Luck’s the Man of Steal
Well fantasy week 13 is over and that means one thing…the playoffs are here!! (Unless of course you play in one of those 14 week leagues which are as natural as Nicki Minaj’s rear end). With the regular season being over this is the perfect time for reflection. This is the perfect time to look back and see where it all went right and where the geniuses really came through. This is the perfect time to dish out some awards.
I like to separate regular season awards into three categories. When evaluating my fantasy season I look back at where it all started….the draft. It’s been said that you can’t win a season in the first few weeks, but you can certainly lose it. Well the same can be said about the draft. A risky pick that turns out to be a stud or a “slam-dunk” pick turns out to doom your team for weeks on end, can make the difference between being the fantasy version of the 1972 Dolphins (the standard of perfection) or being the 2008 Lions (the benchmark for futility). With that being said, here is the first of my three part regular season award presentation in which I like to award the “Steal of the Draft.”
To qualify as a draft steal a player needs to actually be drafted (duh!!). That eliminates players like Alfred Morris, Brandon Myers and just about any kicker (sorry Blair Walsh fans). If you happen to be an owner that drafted one of those guys please email me with the winning power ball numbers for the upcoming drawing by the way. I thought about this one for quite a while. While I did strongly consider RGIII (the top scorer on NFL.com) and Doug Martin (more fantasy points than Ray Rice, a consensus top 2 pick), I kept coming back to Andrew Luck. While Martin has been a stud RB scoring an astounding 219 points in NFL.com leagues and having arguably the best single game this season by any player with his 271 all-purpose yards and 4 TD performance week 9 at Oakland, he did have an average draft ranking of 52.5 and was a beast coming out of Boise State. He was rated about the 19th best RB in the draft. That number hurts Martins case, since most leagues play in a two RB system. This means Martin was drafted by most owners as a starter.
This leaves the top 2 picks from last seasons rookie draft. Most leagues play one QB a week which means you don’t have the luxury of a guy having a bad week and falling back on another QB to pick him up. Now make no mistake, RGIII can flat out ball (and as a NY Giants fan it hurts to say that). Only one of two players with 260+ points, a QB with more rushing yards than Ryan Matthews, Demarco Murray, MJD, Fred Jackson or Darren McFadden (yes, most of those guys had injuries, but the ability to stay healthy has to hold some weight) and only three games with less than 20 fantasy points. The only argument that I saw that hurt Griffin’s case was his average draft ranking of 81.16. That puts him as the 12th rated QB coming into the draft, hence, at least one owner in a standard 12 team league drafted the Heisman winner as their starter. Andrew Luck had an average draft position of 132.16. He is currently the 8th highest scoring QB. While people expected him to be a future stud coming out of Stanford I don’t think anyone envisioned Luck having 5 rushing TDs. That’s more than LeSeasn McCoy, Steven Jackson or Jamal Charles. Luck’s week 13 performance of 30.94 points cant be overlooked either as he may have may have put some owners fighting for their season into the playoffs all by himself.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I love RGIII as a fantasy player. So much so that I actually traded my beloved Eli Manning and A.J. Green for Griffin and Charles down the stretch. I would not put up a huge fight towards anyone considering Griffin the biggest steal. Especially since he has only gotten better down the stretch and has a total of 3 games under 20 points, but after such a successful rookie campaign by Cam Newton last season, some of Griffin’s awesomeness (yes it’s a real word) could have been seen coming since the two men have such similar styles of play.
In the end if was the “Luck” of the draw for anyone fortunate enough to snatch up Luck and have him in their lineup for the playoffs or used him as a trade chip to strengthen their playoff roster.