Fantasy Football 2021 Position Awards
For seventeen weeks, we obsessed over the right moves to make, players to add, trades to accept.
But really, it started long before that.
It began when we read our first article about preparing for the upcoming draft. It picked up pace when we had to make our first selection. And it stayed with us as we moved through the regular season, into the playoffs and, hopefully, to a championship.
For the past seventeen weeks, a handful of players have carried us. Rather than list those who ranked at the top of their position based on OwnersBox points, alone, we will take a different approach and hand out awards that fit exactly how a certain player helped us in 2021.
Put another way, these awards are given from the heart.
The Plug-and-Play Award
This award goes to the player who never wavered in his contributions to our fantasy team, and there was not a shred of doubt that he should be in a starting lineup. It actually became so ridiculous that the only time we could ever consider the idea of him failing us was simply based on regression, itself.
Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR) is on-pace to break multiple receiving records, but his consistent dominance in a fantasy lineup is what sets him apart from the field. He had at least 92 receiving yards in all-but-one game on the year, scored a touchdown in ten, and had double-digit receptions five times.
Kupp enters Week 18 as the runaway league-leader in receiving yards and receptions, and he holds a two-touchdown lead over Ja’Marr Chase. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Kupp will win the Triple Crown for wide receivers in 2021.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND)
The First-Round Survivor
Think back to August of 2021. You sat down with your list of players and considered exactly how you would attack each position on the draft board. Specifically, you plotted out your first-round pick based on where you were selecting, and you limited your list to the names that were likely to be available for your pick.
Christian McCaffrey was on that list if you were picking in the top-two. Alvin Kamara had a place in the top-five. And, somewhere along the way, you might have jotted down Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND). He wasn’t a guarantee to be worthy of a first-round pick, but he definitely fit the mold.
If only you know then what you know now.
Between the swarm of injuries and usual disappointment that tends to strike roughly half of first-round picks in any given season, this year felt particularly difficult to find a survivor among the group. Taylor emerged, took the title, and never gave it back.
Barring an injury of his own, there was never a doubt that Taylor would deliver something once he hit his stride. The Colts leaned on him constantly, and they eventually pulled to an impossible 9-1 record when he rushed for at least 100 yards. So, they asked him to rush for 100 yards on a weekly basis.
We, as fantasy managers, reaped the rewards.
Honorable Mention: Davante Adams (WR – GB)
The Best Bang For Your Buck
Also known as the best sleeper pick, Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) was hardly a consideration during draft season for a number of reasons. For starters, we have seen rookie wide receivers fail in season-long formats more often than we would like to admit. Then there was the uncertainty surrounding the health of quarterback Joe Burrow. Finally, Chase devalued his own stock by publicly stating that he didn’t know the NFL ball was different in size than what he used in college.
Looking back, it’s easy to see why Chase was missed by so many.
Looking at the numbers now, it’s easy to see why so many were foolish.
Chase has not only carried fantasy teams for 2021, but he did so at arguably the most important point of the season. He didn’t start hot and then fizzle. He took over games during the fantasy playoffs and paid tremendous dividends for any of his early investors.
Honorable Mention: Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
The “Told ‘Ya So” Award
This one is unique to this season, but only because what happened before the year began was so unprecedented. It’s to the point that it would be unfair to give this award to one player and list the other as the honorable mention. Both deserve a share of the prize, even if for different reasons.
Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) continually filled the headlines before the start of the year as he held out from joining the Packers. The stories and rumors were endless, and Rodgers was the focal point of the football-watching world. Finally, he reported to camp, appeared to have made his peace with the organization, and then put forth a dud of a performance on Opening Day. Oops?
Not so fast.
Rodgers then went on to lead one of the best fantasy football campaigns by anyone and, even with his numbers suffering because of a poor Week 1 outing, averaged the third-most fantasy-points-per-game among quarterbacks.
Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC) made his own news in the preseason, but it was vastly different from what Rodgers did. Ekeler openly embraced the fantasy football community and promised a weekly signed jersey as part of a giveaway as a “Thank You” to anyone who drafted, started, and won with him.
The promise was nice. The reward was cool. But the real value in what Ekeler did happened over the few months that followed. He turned in a truly outstanding season, and he now enters Week 18 ranked third-best among running backs for fantasy-points-per-game.
Put Your Fantasy Winnings Toward A Good Cause
If one of these players listed helped win you your league this year, you should check out the tweet below. The NFL and its players do a great job at giving back and supporting efforts off the field. Pretty cool stuff!
A thought for the new year: If player helps win your fantasy league, consider donating portion of winnings to a cause he supports. pic.twitter.com/SB23Md3pd9
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 2, 2022
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