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Published: Feb. 24, 2017 at 05:26 p.m.

2017 Fantasy Football Academy Awards

You know what America needs? More awards shows. Yes, I know we already have the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes, Billboard, iHeartRadio, Kids Choice, People's Choice, AMAs, CMAs, WGAs and SAG awards. And that's before you get to the NFL Fantasy LIVE Awards, The Guru Awards or even the MGs. Still, there's plenty of fantasy football love that could and should be spread around. So here we are with another edition of our second annual Fantasy Football Academy Awards. Actually, I don't really know if it's the second. But we did it last year. And we're doing it again this year. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The good news about this awards show is that there won't be any long, rambling speeches interrupted by soaring orchestral music. The bad news is that there won't be any crowd shots of Beyoncé. Let's start the show.

11 Photos Total

  • This was a pretty competitive category considering the number of rookies who made a fantasy impact this season. Many insiders thought that Elliott might get edged out after splitting the vote with teammate Dak Prescott, but it appears that the voters took into account a player who immediately became a bell-cow runner -- something that's becoming increasingly rare across fantasy football. But really, there were no losers here and it was truly an honor for all to be nominated.
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Dak Prescott, Jordan Howard, Michael Thomas </em> 11

    Ryan Kang/NFL

    Best New Performer -- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    This was a pretty competitive category considering the number of rookies who made a fantasy impact this season. Many insiders thought that Elliott might get edged out after splitting the vote with teammate Dak Prescott, but it appears that the voters took into account a player who immediately became a bell-cow runner -- something that's becoming increasingly rare across fantasy football. But really, there were no losers here and it was truly an honor for all to be nominated.

    Other nominees: Dak Prescott, Jordan Howard, Michael Thomas

  • I might have launched my own <a href="https://twitter.com/MarcasG/status/812812160808022017" target="_blank">season-long promotional campaign</a> to help make this happen. But it was Johnson himself who put in the work to make it a reality. There are really no sure things in fantasy, but DJ in 2016 was as close as we've come in a long time. In an era where running backs generally don't compete with quarterbacks for the top of the fantasy scoring charts, Johnson was fourth overall. #NoMatterWhat
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, LeGarrette Blount</em> 10

    John Cordes/Associated Press

    Best Featured RB -- David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

    I might have launched my own season-long promotional campaign to help make this happen. But it was Johnson himself who put in the work to make it a reality. There are really no sure things in fantasy, but DJ in 2016 was as close as we've come in a long time. In an era where running backs generally don't compete with quarterbacks for the top of the fantasy scoring charts, Johnson was fourth overall. #NoMatterWhat

    Other nominees: Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, LeGarrette Blount

  • If we're going to celebrate bell-cow runners, we need to acknowledge the guys who were the strongest links in their committee chain last season. In that regard, Coleman was a runaway (heh!) winner. In the preseason, there was plenty of consternation over how the Falcons would use both Coleman and Devonta Freeman. Turns out there was no need to worry at all. If only all committees could be so efficient. Corporate America, meet Kyle Shanahan!
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Bilal Powell, Darren Sproles, James White</em> 9

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    RB in a Supporting Role -- Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

    If we're going to celebrate bell-cow runners, we need to acknowledge the guys who were the strongest links in their committee chain last season. In that regard, Coleman was a runaway (heh!) winner. In the preseason, there was plenty of consternation over how the Falcons would use both Coleman and Devonta Freeman. Turns out there was no need to worry at all. If only all committees could be so efficient. Corporate America, meet Kyle Shanahan!

    Other nominees: Bilal Powell, Darren Sproles, James White

  • One was destined for fantasy stardom from the beginning. The other was a revelation brought on by misfortune. Yet the pair combined to not only help the Cowboys to the playoffs, but plenty of fantasy managers as well. There's reason to believe that both of these players are going to be studs for a long time. It's just going to get a little harder to pair them up on fantasy rosters next season.
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Aaron Rodgers/Jordy Nelson, Matt Ryan/Julio Jones, Le'Veon Bell/Antonio Brown</em> 8

    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Pre

    Best Fantasy Duo -- Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    One was destined for fantasy stardom from the beginning. The other was a revelation brought on by misfortune. Yet the pair combined to not only help the Cowboys to the playoffs, but plenty of fantasy managers as well. There's reason to believe that both of these players are going to be studs for a long time. It's just going to get a little harder to pair them up on fantasy rosters next season.

    Other nominees: Aaron Rodgers/Jordy Nelson, Matt Ryan/Julio Jones, Le'Veon Bell/Antonio Brown

  • The greatest trick Bortles pulled was landing as the QB9 at the end of the season. There's no way around it ... 2016 was a brutal campaign for the Jaguars quarterback coming off a year when he'd earned a lot of intrigue in fantasy circles. In seven different weeks, Bortles scored fewer than 15 fantasy points. Through it all, he finished ahead of Derek Carr, Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers (among others). This has been another edition of "Fantasy Football vs. Reality."
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Mark Ingram, Jay Ajayi, Antonio Gates</em> 7

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Best Fantasy Visual Effects -- Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    The greatest trick Bortles pulled was landing as the QB9 at the end of the season. There's no way around it ... 2016 was a brutal campaign for the Jaguars quarterback coming off a year when he'd earned a lot of intrigue in fantasy circles. In seven different weeks, Bortles scored fewer than 15 fantasy points. Through it all, he finished ahead of Derek Carr, Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers (among others). This has been another edition of "Fantasy Football vs. Reality."

