Each week, we’re 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 you might find elsewhere, we’re going to mostly focus on players who weren’t draft day all-stars. In some cases they won’t even be rostered in redraft leagues, but are players who are worth stashing in dynasty leagues and those who have yielded the greatest return on your investment so far. After all, you don’t need to be told Andre Johnson had a great day – he was drafted in such a spot that it was expected. Same with Julio Jones, Steve Smith (CAR), and Arian Foster. That’s not to say we won’t occasionally honor a truly elite performance, especially from rookies.
As part of a group collaboration, members of the DLF Senior Team have each 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 and be sure to follow us on Twitter by clicking their names:
AFC West – Steve Wyremski
AFC East – Paymon Shokoohi
AFC North – Eric Olinger
AFC South – Tim Stafford
NFC West – The FF Ghost
NFC East – Jarrett Behar
NFC North – Jacob Feldman
NFC South – Ryan McDowell
Bilal Powell, RB NYJ
It’s been abundantly clear to everyone but the Jets coaching staff that Shonn Greene isn’t any good. What makes it worse is Bilal Powell has proven he’s a lot better with each opportunity he’s received – it was no different on Sunday. Powell rushed for 45 yards on ten carries and also chipped in with two receptions for 25 yards. What’s more impressive is that Powell did it against a Dolphins run defense that has now held three big name running backs in check. Arian Foster (3.0), Ben Tate (1.2), and Darren McFadden (2.0) were all held to very low yards per carry averages. Powell leads all of those backs with a 4.5 yard average against this defense. Greene finished with 40 yards on 19 carries (2.1 yards per carry). I’m not sure how much longer the Jets can ignore the evidence. –Paymon Shokoohi
IDP- Mario Williams, DE BUF
People expected this right out of the gate when Williams signed the richest contract ever for a defensive player and flipped their wigs when he went sackless after two games. People were asking if they should drop him because “Buffalo’s defense was overrated.” That’s not the case as sometimes it takes some time for a defense to gel as a unit. If you listened to our Podcast last Wednesday, you heard me say to buy low on the underperforming elite defensive ends and week three saw Mario and Chris Long break out of the funk.
Donnie Avery, WR IND
It was slim pickings in the AFC South this week as the usual suspects had a good week and the rest struggled. Avery didn’t have a particularly great game, but he needs to be owned in all leagues because of Austin Collie’s patellar tendon tear. I expect Avery to emerge as the WR2 over T.Y. Hilton. Collie is probably droppable in dynasty leagues at this point unless your league affords you ample IR slots. –Tim Stafford
IDP- Akeem Ayers, SLB TEN
Playing as an every down linebacker while Colin McCarthy is out, Ayers has been an IDP monster. I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming and was skeptical to buy in after the first couple weeks, but after he racked up 16 total tackles (ten solo, six assists) and a sack, I’m a believer. More than likely, he’s no longer available on your waiver wire, but if he is, grab him and play him with confidence.
Heath Miller, TE PIT
If I asked you who led the NFL in touchdowns right now, would you say Heath Miller? It’s true. Right now he’s tied with Vernon Davis with four receiving touchdowns after adding two more against the Raiders on Sunday. The eight catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns was his best all around game since 2009. For that reason, I wouldn’t expect him to keep it up, but he is the perfect guy to pick up in a pinch if your starter goes down. When the Steelers get in the red zone, he basically becomes the go to option because of his size. He won’t put up yardage, but you could do worse in a PPR league.
Honorable Mention: Torrey Smith, WR BAL – Playing hours after his younger brother was killed in a motorcycle crash, Smith carried the Ravens to a victory over the Patriots. –Eric Olinger
IDP- Michael Johnson, DE CIN
Johnson was everywhere Sunday. He totaled three sacks, but the best part was he had seven quarterback hits, so this day could have been much better. With defensive ends you look for potential and opportunity and Johnson has both in Mike Zimmer’s defense. Carlos Dunlap gets more attention, so grab Johnson off your waiver wire if he’s available. He still has two games versus Pittsburgh’s sieve-like offensive line!
Jon Baldwin, KC WR
The easy choice here would be Jamaal Charles since he played much like his 2010 self. He was a beast on Sunday and is officially back.
I want to focus on a player who many in dynasty are down on, but he’s improved from week one through week three. In week one, Baldwin didn’t have a catch or target. In weeks two and three, he was involved a bit more, but only posted three catches in each of the two weeks for a total of 98 yards in aggregate. The important point, though, is that Baldwin’s snaps increased over the first three weeks and are on the upward trend. He’s gone from 22 to 39 to 61 snaps or 32% to 62% from week one through three. That’s entirely consistent with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s comments last week when he said the young receiver would get more involved in the offense. Baldwin’s only in his second year and many are down on him but from the snap indications, but it appears he’s getting more involved in the offense. Given his talent, he makes a good candidate for a mid to late breakout in 2012. –Steve Wyremski
IDP- Justin Houston, OLB KC
In Kansas City’s week three upset of New Orleans, Houston terrorized Drew Brees with three sacks and two passes defended. Houston has slowly been coming into his own. Drafted to bookend the more heralded Tamba Hali, it’s Houston who might actually be the better IDP target in big play leagues.
