After weeks of online voting and live video pitches from fans at the NFL.com Stats Zone presented by SAP, we’re just one day away from finding out who will take home the NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year award during NFL Honors. Fans have been given statistical insights to help make an informed decision, and SAP ambassador Marshall Faulk has already weighed in with his thoughts, but this year’s race remains closer than ever. Let’s take one last look at each of our eight finalists by identifying one key stat that shows how they stack up to candidates from previous seasons.
Andrew Luck, QB – IND
21.98 – Andrew Luck’s average fantasy points per game this season.
While quarterbacks tend to get all the glory on the real world gridiron, they have a tougher time getting the recognition they deserve in fantasy circles. Luck’s 21.98 points per game is a full three point per game higher than any other finalist for this year’s award (it’s also higher than the average points per game put up by any of the three previous award winners). Strictly looking at total fantasy points scored, Luck would be a lock to take home this year’s award, but keep in mind that no quarterback has ever been named NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year.
Le’Veon Bell, RB – PIT
854 – Le’Veon Bell’s total receiving yards this season.
The truly elite fantasy backs get the job done on the ground and through the air. Le’Veon Bell’s 854 receiving yards set the highest mark any running back since Charlie Garner’s 941-yard season in 2002 (Marshall Faulk still holds the all-time record with 1,048 receiving yards in 1999). Jamaal Charles won last year’s award with 693 receiving yards and 1,287 rushing yards. Bell amassed 235 more total yards while also putting up double-digit touchdowns.
DeMarco Murray, RB – DAL
12 – Number of games DeMarco Murray ran for 100+ yards
A one hundred yard rushing day is the gold standard for a fantasy running back. It shows that your back is a dependable workhorse and leads to some much needed bonus points. No back churned out more 100+ yard days on the ground than DeMarco Murray. In fact, Murray became the first back since Jamal Lewis in 2003 to run for 100+ yards 12 or more times in a single season. The only other NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year candidate to rush for more yards in a single season was 2013’s winner, Adrian Peterson (Peterson had ten 100+ yard games that year). Murray shined consistently throughout the season, making him one of the strongest finalists in recent FPOY history.
Antonio Brown, WR – PIT
26.85 – Antonio Brown’s average draft position.
Antonio Brown continues to be one of the most criminally underrated players in all of fantasy football. After finishing second in the league in receptions (110) and receiving yards (1,499) in 2013, Brown still fell deep into the third round in most fantasy drafts. His 1,698-yard season topped Calvin Johnson’s 2012 NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year winning campaign by 17 yards, and Brown also outperformed other wide receivers with similar draft positions by 40.25 total points. This should be the final season that Brown flies under the radar, and it’d be fitting for him to finally receive the fantasy recognition he deserves
Odell Beckham Jr., WR – NYG
40 – The percentage of fantasy teams on NFL.com that won their championship and had Odell Beckham Jr. on their roster
Nobody made a bigger impact in the fantasy playoffs than Odell Beckham Jr. In the final four weeks of the season, OBJ racked up 101.5 fantasy points with 606 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Critics can point to the fact that he missed the first four games of the season, and thus scored fewer total points than some of his counterparts, but it’s hard to overlook just how many owners he carried to fantasy glory down the stretch. Whether or not he winds up taking home this year’s award in his rookie season, expect to see Odell Beckham Jr. continue to cement himself as one of fantasy football’s most explosive weapons moving forward.
Rob Gronkowski, TE - NE
1 – The number of tight ends that finished in the top 50 of fantasy scoring this season
Having an elite playmaker on your roster at the tight end position can make all the difference in securing a fantasy football championship. At a position marred by statistical inconsistency, Gronkowski outperformed his projected point total in 12 of 16 weeks, and finished tied for second with a 19% winning value. Smart fantasy football owners know that putting together a great team is all about finding the best value. Having a guy like Gronk that plays tight end but scores like a tier one wide receiver is a prime example of that. No tight end has ever won the NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year award, but from a straight value proposition, you can make a convincing case for Gronkowski to become the first.
Stephen Gostkowski, K – NE
3 –The number of consecutive seasons Stephen Gostkowski has finished as a finalist for the NFL.com FPOY award.
Kickers don’t get much love, but if there’s one guy that deserves some time in the fantasy limelight, it’s Stephen Gostkowski. He’s been as automatic as they come, finishing as one of the top three fantasy scoring kickers in five of the last six seasons. Still don’t think a kicker belongs in the conversation for NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year? Consider the fact that Gostkoswki scored more fantasy points than Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Kelvin Benjamin this season. Will the third time be the charm for Gostkowski?
Philadelphia Eagles, D/ST
11 – Total touchdowns scored by the Eagles defense/special teams
The Eagles defense didn’t necessarily do the best job of keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard this season, but they did a great job of doing the one thing that generates the most fantasy points – scoring touchdowns. The team led the league in defensive touchdowns (7), return touchdowns (4), fumble recoveries (16), and they also finished second in sacks with 49 on the year. Kansas City’s defense put up similar numbers last year, but weren’t able to take home the award. Before you write them off, remember that the Eagles D/ST scored more fantasy points this season than Alshon Jeffrey, T.Y. Hilton and, surprisingly LeSean McCoy.
Fan voting closes tonight at midnight! Make sure to get a few final votes in for your favorite candidate, and enter for a chance to win exclusive NFL prizes like tickets to Super Bowl 50, NFL Game Rewind subscriptions and autographed NFL merchandise. Don’t forget to tune into NFL Honors tomorrow night on NBC at 9 PM ET to see who takes home this year’s NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year award presented by SAP.