It’s a relatively large number, no? I’ve written 721 fantasy sports articles since embarking on my writing journey. It’s a rare occasion when I go a day without writing at least something. Fantasy sports have become my life, and in my second season covering fantasy football, I’ve never had more fun.
The 2013 season was an outstanding, memorable season. We saw records shattered (not to mention fantasy teams) and a handful of breakout stars. With Week 17 in the books, I wanted to provide fantasy players with some of my top fantasy storylines from this past season. There were certainly many to choose from, and you can’t go wrong, but the following are the ones that stuck out must to me.
Hat tip to you all. It’s been a blast, folks.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos
I play Madden a lot and yet, I doubt I could post the numbers Manning and company posted on the virtual gridiron.
We could easily be looking at the greatest single-season performance in NFL history. Peyton Manning sported video game numbers in 2013, setting the record for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55). No, that is not a typo. He was undoubtedly the number one quarterback in fantasy land, scoring over 400 points. It got to the point where when Manning posted a fantasy outing somewhere around the ballpark of 22 or 23, fantasy owners were actually upset. Still, according to CBS Sports leagues, almost 20 percent of championship teams owned Manning, so he must have been doing something right. His record-breaking and historic season will result in him likely being drafted in the first round next season, though I strongly disagree.
Meanwhile, the Denver offense as a whole wasn’t too shabby either, no? After scoring 34 points in their win over the Raiders on Sunday, the Broncos became the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, scoring a whopping 606 points over the course of the season.
It’s not fair, I tell you.
Ryan Mathews’ resurgence
We’ve heard it all before. Ryan Mathews broke more collarbones than scored touchdowns last season.
We get it.
And while mostly everyone was terrified to select the injury-ridden Mathews in fantasy drafts this year, those who did take a flier on the Charger back were greatly rewarded. He and quarterback Philip Rivers are candidates for comeback players of the year. Mathews finished as fantasy’s number 11 running back in standard leagues, rushing for 1,255 yards (7th in NFL) and six touchdowns. He was an absolute workhorse for the Chargers, carrying the ball 285 times. Only three backs carried the ball more. He was the first San Diego running back to rush for 1.200 yards since 2007 when (duh) LaDainian Tomlinson did it. In fact, he tied LeSean McCoy with six 100-yard rushing games. That’s the most in the NFL. He’s always been incredibly talented, but ball security and injuries have hindered his productivity at times. Not this season, as Mathews played every game and only put the ball on the ground once all season long.
His incredible bounceback season will have Mathews drafted in the second or third round in 2014. This Bolt has been re-charged. Get it? Because, lightning and electricity and… nevermind.
Welcome to stardom, Nick Foles
Nick Foles bears a striking resemblance to Napolean Dynamite.
I love it, and I love his play.
An undrafted quarterback (in fantasy) was an MVP candidate for many (also in fantasy). In just 10 starts during his sophomore season, Foles tossed a ridiculously efficient 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. Since Week 8, only Peyton Manning has scored more fantasy points, and on the year, Foles’ fantasy points per game is only behind Manning’s. Of course, he’s played a few less games than other signal callers, but according to PFF, he still leads the league in fantasy points per dropback (0.72). He led the NFL in passer rating this season with 119.2 and his 27 touchdowns were more than the likes of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. He was a top-12 fantasy quarterback this season, despite playing six fewer games than any other quarterback ahead of him, and was behind the three players ahead of him by a total of six points.
Look at his week-to-week safety this year.
So that’s seven top-seven fantasy finishes since taking over the starting job. The Chip Kelly offense has been the perfect fit for Foles, the weapons are there for him to succeed, and entering his third season, he’s only going to get better. Foles finished as a top-12 quarterback in just 10 starts this year. I can’t wait to see what he does next season, where he should be regarded as a top-seven fantasy signal caller on draft dau.
Thanks, Foles. Now the quarterback position is even deeper.
Josh Gordon… (need I say more?)
He missed two games, dealt with a trio of inconsistent and banged up quarterbacks, and guess what?
It didn’t matter.
Gordon caught 87 balls, which was the 11th-most in the league, but his impressive 117.6 yards per game (most) helped him finish first in the NFL in receiving. He also scored nine touchdowns. Of course, we all remember his back-to-back 200-yard receiving games, becoming the first player to ever accomplish that feat. Gordon was the number one wide receiver in all of fantasy, scoring 221 points in ESPN standard leagues. He was force-fed the football, being targeted 159 times (7th-most), but was also targeted double-digit times in nine games, including each of his final seven games. According to PFF, Gordon averaged 0.26 fantasy points each time he ran a route, which was the most among all receivers. Gordon was outstanding this year, and will be one of the first three wideouts selected in fantasy drafts next season.
Now imagine if he gets a quarterback…
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.