January 13, 2023, 4:11 pm
The fantasy football season has come to a conclusion and Jon got together with the rest of the fantasy football writers here at SportsEthos to vote on several categories to determine the winner. I’ll be posting these polls on my Twitter (@JonRintoul) in the coming days so you can vote on who you think deserves each of these awards. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Winner: Austin Ekeler
Runner Up: Travis Kelce
The fantasy MVP for the 2022 season is without a doubt Austin Ekeler. Although he had a somewhat slow start to the season due to the lack of touchdowns through three weeks, he eventually became a massive difference-maker for all fantasy GMs who rostered him. He finished the year as the RB1, including being the RB1 during the fantasy playoffs, and finished the season with 24.2 fantasy points more than the RB2, Christian McCaffrey. The spread between those two elite backs was more points than either of them averaged on a per-game basis this season, where Ekeler also led the league with 22.7 fantasy points per game. Ekeler had 10 top-5 RB finishes and never finished outside of the top-26 RBs on a given week, finishing inside the top-20 in all but Week 1.
Top Pickup of the Year
Winner: Jerrick McKinnon
Runner Up: Justin Fields & Geno Smith
If fantasy GMs were fortunate enough to pick up McKinnon off of waivers, they were rewarded handsomely in the second half of the season, especially in the fantasy playoffs. From Week 9 through to Week 17, McKinnon was the RB5 and during the fantasy playoffs, he was the RB3. He finished as the RB1, RB20 and RB7 in the three weeks of the fantasy playoffs and very likely found himself on the roster of numerous championship squads.
Best Draft-Day Sleeper
Winner: Josh Jacobs
Runner Up: Tony Pollard, DeVonta Smith & Tyler Lockett
Josh Jacobs brings home the award for the best value pick in this year’s redraft leagues. He was being drafted as the 48th player off the board and the 20th RB, yet he put together a very impressive RB3 season. The Raiders’ stud RB was one of three players to average at least 20.1 fantasy points per game, tallying 312.3 points this season in 16 games. Jacobs led the NFL in rushing attempts and yards, had the longest run of the season at 86 yards, finished fourth in rushing TDs and saw an uptick in his passing-game work, finishing with the seventh-most receiving yards for RBs. Not too often do players take a significant jump up the rankings like Jacobs did this year, especially rising into the top-3 at their position.
Biggest Draft-Day Busts
Winner: Kyle Pitts
Runner Up: Russell Wilson, Jonathan Taylor & Najee Harris
As much as fantasy GMs love their sleeper picks, they have that same level of passion towards their hatred of busts and that hatred is funneled towards this year’s biggest bust. Pitts was being drafted at the three-four turn in most redraft leagues, coming off the board as the TE3, behind only Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews. The fantasy industry was all aboard the hype train with Pitts leading the way and things could not have gone worse. Before his devastating injury in Week 11 which ultimately forced him to miss the remainder of the season, Pitts was the TE18 in PPR formats. Only in three of his 10 games did he finish with double-digit fantasy points and on two occasions did he finish inside the top-12 at the position, a position that was historically bad as a whole this year. He had the target share and air yardage numbers to support a great year, but the majority of the disappointment came from the tragic QB play.
Winner: Austin Ekeler
Runner Up: Tyler Allgeier & CeeDee Lamb
This award goes out to the player who had the absolute best fantasy playoffs for their GMs. Ekeler narrowly beat out Allgeier and Lamb, all of whom had exceptional and consistent performances from Week 15-17. The Chargers’ back had weekly finishes of RB16, RB5 and he sealed his playoff run with the overall RB1 in championship week. Ekeler was the RB1 during that stretch of games and showed that he is arguably the league’s best RB for fantasy football, making a case to be the top selection in next year’s drafts.
Winner: Stefon Diggs
Runner Up: Rhamondre Stevenson
The Sinking Ship Award goes to the player who is one of the best players at their position, but had an absolutely brutal stretch of games during the fantasy playoffs. The lucky recipient of this award goes to Stefon Diggs. On the season, Diggs was the WR4 in PPR formats, but during the fantasy playoffs he finished as the WR60. In Week 15 he had his best performance of the fantasy playoffs, finishing with 10.7 fantasy points and the WR40, but finished outside the top-63 with back-to-back 4.6 fantasy point outings in his last two games of the fantasy season. With expectations so high for one of the league’s best WRs, he was beyond disappointing when it mattered the most.
That Helps Nobody
Winner: Shane Zylstra
Runner Up: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
This award goes out to the player who had a big-time game, but was not started or even rostered in any fantasy leagues. There was a clear-cut winner for this award, Shane Zylstra in Week 16. Surprisingly, he was only the TE4 on the week, but he had a monster performance against the Panthers. Heading into the game, he only had five receptions for 27 yards, but in Week 16, he put up 5-26-3, finishing with 25.6 fantasy points. He was only rostered, not started, in 0.2% of leagues at the time of his outburst game and somehow that number feels high. He scored 25.6 of his 41 fantasy points on the season in one game.
Best Single Game Performance (QB)
Winner: Justin Fields
Runner Up: Tua Tagovailoa
Justin Fields’ performance against the Dolphins in Week 9 was nothing short of spectacular. He rushed for 178 yards, which was the most in a regular season game by a QB in NFL history, and one touchdown, while throwing for three additional touchdowns and 123 yards. He had the highest scoring fantasy game of the season for a QB, finishing with 42.7 fantasy points. Amazingly, Fields followed up this monster game with another four-touchdown performance where he had 147 more yards on the ground, cracking the 40-point plateau once again.
Best Single Game Performance (RB)
Winner: Joe Mixon
Runner Up: Josh Jacobs
Joe Mixon easily ran away with this award with his remarkable performance in Week 9 against the Panthers. Mixon rushed for 153 yards and four touchdowns, which alone is beyond exceptional, but he also hauled in five receptions for 58 yards and another score. He finished with 55.1 fantasy points in PPR formats, which is the ninth-best fantasy outing of all time for a running back. Jacobs had a very impressive 48.3 fantasy points in Week 12, which would have won this award most years, but Mixon still beat him by nearly seven full points.
Best Single Game Performance (WR)
Winner: Mike Evans
Runner Up: Stefon Diggs
Last season, fantasy GMs who rostered Ja’Marr Chase rejoiced with his insane 55.6-point outburst in championship week and Mike Evans’ GMs were doing the same this year. Evans hauled in 12 receptions for 207 yards for three touchdowns, finishing with 48.7 fantasy points. He put together the 18th-best performance for a fantasy WR in NFL history and the fifth-highest fantasy scoring game in the past five seasons.
Best Single Game Performance (TE)
Winners: Evan Engram & Taysom Hill
This award was the only one to have a split vote, with both Engram and Hill sharing the prize. These two TEs had polar opposite stat lines, yet somehow both had monster games. Engram hauled in 11 receptions for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his Week 14 matchup, finishing with 39.2 fantasy points. As for Hill, he miraculously turned a zero-target game into 34.1 fantasy points, doing all of his damage on the ground in Week 5. He had nine rushes for 112 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Both players are deserving of the award for very different reasons.