Fantasy Football Roundtable: 2021 Season Award Winners

Fantasy Football Roundtable: 2021 Season Award Winners

by January 7, 2022 1 comment

In just the blink of an eye, the 2021 fantasy football season has come and gone. Some teams walked away with championships, while others came away with embarrassing punishments as the last-place team. This season saw all kinds of crazy performances, from Cooper Kupp scoring over 400 fantasy points to Antonio Brown leaving the field shirtless during the championship game week. Now that the season is in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look back as five of our fantasy football experts have come together to hand out some awards.

Mike Fanelli, Chris Gallagher, Mason Thompson, Brandon Braasch, and Joey Ricotta contributed to this roundtable. All stats are based on PPR scoring.

Most Valuable Player

Which player was the most valuable in winning fantasy championships?

Mike – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

After starting the season slowly, Taylor exploded over the final 14 weeks of the fantasy season. In those 13 games, he scored at least 18 fantasy points in 12 of them. Furthermore, Taylor scored at least one touchdown in 12 of 16 games during the fantasy season. Taylor had more games this season with two or more touchdowns (five) than games without a touchdown (four). His 22.5 fantasy points per game average this season was the most among all running backs who played at least nine games. He finished the fantasy season with 45.7 more fantasy points than any other running back. At this point, Taylor is the consensus 1.01 pick in 2022 fantasy drafts.

Chris – Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Kupp has put together one of the most historic seasons of all time for a wide receiver in 2021. He quickly developed a connection with Matthew Stafford in his first year in Los Angeles. The 28-year-old is on pace to win the triple crown by leading the league in catches, yards, and touchdowns. The fourth-round fantasy pick averaged 25.8 points per game this season, finishing as the WR1. He averaged more than three fantasy points per game better than any other wide receiver this season, including Davante Adams. The former Eastern Washington star was as consistent as they come, eclipsing 90-yard receiving mark in 10 of 16 games, including a season-high 163 yards in a Week 2 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Mason – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

The second-year player finished as the RB1 this season. Despite all the talk about the Indianapolis offensive line having one of the best in the NFL, they have dealt with missing pieces all year long. Taylor was the best player in fantasy this year. Fantasy owners that took Taylor early in the first round reaped the rewards of his fantastic season.

Brandon – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor was phenomenal all year long and ended the season as the RB1. He started the season slow, totaling only 171 rushing yards over the first three weeks. However, Taylor went on to run for over 100 yards in 10 games this season while adding 18 rushing touchdowns. He will undoubtedly be the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy leagues next year, and deservedly so. Taylor played so well this season that he is in the mix for the NFL MVP award. Given his performance this season, Taylor is undoubtedly the fantasy MVP.

Joey – Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

In his second season in the league, the man went nuclear. Selected near the end of the first round in many PPR drafts, Taylor finished the fantasy season as RB1. Out of non-quarterbacks, Taylor scored the second-most fantasy points and finished with double-digit points in 14 of 16 games. Additionally, Taylor leads the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. No one comes close to him at the running back position regarding DYAR and DVOA. This year, Taylor is head and shoulders above the rest, 320 points greater than the second-best RB in DYAR and 9.5 percent better than the second-best in DVOA. As a top overall draft pick, you couldn’t ask for much more than Taylor provided.

Biggest Bust

Which player do fantasy owners regret drafting the most?

Mike – Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Despite coming off a torn ACL that cost him most of the 2020 season, Barkley was a late first-round fantasy pick in the majority of leagues. However, those you drafted Barkley immediately regretted the decision. He averaged only 11.7 fantasy points per game this fantasy season, making him the RB33 for the year. Furthermore, Barkley scored only 1.2 fantasy points more than Devontae Booker, his backup. Barkley had only four games this season with over 10.5 fantasy points. He also scored under 9.5 fantasy points in half the games this season. While fans remember Barkley’s terrific rookie season, injuries have ruined his career to this point. Unless the Giants make dramatic changes in the offseason, Barkley should be on everyone’s “do not draft” list for next season.

Chris – Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

Robinson was looking to build off two 1,000 yard seasons in a row in Chicago. Expected to be the lead dog for the Bears once again, the 28-year-old could never get going all year long. A hamstring injury and Covid-19 held Robinson to only two games during the year’s final stretch. The former first-round pick averaged just 7.3 PPR points per game this season. He would score double-digit points only twice. Instead, he finished outside the top 65 wide receivers on several occasions. While many fantasy owners drafted him as a low-end WR or high-end WR2, Robinson is on pace to finish with career lows in receptions, targets, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Depending on where Robinson plays next season, fantasy owners would be wise to avoid drafting him in 2022.

