By: David Connors @DConBlitz
Holy Buckets! This has been an incredible season of football! I cannot remember a season where so many teams were still in contention at this point in the season. In the AFC, only 2 games separate the 1st place team and the 11th place team. The NFC has the opposite problem, no team seems to want to be in the playoffs. Although, it seems the 49ers are grabbing ahold of that 6th seed. And here I sit, moments away from the Chiefs in LA to take on the Chargers for all the marbles in the AFC West.
But we are not here to talk about real football. We are here to talk about fantasy football. Most leagues are heading into round 1 of their playoffs. If you are in, a big congratulations, if not, make sure you are tuning into the Heated Exchange with Jett and Austin each week for all the fantasy advice you need to be a top contender in your league. Also, I want to give a big congratulations to Austin and Jett for getting the 2nd and 4th seed in the Blitz league playoffs. Almost as good as yours truly who sits at the top of that mountain.
So which NFL players helped guide fantasy players to a championship, and which players stole their Christmases. It is time for the Blitzalytics Fantasy Football Chiche Holiday Gift Awards!!
The Jewelry Award
Most years I will spend countless hours looking for a nice, shiny, usually expensive piece of jewelry for my wife. She will open it and excitedly put the shimmery accessory on. And I must say, it looks incredible. I did great. And she will continue to wear it and look awesome the rest of Christmas. At the end of the night, she will take it off and put it in a box with many other lovely pieces of jewelry. And there it will remain for most of the foreseeable future. She will break it out every now and then for special occasions, but those moments are few and far between.
Winner: Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
Terry McLaurin is undeniably a special talent at WR. Unfortunately, he has had an inconsistent season. The Football Team’s offense got hit with an early curveball when they lost starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to a hip injury in week one thrusting Tyler Heinicke into the starting role. McLaurin has teased fantasy managers with his potential, giving them 4 different games over 15 points in half-point per reception scoring. However, every other game he was under 6.5 points. McLaurin has the talent to take over a game but inconsistent play at the QB position had him dragging down rosters most weeks.
The Old Small Box in A Big Box Trick
It’s early December, a huge present appears under the tree and it’s for you. You spend the rest of the Christmas season gleaming with excitement knowing the big present is for you. You even brag a little bit. Look at your sibling and say, “whoa, is that big gift for you, no?!” Then, the big day has arrived, you go straight for the big one. The wrapping is torn off and inside is a cardboard box. You open the box and there is another wrapped present. You tear that one-off, another box with a wrapped present in it. And finally, you open the final box and it’s a pack of raisins and the letter D of the Britannica Encyclopedia that you didn't even realize was missing from the bookshelf…who would?
Winner: Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
For Kyle Pitts to even return value on his draft stock this season, he would have to shatter the rookie Tight End records, and yet, he was still going off the board in the fourth and fifth rounds in most drafts. With that said, he certainly has the potential to garner the draft pick. Pitts is an athletic freak who has all the natural ability to be a difference-maker in the Tight End position for fantasy players. A position that if you have a top player, you can typically have a 5-10 point positional advantage on your opponent. Fantasy owners unwrapped the first present to a quick disappointment from Pitts who barely mustered 5 points in 2 out of the first 3 weeks in half-point scoring. Fantasy owners got a surge of hope partway through the season that maybe there was still a great gift hidden amongst those boxes when Pitts went off in weeks 5 and 6 for 19 and 22 points respectively against the Jets and Dolphins. Nevertheless, Pitts managers have been utterly disappointed since then. Pitts has only averaged under 6 points since then. As we enter week 1 of fantasy playoffs, managers are better off streaming if they can.
The White Elephant Award
A White Elephant is referring to an oft regifted present that is typically large and extravagant by nature. The term “white elephant” originated from the King of Siam, which is now Thailand, giving albino elephants to members of the court he is unhappy with. The upkeep of the animal would sink them therefore the white elephant owner would regift it. The white elephant award goes to a player that fantasy managers have picked up and dropped over and over again. A player who has been gifted and regifted.
Winner: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers.
2nd year WR Brandon Aiyuk ended his rookie season on fire. In 2020, Aiyuk scored at least 14 points in every game he started since week 7. The hype was high on Aiyuk coming into this season. His ADP was somewheres between 50-60 depending on the platform (5th or 6th round). Fantasy managers were disappointed out of the gate as Aiyuk scored 0 and 1 points in weeks 1 and 2 respectively. He managed a TD in week 3. Although, for the next three weeks, he was held under 5 points. Aiyuk was absolutely crushing rosters, so those who drafted him began dropping him. A player with Aiyuk’s potential was never going to stay in the FA market for long. For the next few weeks, managers would scoop him up, be disappointed and drop him themselves. Fortunately, Aiyuk has come alive late in the season. Since week 9 Aiyuk has had double-digit scoring 4 of the 6 weeks. Those disappointed by Aiyuk early probably have stayed clear, but those willing to take the risk have an okay option in 3 WR or multiple flex leagues.
