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A look at the best and worst in fantasy football

As we flip the calendar to 2009, let us reflect on the fantasy season that was. Touchdowns were scored, championships were won and lost, and grown men and women spent the past four months arguing and obsessing over imaginary football teams.

Isn’t fantasy great?

Here are some players who deserve special recognition before we close the book on the 2008 fantasy football season:

MVP award

Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner rushed for more yards, but DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers ran for a league-high 18 TDs and had some truly monster games down the stretch when we needed him most. And he wasn’t drafted in most leagues until at least the fourth round!

Bust of the year award

Maybe it’s unfair, Tom Brady gets the dishonor suffering a devastating knee injury in Week 1. If you made Brady your first pick, here’s what you got out of him: seven completions, 76 yards, zero TDs and a season of what ifs.

2008 All Fantasy Team

QB: Drew Brees; RB1: DeAngelo Williams; RB2: Michael Turner; WR1: Anquan Boldin; WR2: Larry Fitzgerald; TE: Tony Gonzalez; K: Stephen Gostkowski; DEF: Baltimore Ravens.

Pickup of the year award

Matt Cassel’s own family members wouldn’t have drafted him this year, but the former unknown finished the season as a top-10 fantasy QB filling in for Brady.

Rookie of the year award

Matt Forte and Steve Slaton share the honors after both rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored eight TDs in their debut seasons.

Future fantasy stud award

Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree could be a fantasy No. 2 by the end of 2009, provided he winds up in the right offense with the right QB. Oakland Raiders, you’re on the clock.

Comeback player of the year

Thomas Jones rushed for 13 TDs for the New York Jets — almost doubling his total from the previous two seasons.

Most dangerous player

Let’s say your team has a comfortable lead, but your opponent has one player left in the Monday night game. Who do you fear most? For me it’s Brian Westbrook, a versatile little son-of-a-gun who’s capable of a four-TD effort on any given day. And I should know: I went head-to-head with a Westbrook owner twice in one league this season, and the dude scored SEVEN TDs against me in two games.

One-week wonder award

Brady Quinn enjoyed a promising debut as an NFL starter Nov. 9 against Denver, throwing for 239 yards and two TDs. Then he failed to find the end zone in the next two games before suffering a season-ending injury.

Best predictions by yours truly

I was high on Kevin Smith and Roddy White as preseason sleepers; I jumped on the bandwagons of Matt Cassel, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Ryan and Tim Hightower early; I wasn’t buying the Darren McFadden or David Garrard hype; I predicted a huge bounce-back by Donovan McNabb (four TDs) in Week 13 against Arizona when everyone said he was done.

Worst predictions by yours truly

I believed Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards could form the nucleus of a fantasy champion; I picked Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ben Utecht (who?) as one of my top sleepers; I didn’t have Steve Slaton ranked in my top 50 preseason running backs.

Rising stock

Kevin Smith, Tyler Thigpen, Chris Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson.

Falling stock

Larry Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tony Romo, Reggie Bush, Braylon Edwards, Joseph Addai, Terrell Owens.

Super early top 10 for 2009

1. Adrian Peterson; 2. Michael Turner; 3. Drew Brees; 4. Matt Forte; 5. Chris Johnson; 6. Brian Westbrook; 7. DeAngelo Williams; 8. Randy Moss; 9. Brandon Jacobs; 10. LaDainian Tomlinson.

Jason Bartolone, can be reached at 745-7016.