Can you believe Week 17 of the NFL season is upon us? I can’t.
The weather outside sure feels like Week 17 weather, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was among a few staff members making preseason NFL predictions both in The Forum and on this blog.
And heading into the final week of the regular season, I find my favorite childhood team the Chicago Bears fighting the Minnesota Vikings and others for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. I gotta admit: I didn’t see that coming.
Let’s first revisit some of my NFL picks:
- I’m in pretty good shape to get half of the NFL’s division winners correct, which isn’t bad when you consider the way parity rules the NFL. New England, Houston and Green Bay have all clinched their divisions, and I had San Francisco winning the NFC West, which it leads by a half-game.
- What went wrong in my division picks? Well, I underestimated Peyton Manning and the Broncos. And I underestimated the impact that all of the suspensions would have on the New Orleans Saints, who I picked to win the NFC South over Atlanta. Also had the NY Giants and Pittsburgh winning divisions. In my defense, I did have actual division winners Denver, Baltimore and Atlanta all as wild-card picks. So in all likeihood, the only division champ in the NFL that I didn’t have in the playoffs in the preseason is Washington, and even that division is up in the air.
- Myself, Andrew Gottenborg (Twitter: https://twitter.com/awg316) and Michael Smith (Twitter: https://twitter.com/Smithmi) also picked MVP winners in The Forum before the season. Our picks, respectively, were Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Quarterback is the smart way to go considering how QBs have dominated the award in recent years. But I’d be surprised if any of us are correct with those picks.
- Our Super Bowl picks were Patriots over Packers (me), Packers over Texans (Andrew) and Packers over Patriots (Michael). We are all in good shape there.
And finally, I’ve made a point to annually write some sort of fantasy football prediction blog post.
I fared pretty well this year with my two teams. In my league (the league I live and die with), my team managed only a 5-8 record despite ranking third in scoring among 16 teams. What can you do? I can control my team, but not my opponent’s.
Fortunately, I have C.J. Spiller and Alfred Morris as potential keepers for next season at very team-friendly costs, with Colin Kaepernick, Knowshon Moreno and Reggie Wayne also worth considering in the two-keeper league format. Combine that with the No. 4 overall pick due to my team’s performance, and there’s hope for 2013.
I won the other league I played in, a 10-team league that saw my first three draft picks (Calvin Johnson, Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Marshall) pay huge dividends. Who would have thought a team with Reggie Bush as its No. 1 running back and waiver-wire specials as the No. 2 RB would go 11-1 and win a title?
Here’s what turned out pretty well from my preseason fantasy column:
- Josh Freeman. I was expecting a big bounce-back year from the Tampa Bay Bucs QB, who got a big boost in the offseason with his team’s additions of RB Doug Martin, WR Vincent Jackson and OL Carl Nicks. Freeman is the 13th-best QB in fantasy. Drafted him in both leagues I was in, snagging him in my 16-team league in Round 12. From that standpoint, he provided tremendous value at a time when many owners are taking kickers.
- Russell Wilson. Drafted him in one of two leagues. He ranks 12th in my league in fantasy scoring at QB, which again is pretty impressive when you consider that he was completely undrafted in my 16-team league. But that league drafted before he was named the starter over Matt Flynn.
And now, for the not-so-great picks:
- Where to begin? Well, I expected a lot more from Ben Tate, who nearly ran for 1,000 yards last season as a backup to Arian Foster. Injuries did nothing to help him at the very least replicate his 2011 season. I still see plenty of talent in Tate, but the opportunity never materialized. Foster stayed healthy all season long.
- I had another misstep at running back in Ryan Williams, who at one point did take over as the Arizona Cardinals primary ballcarrier before suffering another season-ending injury in his short career. I was betting against Beanie Wells when I should have been betting against the Arizona Cardinals in general.
Pretty much a mixed bag of predictions. I’d argue that Steve Smith and Justin Blackmon were solid enough players even if they didn’t meet my expectations.
And I’m still convinced Aaron Hernandez was going to do big things if he hadn’t gotten hurt in Week 2. Hernandez has managed to rank 16th among tight ends in scoring despite playing in barely more than half of his team’s games. I won’t shy away from taking Hernandez next season.