Now a hallowed tradition in Rotoworld's Waiver Wired series, Week 17 brings us the fourth annual waiver awards (for the past three years, click on "Archives" above). To better prepare for the 2011 season, it's fitting that we take a step back and examine the highlights of 2010. It's with that spirit that we bring you this year's award winners.
Readers seeking actual Waiver adds for this week should scroll to the last page of the article for an abbreviated list.
Editor's Note: Did your fantasy season end in Week 16? Check out Rotoworld's weekly fantasy football game, with cash prizes: at http://snapdraft.rotoworld.com/ Snapdraft. Draft your team during the week, even Sunday morning, and win cash by Tuesday. It's a great complement to your yearly leagues and rewards the most skilled fantasy players who know matchups and value.
The "Waiver Wired MVP" Award, the "Successful Hype Train" Award, and the "Outhouse to the Penthouse" Award
All go to … Michael Vick, Eagles - Way back in Week 1, before the season started, Vick was recommended as the ideal roster stash because he was the player most likely to become a "weekly asset" if given the opportunity. By Week 2, it was clear that Vick had regained the electric playmaking ability so evident early in his career. I urged all quarterback-needy owners to eschew Brandon Jackson and "pounce on" a difference-making Vick instead.
How valuable has Vick been? Non-scientific evidence suggests the majority of his owners are in the Week 16 finals, perhaps still hanging on for Tuesday night's results. The numbers back it up, too. Vick's 29.7 fantasy points per week are 4.7 more than second-place Aaron Rodgers' 25.0. Even better, Vick has averaged an NFL-best 33.8 points over the past four weeks and 36.1 in the playoff Weeks of 14 and 15. The "experts" won't deviate from a running back at No. 1 overall next season, but it's going to be hard to pass on Vick. In 14 games to everyone else's 15, Vick and Kevin Kolb have combined for 408.5 fantasy points. The next closest is Rodgers is at 350.2. No fantasy position has been more valuable this season than Philly's quarterback.
The "Still Better Than Alex Smith" Award
Goes to … Shaun Hill, Lions - Something to keep in mind for your 2011 draft: Lions QBs have totaled 322.8 fantasy points this season, good for seventh in the league and ahead of Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, and Joe Flacco. The majority of those points come from Hill, who has topped 20 fantasy points in seven of the eight games he has started and finished. A mainstay on Waiver Wired this year, Hill made the list nine times -- including this week.
The "Hoisted with His Own Petard" Award
Goes to … Kyle Orton, Broncos - This award was originally named for Kurt Warner, who was widely available in Week 1 of a 2008 season in which he finished fourth in fantasy points. Warner carried fantasy owners all year only to stumble in the snow at Foxboro during the fantasy playoffs. Orton faced a similar fate in 2010, carrying fantasy teams as a QB1 after going undrafted in half of all CBSSports.com leagues. Once Orton's dream playoff scheduled rolled around, though, he faceplanted with his two worst games of the season in Weeks 13 and 14.
The "Chan Gailey Miracle Worker" Award
Goes to … Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills - Chan Gailey, the patron saint of mediocre mobile quarterbacks, once breathed fantasy life into the careers of Kordell Stewart, Jay Fiedler, and Tyler Thigpen. After Trent Edwards predictably struggled the first two weeks of the season, Gailey began tinkering with new toy Fitzpatrick in a spread offense. The results? Fitzpatrick finished as a top-12 quarterback the rest of the way while notching 23 touchdowns in what had been a defunct offense.
The "Billy Volek" Award
Goes to … Tim Tebow, Broncos - For lack of a better option. It's hallowed Rotoworld tradition that there must be a "Billy Volek" award winner even if this year's hot late-season waiver pickups have fallen flat during the fantasy playoffs. Owners with the foresight -- and onions -- to gamble on Tebow, meanwhile, have been rewarded with impressive performances in his first two starts. Tebow's 24.7 points in Week 15 were seventh in the league, as were his 28.1 points in Week 16.
The "Where Was His Hype Train?" Award
Goes to … Peyton Hillis, Browns - The Albino Rhino was a recommended pickup in Weeks 1 and 2, but who saw his second-place fantasy finish coming? Though he failed to score in the fantasy playoffs, Hillis piled up 13 touchdowns in the first 12 games of the season while finishing fourth among running backs with 60 receptions.
The "What Took So Long, Raheem" Award
Goes to … LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers - After seeing the Cadillac running on fumes early in the season, Blount made the waiver list four times from Weeks 4-8. Citing pass protection issues, the Bucs coaching staff held off on making the switch until mid-season. The rookie averaged 93.2 yards per game the rest of the way, leaving fantasy owners and Bucs fans wondering what could have been?
The "Saboteur Has Struck" Award
Goes to … Brandon Jackson, Packers - How many fantasy owners blew their waiver budget on Jackson when Ryan Grant went down for the season? Better yet, how many owners went for Jackson over Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis back in Week 2? While B-Jax managed to remain a flex option for much of the season, he ended up sabotaging the seasons of many a wide-eyed believer.
The "Voodoo Doll" Award
Goes to … Tashard Choice, Cowboys - I didn't even own Choice until the fantasy playoffs started, but it feels like I spent the entire season sticking pins into a Marion Barber voodoo doll. Arguably the best all-around back in Dallas the past three seasons, Choice made the waiver list seven times only to be foiled by Barber at every turn.
The "Biggest Tease" Award
Goes to … James Starks, Packers - The sixth-round rookie ended up all hype and no substance. Starks made the waiver list as a flier from Weeks 5-7 in anticipation of his activation from the PUP list. Finally returning late in the season, Starks re-emerged as a hot waiver pickup after an 18-carry performance in Week 13. After a disappointing follow-up performance, Starks spent the past two weeks as a healthy scratch.
The "Woodhead & Bernstein" Award - How about a hand for the Patriots backfield? BenJarvus Green-Ellis a/k/a "Lawfirm" or "Boston Legal" was freely available early in the season, as was Danny Woodhead after Kevin Faulk went down. The two undrafted backs have combined for 304 carries, 1,456 yards (4.8 YPC), 58 receptions, 458 receiving yards, 18 total TDs, and zero fumbles.