The 2012 NFL football regular season is over, and with it so is the fantasy football season (you can of course join a playoff league, and those suckers do seem to be gaining in popularity). Before we head into the heat of the “second season” I thought it would be appropriate to look back on some of the standout efforts of the campaign. Some of the following performances were likely already on your radar, but I bet ya that at least a few of the stats/figures that I'm about to lay on you slipped past your attention upon your initial run through of the numbers.
* NOTE: All numbers/rankings listed below are from a PPR setup.
Drew Brees was the #1 QB in fantasy football this season just as I, and I alone, said he would be (no one agreed with me as Mr. Rodgers was universally lauded as the top choice). I touched on Brees after Week 17 was complete in Week 17: Studs and Duds but here are a few more notes. The last two years Brees has averaged 5,327 passing yards and 45 touchdowns. No QB who has ever lived, other than Brees of course, has ever had one season of 5,327 passing yards. Only Brady, Peyton, Marino and Rodgers have even one season of 45 passing yards.
Josh Freeman threw for 4,065 yards and 27 scores on the year and those are strong totals (both are career bests). At the same time he completed only 54.8 percent of his passes, threw only two scores his last four games, and over the last three outings he tossed nine picks. Not exactly a strong finish.
Aaron Rodgers lost about 350 yards and six touchdowns from 2011, and he also threw two more interceptions. At the same time he threw for 4,295 yards, 39 scores and eight interceptions in a tremendous season, not to mention that he tied Steve Young's NFL record with 4-straight seasons with a QB Rating over 100. At this point of his career Rodgers has a 104.9 QB rating, the best in the history of football.
Tony Romo threw for 4,903 yards on the season, the third highest total in football. It's also more yards than Peyton Manning has ever thrown for a single season (Peyton's high is 4,700 yards). Romo also threw for 28 scores making he and Drew Brees the only two QBs in football to throw for 4,900 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Mark Sanchez threw for 13 touchdowns in 2012. Drew Brees threw for 12 touchdowns in his last four games.
Russell Wilson matched Peyton Manning's rookie TD mark with 26. He also ran for four more scores for the Seahawks. His total of 30 scores was two more than Andrew Luck's 28 (23 pass, five run) and three more than Robert Griffin III (20 pass, seven run). Wow is right. At the same time, Wilson threw for only 3,118 yards, and average of 195 a game. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 3,400 yards. Wilson also attempted a mere 393 pass meaning he threw fewer passes than the following list of player completed passes: Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. That's right, six NFL QBs completed more passes than Wilson threw. Wilson had a great rookie season, but keep things in perspective.
Jamaal Charles recorded 245.5 points this season. He racked up 40.8 of those points in Week 3 and 30 points in Week 16. Remove those two games from his ledger and his average point per game total falls from 15.34 points to 12.48 per contest. Darren McFadden, he of the terrible fantasy season, averaged 13.04 points per game this season.
Doug Martin ran for 1,454 yards, caught 49 balls for 472 more yards, and scored 12 total touchdowns. That's a phenomenal season by any measure, let alone for a rookie. At the same time he had three games this season with less than 10 points. Adrian Peterson, the only back with more fantasy points (37.8 points more), didn't have a single game this season with a single digit fantasy point total. Arian Foster had one single digit point game, Ray Rice had two and Marshawn Lynch also had two. Those five were the top-5 in fantasy points this season.
Adrian Peterson became the 7th back in NFL history to run for 2,000 yards (A.D. finished the year with a total of 2,097 rushing yards). Add together the rushing totals of Trent Richardson (950) and LeSean McCoy (840), two backs roundly drafted ahead of Peterson back in August, and you end up with a total of 1,790 yards. Peterson led the NFL in rushing yards in December with 861. That's 21 more yards than McCoy had all season folks. That total of 861 yards is also 230 more than any other back in football in December as the #2 man was Alfred Morris with 631 (Morris also scored seven rushing scores in December which is one more rushing score than C.J. Spiller had for the season). Speaking of McCoy, he fell from 20 touchdowns to a grand total of five for the Eagles in 2012.
Darren Sproles missed three games due to injury. At the end of the year he was still #13 in fantasy points at the RB position. If he maintained his total of 16.6 points per game in those other three games he would have added 49.8 points to his total of 216.1 points he would have ended the year at 265.9. If he got to that mark he would be the #6 RB in fantasy football. Sproles led all runners with 75 receptions, in 13 games mind you. Ray Rice led AFC backs with 61 receptions. They were the only two backs in football to go over 60 receptions. All told there were seven backs who caught 50 passes including two that I bet weren't drafted in a single 12 team league before the season started: Sproles, Rice, McCoy (54), Jacquizz Rodgers (53), Marcel Reece (52), Joique Bell (52) and Richardson (51).