Mason – Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

Some around the fantasy community were taking Robinson as their WR1, hoping that Justin Fields would give the Chicago receiver a high-ceiling this year. Unfortunately, his WR83 finish on the season said otherwise. In 11 games, Robinson averaged just over seven fantasy points per game. He seemed like he wanted out of Chicago, which wasn’t surprising. Hopefully, the fantasy owners who drafted him were able to hit on a few mid-round wide receivers to make up for the Robinson.

Brandon – Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

Robinson had by far the worst season of his career. He only scored one touchdown all season and never had a game with more than 68 receiving yards. Robinson currently sits at only 388 yards for the season, which is 114th best in the NFL. For someone who got drafted in the top four rounds and only scored more than 10 points twice, he was a massive bust, not only for fantasy but also for the Bears. After paying him $17.8 million this season, it’s best for everyone involved to part ways this offseason, including his fantasy owners.

Joey – Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

Robinson was supposed to be Chicago’s No. 1 wide receiver, which he’s been each of the first three years with the team. However, he’s been an utter disappointment. While there is plenty of blame to go around in Chicago, Robinson lost his No. 1 role to Darnell Mooney after his play this season. However, Robinson deserves most of the blame after showing a lack of effort all season long, including several poor drops. He was supposed to be a third or fourth-round pick staple. Instead, he finishes with only one touchdown, way back in Week 2. He failed to crack the top 80 wide receivers in PPR scoring this season, finishing behind players like DeAndre Carter and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Best Value Pick

Which player was the best draft day value pick?

Mike – Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

According to FantasyPros ADP, Kupp got drafted as the WR18 on average. However, he went on to have a historical year, averaging 25.8 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Michael Thomas averaged 23.4 fantasy points per game in 2019 when he broke the all-time catch record. Calvin Johnson’s career-high is 22.4 fantasy points per game in 2011, while Randy Moss averaged a career-high 24.1 fantasy points per game with Tom Brady under center in 2007. Meanwhile, Kupp was a weekly cheat code this season as he scored under 16 fantasy points only once. By comparison, Kupp scored 30 or more fantasy points in 25 percent of the games this season. As a fourth-round pick in most drafts, Kupp might be the biggest fantasy value of all time.

Chris – James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Conner inked a one-year deal with the Cardinals in free agency as the team brought him in to split time with Chase Edmonds in the backfield. Handling most of the early-down carries in Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense, the 26-year old has amassed 700 rushing yards on 187 attempts. Furthermore, he has also added in 31 receptions for 334 yards to eclipse the century mark for the season. However, he truly made his mark for owners in the red zone. The former third-round pick is tied for third with Austin Ekeler in touchdowns with 16. He also racked up five games with multiple scores to finish as RB8. When fantasy owners drafted Conner, they hoped to get a consistent flex option. Instead, they got an RB1.

Mason – Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Those that have the strategy of waiting on a quarterback loved what they got from Burrow. With the trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins at his disposal, Burrow finished as the QB6 for the year. Even better is the fact he finished as the QB1 during the playoffs. Burrow’s QB6 finish was higher than those drafted before him, including Stafford, Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray.

Brandon – Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

With an average ADP of WR36 according to FantasyPros, Deebo might have been more valuable than any player this season, including Kupp. Despite getting drafted after his teammate Brandon Aiyuk on average, Deebo finished as the better fantasy asset, averaging 11.1 fantasy points per game more than Aiyuk. His WR3 finish easily smashed his ADP value. After playing him more at running back the past few weeks, the 49ers might have big plans for Deebo in 2022.

Joey – Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Kupp could be mentioned in the MVP category as well. However, Kupp tremendously outperformed his ADP this season. While he wasn’t undrafted or a late-round pick, he wasn’t one of the top 12 wide receivers selected on average either. Kupp finished with the most fantasy points and the highest fantasy points per game average of any position this season. After outperforming his ADP by such a massive amount, Kupp was a league winner the minute he got picked.

Rookie of the Year

Which rookie was the most fantasy impactful?

Mike – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

After some ugly preseason drops, many avoided Chase in their fantasy drafts. However, the fifth-overall pick finished the fantasy season as the WR5, averaging 18.8 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Chase scored 19.5 or more fantasy points in just under half the games this fantasy season. More importantly, he won many fantasy teams the title this year. Over the final two weeks of the fantasy season, he averaged 37.6 fantasy points per game. Chase also had the highest fantasy scoring game this season in Week 17, scoring 55.6 fantasy points in a massive win over the Kansas City Chiefs. While you can make a case for Najee Harris, Mac Jones, and Jaylen Waddle, Chase’s performance in Week 17 makes him the clear Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Chris – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase quickly established himself as one of the most dynamic threats at the wide receiver position across the league. Firmly in the conversation for the best rookie campaign of all time, he has hauled in 79 passes for 1,429 yards and 13 touchdowns. The LSU product finished as WR5, averaging over 18 yards per catch. The 21-year-old also exploded in Week 17 for a season-high 266 receiving yards on 11 receptions while adding in three touchdown scores. His performance helped many owners win their respective leagues as one of the best performances in the game on championship Sunday. The fifth overall pick in April’s draft has electrifying speed at the run after catch abilities to score from anywhere on the field, making him a fantasy football superstar.

