Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
If you thought before the season Matt Ryan would play at an MVP level and lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl, then you are either from Atlanta or lying.
Ryan shocked everyone with his play, as he finished with the second most fantasy points in the NFL, behind only Aaron Rodgers. Ryan threw for 38 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards.
Honorable Mention: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Running backs: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals and DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
In most fantasy leagues, Johnson was a late first round pick, but that turned out to be too late. Not only did Johnson score the most fantasy points by a non-quarterback this season, but he had 33 more points than the next closest running back.
Johnson showed to be an excellent runner with more than 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, but he has exceptional receiving skills as well with more than 800 receiving yards on 80 catches. I repeat: 80 catches, 800 yards receiving. There are plenty of wide receivers in the league that wouldn’t mind having those numbers. Johnson is a true dual threat and that makes him dangerous.
After a frustrating year with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, where he averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry, DeMarco Murray bounced back with a great season in Tennessee.
Murray was drafted in the middle rounds of most drafts but finished with the fifth most fantasy points among running backs. Murray ran for more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns while catching 53 passes out of the backfield. Pairing Murray and Derrick Henry in a backfield with Marcus Mariota created a powerful rushing attack that led to Tennessee having the third most rushing yards in the league.
It is still early in his Titans career, but things are off to a good start for Murray in Tennessee.
Honorable Mentions: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots and Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Wide Receivers: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers and Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Aaron Rodgers has a lot of weapons at his disposal, at least at wide receiver, and Davante Adams was an afterthought before the season started. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb got most of the attention from fantasy owners, leaving Adams to get drafted late, if at all.
So what did Adams do? He had nearly 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns on 75 catches to finish with the seventh most fantasy points at his position.
Nelson, Cobb and Adams are a dangerous trio of receivers that Rodgers has to work with. If Green Bay ever gets a consistent running game, watch out.
Just like Rodgers always seems to have targets to throw to in Green Bay, the Saints always find receivers for Drew Brees. The newest target for Brees is Michael Thomas.
Thomas capped his rookie season with the ninth most fantasy points by a wide receiver this season. Not bad for a guy who was overlooked by fantasy owners for other rookies. Will Fuller, Sterling Shepard and Thomas’ college teammate at Ohio State, Braxton Miller, gathered more attention than Thomas. Even though Thomas put up the numbers that he did — 92 catches, 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns — he has not gathered a lot of attention. If that remains the case, Thomas could be a possible steal next season.
Honorable mentions: Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders and Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph broke out this year as Sam Bradford’s safety blanket. With new career highs in receptions (83) and yards (840), Rudolph had a career season.
Fantasy owners valued Rudolph as a backup option at tight end, but he finished with the third most fantasy points at the position. If Minnesota decides to keep Bradford as its starter, Rudolph will remain a viable starting option at tight end. If the Vikings choose to go back to Teddy Bridgewater, Rudolph’s fantasy value becomes a little more clouded.
Honorable Mention: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Defense/Special Teams Unit: New York Giants
After adding Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins to improve their defense, all eyes were on the Giants to see if buying their defense would work. It did. It was the Giants’ defense that carried them and led them to a playoff berth.
Most fantasy owners were not sold on the Giants defense. In fact, a lot of draft boards had the other New York team higher than the Giants. The Giants finished as the defense with the fifth most fantasy points, while the Jets had the fourth least amount of fantasy points.
It will be interesting to see if the aggressive free agent signing approach the Giants had for their defense will be copied by any other teams this offseason.
Honorable Mention: Minnesota Vikings
Editor’s Note: Fantasy football numbers and fantasy draft position were contributing factors for the O’Zone’s All-Fantasy Team.