Each week, we 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
Stevan Ridley, RB Patriots
Despite the Patriots adding yet another running back to the mix (Shane Vereen), Ridley still manged to make the most of his 15 carries. Despite the limited touches, he still rushed for 127 yards and scored a TD on the day. This marks the 4th 100 yard game for him this season and is putting up high end RB2 numbers. As frustrating as it is owning a Belichick running back, if you own him, you’re starting him.
IDP – DeMario Davis, ILB NYJ
As the games played streak of Bart Scott’s came to an end Sunday, his replacement in both the short and long term stepped in and performed well. Davis didn’t do anything gaudy (good or bad), but he put together a modest six total tackles, three assists and three solos. The writing is clearly on the wall in New York and Davis may have already replaced Scott permanently in the Jets lineup. He’s worth adding in IDP leagues as the arrow is pointing up.
Cecil Shorts, WR JAX
Finally the AFC South makes my job easy! Cecil Shorts is the WR to own in Jacksonville for the remainder of the year. He’s been heavily targeted, making the most of what comes his way, and may even be on your waiver wire (his ownership percentage is still quite low on MFL). Blackmon owners shouldn’t worry as he’s the more gifted athlete, but for now Shorts is the way to go.
IDP – Jerrell Freeman, ILB IND
Everyone expected Freeman to fade away when Pat Angerer returned to action, but I guess Freeman never got the memo. Instead, Freeman came through like a boss with a game high 14 total tackles (11 solo and three assists). Until we see the pre-injury Angerer show back up, there is no way I’m taking Freeman out of my lineup – ride the hot hand as long as you can.
Trent Richardson, RB CLE
A week after being pulled out of the Indianapolis game by the coach for running without purpose, Richardson bounced back from his rib cartilage injury in a very impressive way. Richardson gashed the Chargers’ No.2 ranked run defense to the tune of 122 yards on 24 carries and the game’s lone touchdown. There is very little doubt about the talent, fit, and fantasy potential of Richardson in this offense for many years to come. For the first time in a very long time, Browns fans have something to be excited about.
IDP – James-Michael Johnson, SLB CLE
A pre-season favorite of many IDP players, Johnson’s season got off to a slow start due to an oblique injury that forced him to miss the first three games of the year. Sunday, JMJ flashed his potential as he racked up five solo tackles and five assists for a total of ten tackles. Johnson’s greatest trait is his ability to play all three linebacker positions, so playing time should come easy once the coaching staff feels the fourth round rookie is ready. He’s a great stash player in deep leagues.
Virgil Green, DEN TE
Many expected Julius Thomas to be the future tight end option for Denver given the gushing reports last summer. He’s struggled to see snaps and take advantage of Peyton Manning running the offense. Instead, Virgil Green appears to be slowly stepping up despite missing time due to suspension. Against the Saints on Sunday, he posted three catches for 44 yards – that was marginally better than Jacob Tamme. Green is a tight end with upside due to his athletic ability with the potential to succeed Tamme down the line. He should be watched and is worth a stash in deeper leagues.
Extra: If you’re not keeping tabs on him, Ronnie Hillman continues to see more snaps and more carries. His Sunday night performance against the Saints when he carried the ball 14 times for 84 yards is a clear indication of his potential once he takes hold of the starting job, which is likely to be in 2013.
IDP – Phillip Wheeler and Miles Burris, OLB OAK
These two guys are playing incredible football right now. Enough so that Oakland has taken top-10 pick Rolando McClain off the field all together on passing downs in favor of a fourth round rookie. Wheeler had a game high 11 tackles (all solo) and a sack while Burris chipped in seven tackles, also all solo. For the first time in a very long time, Oakland has a very impressive and young linebacking unit. Wheeler is most certainly not on your waiver wire, but Burris probably is, so add him. He’s the real deal as a LB3 with upside.
Jason Witten, TE DAL
Partially written off prior to this season as aging and then as injured, Witten has resurfaced with a vengeance now that his spleen injury is behind him. Now the PPR TE4 (non-PPR TE7) with his bye week behind him, Witten looks like an every week TE1 no questions asked after his 18 reception, 167 yard effort. While he only has scored one touchdown, that number should go up. As his one-handed grab on the Cowboys final drive Sunday showed, he has the most reliable hands on the team and he’s Tony Romo’s favorite option and security blanket.
IDP – Stevie Brown, S NYG
While filling in for the injured Kenny Phillips, Stevie Brown made Tony Romo’s day a living nightmare. Not only did he have a game high eight tackles (all solo), but he picked Romo off not once, but twice. Brown is name to watch as a plug and play when either Antrel Rolle or Kenny Phillips miss time due to his ability to make plays, he has five interceptions on limited playing time this season.
Josh Freeman, QB TB
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman came into the season with many doubters following a disappointing 2011 season and now playing under an entirely new regime. Freeman got off to a slow start in 2012, but has been on fire in recent weeks. In last Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, Freeman posted 262 yards and three touchdowns as Tampa blasted the Vikings. Since week four, Freeman has been the QB5, outscoring players like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton over that time period.
IDP – Greg Hardy, DE CAR
It’s become quite obvious that if you own a defensive lineman playing against Arizona or Chicago, you play them and don’t look back – this was the case this week with Carolina’s defensive line as they totaled six sacks of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Hardy brought him down three times and added two additional solo tackles. Teammates Charles Johnson added two sacks and Dwan Edwards chipped one in too. Johnson is definitely rostered in IDP leagues and Hardy most likely is too, but if not he can be added and played with the right match ups.
Titus Young Sr., WR DET
The loss of Calvin Johnson’s owners has to be someone else’s gain. In the case of this week, it was Titus Young Sr. Young posted a 9/100/2 line this week, helping to lead the Lions to victory in Seattle. While I expect Young to be rather inconsistent, he showed what he can do if teams continue to triple team Megatron. Expect him to continue to be a very solid WR3 with the occasional big game here and there when teams put too much of a focus on the other weapons in that offense like Seattle did this past week.
IDP – Tim Jennings, CB CHI
Jennings has been on fire this year and Sunday was no different as he picked off Cam Newton twice (one going for six) in the “Crybaby Bowl.” Jennings also produced eight solo tackles to go with his big plays. He now has six interceptions through the team’s first seven games and should continue to produce as teams stay away from Charles Tillman.
San Francisco 49ers, DST
For Week eight, I’m going to tag the San Francisco 49ers defense as the player of the week. The 49ers defense held their ground and prevented the Cardinals from getting into the endzone despite John Skelton passing for 290 yards. By preventing the Cardinals from scoring most of the night, the 49ers were able to bring the points per game scored against their defense down to a league leading 12.9 PPG. The 49ers were also able to sack Skelton four separate times en route to a 24-3 win and solidifying their claim to the NFC player of the week crown.
IDP – Daryl Washington, ILB ARI
As much as I want to give this to someone on the cusp of breaking out or an up and comer, I can’t deny the awesomeness that has been Daryl Washington. Monday night he was the lone bright spot on a team that was thoroughly man handled by the 49ers. Washington had six solo tackles and two more sacks, which brings him to eight on the season. From a 3-4 ILB, that’s incredible. He is the top linebacker in IDP leagues and shows no signs of slowing down.