Before we begin, let’s look at all the team’s who had their playoff lives die this week and hold a moment of silence in their honor.
The Dirty Birds. I Am Man. They Call Me Warrior. Wow You Suck. Order of the Phoenix. Reaper Crew.
These teams all suffered losses in the first rounds of their playoffs during week 14 and will not win a championship.
In the League, we have our finals matchups set. Much to the chagrin of the other owners, Bush’s two teams will be facing off in the championship. While the Order and Reaper Crew both put up a solid fight and were the 5th and 4th highest scoring teams in round 1 respectively, Brodown and High Noon would not be stopped. The story of round 1 was big name letdowns from stars on teams. Reaper was forced to play without their stud, AP and The Order played without Vick in week 13 and a letdown game from Vick in week 14 sealed the deal. I picked Reaper Crew to beat Brodown in the championship so I won’t be correct here. I’ll cover the finals matchup between Brodown and High Noon in my Thursday Previews.
Awesome had round 1 of its playoffs in week 14 and this meant the end of 4 playoff teams. Don’t Stop Believing and I Kill pulled off upsets in week 14 over I Am Man and Dirty Birds. Man was the biggest letdown team in week 14, scoring the least of any playoff team thanks to a bountiful -7 from the Cowboys DST. I Kill pulled off the 8-1 upset against Dirty Birds thanks to a career game from MJD. The bad beat of the week goes to Wow. I’ve said for a while that Wow was an underrated team and a scary 7 seed, but it is hard to face the Tebow-like Black Guy this season. With another monster game from Gronkowski and a questionable Ryan Grant start, Black Guy edged this game out by two points on Monday. While I am excited personally that Black Guy won because I picked them, it is hard to watch Wow exit round 1 when I think they are the best team in the league right now. The second worst beat of the week goes to Warrior. Warrior lost by nearly 20 but was the third best scoring team in the league. All Day got solid games from all their studs and will be all the more formidable with the return of Adrian Peterson. I’ll cover round 2 and update my predictions in my weekly playoffs.
Thanks to a grossly heartbreaking playoff exit in both leagues (yes I can complain, I lost to the top scoring team in both leagues round 1 but that was expected since I faced the most points all season), I’m ready to look forward to next year. This has little meaning at the current point, but I am going to give my top 12 players for next year in my early round 1 rankings.
- Aaron Rodgers- obvious at this point considering his dominance at the QB spot this season.
- Lesean McCoy- the 2 can be debated, but in my opinion Shady is the pick here. He leads all RB in scoring this year thanks in large part to his emergence as the Eagle’s only go to option.
- Arian Foster- Although he missed 2 and most of 3 games this season, he is still a top 5 RB on the year and I think he would be one had he missed no time. He has proven that 2010 was not a fluke.
- Ray Rice- I said I thought Rice would finish the season as the best RB and so far he has only managed to be second best. That being said, I expect similar production from him next year. While his offense has been average, he has managed to put up points. It also helps to be on a team with a great D so he usually has the lead to rack up late carries.
- Adrian Peterson- I am personally not a huge Peterson fan, but it is impossible to argue against his consistency as a first round worthy RB. Although missing three games this season, he has still been worth his draft position.
- Maurice Jones-Drew- He has proven this year that he has no downside. With an abysmal offense he has still managed to lead the league in rushing yards this season. He’s as safe of a pick as you can make.
- Ryan Mathews- my first wildly debatable pick. Call me crazy, but ignoring weeks 7-11 (where I fully believe he was playing hurt), he has been every bit of a top 5 RB this season. Sure you lose the vulture TD from Tolbert, but he makes up for that in yardage and volume. This offense was terrible most of this season and I expect them to rebound next year.
- Calvin Johnson- While his performance has decreased from the early season, he has still been dominant most of the year. I believe another year with Stafford, Young, and Pettigrew and with a healthy RB, Calvin could keep a spot as a top WR and a solid round 1 pick.
- Matt Forte- An injury ended his season early, but prior to that he was a top 3 guy. I may be too low on him, but having owned him late in the year helps that. He started hot but tailed off way too much for comfort near the end. His value is based on yardage and volume. The Bears hopefully find a remedy to the lack of WR, and he has another solid year in 2012.
- Marshawn Lynch- Lynch started 2011 slowly but since week 8 he has been absolutely dominant. He has scored every game since week 8 and averaged over 100 yards rushing a game since then. Lynch is still a young and has been dominant before. He will only get better as a young Seahawks team improves.
- Darren McFadden- This ranking assumes to some extent that Michael Bush chooses somewhere else in free agency. Prior to an injury in week 7, McFadden was a top 5 RB. He has not played since that injury and may not play again all season. His performance early in the year showed that he clearly has the talent of a top 5 guy and his injury issues may drop him into the late second round. If, and it is a big if, he ever finishes a season, he may be a top RB.
- Wes Welker- With the emergence of Gronk as the best TE in the league, and some guy named Brady, Welker will most likely finish this season as the top WR. This ranking is more reflective of his targets and catches. Welker has always been a reception monster and, with Gronk emerging, those receptions are going for more yards than previously. Welker seems to have a ceiling since he likely won’t score as many TD as he has this year, but he has first round value because of consistency.