A few weeks ago I sent an email to Toby Gerhart. He had just lost out to Mark Ingram for the Heisman, and I thought I could cheer him up with word that he had been awarded the College Fantasy Football Insider Heisman Trophy.
I put together a glowing email that praised his career at Stanford and thanked him for providing such joy to fantasy owners nationwide. And when I clicked send my wife said I looked just like Ralphie Parker when he turned in his essay.
For weeks I clicked refresh, waiting for the day that Toby would respond with an eloquent, heartfelt thank you for the awarding of such a prestigious honor. And the email never arrived. Maybe Toby isn't checking his school email anymore.
Anyway, I've gotten over this snub. After all it's just after the the holiday season, which means it's not only a time to look back, but a time to look forward. And that's just what I plan to do.
However first we have some more hardware to distribute.
Without further ado, here are the CFF Insider awards for 2009...
Two years ago it was Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith and his 60 total touchdowns. Last year it was Rice TE James Casey, the do-it-all freak who accounted for 21 scores. This season there were certainly some worthy candidates, however one stands above the rest.
He may have finished 2nd in the closest Heisman Trophy race in history, but Toby Gerhart is the recipient of a better, albeit less-acclaimed award: The College Fantasy Football Insider Fantasy Heisman.
Thanks to the emergence of not only Andrew Luck, but wide receivers Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu as well, the Cardinal could boast a balanced attack that would force opposing defensive coordinators to respect the pass. And Gerhart then exceeded all expectations.
311 carries for 1736 yards and 26 scores speak for themselves. Nine of the team's 12 games saw Gerhart score two or more touchdowns, and only against Wake Forest in week two could one say he was truly held in check, gaining only 94 yards from scrimmage while being held scoreless. But it was during money time, as fantasy owners nationwide were pushing towards glory, that Toby Gerhart put the Fantasy Heisman in a death grip.
Gerhart's final four contests were against Oregon, USC, Cal and Notre Dame, respectively. And while we can spend time debating whether the bark of those opponents was stronger than their bite, there is no debating that this is not a Conference USA conclusion to the season. Against Oregon Gehart posted 223 yards and three scores. Against USC it was 178 yards and three more touchdowns. He posted 165 yards from scrimmage and four scores against Cal, only to cap his regular season with 238 total yards and three scores against the Irish. This is an average of 41.5 points per game down the stretch. Mark Ingram's season HIGH was 36.9 points.
We don't expect Gerhart to return to Palo Alto for his senior season. A back that takes (and gives) such abuse on a regular basis only has so many carries in him.
Finalists: Case Keenum, Freddie Barnes, Danario Alexander
The Saved the Best for Last Award
Here is Danario Alexander's preview for 2007:
The 6'5" sophomore from Texas has big-time potential. He was named the team's most improved player during spring ball. This guy could be a star...as soon as this year. He reminds this writer of Mario Urrutia.
We wrote this prior to the 2008 campaign:
One of our chosen ones from 2007, Danario Alexader will look to make a full recovery from his knee injury. We're not quite as high on Danario after Jeremy Maclin's emergence, but we still believe Alexander may emerge as a goal line threat; in essence Alexander's role may become similar to the one that Mizzou tight ends have served of late. He's in the right offense and while he may go undrafted in some leagues, you should keep an eye on the number of balls thrown his way. He'll produce if healthy.
And finally, this back in July:
We love his ability and potential, but Danario Alexander simply cannot stay healthy. The super sleeper's 26-329-5 in 2008 does provide a glimpse at his ability to go up and get it in the red zone, and for the third year in a row we think he could STILL emerge as a solid fantasy contributor.
Alexander did emerge as one of the nation's best stories. He caught 107 balls for 1643 yards and 13 scores. He was especially dominant down the stretch; in his final five games Alexander caught 57 balls for 943 yards and eight scores.
Many Mizzou fans may look at this season as a transition year. Jeremy Maclin and Chase Daniel were gone, and there were to be some growing pains with Blaine Gabbert. But the growing pains were minimized considerably, and Missouri appears fully capable of continuing its great run.
And Danario Alexander is a big reason why 2009 was a reloading rather than rebuilding campaign in Columbia.
Finalists: C.J. Spiller, Montario Hardesty
Ron Powlus Award (for the player who fails to meet exceptionally high expectations)
Ron Paulus was a fine college quarterback at Notre Dame, however one that was plagued by outrageous expectations. And blame for these expectations can be placed right at the feet of one Beano Cook, this guy:
When Ron Powlus signed with the Irish it was a big deal. After all Powlus had been quite the prep quarterback. In fact Powlus was so impressive that Beano Cook predicted that Powlus would not win one Heisman Trophy in South Bend; rather the former quarterback from Berwick High School in Pennsylvania would win two Heismans. And Ronnie did not.
So we award the Ron Powlus Award to a player that failed to meet expectations. Maybe he struggled with injuries. Maybe his offensive line did a little ole blocking. Maybe he simply had an off year. Regardless he didn't meet the lofty expectations of fantasy dweebs nationwide.