    Other nominees: Mark Ingram, Jay Ajayi, Antonio Gates

  • Despite a strong showing from Blake Bortles in an effort to repeat last year's win, it was the future Hall of Famer taking home the honor in 2017. If you're looking to pinpoint the moment when Brees locked up the award, look no further than Weeks 13 and 14 when the Saints quarterback threw a combined six interceptions without a single touchdown. Then he came back to throw five touchdowns without a pick in the next two games. Brees finished the year third in scoring strikes but fifth in picks and was the very definition of "two steps forward, one step back." So ... congratulations?
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Blake Bortles, Andrew Luck, Kirk Cousins</em> 6

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Marc Bulger Award for Achievement in Fantasy Quarterbacking -- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    Despite a strong showing from Blake Bortles in an effort to repeat last year's win, it was the future Hall of Famer taking home the honor in 2017. If you're looking to pinpoint the moment when Brees locked up the award, look no further than Weeks 13 and 14 when the Saints quarterback threw a combined six interceptions without a single touchdown. Then he came back to throw five touchdowns without a pick in the next two games. Brees finished the year third in scoring strikes but fifth in picks and was the very definition of "two steps forward, one step back." So ... congratulations?

    Other nominees: Blake Bortles, Andrew Luck, Kirk Cousins

  • A number of technical awards were handed out at an earlier ceremony. Among them was an award for Best Kicker, going to a player who made 56-of-57 extra points while drilling nearly 92 percent of his field goal attempts. And if you're into weird non-sequiturs, Bryant would have been the eighth-best fantasy receiver. Um, yeah. Anyway, kickers are people, too. So here you go, Matt Bryant.
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Justin Tucker ... and um, that's it.</em> 5

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Best Kicker -- Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons

    A number of technical awards were handed out at an earlier ceremony. Among them was an award for Best Kicker, going to a player who made 56-of-57 extra points while drilling nearly 92 percent of his field goal attempts. And if you're into weird non-sequiturs, Bryant would have been the eighth-best fantasy receiver. Um, yeah. Anyway, kickers are people, too. So here you go, Matt Bryant.

    Other nominees: Justin Tucker ... and um, that's it.

  • This was pretty much a no-brainer. At times, Kansas City's defense was its best hope at scoring. The unit responded with eight total touchdowns, a safety and a defensive two-point conversion. The explosion from Tyreek Hill in 2016 had a lot to do with it, but it was overall an opportunistic group. Turnovers and scores are what make a fantasy defense successful and the Chiefs had those in abundance.
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins</em> 4

    G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Pr

    Best offensive defense -- Kansas City Chiefs

    This was pretty much a no-brainer. At times, Kansas City's defense was its best hope at scoring. The unit responded with eight total touchdowns, a safety and a defensive two-point conversion. The explosion from Tyreek Hill in 2016 had a lot to do with it, but it was overall an opportunistic group. Turnovers and scores are what make a fantasy defense successful and the Chiefs had those in abundance.

    Other nominees: Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins

  • This award goes to the player who shows up big in the final weeks of the season, inspiring confidence that next year will finally the "The Year" only to once again frustrate and disappoint fantasy owners. Was there really any other viable choice than Zach Ertz? No. No there was not.
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<em><strong>Other nominees:</strong> Zach Ertz, Zach Ertz, Zach Ertz</em> 3

    Al Tielemans/Associated Press

    Zach Ertz Award -- Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

    This award goes to the player who shows up big in the final weeks of the season, inspiring confidence that next year will finally the "The Year" only to once again frustrate and disappoint fantasy owners. Was there really any other viable choice than Zach Ertz? No. No there was not.

    Other nominees: Zach Ertz, Zach Ertz, Zach Ertz

  • Michael Vick in his prime was a fantasy football cheat code. There are plenty of times that people talk about an athlete "changing the game," but Vick really did embody that with his ability to devastate defenses as a passer and a runner. At his best, he was perennially a top-10 fantasy quarterback culminating with his 2010 campaign where he topped the leaderboard despite playing just 12 games. Now that he's announced his retirement from football, we welcome him among the immortals of fantasy. 2

    Jim Mahoney/Assoicated Press

    LaDainian Tomlinson Award for Lifetime Fantasy Achievement -- Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons/Philadelphia Eagles

    Michael Vick in his prime was a fantasy football cheat code. There are plenty of times that people talk about an athlete "changing the game," but Vick really did embody that with his ability to devastate defenses as a passer and a runner. At his best, he was perennially a top-10 fantasy quarterback culminating with his 2010 campaign where he topped the leaderboard despite playing just 12 games. Now that he's announced his retirement from football, we welcome him among the immortals of fantasy.

  • The Falcons went from being a middle-of-the-road fantasy outfit to arguably the most high-powered group in the league. Matt Ryan looked comfortable after another year in Shanahan's system while adding pieces like Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel took pressure off of Julio Jones. All the while, Atlanta found a way to seamlessly integrate both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. This gave fantasy managers a plethora of productive weapons to add to their rosters. We can only hope Shanahan works the same magic with the 49ers. 1

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Best Fantasy Direction -- Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons

    The Falcons went from being a middle-of-the-road fantasy outfit to arguably the most high-powered group in the league. Matt Ryan looked comfortable after another year in Shanahan's system while adding pieces like Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel took pressure off of Julio Jones. All the while, Atlanta found a way to seamlessly integrate both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. This gave fantasy managers a plethora of productive weapons to add to their rosters. We can only hope Shanahan works the same magic with the 49ers.