At least Brian Westbrook
didn't run backwards before laying down on the turf. That's essentially what Tom Brady
did in the second half Sunday against Miami, throwing for only 52 yards while turning the ball over three times. Losing four fantasy points after halftime didn't erase Brady's three touchdowns, but they left a bitter taste for fantasy owners who needed more.
Aided by Josh McDaniels' cutthroat playcalling, Brady carried fantasy teams all season because New England stayed aggressive until the final gun. That same aggression backfired in the box score during fantasy championship week. Brady lost a fumble on a fourth and seven.
Speaking Sunday morning, NBCSports.com
's Tom Curran predicted Sunday morning that Brady would try to help Randy Moss
get Jerry Rice
's touchdown record. It looked that way in the second half, as Brady repeatedly forced the ball to Moss, probably in an effort to enter the record books together.
All week, fantasy owners fretted that the Patriots would rest their starters in the second half this week. It turns out they would have been better off. Don't get carried away …
Drafting receivers too high next year. While this was undeniably the year of the wideout, the bad weather of the fantasy playoffs showed how fickle they can be. Only one pass catcher (Randy Moss
) was in the top-30 fantasy scorers over the last three weeks. 13 running backs were. Searching for Billy VolekFor three weeks, we've searched for this year's fantasy playoff hero. Today, we crown a winner.
6. The Sage Rosenfels
5. Fred Taylor
's career has been too strong to call him a Volek, but no one could have imagined he'd be the number one fantasy runner during playoff season. Taylor broke two touchdowns for more than 60 yards over the last three weeks to help him reach 390 rushing yards with three scores.
4. Laurence Maroney
had the longest run of his career Sunday – twice! After the bustiest season of a mostly healthy running back this side of Rudi Johnson
, Maroney ran for 260 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks.
3. (Tie) We started talking about the gorgeous playoff schedule for 2007 Cinderella's Earnest Graham
and Ryan Grant
almost two months ago. Graham came through with 257 total yards and three scores, while Grant rolled up 331 yards and three scores.
2. By now, we take wild child 2007 Kurt Warner
for granted. He's so much like 2005 Kurt Warner
(with Dennis Green), that we almost expect it. But Warner was a player who was given up for dead in the NFL four years ago and he's still racking up fantasy points. He's what Jon Kitna
was supposed to be this season.
Warner outscored all quarterbacks in the fantasy playoffs through sheer volume: 129 attempts, 931 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions. You know you are a fantasy guy when you throw five picks in a game and still put up numbers.
1. And the winner of this year's Billy Volek
, in a landslide, is … Aaron Stecker
! He passes all the tests.
* He was freely available not so long ago: Stecker was available in 86 % of fantasy leagues in Week 13.
* His success was unprecedented. Stecker had four touchdowns since 2001 before scoring four over the last three weeks. He topped 100 total yards in a game twice in his eight-year career before doing it twice in the last three weeks.
* He helped his team each week. His fantasy points in the playoffs in standard scoring leagues: 10, 27, 20. He was even better in reception leagues.
A hearty kudos to Aaron Stecker
and his owners for this award. The Saints only needed Reggie Bush
to get hurt to solve their running game. Championship Week Heroes
1. I know that some Donovan McNabb
owners somehow made their fantasy finals because many of them called into the Fantasy Fix Sunday morning. I think I told most of them to play number five against our old hero Jason David
, although I admit that much of what happens in our 90-minute program is immediately erased from my memory. There's limited space.
This was a lost season for McNabb, but his three touchdown, 263-yard effort is going to make it even harder for the Eagles to let him go. He currently has the second highest completion percentage of his career to go along with an 18:6 TD:INT ratio. He's second among NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards.
2. Brandon Jacobs
couldn't finish a game (again!), but he had a career-best day before hurting his ankle. 145 yards and two touchdowns, one of them on a career-long 43-yard burst, helped ease the pain of an uneven season.
3. Andre Johnson
's 74-yard, one touchdown performance was typical for his season. But to do it against the number one pass defense in the league with a meaningless last-minute score … that's what fantasy championships are made of.
4. Peyton Manning
will throw for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a "down year." He threw for eight scores and an interception during the fantasy playoffs.
5. Tony Gonzalez
and Dwayne Bowe
combined for 18 catches and 234 yards and one touchdown against the Lions. Vive le Damon Huard
6. Kenny Watson
did it again, capping a career year with 150 total yards after DeDe Dorsey left early in the game with an injury. A late fumble almost ruined the day, but the Bengals defense held up.