After much discussion, equal hemming and hawing, jzak and I came up with a list of our MVP nominees. I kept trying to throw wrenches into the thing over the last couple of days – Maybe we should have more than three candidates? Maybe we should redefine the V in MVP again? – jzak wouldn’t hear any of it.
The funny thing is, he was the one who was going to redefine MVP in the first place, but I broke him down with my argument about how a player you draft in the first or second round really can’t be a value unless they perform to a ridiculous level above expectations. I’m not so sure I believe myself because there’s something to be said for consistent performances, even from the most pricy draft picks.
As I said in the defining MVP post, there are players who aren’t going to make the cut for our nominees. If you disagree, please feel free to write in your own MVP when you vote in the comments.
On to the nominees:
Brett Favre – Favre threw 2 TDs in his first game and by week 4 had eight TDs to one interception and 837 yards PASSING on Adrian Peterson’s team. The rest his history, as in the greatest season of an historic career. Where did you draft him again? Yahoo had him ranked 22nd among QBs.
Matt Schaub – Yahoo had Schaub ranked 9th, not nearly as impressive a jump as Favre made, but the Texans QB proved that when he can stay healthy he can put up fantasy points. He finished with 4,770 yards and 29 TDs. He led the league in yards by 270 and was fifth in TD passes. Those numbers put him among the Top-3 of fantasy QBs.
Ben Roethlisberger – Ranked as a borderline starter in the preseason after a sub-par 2008, Roethlisberger only moved up into the top 9, but his 2,062 yards and 13 total TDs before the Steelers’ Week 7 bye was a pleasant surprise for owners who waited on a QB on draft day. He had 805 yards and six TDs in the next three games before missing a game due to injury. Roethlisberger was a feast or famine player, but his feasts were big ones.
Ray Rice – What more is there to say about Rice? He had 100 yards or more – and several times lots more – in 12 of 17 games and scored 8 total TDs. Rice’s value rose throughout draft season as expectations grew, but they never even remotely approached his final production value. Yahoo had him ranked 49th in the preseason. ESPN had him 28th. He finished in the top 5 and was just two points behind Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, who tied for second, in some formats.
Ricky Williams – Ranked 48th by ESPN and 46th by Yahoo in the preseason, Williams finished with 72 or more total yards in 11 games and had 11 total TDs before the fantasy playoffs started. He finished as a top-10 fantasy RB, with 1,385 total yards and 13 TDs.
Jamaal Charles – Three numbers: 62, 6 and 11 can put Charles’ season in perspective. Charles was ranked as the 62nd best running back according to ESPN in the preseason. Depending on your scoring format, he finished between 6th and 11th. Players who drafted Charles as Larry Johnson’s backup, or who stole the handcuff on draft day, got one of the biggest values fantasy football has ever experienced. It’s both a detriment to his chances of winning MVP, and a precursor of his potential greatness, that he didn’t do anything until Week 10 and wasn’t consistently good until Weeks 14-17.
Miles Austin – Austin, Miles is the unexpected answer to one of the preseason’s most pressing questions – Who will benefit most with Terrell Owens gone? The answer wasn’t Roy Williams or Jason Witten, who were disappointments for a lot of owners, it was Austin. Nobody could have seen this coming. The unheralded receiver had one impressive game in 2008 and, as such, was ranked 101st by ESPN and 49th by Yahoo in the preseason. He didn’t arrive until Week 5 and disappeared in Weeks 10, 11, but he helped fantasy teams win and win some more. He finished with 90 or more yards in seven games after Week 5 and scored in eight games over the same period.
Sidney Rice – Like Austin, Rice was off a lot of radars going into the season. Everyone was predicting that Favre’s presence would turn Bernard Berrian into some superstar. But from Weeks 6-13, Rice led many a fantasy team to victory. He amassed 48 catches, 803 yards and two TDs over that span. Preseason ranks: Yahoo 54, ESPN 53. Final stats: 83-1,312-8. Final ranking: 11th
Steve Smith (NYG) – With 107 catches, 1,220 yards and 7 TDs, Smith moved into the top 10 of PPR leagues and was a viable play in other formats. He didn’t have a single game under 8 points in PPR leagues, had three games with at least 100 yards receiving and 9 games with 7 or more catches. Yahoo pegged him as the 64th best receiver and ESPN had him has the 61st in the preseason.
Vernon Davis – It took two weeks, but Vernon Davis showed a glimpse of what was to come with his 90-plus-yard, 2-TD game in Week 3. Little did we know he would go nuts in the second half of the season. From Week 3 on, he scored TDs in 10 of 14 games, had three 100-yard games and had six or more catches seven times. He was ranked 22nd in the preseason by ESPN and 16th by Yahoo. He finished first or second depending on your format. That’s some good value.
Brent Celek – After Celek’s postseason performance in 2008, it was surprising to see Celek fall as much as he did. Anyone who waited and picked the Eagles TE was not disappointed, especially during his early season performance. He had 22 catches, 245 yards and two TDs in his first three games. Celek finished with 971 yards on 76 catches and scored eight times.That’s a great TE performance, earning him a spot in the top 5. He was ranked as a backup (17th) in both ESPN’s and Yahoo’s preseason rankings.
Heath Miller – Ranked as a borderline starter in deep Yahoo leagues (14th preseason) and barely a backup in shallow ESPN leagues (20th), Miller surprised with top-10 stuff. Over a three-game stretch from Weeks 4 through 6 he had 18 catches 204 yards and 4 TDs. Miller had 54 yards or more in eight games and five or more catches in 10 games. In PPR leagues, he had eight or more points in nine games.
The final awards will be handed out to the players that garner the most votes in the comments, so let us know what you think. As mentioned above, write in votes count.