Andre Brown, RB NYG
The NFC East continues to provide me with obvious candidates. Brown rewarded owners who spent a high percentage of their blind bidding dollars or used their high waiver priorities on him this week with 20 carries, 113 yards, one touchdown, three receptions and 17 receiving yards. He ran with authority and hit holes hard and decisively. Credit also has to be given to the Giants offensive line, which seemed revitalized by the subtraction of David Diehl at RT, moving Will Beatty to LT and plugging in Sean Locklear at RT. Also, don’t forget the Panthers are ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game through three weeks at an average of 139.3. That being said, I look for Brown to at least be in a timeshare when Ahmad Bradshaw returns, and possibly even be the lead and goal line back. –Jarrett Behar
IDP- Perry Riley, ILB WAS
Nothing irritates me more than seeing a guy have 11 total tackles and eight of them being assists. If you’re in a league that does not differentiate, it doesn’t matter, but most IDP leagues do and that stinks. Riley had 11 total tackles coming into this game with only one of those being an assist, so this isn’t the norm. Luckily, he added a sack (which also isn’t the norm) to save his fantasy day. Riley has been one of my favorite IDP targets this year and if an impatient owner was foolish enough to dump him or you think you can get him cheap, jump on it. He’s a rock.
Devery Henderson, WR NO
In week three against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson totaled 53 yards on four catches. The Saints big play threat had been out of action since week one when he suffered a concussion. Although Henderson likely remains the fourth or even fifth option in the passing game, that can still be a formidable threat in the once high powered New Orleans offense. Against the Chiefs, it was good enough for seven targets. An injury to veterans Marques Colston or Lance Moore would greatly increase Henderson’s role in the offense as well as his dynasty value. –Ryan McDowell
IDP- Josh Norman, CB CAR
There wasn’t much defense played in the NFC South this weekend, but one interesting player was cornerback Josh Norman, who racked up eight solo tackles and three assists for a total of 11 tackles. That brings him up to 23 through three games and makes for a solid play in leagues that require you start a cornerback. In those leagues, you have to find a cornerback who is good enough to get playing time, but bad enough to get picked on in the passing game, enter the fifth round rookie from Coastal Carolina.
Christian Ponder, QB MIN
I almost feel like I should pick Ed Hochuli, because he would have won the game for the Packers if he was there last night! All kidding aside, the most impressive player of the weekend in the NFC North who you might not be focusing on is Ponder. His 198 yards passing, two touchdowns, with no picks isn’t all that impressive from a fantasy standpoint, but he looked really good against what might be the best defense in football. He made smart choices, showed poise in the pocket, and took what the defense game him (which wasn’t much). For a player with under 16 career starts, he is progressing very well. I think his physical tools will limit him from ever becoming elite, but he could very easily make his way to mid/low QB1 level one day (think Matt Schaub or Tony Romo stats) if they get a few more weapons around him. His four touchdowns to no interceptions on the season just further stress his progression in year two. If you have an aging quarterback or are in a two quarterback league he would make a good target. – Jacob Feldman
IDP- Israel Idonije, DE CHI
Not normally a key IDP contributor, Idonije sacked Sam Bradford two and a half times Sunday. It was a great game for him and he can be used as a bye week fill in or a plug and play option against weaker offensive lines, but I would not rush to add him as an every week starter.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI
It would be really easy to give this spot to Russell Wilson, not for his statistics, but for keeping his team in the game against a top notch team, under the lights and in front of an audience of millions. I’m however going to turn to Larry Fitzgerald for this week’s NFC West honor. Fitzgerald got back on track and played how we expected him to given his average draft position. Fitzgerald posted nine receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in Arizona’s route of Philadelphia on Sunday. In Sunday’s game Fitzgerald nearly doubled his output from the previous two games combined and showed why no one should ever bench him. -TheFFGhost
IDP- Bruce Irvin, DE SEA
Even though teammate Chris Clemons tallied four sacks in the first half Monday night, I went with rookie Bruce Irvin simply because Clemons is owned in the majority of IDP leagues and Irvin is not. Irvin has taken a lot of flack from the time he was drafted (many draftniks thought he was highly overdrafted) and through the first two weeks all the haters had all the ammo they needed to say they were right. Then Monday night came and he beat Bryan Bulaga like he stole something. Irvin contributed two of the Seahawks eight first half sacks while simultaneously giving all his naysayers something to think about. Irvin is worth the add in IDP leagues, but you have to be patient – he’s a rookie and he’s going to be inconsistent, but he’s a key piece of Pete Carroll’s defense.