Brady, Foster headline 2010 fantasy season awards

In fantasy football, it's all about the numbers, or so some would have you believe.

This is particularly the case when it comes to the annual distribution of awards. It's a no-brainer: You score the most points, you get the award.

This helps explain why, as the results start trickling in, Michael Vick is the consensus choice for the All-Fantasy quarterback in 2010. He was, after all, the leading scorer not only among quarterbacks but all players this fantasy season.

The choice is hard to argue ... unless you love arguing, and I do. Especially when I can make a good case.

In my opinion, there's more to being the top fantasy performer at a given position than merely being the highest scorer. In my book, you have to post good numbers against a tough schedule. As has been the case in all my columns this season, I will use the schedule to help identify the best and worst of the 2010 season.

Here's a position-by-position look at how the strength of schedule influenced the true winners and losers.

Quarterbacks

Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady, Patriots. Vick outscored him in most leagues. Heck, Aaron Rodgers did, too. But Brady's schedule ranked as the fourth-toughest to pass against -- more than 50 percent tougher than Vick's. In other words, Brady could have posted 2008-type numbers against Vick's schedule. Simply stated, he had the better season.

Biggest Surprise: Josh Freeman, Buccaneers. He came out of nowhere to rank seventh in my scoring system behind Vick and five players drafted in the first four rounds. Vick could have won this award, too. But Freeman played a much tougher schedule and, as opposed to Vick, nobody knew the young Buc could be this good, this fast.

Biggest Disappointment: Donovan McNabb, Redskins. Again, on numbers alone, the choice would have been someone else -- a very deserving Brett Favre. But only the Colts and Titans faced easier schedules to pass against than the Redskins, something Rex Grossman took advantage of to a far greater extent than McNabb.

Most Crippling Injury: Tony Romo, Cowboys. This one's easy. Romo had a nice thing going, then wound up missing a majority of a schedule that turned out to be the 14th-easiest. Here's hoping Freeman was your backup.

All-Fantasy Team: 1. Brady, Patriots; 2. Vick, Eagles; 3. Rodgers, Packers.

Running Backs

Most Valuable Player: Arian Foster, Texans. Peyton Hillis tackled a tougher schedule to run against (26th vs. the Texans' 15th), but Foster was so much better. Even if I were to give Hillis bonus points, it won't be enough to allow him to catch up. Hillis was only third in my scoring system, also trailing Adrian Peterson.

Biggest Surprise: Peyton Hillis, Browns. He gets the edge here because Ben Tate's injury in the preseason opened many fantasy owners' eyes to the fact Foster could be a nice sleeper. There was no such tip on Hillis, who was an opening-day backup who was also shackled by one of the league's worst starting quarterbacks.

Biggest Disappointment: Ryan Mathews, Chargers. Here's the problem with making these picks with one generally meaningless week left in the season: Mathews could very well be sitting on his best performance of the year, which could vault him out of this category. But for now, the rookie with high expectations and the third-softest schedule wound up being pretty much useless in all leagues.

Most Crippling Injury: Frank Gore, 49ers. Tough call here between two guys drafted to be franchise backs -- Gore and DeAngelo Williams. The difference? Gore missed out on an opportunity to finish strong against the sixth-weakest fantasy schedule. The Panthers' tough schedule (27th), meanwhile, is probably what wore Williams down more than anything.

All-Fantasy Team: 1, Foster, Texans; Hillis, Browns; 2. Peterson, Vikings; LeSean McCoy, Eagles; 3. Darren McFadden, Raiders; Ray Rice, Ravens.

Wide Receivers

Most Valuable Player: Roddy White, Falcons. Very little separated the top five in terms of production, so this comes right down to the schedule. And nobody faced a tougher collection of pass defenses than White, who wound up a close fifth on my receivers' points list behind Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Lloyd, Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson.

Biggest Surprise: Steve Johnson, Bills. As usual, many wideouts came out of the lower rounds or off the waiver wire to be fantasy starters, but no numbers surprised me than those of Johnson. The up-and-comer ranked 10th on my list despite the 21st-toughest schedule and all the usual problems associated with playing in Buffalo.

Biggest Disappointment: Randy Moss, Patriots/Vikings/Titans. I must admit, I gave the former fantasy standout three chances this season. When I didn't get him in the draft, I tried acquiring him immediately after both of his moves, including late in the season when he joined the Titans and their second-easiest pass schedule. I swung and missed at all three acquisitions, which in this case proved to be a good thing.

Most Crippling Injury: Steve Smith, Giants. I have to say, there really wasn't that one killer injury at the wideout position this season. That said, losing Smith even for just a short period of time against fantasy's fifth-easiest pass schedule had a negative impact for many owners.

All-Fantasy Team: 1. White, Falcons; Calvin Johnson, Lions; 2. Mike Wallace, Steelers; Jennings, Packers; 3. Bowe, Chiefs; Lloyd, Broncos.

Tight Ends

Most Valuable Player: Jason Witten, Cowboys. Three tight ends separated themselves from one of the deepest talent pools in fantasy history -- Witten, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis. And while the 49ers (24th) faced a stiffer pass schedule than the Cowboys (14th) and Chargers (fourth), I've got to follow the flock here and reward the biggest point producer.

Biggest Surprise: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots. Brady is so good, he often turns marginal talents into fantasy prospects. And that's exactly what he appeared to be doing with rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez early on in the season. But then that other Patriots rookie, Gronkowski, exploded against a tough schedule, capped by a monster effort during fantasy championship week against the Bills.

Biggest Disappointment: Owen Daniels, Texans. Everyone knew he was coming off major surgery, but reports suggested he would be up to speed early in the season. But clearly, he wasn't. Now here's the most frustrating part: His best game came in Week 16, just when you could have used him while going for the championship. But by then, you probably had waived or benched him. The Texans' schedule (No. 8 vs. the pass) certainly was ripe for the picking.

Most Crippling Injury: Jermichael Finley, Packers. It's no coincidence Jennings wound up as one of the most productive wideouts this season, because he got all the targets that would have gone to Finley in the second half of the season. All-Fantasy Team: 1. Witten, Cowboys; 2. Davis, 49ers; 3. Gates, Chargers.

Kickers

Most Valuable Player: Dan Carpenter, Dolphins. The Dolphins' schedule was a killer this season. You don't believe me? Check out the numbers for Ronnie Brown and Brandon Marshall. Actually, all those times they were denied the end zone benefitted Carpenter, who was a field goal-kicking machine.

Biggest Surprise: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders. If you play in one of those leagues that rewards long field goals, I sure hope you had Janikowski in your championship game last week. Are you kidding me? He made field goals from 38, 45, 51 and 59 yards. Unbelievable.

Biggest Disappointment: Ryan Longwell, Vikings. Actually, the biggest disappointment was YOU if you drafted a kicker anytime before the last round. Look at this year's scoring leaders: Janikowski, David Akers, Matt Bryant, Josh Brown and Carpenter.

Most Crippling Injury: Nate Kaeding, Chargers. Serves you right for having drafted him too early in the first place!

All-Fantasy Team: 1. Carpenter, Dolphins; 2. Akers, Eagles; 3. Janikowski, Raiders.

Dave Del Grande, aka Mr. Fantasy, offers free advice about your fantasy football team via e-mail at dave@mrfantasy.com.

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