Holiday 2013: The Fantasy Year That Was

Scott Pianowski
December 24, 2013
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Late December is a natural time to take stock of the past 12 months, and your Yahooligan friends are suckers for that very convention. In today's collaborative piece, I asked for a handful of year-end opinions from my esteemed colleagues. Below you'll find our patchwork quilt, just in time for your Christmas Eve approval. Imagine we delivered this year-end wrap straight to your mailbox, complete with a few grip-and-grin photos (that Evans, what a cutup).

Play along with the Mad Lib in the comments, share your answers. Leave a footprint, gamers.

This is how 2013 went for us on the fake fields, courts and sandlots - the memories that stick with us. Have a look at our Holiday Card:

My New Best Friend

-- Alshon Jeffery: Announcers have called him "Jefferies" all year, as if he were Gregg's kid. But whatever. As both a Bears fan and a fantasy owner, I'm thrilled to have Jeffery and Brandon Marshall as bookend receivers in Coach Trestman's system. - Andy Behrens

-- Josh Gordon: He was my fantasy team's pack mule down the stretch. His run from Week 11 through Week 14 is the stuff of PPR legend. I'll be all over this guy in Round 2 of '14 drafts, if he even lasts that long. - Brandon Funston

-- Zac Stacy: Next to Le’Veon Bell and Gio Bernard, the Vanderbilt product was my favorite RB in April’s draft class. Stocky, elusive and well-rounded, he finished top-12 among RBs in per game average over the final seven weeks. Because Stacy has minimal competition for touches, I have a feeling we’ll all be drinking from the rolling beer keg for years to come. - Brad Evans

-- Eddie Lacy: I drafted him in the third round in many of my leagues this year, and a part of me cried when he was unable to finish the fantasy Super Bowl after leaving with an injury because I wouldn't have been there without him. Lacy somehow remained an extremely valuable fantasy back despite the loss of Aaron Rodgers in a year in which so many RBs were busts. I'll happily draft him in the first round next year. - Dalton Del Don

-- Hisashi Iwakuma & Yu Darvish: The two Japanese righties became appointment television for me, rarely a letdown. With Darvish, the draw was simple - you knew he might flirt with a no-hitter (and/or strike out some silly number of batters) at any time. Iwakuma is more of a slow burn, but I love watching a pitcher who can basically throw the ball anywhere he wants. The spreadsheet backs up Iwakuma; he led AL pitchers in rWAR. - Scott Pianowski

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My Dear Old Friend

-- David Ortiz: He's 38 years old and only qualified as designated hitter, but he finished as the No. 17 fantasy baseball player regardless. Big Papi continues to defy expectations, logic and his ADP. - Del Don

-- Raul Ibanez: The story ran out of steam in the second half, but when a 40-something clocks 24 homers over 73 games (.578 slugging), I'm going to tip my cap. The astounding Ibanez has more homers from his 40s than he collected in his 20s. - Pianowski

-- Koji Uehara: I scored the 38-year old reliever in the reserve round of the AL LABR draft, figuring that he could help keep the ratios in check while also, perhaps, vulturing a few saves out of the Boston 'pen. He ended up doing much more than that, arguably finishing as the best fantasy closer in the AL with 21 saves, 101 K and a 1.09 ERA. - Funston

-- Tim Duncan: At age 36, he gave us year-to-year spikes in points, boards, assists and shooting percentage, and he was blocking shots like it was 1999. Oh, and he shot a career-best 81.7 percent from the line, too. - Behrens

-- Ryan Mathews: Yes, yes, the 26-year-old probably still gets carded when purchasing liquor, but almost everyone wrote him off preseason, disdain which plummeted his stock in August drafts. However, the resurgent back turned on the afterburners midseason, realizing his RB2 promise. His 14.9 fantasy points per game from Week 10 on ranked No. 5 among rushers. Despite the turnaround, many in Fantasyland will remain vehement in their distrust. Get over it. - Evans

Memorable City Visit

-- Chicago: Marc Trestman’s mixed clichés and strange news conferences were laughable at times, but the Bears’ offense was no joke. Turning the tables on a franchise historically known for its bruising defense, the high-flying Bears attack was must-see TV, no matter if Jay Cutler or Josh McCown was under center. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett comprise arguably the best arsenal in the NFC. - Evans

