Each week we are going to give a player from each division a “Player of the Week” honor. In an attempt to not cram the same info down your throat that you might find elsewhere, we are going to try to focus on players that weren’t draft day all-stars. In some cases they won’t even be rostered in redraft leagues, but guys that are worth stashing in dynasty leagues. We are going to focus on guys that have yielded the greatest return on your investment. You don’t need to be told Peyton Manning had a great day. He was drafted in such a spot that it was expected. Same with LeSean McCoy, Julio Jones, and Calvin Johnson. That’s not to say that we won’t honor a truly elite performance, especially from rookies.
As part of a group collaboration, members of the DLF Staff have chosen to represent a division and will be selecting which players will be getting the “gold star” for the week. As an added bonus, I will also include the most impressive IDP performances of the week for each division, because defensive players need love too!
Here is who is will be nominating players for each division:
AFC West- Scott Peak @Scott_Peak
AFC East- Jeff Beran @JefeBeran
AFC North- Eric Olinger @OlingerIDP
AFC South- Tim Stafford @DynastyTim
NFC West- The FF Ghost @TheFFGhost
NFC East- Karl Safchick @KarlSafchick
NFC North- Dan Meylor @DMeylor22
NFC South- Eric Hardter @EDH_27
C.J. Anderson, RB Denver Broncos
I writing this based more on Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman. Peyton Manning was in the midst of a furious comeback attempt when Hillman spoiled the party with a truly awful fumble at the goal line. A touchdown would have got the Broncos within two points of the Colts, with plenty of time for Manning to work his magic. Instead, the Broncos lost possession, missed out on at least a field goal, and the game was basically over. Hillman has a history of fumbles, and Broncos head coach John Fox may banish him to the doghouse for a long time. The promise of Montee Ball has not yet materialized, and Knowshon Moreno hasn’t played a full season since 2009. C.J. Anderson could get his shot relatively soon. Anderson is a rookie, and predicting greatness for a rookie on a Fox team is dangerous. Still, Anderson should be over the sprained medial collateral ligament he sustained in training camp. He is not the fastest player (4.53 40 yard dash at his pro day), but he has decent size (68 inches, 224 pounds). Anderson had 15 carries for 69 yards in the first game of preseason for a healthy 4.6 yards per carry. Granted, that’s not a large sample size to draw any conclusions, but the Broncos still kept him on the 53-man roster even though he missed most of training camp fighting an injury. Will Anderson make it? Maybe. Maybe not. But, clearly Hillman may be in deep trouble with Fox, and Moreno could need some help sooner rather than later. Anderson and Ball are the last men standing, but only one is super cheap. Grab Anderson if you have roster space and see if it pays off down the line.
IDP- Marcus Ghilchrist, CB SDC
In leagues requiring starting cornerbacks, Ghilcrist is a guy worth owning. He’s listed as a cornerback but plays some safety too. This leads to more tackle opportunities but still gives him the ability to make impact plays, like Sunday. On top of his four solo tackles, he picked off a Chad Henne pass and returned it for 26 yards. He’s averaging just over five tackles per game over the last three weeks.
Chris Ivory, RB NYJ
When he was acquired by the Jets in the off-season from the Saints in exchange for a fourth round pick, most assumed that Chris Ivory would immediately take over as the lead back in the run-heavy Jets offense. Well, it took until week seven against a depleted Patriots defense for that assumption to come to fruition. However, most of his fantasy owners probably didn’t even reap the benefits of his 34 carry for 104 yards performance because the bulk of the carries up until this point had gone to Bilal Powell. Head coach Rex Ryan explained after the game that this doesn’t signal any sort of philosophical change for the team, rather that they were ‘riding the hot hand.’ If 3.1 yards per carry qualifies as having a “hot hand” then there’s really no way what to expect for fantasy purposes going forward. At this point, for Ivory owners, he is best treated as a hold until he reclaims a little of the value he’s lost and at that point he’s a strong candidate to sell, possibly to a playoff contender.
IDP- Chris Jones, DT NEP
Anytime a defensive tackle records 10 total tackles you should take notice. Against the overmatched interior line of the New York Jets, Jones had five solo tackles, five assists, two sacks, and three tackles for loss. You can attribute the sacks to playing against a rookie quarterback and the high amount of tackles to the Jets relentlessly slamming Chris Ivory straight ahead 34 times. His game on Sunday more than doubled his season tackle total but he now has 3.5 sacks on the season and is worth rostering in defensive tackle required leagues, if nothing else for the Jets games.
Le’Veon Bell, RB PIT
I’ve made no secrets in my love for Le’Veon Bell. He was my favorite rookie runner coming out in this class and Sunday we seen some of what makes him so solid. Against a rock solid top five run defense, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry for a total of 93 yards on 19 carries. He didn’t find the end zone but he’s finding his stride behind a less than excellent offensive line. His arrow is pointing straight up.
IDP- George Iloka, S CIN
Taylor Mays is definitely the past, Shawn Williams is going to be the future, but it appears the present belongs to George Iloka. He has put together back to back solid outings with seven plus tackles. With a crazy amount of bye weeks upcoming, Iloka is nice plug and play option likely out there on your waiver wire.