The Socks Award
When I get socks for Christmas, it is never the most glamorous present, it is not the one I am showing off on my socials. With that said, it is the gift that I get the most use out of throughout the year. It is the gift I needed, and it is the gift that is there when I need it. The Sock Award represents reliability and consistency.
Winner: Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Nobody has been more consistent for fantasy lineups than the WR8 in half-point scoring, Diontae Johnson. He is an exceptional route runner who excels in mid-range routes. Ben Rothlisberger leans heavily on Johnson for a quick release to help offset the below-average O-line play. Even when Johnson was held catchless in the first half of the Baltimore Ravens game in week 13, Johnson went on to rip off 8 catches and 2 touchdowns in the second half. Johnson guarantees his fantasy managers double-digit scoring in PPR format, every time he touches the field.
The Grinch Award
The Grinch rode into Whoville and stole Christmas from all the Whos. He packed up the present! The ribbon! The wrapping! The Tags! The Tinsel! The Trimmings! The Trappings! He packed them up on a sled and rode off. So, who has packed up your fantasy hopes and rode off with them?
Winner: Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
Allen Robinson went in the 3rd round in most fantasy leagues, and why wouldn’t he? He had 205.9 and 211.9 in half-point formats in 2019 and 2020 respectively. He has been one of the most consistent players. Robinson has not put up double digits in half-point formats in 2021. Unfortunately, fantasy managers who spent the capital on him were reluctantly still putting him in their lineups and getting burned week after week. Whether it is the passing game situation, or perhaps Robinson’s heart just is not into it this season, he has not been the same player this season. Somehow, he is still clogging a roster spot in 50% of leagues on ESPN and Yahoo. Robinson cost us an early pick, and because he has not been hurt, he has been played.
The Microsoft Zune
I remember when I was in High School, all the cool kids had iPods that they could all pull out of their pockets with the headphones perfectly wrapped around them. They would glide their fingers around that circle thing to scroll through their favorite songs. It was the only thing I asked for Christmas that year. On Christmas morning, I saw the little square box. I could barely hold back my excitement. I threw back my breakfast while staring at the small gift in gold wrapping paper. When it was time to open presents, I tore the paper at breakneck speed. I felt my heart in my throat when I realized I had to settle for the off-brand Microsoft Zune. My parents said, “it's the same thing.'' The fact is, it was the same thing. It held my music and it was a fantastic gift, maybe even better than the iPod. This award goes to the player who managers settled for, but has been just as good as the player that went before him.
Winner: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
News out of the Colts preseason was grim. Quarterback, Carson Wents, and All-Pro Left Guard, Quenton Nelson, both go down with devastating foot injuries that could have them both out until midseason. Fantasy Managers were fading Taylor. He was going in the back of the 1st round and even early 2nd with the news. Taylor has returned that value and some as the RB1 on the season. He leads the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He has been consistently scoring over 14 points in half-point per reception scoring in every game except 2. He has even won players some weeks with over 20 points in 6 different weeks including a 50 point game against the Bills in week 11. While other managers were reaching for McCaffery or Barkley, Taylor owners sat back and got to utilize their early 2nd pick.
The SHHH, Santa! Award
Shh, Santa is a very special present I got from my grandparents when I was 6. My grandparents lived several states away and we only got to see them once a year during Thanksgiving. When I first got the book, I did not think much of it. I read it, I liked it and then left it on the bookshelf for a year. Then every Christmas thereafter, I would pull the book off and read it and appreciate it more and more each year as a reminder of my wonderful grandparents. Now that my grandfather has passed on, the book is a cherished item that I still get out and give it a quick read. It never fails to get me a little misty-eyed. The Shh, Santa Award goes to a player who was drafted and did not do much for your team to start the season. However, as the year progressed, he began to shine and become a stud.
Winner: George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle had been inconsistent throughout the early parts of the season, and missed weeks 5-8 due to injury. Since coming back Kittle has gotten better and these past two weeks he has put fantasy managers on his back and carried them through the last 2 weeks of the regular season in most fantasy leagues with 35.1 and 27.6 points in half-point formats. He is looking like a key part of the 49ers offense and could continue to carry managers to championships if he continues to put up these mind-blowing stats. Considering how great of a blocker Kittle is for the 49ers offense, there is an argument to be made that Kittle is the best non-quarterback offensive player in the league.
The Newest Game Console Award
This is the gift that makes people lose their minds. We have all seen the video of the kid opening an N64 and screaming. In my time, it was the PS2 and for my kid, it was his Nintendo Switch. This is simply the best present, the MVP, the present that absolutely wins the holidays.
Winner: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
How could it not be Cooper Kupp? What he is doing is record-breaking! He is averaging over 106 yards a game and has 12 touchdowns on the season. His points per game in half-point is the most in the NFL by a WR with the exception of Jerry Rice. If you have Cooper Kupp on your roster and you are not in your fantasy playoffs, shame on you. Kupp leads the entire league in fantasy scoring. The next closest is Justin Herbert with 5.7 points less than Kupp. For anyone who is new to fantasy, a WR leading the league in points has not happened since Jerry Rice in 1985 back when fantasy scores were kept on cave walls. This is a no-brainer.