2011 Waiver AwardsTuesday, December 27, 2011
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Now a hallowed tradition in Rotoworld's Waiver Wired series, Week 17 brings us the fifth annual waiver awards (for the past few years, click on "Archives" above). To better prepare for the 2012 season, it's fitting that we take a step back and examine the highlights of 2011. 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.
The "Waiver Wired MVP" Award
Goes to … Cam Newton! A recommended pickup in the week preceding the opener -- and again after his sensational Week 1 breakout -- Newton went on to author the best statistical rookie season in NFL history. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft passed Peyton Manning for the most passing yards (3,893) by a rookie in NFL history and joined Kordell Stewart as the only players with at least 20 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs while finishing behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in fantasy points.
The "Enjoy the Playoff Race From Over There, Orton" Award
Goes to … Tim Tebow! After watching Orton stumble to a 4-14 record over his last 18 Denver starts, Tebow was finally inserted into the starting lineup as the No. 1 waiver pickup for Week 6. Along with leading the moribund Broncos to the brink of the playoffs, Tebow has averaged 21 fantasy points per week. That number would place him 11th among QBs for the season, behind only the elite every-week starters.
The "Got Myself Paid" Award
Goes to … Matt Moore! Entering Week 9 with a 1-9 record over his previous 10 NFL starts, Moore turned Miami’s 0-7 season around with five wins in his next seven games. His 89.8 passer rating is behind only Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger among AFC quarterbacks. While Moore is a borderline NFL starter, his strong second-half will keep him in the league for another 7-8 years as at least a high-end backup.
The "Schizophrenic Offense" Award
Goes to … Rex Grossman! The inventor of the fumble-six and master of the pick-six was the most recommended player in this year’s Waiver Wired column, making the list a whopping nine times despite a mid-season benching for John Beck. Despite stretches of ineptitude, Grossman turned in the second-best season of his nine-year career.
The "Billy Volek" Award
Goes to … C.J. Spiller! Moved outside to wide receiver, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 draft was off the fantasy radar by mid-season. Spiller was recast as the feature back, though, once Fred Jackson went down with a fractured right fibula in late November. After treading water for a few games, Spiller exploded for 305 yards and three TDs in the all-important Weeks 15 and 16. He finished as fantasy’s No. 2 back, behind only Maurice Jones-Drew, over the final three games.
The “What Took So Long, Shanny?” and “Successful Hype Train” Awards
Go to … Roy Helu! A Rotoworld favorite as far back as the February NFL combine, Helu was hyped relentlessly through the draft process, preseason action, and even as Tim Hightower’s high-upside backup. Helu went to waste on Mike Shanahan’s bench through 11 weeks while Hightower and Ryan Torain combined for 3.64 YPC. Finally anointed as the starter, Helu broke off a trio of 100-yard performances in Weeks 12-14.
The "Where Was His Hype Train?" Award and “Could Have Been a Contender” Awards
Go to … DeMarco Murray! While Helu was hyped from the start of the pre-draft period, Murray was often considered a brittle power back lacking in play-making ability. As soon as Felix Jones went down with a serious ankle injury, though, Murray exploded onto the scene, averaging 170 scrimmage yards and 8.47 YPC in his first three starts. Rather than leading fantasy owners to a championship, Murray ended up being lost for the season with an ankle injury of his own.
The "Outhouse to the Penthouse" Award
Goes to … Donald Brown! After entering the season as a third-stringer and first-round flop lacking toughness and durability, Brown outplayed hot-shot rookie Delone Carter as well as trusted veteran Joseph Addai. The Colts’ lead back throughout the second half of the season, Brown boasts a gaudy 4.9 YPC -- more than a full yard higher than his previous career average.
The "No Jahvid, No Problem" Award
Goes to … Kevin Smith! Waiting for his phone to ring for nine weeks, Smith quickly leapfrogged Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams within two weeks of signing. With Jahvid Best out for the season, Smith stepped right in as a top-10 fantasy back in points per game for the final six weeks.
The "Roster Yo-Yo" Award
Goes to … Stevan Ridley! After a stellar preseason slate, Ridley began outplaying BenJarvus Green-Ellis by early October. It was clear that he possessed more burst and pass-catching ability, but the Pats and Tom Brady trusted Law Firm in pass protection and short-yardage situations. Ridley even fell behind fellow rookie Shane Vereen for a couple of weeks before re-emerging as the top back in Weeks 15 and 16.
The "Voodoo Doll" Award
Goes to … Kendall Hunter! The pint-sized play-maker was recommended six times this season, starting with September when it looked like Frank Gore was washed up. Fantasy owners stashed Hunter throughout the year, sticking pins in Gore’s knee, ankle, and shoulder only to end up bitterly disappointed when the veteran finished a complete season for just the second time in his seven-year career.