Trent Richardson, RB IND
Richardson is on a cold streak, that’s for sure. Twitter buzzed during Sunday’s game with angry owners ready to cut bait. And Donald Brown continues to eat in to Richardson’s production. Richardson heads in to his bye week having posted three straight games with less than 60 yards rushing and zero touchdownss. If you’re a believer in T-Rich, now is the time to try to buy low.
IDP- Daryl Sharpton, LB HOU
Nobody is going to fully replace the injured Brian Cushing who was lost with torn LCL and fractured leg this week, but Sharpton will step into his starting spot. Up to this point he has only played on 36% of the team’s defensive snaps but collected three of his five total tackles after Cushing left Sunday’s game. He lacks the talent to impact the game the way Cushing did, but the Texans are going to struggle to get off the field now and he should see a lot of tackle opportunities moving forward.
Russell Wilson, QB SEA
Wilson made Thursday Night Football actually somewhat watchable this week with an 18 for 29, 235 yard, three touchdown performance. He was also able to orchestrate a fourth drive which ended in a Lynch rushing touchdown which helped seal a divisional win against a solid Arizona defense. Wilson continues to make smart plays and with the possible addition of Percy Harvin going forward I can only see his passing numbers increase, especially if he can get him back before facing the hapless Rams defense on Monday night.
IDP- Malcolm Smith, LB SEA
With Bobby Wagner sitting out the game due to injury, the Seahawks shuffled their linebacker corp around moving K.J. Wright to middle linebacker and Malcolm Smith to the weak side. With Bruce Irvin back from suspension Smith has seen his playing time dip a little but as long as Wagner is out, Smith will see extensive playing time and is a great plug and play option during bye weeks.
Jordan Reed, TE WAS
The rookie tight end out of Miami was selected by the Washington Redskins in the third round this year. Most viewed him as a project player that would take a year or more to find his way into the starting lineup. Fred Davis has not only been extremely unimpressive, but also may be traded in the coming days. With the only other tight ends on the roster being role players, Reed should see sustained targets for the foreseeable future. If the Reed owner in your league thinks he is a “flash in the pan” target him aggressively. His stat line on Sunday of nine targets, nine receptions, 134 yards, and a touchdown may very well be the type of production we can expect from him.
IDP- George Selvie, DE DAL
Selvie has played well when called upon by the Cowboys this year. Now with Anthony Spencer out for the rest of the season, Selvie finds himself with a great opportunity playing across from attention magnet DeMarcus Ware for the rest of the season. The encouraging thing about Selvie is he registered one and a half sacks without without Ware in the lineup this Sunday.
Josh McCown, QB CHI
McCown played well filling in for Jay Cutler, who went down due to a torn groin in the second quarter of the Bears week eight loss to the Redskins. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown while adding 33 yards on four carries. Early reports indicate that Cutler will miss at least a month and the Bears have a bye in week nine so McCown should start at least a few games and will have time to gel with his receivers. He has the weapons to put up good numbers and the Bears play the Packers and Lions coming out of the bye, two teams that rank in the bottom half of the league in pass defense. McCown certainly won’t be a top fantasy option over the next few weeks, but fantasy owners that are struggling with bye weeks and injuries at the quarterback position could do much worse. Pencil him in as a QB2 until Cutler returns.
IDP- Jon Bostic, LB CHI
Making his first career start for the injured, and less talented, D.J. Williams, Bostic stepped in and delivered with six tackles, all solo. After a very strong preseason, it was really shocking to see the Bears hand the starting gig back to Williams when he returned from injury. Now he’s on injured reserve and Bostic has the job locked up for the rest of the season and beyond. Bostic is one of my favorite rookie IDP players and I look forward to seeing what he can do in this defense.
Mike James, RB TB
Outside of receiver Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay represents a fantasy scene best left avoided. The Bucs, currently residing at 0-6, have struggled to find an identity on offense, and have routinely been forced to play from behind with rookie quarterback Mike Glennon under center. Even supposed fantasy stalwart Doug Martin, the PPR RB2 in 2012, couldn’t get anything going.
Well, when it rains, it pours – Martin injured his shoulder early in Sunday’s game and could be facing a lengthy absence. Rookie Mike James proceeded to take over, and while his numbers weren’t anything to write home about (14 carries for 45 yards and three receptions for eight yards), he was the undisputed workhorse. Expectations should certainly be tempered for James, but in today’s two-back system it’s rare to find true bell-cow running backs – the volume alone carries value. If Martin misses a significant portion of the season (there were rumors claiming he could be out for the year), James can be viewed as a RB3/FLEX player moving forward.
IDP- Michael Mitchell, S CAR
When Quintin Mikell returned from injury it wasn’t clear how the Panthers were going to use their safeties. It appears Mitchell and Mikell being on the field at the same time as an interchangeable duo gives the Panthers their best bet. Mitchell had the best game Sunday registering eight solo tackles and a sack. It’s going to be difficult predicting which player will have the best game from week to week but they’re both worth rostering at this point.
Eric is on Twitter @OlingerIDP.