-- New Orleans: Entering Week 16, the Saints were averaging 32.9 points per game at home, but just 18.4 everywhere else. So they're basically the Broncos when in the dome, the Bucs on the road. - Behrens

-- Seattle: Russell Wilson lost at home for the first time in his career Sunday. Despite the setback, his current splits still look like this: Home = 8.8 YPA, 30:7 TD:INT ratio. Road = 7.6 YPA, 21:12 TD:INT ratio. He's good everywhere, but the difference in venue is extreme when it comes to Seattle, and I say this as a terrified Niners fan. - Del Don

-- Denver: Come for the free-flowing runs (and the swanky summer rentals), stay for the endless touchdowns. Peyton Manning posted the best passing season we've ever seen, and his offense made fantasy stars out of five different skill players (with all of them scoring ten times or more). The Broncos posted 72 touchdowns through 15 games, which is 22 clear of second place. Absurd. Denver had the first and last word in the 2013 regular season. - Pianowski

-- Minneapolis: From a fantasy standpoint, few places were more accommodating than the teams from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Vikings managed to finish among the top 10 most generous in fantasy to the QB, RB, WR and TE positions, while there offense was also among the 10 most generous to opposing defenses. And then there was the Twins' offense that finished with the sixth-fewest runs in MLB in '13, always a go-to option for streaming starting pitchers. - Funston

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Downer of the Year

-- The Redskins: I wasn't rooting for or against Washington to begin the year - I'm really just an observer of the league, anyway - but it was downright depressing to see how the Robert Griffin/Mike Shanahan/Daniel Snyder mess played out. And to make fantasy owners even more nauseous, the Shanahans did all they could to steer touchdowns away from Washington's splendid sophomore running back, Alfred Morris. - Pianowski

-- Doug Martin: Some overly boisterous jackass with wide runways on his dome seen regularly on Yahoo Sports ranked Dougie Fresh No. 1. Yes, ahead of Adrian Peterson. Injury aside, the Muscle Hamster was caged when healthy, barely yielding a FLEX-worthy value in 12-team leagues. Despite the egg-on-face, I will gladly take the discount next draft season. Bobby Rainey or Mike James may spell him at times, but I fully expect a nice bounce-back campaign for one of 2012’s finest rookies. - Evans

-- Stevan Ridley: I invested heavily in Ridley this summer, thinking he was a top 6 running back for something less than a top 12 RB price. Of course, a fumble in Week 1 (and Weeks 9, 11 and 12) laid waste to all those get-rich plans. - Funston

-- Aaron Rodgers: He's probably the best player in football, so despite me not owning him on any of my fantasy teams, this was a big blow to the sport that was frustrating to watch. - Del Don

-- Derrick Rose: Obvious reasons. Please, don't make me discuss. WE SHALL SPEAK NO MORE OF THIS. NEW TOPIC! - Behrens

Beverage-Influenced Resolution For 2014

-- Old habits are hard to break, but that's what resolutions are for. With that in mind, it's time for me to retire the history card as an occassional analysis/advice tool. As in "Darren Sproles caught 13 passes against Carolina in Week 2 of '12," as if that is meaningful to the hear and now - it wasn't, by the way, as Sproles caught just three passes in each of his two meetings with Carolina in '13. Especially in the NFL with its adapt or die mentality, what you did against an opponent even a few weeks ago is really a moot point, let alone what they did against them last year. So, the history card becomes history in '14. - Funston

-- If I ever again use the term "contract-year" as if it's a positive, please head straight to comments and remind me of the magical seasons just delivered by Darren McFadden and Hakeem Nicks. I will immediately chug my Leinie's. - Behrens

-- Though I wasn’t on the David Wilson or Montee Ball bandwagons, their early-season ineptitude hardened my stance young rushers who struggle with pass-blocking will never be a member of Team Huevos. Ever. I don’t care how talented they are. An inflated price tag spiked with added risk is a very unappealing fantasy beverage. - Evans

-- I'm finished with the adage that you should only take hitters early in fantasy baseball. You will think I'm drunk on Country Club (at least more than usual) when you see how I draft in 2014. - Del Don

-- I'm going to watch more soccer, drink more whiskey, and play more bingos in 2014. I'm also going to give daily fantasy a spin (I hear you, Stopes), and I'll try to be nicer to Troy Aikman. - Pianowski