Now a hallowed tradition in Rotoworld's Waiver Wired series, Week 17 brings us the sixth annual waiver awards (for the past few years, click on "Archives" above). To better prepare for the 2013 season, it's fitting that we take a step back and examine the highlights of 2012. 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 and the “Successful Hype Train” Award
Go to … Randall Cobb. Hyped as a must-own Dynasty asset throughout the offseason and anointed as “Percy Lite” back in Week 2, Cobb filled the void as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receiver from Week 5 through Week 16. The versatile breakout star finished 15th in fantasy points throughout the season as well as in the fantasy playoffs. Cobb set the franchise record for most combined net yards in season with 2,342, surpassing Ahman Green’s 2,250 yards in 2003.
The “I Put Royster and Helu on the Pine” Award
Goes to … Alfred Morris. A legit rookie of the year candidate, Morris has a strong argument for MVP honors in shallow leagues after finishing sixth in fantasy points. In the leagues of most Rotoworld readers, however, Morris was drafted as a late-round flier -- thus unavailable on the early-season waiver wire. Already the franchise’s rookie rushing leader, Alf can break Clinton Portis’ single-season Redskins record with 103 yards versus the Cowboys this week.
The “Billy Volek” Award, the “Outhouse to the Penthouse” Award, and the “It’s About Friggin’ Time” Award
Go to … Knowshon Moreno. A healthy scratch for the majority of October and November, the former No. 12 overall pick averaged 27 touches per game while topping 100 yards from scrimmage in four of five starts in place of an injured Willis McGahee. Playing the best football of a disappointing career, Moreno finished fifth in fantasy points during the fantasy playoffs. It’s hallowed Rotoworld tradition that the Volek award goes to the player who came out of nowhere to carry fantasy owners to championships down the stretch.
The “Where Was His Hype Train?” Award
Goes to … Cecil Shorts. While Cobb saw plenty of early-season waiver hype and young breakout candidates such as Antonio Brown, Titus Young, and Denarius Moore were over-drafted, Shorts flew under the radar as Blaine Gabbert’s third or fourth target until Laurent Robinson sustained a series of concussions in October and November. Jacksonville’s best big-play threat in years, Shorts is 10th in fantasy points per over the last five weeks while finishing 18th on the season.
The “Better Late Than Never” Award
Goes to … Danario Alexander. First hyped in this space as a must-add waiver wire wonder back in October of 2010, “DX” was anointed by at least one scout as a “Calvin Johnson clone” after posting a monstrous 113/1,781/14 stat line at Mizzou in 2009. Nagging knee and hamstring injuries ravaged Alexander’s early career, leaving him free for the taking in October -- similar to Laurent Robinson’s 2011 breakout. Immediately surfacing as Philip Rivers’ go-to receiver, Alexander was a top-10 fantasy receiver in the second half of the season.
The “Plug ‘n’ Play” Award and the “Hoisted with His Own Petard” Award
Go to … Bryce Brown. Recommended as a strong plug ‘n’ play with LeSean McCoy out of the lineup in Weeks 12 and 13, Brown exploded for 372 yards and four touchdowns to carry fortunate owners into the fantasy playoffs. Once there, though, Brown followed the lead of fellow “Petard” winners Fred Davis (2011), Kyle Orton (2010), and Kurt Warner (2008) in leaving fantasy leaguers holding the bag.
The “Enjoy the Playoff Race from Over There, Smith” Award and the “Got Myself Paid” Award
Go to … Colin Kaepernick. After a QB controversy manufactured entirely by the media, Kaepernick “Wally Pipped” a concussed Alex Smith over the final two months. In the process, the strong-armed Randall Cunningham clone finally made the 49ers QB position fantasy relevant, finishing ninth in fantasy points over the final five weeks. Flirting with franchise QB status, Kaepernick will be a candidate for a lucrative contract extension in 2013.
The “Don’t Forget About Me” and “Still Better Than Matt Flynn” Award
Go to … Russell Wilson. After a slow start that had some fans and analysts stumping for Flynn in early October, Wilson finished the fantasy season with a flourish, ranking behind only Cam Newton, Tony Romo, and Tom Brady in the past five weeks. Rivaling the more ballyhooed Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in the rookie of the year race, Wilson has placed seventh in passer rating (98.0) while joining Peyton Manning as the only rookies to pass for 25+ touchdowns. Nobody wants to face Wilson’s piping hot Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs.
The "Ain’t a Patch on Jones-Drew’s Arse” Award
Goes to … Rashad Jennings. After entering the 2012 season as one of the league’s most talented and productive backups, Jennings fell flat on his face as Jacksonville’s feature back when Maurice Jones-Drew went down with a late-October Lisfranc sprain. He managed to place in the top-20 fantasy backs just twice all season, finishing the season with a paltry 2.8 YPC average -- and 59th in fantasy points.
The “Voodoo Doll” Award
Goes to … David Wilson. Cognizant of the rookie’s explosive talent, owners spent the majority of the season sticking pins into the worn-down body parts of Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown. Outside of a Week 14 record-breaking performance in return-yardage leagues, though, Wilson turned in a disappointing fantasy season while languishing on the bench due to pass protection and ball security concerns. He remains a Dynasty league gem.
The “Could Have Been a Contender” Award
Goes to … Andre Brown. After a 130-yard, 2-touchdown breakout game as a fill-in starter in Week 3, Brown produced a five-game scoring streak in Weeks 7-12 before going down with a broken fibula. With Ahmad Bradshaw banged up, Brown would have had a shot at RB2 value in the fantasy playoffs had he stayed healthy.
The “No McFadden, No Problem” Award
Goes to … Marcel Reece. Fantasy leaguers were split down the middle on Reece vs. Taiwan Jones when an underperforming Darren McFadden suffered a mid-season high-ankle sprain. Reece ended up topping 90 yards from scrimmage in four consecutive weeks, providing stable RB2 value to get desperate owners through the bye-week crunch while Jones remained persona non grata in Oakland.
The “Donald Brown, We Hardly Knew Ye” Award
Goes to … Vick Ballard. Brown entered the season as a trendy fantasy sleeper in some circles, only to be waylaid by injuries and disappointing production for the third time in four seasons. Ballard filled the void capably, offering low-upside but stable RB2/flex value from Week 7 through end of the fantasy playoffs. He finished the season a respectable 30th in fantasy points despite languishing on the bench in the first six weeks of the season.
The “Roster Yo-Yo” Award
Goes to … Ronnie Hillman. Drafted as a late-round flier in many leagues, the third-round rookie was subsequently dumped once it became obvious that Willis McGahee had a vice grip on the starting job. Bypassing Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball on the depth chart, Hillman ended up being a recommended waiver addition in five different weeks only to fall by the wayside due to pass protection and between-the-tackles concerns once McGahee was lost for the season.