Michael Crabtree... cue the laugh track right? Not so fast. Did you happen to notice how amazing he was as the season wore down? In the month of December he averaged seven receptions a game and his total of 35 grabs was fifth in football for the month. He also produced 538 yards, the third highest total behind the Johnson boys (Andre and Calvin), and his four receiving scores were third in football. On the year Crabtree caught 85 passes, two more balls than Marques Colston, five more than Randall Cobb, six more than Julio Jones and 13 more than V-Jax. Crabtree also went for 1,105 yards which is more than the following wideouts: Victor Cruz, Eric Decker, Stevie Johnson, Lance Moore, Randall Cobb, Miles Austin, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace etc.
Vincent Jackson had a great season leading the NFL with a 19.2 YPC mark while grabbing 72 passes for 1,384 yards and eight scores. He's still never caught 75 passes in a season though.
Calvin Johnson fell from 16 receiving scores to five. He added 26 receptions (up to 122) and 283 yards (1,964) though so all told he finished the year with 348.4 fantasy points, less than a point a week fewer than the 2011 season in which he recorded 361.2 points. Calvin led the NFL with 92 first downs. Roddy White caught 92 passes in 2012.
Percy Harvin was beat up and played only nine games this season. Don't overlook how amazing he was this year though. If you pro-rate his nine game efforts out to 16 games you would find a guy who would have caught 110 passes for 1,203 yards. Those numbers would have dwarfed the total of 86 receptions for 1,092 yards for Victor Cruz. The Salsa dancer from NY had a tremendous follow up season adding four receptions and one score (10 TDs in 2012) to his marks from last season. Still, he lost 444 yards from his breakout campaign. Why? Exactly as I predicted the long plays that led to so many yards in 2011 just weren't as prevalent in 2012 as Cruz went for more than 50 yards on just two receptions in 2012.
Reggie Wayne was fifth in the league with 106 receptions and he also went off for 1,355 yards. He did only score five times though meaning he has a total of 15 receiving scores the past three seasons. James Jones scored 14 times this season. Jones “only” caught 64 balls for 784 yards on the campaign in one of the greatest “small seasons” ever. How does a guy score 14 times and not even get to 785 yards? Hell, Larry Fitzgerald recorded 798 yards receiving in one of the the worst passing offenses the game has seen in decades. To put how amazing that total of 14 scores is for Jones into some perspective... James Jones scored as many times as Wayne (five), Calvin Johnson (five) and Andre Johnson (four).
Roddy White (269.1) and Julio Jones (261.8) both finished in the top-12 at the wide receiver position in 2012. The Falcons' duo was joined by the Broncos' duo of Demaryius Thomas (297.4) and Eric Decker (269.4) in the top-12 (they ranked 5th and 9th).
Through three games Martellus Bennett was 5th at the position in points. In each of those first three games The Black Unicorn recorded at least 14 points. Over the duration of the season Bennett only hit that total two more times in Week 13 (19.2) and 14 (14.2). Bennett came in 12th at the position in fantasy points.
Jimmy Graham really fell off compared to 2011 catching 15 fewer passes (85) for 328 fewer yards (982) and two fewer scores (nine). He still was the #1 TE in fantasy football. Rob Gronkowski, the other early round selection at the position, missed five games with a broken forearm. He was so amazing during his time on the field that he still came in 5th in points at the position. In fact, he was so good per game – his point total was 18.18 points – that if you add together the efforts of Antonio Gates (9.65) and Jermichael Finley (8.73) you end up with a total of 18.38 points, just two tenths better.
Among tight ends with at least 30 receptions there was only one man who averaged more than six yards after the catch – Jermaine Gresham (6.9). He caught 64 balls for 737 yards.
Brandon Pettigrew was targeted 102 times on the season but hauled in only 59 of those passes. He was the only tight end of the eight who had at least 100 targets who didn't haul in 60 passes.
Kyle Rudolph recorded zero points in a game three times this season, and he also had efforts of 2.8, 3.7, 5.2 and 4.0 points. In the end though touchdowns cover up a multitude of sins and his total of nine touchdowns still enable him to finish as a tight end one – he was 11th at the position in overall points.
From Week 4 through Week 17 there was no tight end finer than Jason Witten. The Cowboys' tight end recorded an average of 16.64 points per game in that stretch leading to a total of 216.3 points, 31.3 points more then the #2 man (Graham). Witten was so good during this stretch that he scored more points than all but 11 wide outs despite the fact that he scored only three touchdowns. One last thought. From Week 4 on Witten caught at least four passes in every game for an average of 7.85 receptions per week.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9p-12a EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.