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
Brandon Bolden, RB NEP
It’s turning out to be a full blown timeshare at the running back position in New England FA rookie running back Brandon Bolden has played so well this season it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Shane Vereen enters back in the picture anytime soon. I think it’s relatively safe to assume that as long as Stevan Ridley keeps the ball off the turf he’s the starter, but going forward, Bolden’s breakout 16 carries for 137 yards and a TD game seems to have carved himself a role in the Patriot offense. I don’t know if 16 carries a game is in his future but I certainly feel he’s getting close to a Ben Tate type role. Then again, people much smarter than me have tried and failed to predict Bill Belichick’s game plans. We’ll find out soon if this was an anomaly or a trend. –Paymon Shokoohi
IDP- Sean Smith CB MIA
Last week Smith went to the coaching staff and asked to shadow opposing teams’ number one wide receivers, they agreed to let him, and he responded with two Kevin Kolb interceptions, six solo tackles, and four passes defended. He also held Larry Fitzgerald to 64 yards receiving on eight catches. Fitzgerald did score a touchdown, but he was lined up in the slot and not covered by Smith on the three yard score. For someone who has been under as much fire as Smith, it was a great performance and could be a sign of things to come.
Honorable Mention: Cameron Wake, DE MIA
His four and a half sacks were his first of the season and finally rewarded owners who were patient. Hopefully you were able to benefit from his monstrous day.
Chris Johnson, RB TEN
Fair is fair. We bashed him now we need to praise him. Over 150 total yards against a tough defense in a blowout loss – good stuff. The interesting thing is that even when down heavily the Titans called Johnson’s number repeatedly. The high YPC without any crazy long runs is encouraging. While it’s tempting to wait a week and see if he can do it again, now is probably the time to sell. You might get more in return for him if you wait but the match-ups worry me. If he has a bad day against the Vikings, I think you will get very little for him afterward. –Tim Stafford
IDP- JJ Watt, DE HOU
This one was tough considering teammate Danieal Manning had five solo tackles and an interception returned for touchdown, but what the ultra impressive Watt is doing right now needs to be rewarded. Through four games, Watt has seven and a half sacks as a 3-4 DE, that’s practically unheard of. He is on pace for a ridiculous 30 sacks this year which would obliterate Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22.5. Obviously, this pace is unattainable but with the Texans playing with the lead every week and the ever evolving skills of Watt, he has a realistic chance to continue to dominate this ultra weak division.
Anquan Boldin, WR BAL
While everyone gets excited and talks about how great the Ravens’ passing attack has become, people praise Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, and even Jacoby Jones before they get the old guy, Anquan Boldin. On Thursday Night Football, he reminded everyone that he’s still around after hauling in nine catches for 131 yards. His week four numbers nearly doubled his stats for the first three weeks and he only has one touchdown on the year, but he still has the potential to be an injury replacement or a bye week fill in. Don’t forget about him. –Eric Olinger
IDP- Vontaze Burfict, MLB
Now listed as the starter in the middle for the Cincinnati Bengals defense, Burfict racked up eight solo tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss, and a pass defended. That’s pretty good for an undrafted rookie middle linebacker. I’ve never been a believer in Rey Maualuga as a middle linebacker. He gets out of position too much and has been a major liability both against the run and against the pass. In my opinion, he has always been better suited for the weak side where he can focus on just half the field. Burfict has the potential to put up some very nice fantasy numbers in this defense, a la Dhani Jones of yesteryear.
Ronnie Hillman, DEN RB
Hillman didn’t do anything remarkable in the way of stats on Sunday rushing for 31 yards on 10 carries and catching 2 passes for 32 yards, but he’s cementing himself as the number two back behind Willis McGahee. That was assumed a given following the draft, but Hillman’s summer injuries held him back. Over the last two games, Hillman’s snaps increased, he touched the ball more, and he is doing a better job in pass protection. Given the mega drop in Hillman’s value following the missed preseason, he’s a great target at a discounted price in dynasty right now. His opportunities and value is only going to increase with an aging veteran ahead of him. –Steve Wyremski
IDP- Donald Butler, ILB SDC
Donald Butler was everywhere Sunday, in the backfield, dropping into coverage, and chasing down Jamaal Charles. He finished the day with four solo tackles, two assists, half a sack, and an interception returned for a touchdown. These are the numbers everyone had hoped for when he took on the role of every down linebacker in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense. The future is bright for him.
