Fantasy football drew an even bigger crowd in 2018 as it becomes even more popular within families and offices. That competitive spirit often brings out love for fantasy players on each team, and this year was no different. Those fantasy owners with Michael Thomas on their team were rewarded with his best year yet, while Le'Veon Bell rewarded those who drafted him in the first round by sitting out the whole season. Let's take a look at who deserves recognition for their performance in 2018.

Most Valuable Player: QB Patrick Mahomes

When Mahomes took over the reins of the Chiefs offense, nobody expected him to quite this good. He was the leading point scorer in ESPN standard leagues by a mile, averaging 25.3 points per game, more than 4 points more than the next closest player, Matt Ryan. And he was drafted in the later rounds, providing great value to those who were willing to take a chance on the new Chiefs quarterback. He'll be one of the first quarterbacks off the board next season.

Least Valuable Player: RB Le'Veon Bell

When fantasy owners drafted Bell in the top five, they expected him to sit out for at least two games due to the contract holdout. Instead, Bell decided to stay on the bench for the whole year, leaving fantasy owners who drafted him in the dust. He compiled a whopping 0 points and was an utterly useless fantasy player for the entire year. If you didn't also draft James Connor as a handcuff, Bell likely killed your season.

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NFL

Fantasy Defense of the Year: Chicago Bears D/ST

Every season, one defense seems to shine above the rest and make an impact on the fantasy season. This year, it was the Bears, a defense that averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game, 3.5 points more than the next best defense. Their year was highlighted by ten double-digit fantasy point performances and a whopping 29 point fantasy game against the Buffalo Bills. Khalil Mack was a huge difference maker on a defense that was already at an elite level.

Fantasy Running Back of the Year: Saquon Barkley

Between Gurley and Barkley, this is a pretty close call. But no other running back did more for his team than Saquon did in the last seven weeks of the season, where Barkley averaged 19.3 fantasy points per game. That stretch likely led some fantasy owners to the playoffs and probably carried some owners to a championship. Barkley occupies a massive role in the Giants offense and should be drafted with the number one overall pick next season.

Fantasy Wide Receiver of the Year: Davante Adams

The Green Bay Packers receiver may not have scored the highest number of fantasy points, but he was the most consistent of them all. Adams scored under a double-digit point total just once in the whole season against the Buffalo Bills, making him the most reliable fantasy wide receiver of 2018. Expect Adams to put up consistently great numbers again with Rodgers still at the helm in 2019.

Fantasy Tight End of the Year: George Kittle

The 2018 season was a rough one for fantasy tight ends, but not for 49ers star George Kittle. He wasn't the highest scoring fantasy player at 10.3 points per game, but he certainly delivered the most value to fantasy owners who were willing to take a late round risk on him. He'll be more highly coveted next season, especially with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo.

Fantasy Sleeper of the Year: Adam Thielen

Kirk Cousins was expected to increase the production of the Minnesota offense, and he did early on by connecting with Adam Thielen often. Thielen had more than 100 yards and six touchdowns in his first eight games and was the best wide receiver in fantasy during that period. He cooled off later in the season, but Thielen was the best wide receiver in that early part of the year, even though he wasn't drafted until the 4th round in most leagues.

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