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
Ryan Tannehill, QB MIA
With the Patriots and Jets both on byes, and the fact the Bills were sputtering against the Texans this week, it was slim pickings for the AFC East, so it came down to Dolphins and Colts matchup. Largely overshadowed by the huge day Andrew Luck had, Tannehill quietly had a solid day of his own. His 290 yard, one touchdown performance marked the fourth straight game where he did not throw an interception. The work he’s doing with the very limited weapons he has to work with is truly a remarkable achievement. His season stats don’t tell the story of just how well he’s playing.
IDP- Nolan Carroll, CB MIA
Third year corner back Nolan Carroll has been on a tear the last three weeks compiling 23 solo tackles, one assist and a sack. Even more impressive was his performance versus the Colts this past Sunday where he racked up tens solo tackles. Carroll is worth an add for the rest of the year but his long term value remains to be seen. His production reminds me a lot of the McCourty brothers (Jason and Devin) in the fashion that his year to year production could be very difficult to predict.
Andrew Luck, QB IND
I’m not supposed to pick stud players for this column, but Luck deserves recognition. He set the rookie record for passing yards and has his team squarely in the playoff mix. Let’s remember the Colts were the worst team in football last year. I don’t care what anyone says, I want him over RGIII. If you happen to have Luck, don’t trade him on a “sell high.” He’s not a sell high, the consistency is already materializing. He’s truly a once a decade player.
IDP- Akeem Ayers, DE/LB TEN
Akeem Ayers role has changed from full time outside linebacker to part time defensive lineman. The last two weeks it has paid off by Ayers getting to the quarterback once each game. Sunday versus the Bears he also chipped in six solos and two assists. Ayers’ value would go up substantially if he was defensive end eligible in your league, but as a linebacker I would look elsewhere for steadier production outside of plus matchups.
Isaac Redman, RB PIT
Another week, another Steelers running back plugged into the starting lineup. This time it was Redman running through the Giants defense to the tune of 26 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers backfield will continue to be a weekly crapshoot, but as long as Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer continue to miss time, Redman is a guy to monitor. Once healthy, this turns into a full blown running back by committee, then it’s hands off in my eyes.
IDP- Cary Williams, CB BAL
Outside of Chicago, there isn’t a cornerback hotter in IDP leagues than Cary Williams. Over the last five games, he’s been on fire by either delivering an interception or a sack. He’s also recorded 25 solo tackles and an assist over that same span. In leagues that require you start a cornerback, Williams is a no brainer, but he’s worth starting over most safeties right now while he’s on this sweet hot streak.
Danario Alexander, WR SD
With Vincent Brown slow to return from injury, Alexander is set to see increased playing time after catching all three of his targets for 61 yards last Thursday. With no clear number one receiver, this is another chance for the super talented young receiver to breakout and maintain a starting spot while proving to be a valuable fantasy commodity. Coach Norv Turner has even said that Alexander will continue to be a big part of the game plan. The question with him will continue to be whether he can stay healthy, but he should be a cheap acquisition as a result of that.
IDP- Von Miller, SLB DEN
In a year where sacks are coming in spurts, it was Von Miller’s turn against Cincinnati. Miller ate up the Cincy offensive line to the tune of three Andy Dalton sacks to go along with his four solo tackles and two assists. Playing with the lead is going to be very advantageous for Miller and Elvis Dumervil and I fully expect this dynamic pass rushing duo to finish the year strong.
Logan Paulsen, TE WAS
This was a down week for the entire division. Nobody did anything that impressive from a fantasy perspective. So instead of throwing Tony Romo a pity nominee for his 321 yard, one touchdown game, we’ll give it to third year tight end Logan Paulsen. Filling in for the injured Fred Davis, Paulsen has reeled in 13 catches for 178 yards and zero touchdowns over the last three games. In PPR leagues, Paulsen obviously has more value and can be plugged into lineups in desperate situations, but long term his value is directly related to Fred Davis’ presence, although RGIII wasn’t exactly force feeding Davis before his injury.
IDP- Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, & Justin Tuck, DE NYG
Arizona, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are obvious offensive lines to target in IDP leagues due to weak tackle play and/or quarterbacks who hold the ball too long – enter the Giants performance from Sunday. JPP, Tuck, and Osi combined for four sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, which isn’t a huge surprise, but the number of tackles racked up by the trio was. JPP tallied six solos and two assists, Osi had five solos and two assists, while Tuck chipped in three solos and two assists. All three had fantastic days in IDP leagues and it’s possible Osi was cut loose at some point in your league. He should be on a roster.
Chris Ivory, RB NO
With the injury to New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles, backup Chris Ivory was active for the first time this season and was a solid contributor to the Saints win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. Ivory rushed nine times for 42 yards and a touchdown. Although the Saints went with a committee approach to the running game, Ivory has proven in the past he can handle a larger role. In each of the past two seasons, Ivory received a larger role as the season drew to a close. We could see a repeat this year. While running backs Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are owned in nearly every dynasty league, Ivory is a player you could target on your waiver wire this week.
IDP- Lavonte David, WLB TB
As incredible as Doug Martin was on offense, David was almost his equal on defense. The rookie totaled 14 solo tackles and two assists. This rookie class for Tampa Bay is going to pay dividends for many, many years with Doug Martin, Lavonte David, and Mark Barron. All three players will pay off very nicely in fantasy circles too. You can start David with confidence.
Ryan Broyles, DET WR
This was yet another week where the NFC North produced some very high quality performances from several people who have already had a moment in the spotlight. Brandon Marshall is a beast and continues to account for half of the Bears passing. Mikel LeShoure carried the Lions and fantasy teams with his three touchdowns. Matt Forte had over 100 yards on just 12 carries and Adrian Peterson is just a beast. This week’s spotlight goes to an up and comer, Ryan Broyles.
Some don’t remember that Broyles was a record setting receiver in college and well on his way to being a first round draft pick. He was billed by some as a “faster Wes Welker” as a prospect until he tore his ACL. Finally about a year removed from the injury he is rounding back into form and has been able to take advantage of the attention that Megatron draws. His role should continue to grow and he could easily prove more valuable and more consistent, especially in PPR leagues, than teammate Titus Young.
IDP- Brian Urlacher, MLB CHI
Lets give props to the old man for looking spry on his 46 yard interception return for touchdown. Urlacher turned back the hands of time by also chipping in five solo tackles and two assists. Unfortunately, performances like this are few and far between for the wily vet as he is no longer a key IDP asset. He is, however, part of one of the most insane D/ST units I have seen from a fantasy perspective in a very long time. The amount of touchdowns this unit is producing is astonishing. It was nice to see the Urlacher of old, though.
John Skelton, QB ARZ
Two of the NFC West’s four teams were on byes this week (San Francisco and St. Louis). This leaves the potential pool of weekly MVP candidates much lower than normal, unfortunately. That being said, this week’s NFC West divisional MVP goes to John Skelton. Skelton was awarded this week’s award mainly due to his passing performance where he passed for 306 yards and one touchdown. He managed to keep the interceptions to a minimum as well, tossing only one. Unfortunately for Skelton, his performance wasn’t enough to lift the Cardinals past the Packers whom they lost to by a score of 17-31.
IDP- Bobby Wagner, MLB SEA
Not nearly as celebrated as fellow rookie Luke Kuechly, Wagner has been just as impressive from an IDP standpoint. Against the Vikings, Wagner totaled five solo tackles, five assists, and a sack. Over the last four games Wagner has a total of 44 tackles, 25 solo and 19 assists. With a very favorable schedule to close out the year, Wagner is a guy to target.