Mason – Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Many hated it when the Steelers used their first-round pick on Harris, especially given the shape of the offensive line. However, the addition of Harris was great for fantasy owners. The rookie running back finished as the RB3 this fantasy season, averaging 18.2fantasy points per game. Furthermore, thanks to Ben Roethlisberger‘s declining arm, Harris became a PPR machine, totaling 70 receptions this season, leading all running backs.

Brandon – Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Harris was the first running taken off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. He did not disappoint in his first season for Pittsburgh. Harris was a workhorse back all season, playing most of the snaps in almost every game. He finished as a top-three fantasy running back and will be one of the first few running backs off the board next season.

Joey – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase was sensational this season. So much for the preseason narrative and training camp hype about him struggling with drops and struggling to adjust to NFL footballs. Chase has had a remarkable rookie campaign, racking up 79 catches, 1429 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns. Not to mention, he came through clutch when fantasy owners needed him the most, piling up 18 catches for 391 yards over the final two weeks of the fantasy season. His 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns in Week 17 single-handedly won people their fantasy championship. It was good enough for 55.6 PPR fantasy points, and it helped him finish the season as the WR5.

Top Waiver Wire Add

Which waiver wire player was a league winner?

Mike – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

It’s not how you start, but how you finish. That’s what St. Brown fantasy owners are saying this week after winning fantasy championships. The fourth-round rookie was the only wide receiver the Lions added during the 2021 NFL Draft. While he averaged only 7.6 fantasy points per game over the first 12 weeks this season, St. Brown finished the fantasy season as the WR24, averaging 12.6 fantasy points per game. He finished with more fantasy points than several star wide receivers, including Terry McLaurin, Amari Cooper, and A.J. Brown. More importantly, St. Brown won championships for fantasy owners. During the fantasy playoffs, St. Brown was the WR1, averaging 28.3 fantasy points per game. Fantasy owners who added St. Brown late in the season walked away with a championship.

Chris – Cordarrelle Patterson, RB/WR, Atlanta Falcons

Patterson was primarily thought of as an afterthought in fantasy drafts before the start of the season. However, he quickly became an essential piece of Arthur Smith’s offense in Atlanta. He moved all over the field on offense and took snaps at both running back and wide receiver. This multiple-use role led Patterson to rack up nearly 70 touches over the first five weeks of the season, on route to an RB3 finish over that period. Maintaining his strong performance as the year progressed, Patterson has a career-high 1,154 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Despite cooling down over the final three weeks of the fantasy season, he still finished as RB7 or WR14, making Patterson the top waiver wire add in 2021.

Mason – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

As someone who led the St. Brown hype train in the offseason, his success this year wasn’t a surprise. The receiver was the Lions’ best weapon towards the end of the season, with T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift missing games because of injuries. Not only did St. Brown finish the year as a low-end WR2, but he was the best overall wide receiver during the fantasy playoffs.

Brandon – Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Mitchell, the sixth-round rookie, was projected to be buried fourth on the 49ers depth chart at the beginning of the season. However, he burst onto the scene during the first game of the year. After Raheem Mostert went down early in Week 1, Mitchell ran for 104 yards and a touchdown. Shortly after that, Mitchell was the hottest waiver wire addition this season after Mostert announced he was undergoing season-ending knee surgery. Although banged up for a few games throughout the season, Mitchell averaged 15.6 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, he added a 21 point outing for last week’s fantasy championship, making Mitchell the top waiver add this season.

Joey – Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Patterson had some massive boom weeks, which helped pick up a few victories this year. However, when Mitchell was on the field, he consistently racked up double-digit fantasy points, especially when it mattered most. Patterson was terrific, finishing as RB7. Mitchell finished a lot lower as RB28. Nonetheless, Patterson went missing when the playoffs rolled around. While Mitchell missed time, his backup, Jeff Wilson, filled in well. Furthermore, Patterson averaged 6.6 fantasy points per game during the fantasy playoffs, while Mitchell scored 21 fantasy points in Week 17. As great as Patterson was this season, Mitchell and Wilson were league winners.

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Follow the experts on Twitter

Mike Fanelli – @Mike_NFL2

Chris Gallagher – @ChrisGally06

Mason Thompson – @Thompson22Mason

Brandon Braasch – @brandonbraasch3

Joey Ricotta – @theriot326

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

Mike Fanelli is the Editor in Chief and fantasy football expert for Prime Time Sports Talk since 2018. He is a featured writer for FantasyPros. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_NFL2 and reach out anytime with any fantasy football questions.

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