Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
For 95% of fantasy football owners the season is now a memory and they are looking to improve their basketball and hockey fantasy teams or looking ahead to the beginning of the 2009 baseball season. But before we say goodbye to the 2008 NFL season, we must hand out the annual awards.
Quarterback - This was an easy one to choose. Although Peyton Manning was the league's official MVP, in the fantasy world he wasn't even a top-five quarterback. Drew Brees led all quarterbacks in scoring with 335 points, a solid 47 more than runner-up Jay Cutler. Brees was consistent, scoring less than 12 points only twice and 25-or-more points seven times including the Week 16 "championship" game. The former Purdue signal caller put up 5,069 passing yards (second all-time to Dan Marino's 5,084 in 1984) and 34 touchdown passes. Case closed!
Running Back - Michael Turner (301 points) was the early-season leader at running back, but Carolina's DeAngelo Williams (320 points) put on a strong finish to wrestle the award away from him. Williams carried the Panthers into the playoffs by rushing 273 times for 1,515 yards and 18 TDs. He added 22 receptions for 121 yards and two more scores. With four TD runs in the final week of the fantasy "regular" season and seven more in the "playoffs" he took home the prize.
Wide Receiver - In a close race, Larry Fitzgerald (286 points) edged out Andre Johnson (274) for top receiver. Both players were great, but in the all- important Week 16 matchup, Fitzgerald posted a stunning 24 points while Johnson managed just one point on two catches for 19 yards against the Oakland Raiders. Fitzgerald finished the regular season with 96 receptions for 1,431 yards and 12 TDs. He also took care of business in Saturday's 30-24 playoff win over Atlanta, leading the Cardinals with six receptions for 101 yards and a 42-yard touchdown.
Tight End - If this were a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight after two rounds. Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez, the future Hall of Fame tight end, finished the season with 96 catches for 1,058 yards and a career high 10 TDs. The margin between Gonzalez (212 points) and second-place Jason Witten (153 points) was the largest of any position.
Kicker - New England's Stephen Gostkowski (143 points) edged the New York Giants' John Carney (139 points) for the title. Gostkowski was also much better at "playoff time" posting totals of 13,7 and 17 in Weeks 14-16 while Carney slumped with totals of -1,7 and 8.
Defense/Special Teams - Ed Reed almost single-handedly carried the Baltimore Ravens defense to this year's title. Despite the Steelers defense being ranked first in the NFL in fewest points allowed (13.9), fewest passing yards (156.9) and fewest total yards (237.2) the Ravens used 34 turnovers (six returned for touchdowns) to edge out their division rivals. Reed returned one fumble for a TD and two of his league-leading nine interceptions also turned into defensive scores.
MVP - While Brees scored the most points, the TSN 2008 Fantasy MVP Award goes to........DeAngelo Williams. Brees was expected to be good as befits a top-four quarterback with an ADP (average draft position) of 24.7. Williams wasn't even the No.1 running back selection from his team (Jonathan Stewart had a higher ADP) yet was the top-scoring running back and No.2 overall.
Rookie - Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (266 points) wins the 2008 TSN Fantasy Rookie-of-the-Year Award. Forte scored in double figures in the first 16 weeks to beat out Houston's Steve Slaton (248 points) and Tennessee's Chris Johnson (223 points).
Best Value - San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers began 2008 by having surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee. So it was with some trepidation that fantasy owners selected him. Rivers' ADP was 117, meaning he wasn't drafted until the 11th or 12th round and likely was the owner's backup option. But he got out of the gate quickly and threw for nine touchdowns (against just two interceptions) in the first three games. Rivers finished the season with 4,009 yards passing and 34 touchdown passes. He scored 275 fantasy points (seventh overall), just four behind Adrian Peterson and 15 more than NFL MVP Manning.