in favor of Brady Quinn.
The "Idle Hands" Award - Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns. This guy has the speed and can run routes. He has no problem getting open in the end zone. So what's wrong here? You've gotta CATCH the ball, duder!
The "Blown First Draft Pick" Award - Terrell Owens, WR Dallas and Larry Johnson, RB Chiefs. T.O. has had plenty of passes thrown his way. The problem is he is either being covered by 20 guys, he isn't looking for the ball, or he drops it. Also, RB Marion Barber has been the one scoring the TDs. As for LJ...terrible performances and now suspended. Let's all hope he can clean it up and get back to what we know he's capable of.
The "Lost In The Red Zone" Award - Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay. The talented Mr. Grant has been getting the yards most games, but a severe lack of TDs (only 1 so far) is killing his fantasy totals. It seems that Aaron Rodgers prefers to toss the ball to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver rather than simply hand the ball to Grant. Still, I expect a better second half.
The "Flat Tires" Award - Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens. Willis hasn't done a damn thing for any owners this year, minus two decent performances, though he is still owned in virtually all leagues. Make way Willis, it's time for Ray Rice to step up.
The "Worst.Defense.Ever." Award - The Detroit Lions D/ST. Wow. Just...wow. No team boosts an opponent's value quite like the Lions.
The "Underachiever" Award - Randy Moss, WR, Patriots. Sure, Brady is gone for the year, but Matt Cassel has a strong enough arm. I just don't think he likes you very much, Randy.
The "Loose End" Award - Kellen Winslow, TE, Browns. Winslow had a really nice showing in week 1, but since then has just been on a downward spiral. Illness, suspension, whatever. We'll see if the emergence of Brady Quinn can breathe some new life into Winslow.
The "Kicked To The Curb" Award - Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts. The man is just not getting it done anymore. Time for the Colts to look elsewhere.
As Always, the best of luck to you, and enjoy a great second half.