Tulane's Andre Anderson was the top back on our board. Sure he was running for a putrid Green Wave squad, but the offense had eight players returning, and he was coming off an impressive junior campaign cut short by injuries. He was going to go out with a bang. And it just didn't happen.
He stayed relatively healthy, touching the ball 268 times from scrimmage. And he posted a huge 43 point outing against McNeese State in week four. But those crazy numbers were a one-week aberration. Anderson had a very nice senior season, gaining 1246 yards from scrimmage and scoring nine times. But it wasn't close to what we had projected.
So when it comes to Mr. Anderson you can just call us Beano.
Other finalists: LeGarrette Blount, Jarvis Giles, Zac Robinson, Aldrick Robinson, Juice Williams, Arrelious Benn, Detron Lewis
The Kurt Warner Award (for the player that steps in and takes over)
In an August 1999 preseason game St. Louis Rams quarterback Trent Green saw his season end before it began thanks to a shredded knee. And this was supposed to dash any Ram hopes for a successful season. Then a man named Kurt Warner stepped in...and the rest is history.
One of our better articles this season looked at some of the players that may interest owners should injuries or bad decision-making strike. And we mentioned guys like Keith Toston, LaMichael James, Steven Sheffield, Shane Vereen, G.J. Kinne and Landry Jones. After all, injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. So are occasions where a player jacks an opponent in the jaw and goes after fans post-game. So fantasy drafters have to expect the unexpected.
Many thought the Oregon Ducks' season was over following a loss at Boise and the season-long suspension of LeGarrette Blount. However there was plenty of time left to rebound, and in LaMichael James the Ducks had a speedster that actually fit the offense of Chip Kelly better than the bruising Blount. And this became apparent as the season progressed.
James ran the ball 215 times for 1476 yards and 14 touchdowns. He had nine games with more than 100 yards rushing, and he posted four multi-score games. And his team is playing in the Rose Bowl.
Not bad for a player expected to play a secondary role in 2009 and take over the reigns in 2010.
Other finalists: Keith Toston, Landry Jones, Shane Vereen, Steven Sheffield,
Draft Day Steal
We had Freddie Barnes ranked as our 19th best wide receiver prospect, but he still went anywhere from rounds 13-20 in most drafts. After all he was coming back from an injury and he did play for a Bowling Green program that was in the midst of a coaching transition. So his slide down boards was believable...his production in 2009 was not.
Freddie Barnes posted a season for the record books, one capped by a 17-219-3 performance in the Humanitarian Bowl. This followed a 138-1551-16 regular season. Barnes was a steal of steals.
Other finalists: Joe Webb, Jerrod Johnson, Dwight Dasher, James Cleveland, Donald Buckram
Waiver Wire Pickup of the Year
This one is tough to award because the success of a waiver wire acquisition depends largely upon when you hop on the bandwagon. If you get in at the ground floor then the payoff is that much greater.
The winner for 2009 is Donald Buckram. He was expected to emerge as the lead back at UTEP, but it's UTEP for goodness sake. This is a team that has traditionally opted to wing it like crazy, thus a season with over 2000 yards from scrimmage and 21 could not have been expected by anyone. Hell, he only posted 17 points combined in his first two outings of the season.
Then many owners likely jumped on board after his 26 point performance against New Mexico State in week three, only to ditch this Miner after a six point performance against Texas in week four. Big mistake.
Buckram posted 50 points in week five against Houston and really didn't look back.
Other finalists: James Cleveland, Bernard Pierce, Lance Dunbar
Lee Suggs Touchdown Vulture of the Year
This esteemed award is named after the great Virginia Tech back, one who took collegiate touchdown vulturing to never-before-seen levels. The touchdown vulture has been a prominent player in fantasy leagues for as long as fantasy football has been around. NFL fans will remember when Barry Sanders would bust all those long runs and get tackled at the two. Tommy Vardell would come vulture his scores. Warrick Dunn would break a big one only to have Mike Alstott eventually hand it to the official and then celebrate.
Well Lee Suggs was the greatest vulture of all time.
We're proud to present the 2009 Touchdown Vulture Award to Chad Spann of Northern Illinois. Spann scored 20 touchdowns on only 189 touches for a 0.11 touchdown vulture ratio. He's a very deserving winner, though he doesn't have the best ratio. So this isn't just about ratio, as we must also factor in the quantity of scores.
Other finalists: Austin Pettis, 14 TDs on 64 touches, Trae Johnson, 8 TDs on 24 touches, Randall Cobb, 14 TDs on 121 touches
We're proud to introduce this award where we pay homage to a decision that causes a college fantasy football owner to put his fist through his new television or computer.
LeGarrette Blount socked Bosie State's defensive end Byron Haut in week one, leaving many fantasy owners with a gaping hole in their lineup.
Other finalist: Dez Bryant
We'd like to thank all award winners for making 2009 such a special year. And those finalists who didn't quite get the nod, please remember that it's an honor just to be nominated.