Champions have been crowned. Consolation brackets have been determined. And prize money has been doled out ... hopefully by now. Another season of fantasy football is in the history books and what a campaign it was. It was an exciting and, in a lot of ways, unprecedented season. Here's hoping next season isn't unprecedented for unfortunate reasons.
We've got hardware for an MVP, best sleeper, playoff hero and more. So without further ado, here are the Gatosclub.com fantasy football awards for the 2022 season.
Naming an MVP is tough across different fantasy leagues with different rules and settings. With most leagues allowing for four-point TDs for touchdown passes, I've factored that into my decision. Patrick Mahomes would likely be my MVP in leagues that allow for six-point touchdown passes. He threw for over 5,000 yards and 40 scores through Week 17. But for most leagues, I went with ... drum roll, please ...
Austin Ekeler, RB, L.A. Chargers: Looking at a lot of factors, I had to land on Ekeler, who scored 18 touchdowns this season and came up big for fantasy managers in the all-important Week 17 matchup by rushing for 122 yards and scoring two rushing TDs. He also added four receptions for 39 yards in championship week against the Rams. Ekeler was great all season and didn't produce a single dud week on the way to 1,567 yards from scrimmage through Week 17. He added 103 receptions, a big factor for half-ppr and ppr leagues.
In the running: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers/49ers; Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings; Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
I couldn't decide, so I went with a tie here. One joined a new team while the other wasn't supposed to be the leader at his position.
Christian Kirk, WR, Jaguars: He had a promising season last year with Kyler Murray slinging the ball his way, but he moved to Jacksonville to join second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Kirk was drafted as the 40th wide receiver in most leagues and finished in the top 12 with over 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Lions: Regarding average draft position, Williams was taken as around the 50th running back. He ended up producing top-8 running back numbers, scoring a franchise record 17 touchdowns, all on the ground. DeAndre Swift was supposed to be the biggest playmaker out of the backfield, but injuries hindered his season and Williams benefitted.
In the running: Kenneth Walker, RB, Seahawks; Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs; Zay Jones, WR, Jaguars
Here we'll recognize someone who may not have been good the entire year but helped guide your team to a strong late season and playoff success.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs: McKinnon scored eight touchdowns from Week 13 to Week 17, including two receiving scores during championship week as he caught five passes for 52 yards in that game. Mahomes leaned on the running back as an outlet, throwing seven touchdown passes to the back as they connected 25 times for 274 yards in that span. McKinnon got into the end zone via the run just once in that late-season span. He had more than 50 yards from scrimmage in just two of his first 11 games to go with just one touchdown.
In the running: Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars; Tyler Allgeier, RB, Falcons; Cam Akers, RB, Rams
This was kind of a tough call since I think Garrett Wilson could have easily taken this piece of hardware had the Jets figured out sooner that they have a better chance at winning, gaining yards with Zach Wilson on the bench. I ended up going with Kenneth Walker, who made the most of his opportunity in Seattle.
Kenneth Walker, RB, Seahawks: Injuries opened the door for Walker, who took the ball and ran with it, literally, and found his groove in Week 5. He rushed for nearly 1,000 yards through Week 17 and scored nine times on a surprising Seattle team that made the playoffs.
In the running: Garrett Wilson, WR, Jets; Tyler Allgeier, RB, Falcons; Dameon Pierce, RB, Texans
Fantasy Comeback Player
I'd rather give this award to a player who didn't merely return from injury. I want to give this award to a player that fell off in production but then found a way to reignite their offense. This almost went to Daniel Jones, who recorded career highs in passing yards (3,205), interceptions (just five), rushing yards (708) and rushing touchdowns (7). He even accounted for four touchdowns during championship week. But there was an even bigger rejuvenation.
Geno Smith, QB, Seahawks: He had an unbelievable season, throwing for career highs in touchdown passes (30) and passing yards (4,282) while matching his career high in rushing yards (366). Nobody could see this coming, except for maybe NFL analyst Gregg Rosenthal, as Smith had started regularly since 2014! Pete Carroll
In the running: Daniel Jones, QB, Giants; Jared Goff, QB, Lions; Raheem Mostert, RB, Dolphins
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Running back: Austin Ekeler, Chargers
Running back: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers/49ers
Wide receiver: Justin Jefferson, Vikings
Wide receiver: Tyreek Hill, Dolphins
Wide receiver: Davante Adams, Raiders
Tight end: Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Flex: Jamaal Williams, Lions
Defense/Special Teams: Patriots
Not all of our awards are good ones. The following designations are for the most unfortunate fantasy situations of the season.
Not too complicated. This goes to the player who failed you despite getting drafted high.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons: Yes, he did suffer an injury, but that came after 11 games of action. Only two of those games could be considered useful for fantasy purposes. He finished with a 28-356-2 line. Drake London took some targets away, but Pitts really should have had better production as the assumed top target entering the season.
In the running: Allen Robinson, WR, Rams; Chase Claypool, WR, Steelers; Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
First Half Hero, Second Half Zero
This designation goes to the player who most represents a complete 180 in performance in the wrong direction.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams: Sure, he suffered an injury, but that doesn't take away the fact that you had an amazing player in the first half of the season who didn't contribute anything in the second half. Having him in this spot also just kind of represents how disappointing the defending champions were this season.
In the running: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Chiefs; Marquise Brown, WR, Cardinals; Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles
Thorn in the Side Award
We're giving this "award" to the player who irked a lot of fantasy managers because they didn't have the decency to get out of the way of their obviously more talented, productive teammate.
Damien Harris, RB, Patriots: Rhamondre Stevenson had a great second season, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards and five TDs on the ground while catching 64 passes for 393 yards and another score. Those numbers would have been even better, of course, if Harris didn't have 112 touches, including 12 during championship week. Stevenson had just 10 in that week.
In the running: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys (Tony Pollard); Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns (Nick Chubb); Taysom Hill, TE, Saints (Alvin Kamara, Juwan Johnson)
Most Unprecedented Circumstance
Due to the horrifying medical emergency experienced by Damar Hamlin, we had an NFL game canceled in championship week. Players like Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Stefon Diggs, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon and more had games wiped out in the important week. But the NFL and its fans learned a valuable lesson in perspective. And thankfully Hamlin seems to be on the mend and, honestly, I didn't see a lot of complaining about fantasy in the aftermath as most seemed to be concerned with Hamlin's well-being, first and foremost. Fantasy leagues made do and figured out how to resolve the unprecedented situation. Here's hoping we never go through that type of scary injury again.