THERE IS usually very little debate over the best fantasy player in a given year. Runaway winners have generally been the norm the last 10 seasons.
Whether it was Aaron Rodgers last year, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, or Priest Holmes in 2003, voting for the fantasy MVP is usually academic. Tom Brady won the 2007 award with 50 touchdown passes and 87 percent of the vote.
This year is different. In the closest voting ever, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson nudged out Brady and Peyton Manning for the most valuable fantasy player.
Peterson received 35.7 percent of the votes, which were cast online, via fax and through traditional mail. Brady placed second at 32.8, while Manning was third with 31.5.
Broncos coach Jon Fox was asked earlier in the week about the real-life MVP vote, which figures to come down to the same three guys.
"With all due respect for everyone involved, what's unique about Peyton . . . he's done it in a new city with a new team at that position," the coach said. "In my own personal opinion, that's what separates him from the field."
Peterson has a shot at 2,000 yards and has almost single-handedly led the Vikings from a 3-13 record in 2011 to a playoff run this season. Manning, who missed all of 2011 with a neck injury, has thrown 34 touchdown passes - the most he's had for an active season since 2004. Not bad for a guy whose consensus draft position was around 50.
Voting for the least valuable fantasy player also was close, though the Raiders' Darren McFadden captured the title with his dismal season. McFadden missed four games with injury, but was terribly inconsistent even when he was healthy. His 54 rushing yards combined in his first two games set the tone for the season.
Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, a wide receiver who has suffered the last few years from GarbageQuarterback-eritis, had another sour season (for him), with 69 catches and only four scores.
Eagles fans vented their frustration over the 4-11 season by naming Michael Vick the most disappointing quarterback and DeSean Jackson the most disappointing wide receiver. Hard to rationalize that Vick was more disappointing than Matthew Stafford, who followed up last year's 41-touchdown monster with only 17 scores this season. But Stafford plays in Detroit, and there is little doubt Lions fans voted him the worst QB there.
Three readers who participated in the voting were randomly selected to win Daily News fantasy football T-shirts. The lucky threesome were Dan Watson, of Camp Hill, Pa; Steven Martindale, of Miami (yeah, Fla.); and Andy Meehan, of Northeast Philadelphia. Thanks to all for participating.
The Redskins' Robert Griffin III is only the second rookie quarterback named to the initial Pro Bowl roster (not as a replacement). Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino, in 1983, is the other. Here's a look at their respective numbers:
RG III, 2012: 3,100 passing yards, 3 300+ passing games, 20 TD passes, 5 INT, 752 rushing yards, 6 TD runs
Marino, 1983: 2210 passing yards, 1 300+ passing game, 20 TD passes, 6 INTs, 45 rushing yards, 2 TD runs
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles is getting a knack for being clutch during fantasy playoffs. He ran for 226 yards last week and has put up at least 100 in four of the last five. In Week 17 3 years ago, Charles had 259 yards rushing and two TDs at Denver, where the Chiefs play Sunday. The Broncos are third against the run, though Charles registered one of the three 100-yard games Denver's "D" has given up this season. If it wasn't for Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and the Chiefs' 2-13 record, Charles would be a candidate for comeback player of the year . . . Titans running back Chris Johnson is a must-play against Jacksonville's defense, which is 31st against the run. The Jags have given up 13 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs, but the most yards they've given up to one back is the 110 Arian Foster put up on them in Week 2 . . . Buffalo's C.J. Spiller ran for 169 yards and a score in the season opener against the Jets, this week's opponent.
Voting results (pct.)
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings 35.7
2. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots 32.8
3. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos 31.5
1. Tom Brady, Patriots 51.9
2. Peyton Manning, Broncos 48.1
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers 0.0
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings 67.9
2. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks 28.6
3. Arian Foster, Texans 21.4
1. Calvin Johnson, Lions 39.3
2. A.J. Green, Bengals 32.1
3. Brandon Marshall, Bears 28.6
1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons 57.1
2. Jimmy Graham, Saints 25.0
3. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots 17.9
1. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders 50.0
2. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cards 35.7
3. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions 14.3
1. Michael Vick, Eagles 64.3
2. Philip Rivers, Chargers 21.4
3. Matthew Stafford, Lions 14.3
1. Darren McFadden, Raiders 39.3
2. Ryan Mathews, Chargers 35.7
3. LeSean McCoy, Eagles 25.0
1. DeSean Jackson, Eagles 55.5
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals 33.3
3. Antonio Brown, Steelers 11.1
1. Jermichael Finley, Packers 46.4
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers 35.7
3. Vernon Davis, 49ers 17.9
1. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots 57.1
2. Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings 28.6
3. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys 14.3
2011: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2010: Michael Vick, QB, Eagles
2009: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2008: Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals
2007: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2005: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
2004: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
2003: Priest Homes, RB, Chiefs
2011: Any Indianapolis Colt
2010: Randy Moss, WR, NE/Min./Ten.
2009: Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
2008: Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
2007: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2006: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
2005: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens
2004: Steve McNair, QB, Titans
2003: Rich Gannon, QB, Raiders
Ed Barkowitz, who would have voted for Tom Brady for fantasy MVP, has been writing about fantasy football since 2001 and handing out season awards since 2003. Contact him via email at FantasyFootball@phillynews.com or visit Philly.com/FantasyIsland