Alfred Morris, RB WAS
With solid play, an ability to move the chains while holding onto the ball, and a slight assist from injuries to Roy Helu and Evan Royster, Alfred Morris has taken a stranglehold over the Redskins starting running back job. His 39 yard touchdown, to go along with 21 carries and 113 yards, showed good vision, cutting ability and decent speed. He has an amazingly strong lower body and punishes defenders attempting to tackle him. That being said, he is not a pass-catching back, which limits his upside in PPR. Given the relative interchangeability of Shanahan running backs, I’d still be looking to move him for value unless I was shallow at the position on a contending team. –Jarrett Behar
IDP- Chase Blackburn, MLB NYG
Blackburn played his best game in a long time Sunday night vs. the Eagles. He racked up eight solo tackles, two assists, a sack, and chipped in two defended passes against Vick and Co. The Giants have been looking for someone to step into the middle linebacker role ever since Antonio Pierce left, and Blackburn should be that guy as long as he can stay healthy, which hasn’t been easy. You can’t expect these types of numbers every week but versus teams with a strong running game he can put up serviceable LB3 numbers.
Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has been greatly overlooked in this, his 14th season and likely final season. Even at the age of 36, Gonzalez is second among the Falcons receivers with 26 receptions for 265 yards and is tied for the team lead with three touchdowns. These numbers are good enough to place him as the top tight end in fantasy leagues this season. Even with a relatively quiet game this week facing the Carolina Panthers, Gonzalez still racked up five grabs for 51 yards. While others may discount Gonzalez due to his age, you can count on him as your weekly starter at tight end. –Ryan McDowell
IDP- Charles Johnson, DE CAR
Albeit in a loss, Charles Johnson terrorized Matt Ryan. Coming into the game, Johnson had zero sacks on the year and IDP owners were freaking out. Johnson left Sunday’s game with three and a half sacks. This is the dominant DE1 we drafted and Johnson looks to finally have his season back on track. He has been one of the most consistent defensive ends in all of fantasy football the last two years, so he gets a pass in my book. You can start him with confidence again.
Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
There were an awful lot of spotlight worthy performances this week in the NFC North. Brandon Marshall accounted for half of the Bears’ receiving yards and TDs and almost half of their receptions as the chemistry with Jay Cutler seems to be coming back. Aaron Rodgers with his 4 TD game would be another worthy canidate. Of course we also need to mention the Vikings special teams play and the Bears defense. If they were together on the same team, their 4 combined TDs would have outscored or tied over 75% of the NFL teams this week! None of them get this week’s NFC North spotlight, because that honor belongs to Adrian Peterson.
It is just barely 9 months ago that Peterson shredded just about all of the soft tissue in his knee, yet after four weeks of the season he seems to be a real life version of Marvel’s Wolverine when it comes to healing. Over the first four games of the season, he already has a multi-touchdown game, a 100 yard game, and back to back games over 20 carries. While he hasn’t had the big play quite yet or put it all together for a massive game, you can almost feel it coming. Even with being limited during the first two games he is on pace for 1584 total yards, 8 TDs, and a surprising 40 catches. These numbers are probably his floor, which means he should finish firmly in the top 5 RBs. If the Peterson owner in your league is still questioning his freakish ability, it is time to make one last offer for him before his value jumps up to the elite RB value where it belongs. –Jacob Feldman
IDP- Lance Briggs, WLB CHI
What the heck happened to Dallas Monday night? The Bears OWNED the Cowboys in the second half and there was absolutely nothing Tony Romo could do about it. After the first pick six where Dez Bryant ran the wrong route, and the second interception where the ball smacked Kevin Ogletree in the chest and bounced into the hands of a Bears defender, it actually looked like Romo still had it under control, like he had kept his cool. Enter Lance Briggs. Briggs stepped in front of a weird looking shovel pass and scooted 74 yards for Romo’s third INT, and the Bears’ second pick six. On top of that, Briggs had six tackles, all solo.
Colin Kaepernick, QB SF
This wasn’t the best player in the NFC West this week but I believe his performance was by far the most interesting. Colin Kaepernick, long a tease of those who drafted him, suddenly appeared out of nowhere to produce some fantasy (and real) points. Now, Kaepernick isn’t going to be your new starting quarterback next week but the 49ers appear to have found a role for him in their offense, running their version of the wildcat. Kaepernick had five rushes for a total of 50 yards and one touchdown, and less notably one incomplete pass as well. This is all fairly impressive considering that’s the most he’s been on the field in a regular season game thus far in his career. With any luck Kaepernick will continue to get some playing time and who knows, he might be given a real chance to compete for the starting quarterback position in the future, his fantasy owners can hope! –TheFFGhost
IDP- Adrian Wilson, SS ARZ
The old man has still got it! Playing like the vintage Adrian Wilson, he lit the stat sheet up versus Miami with eight solo tackles, two assists, a sack, three defended passes, and two tackles for a loss. This was easily Wilson’s finest game of the year as he only had five total tackles coming in so I wouldn’t get too excited about his potential to keep this up. Daryl Washington has been gobbling up tackles like a “Hungry, Hungry, Hippo” all season and I expect that trend to continue, not this one.