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 are going to try to focus on players who 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 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 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 – 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
Charles Clay, TE Dolphins
It has been a long and disappointing season for Clay. But on this day, against a tough Seattle defense, he had his best day as a pro. He was actively targeted by Ryan Tannehill and hauled in six passes for 84 yards, including a nice over the shoulder 29 yard game tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. It remains to be seen if this was a breakout game for the second year TE or just a one game fluke.
IDP- Steve Gregory, S NEP
Raise your hand if you saw that coming…anyone? Gregory had his best game of the season on Thanksgiving night when he had a season high five solo tackles, one assist, two fumble recoveries and an interception returned for touchdown. I don’t care how your IDP scoring is set up, that is a MONSTER game. Even after this though, I would not be hurrying to add him in IDP leagues. This game was obviously a fluke, and “The Hoodie” has a new defensive game plan each week. He could just as easily put up a big ol’ goose egg next week. I don’t know if you get bonus points for “fans lost” but Gregory might have single handedly rid the world of “Fireman Ed”. Thanks Steve!
T.Y. Hilton, WR/PR IND
Well, the AFC South returned to its usual fantasy wasteland self. Example: The top scoring Titans player was Rob Bironas. The one player who caught my attention (yet again) was T.Y. Hilton. I’ve actually been using him on a redraft team that was decimated by injury and he’s been a nice find. If he’s on your waiver wire, he shouldn’t be. If he’s owned, I’d keep him on your radar as a player you might offer a late first or early second for at draft time. My only concern with the Colts wide receivers is that it’s a crowded group. I could see scenarios where after Wayne, it’s tough to know who to start.
IDP- Jerrell Freeman, ILB IND
As a Pat Angerer owner, this KILLS me. I’ve been holding out hope that Freeman was simply holding down the fort until Freeman returned to full health. That is in no way the case any longer. Freeman has picked up the nickname “Baby Ray” because of the similarities to Ravens MLB Ray Lewis. Freeman put up another stellar effort on Sunday versus the Bills when he racked up 16 total tackles, nine solo, and a sack. Freeman is not the “place holder” Angerer owners were expecting. He is now the IDP linebacker to own in Indy. Angerer has barely sniffed the field since his return from injury.
Mohamed Sanu, WR CIN
For the second time in three weeks, the award goes to Sanu. He has turned into Cincinnati’s Swiss Army knife, catching, running and throwing. In fantasy football, you want guys who find the end zone and Sanu has rare ability. Against the Raiders on Sunday, he scored twice on five catches and just 29 yards, but did rush the ball once for five yards. With Jermaine Gresham and AJ Green on the field, Sanu will continue to find open spots in coverage. As a fantasy asset, he will be a very interesting player to watch develop as long as Jay Gruden is in town, which might be the biggest obstacle.
IDP- Lawrence Timmons, ILB PIT
I’m admittedly not a huge fan of Timmons as an IDP asset, but he has been playing good football lately. In my opinion, Timmons has always been a better real life linebacker than fantasy producer. Against the Browns though, he flashbacked to the 2010 version of himself with six solos, four assists and a 53 yard interception returned for a touchdown. With Ben Roethlisberger injured, this team will need to lean heavily on it’s defense and that is when Timmons shines. Unfortunately, when the offense fumbles the ball eight times, there is only so much a defense can do.
Knowshon Moreno, RB DEN
Many, including myself, expected Ronnie Hillman to be the beneficiary of the Willis McGahee injury. Those who brought up Moreno as a realistic replacement were, in essence, laughed at. To think a guy who was a healthy scratch all year would get a majority of the carries was ludicrous. Well, that’s exactly what happened. Moreno finished with 20 carries for 85 yards and four catches for 26 yards, while Hillman carried the ball just three times for nine yards. The best part was that Moreno actually looked good. If he happens to be on your wire still, he’s a must pick up given the immediate opportunity, his draft position, and his collegiate success. The big question is whether he can maintain this type of production. He’s certainly going to get the opportunity to determine that.
IDP- Demorrio Williams, ILB SDC
With star linebacker Donald Butler out of the lineup, Williams stepped right in and put up some very Butler-esque numbers with nine solo tackles, an assist and a tackle for loss. With Butler not expected to play this week either, Williams is a nice one week fill in, but lacks any long term stand alone IDP value.
Hakeem Nicks, WR NYG
Finally, Nicks owners can see the light at the end of the tunnel. More encouraging than the five catches, 77 yards and the touchdown were the 13 targets, including multiple attempts to throw the fade to Nicks in the corner of the end zone. Nicks looked as healthy as he has all season, and Eli and Nicks will get their timing down on that fade pattern. Good times are here again, and they should get better.
IDP- Chase Blackburn, MLB NYG
Blackburnis a very interesting player. For whatever reason, he doesn’t get a lot of attention (good or bad) in IDP leagues. He’s actually a free agent in all three of my own personal IDP leagues. He’s the highest scoring available linebacker actually. He doesn’t put up eye popping numbers, but he’s been pretty consistent and sprinkles in the occasional big play like versus the Packers. He had four solo tackles, two assists, and a sack – that’s solid LB3 numbers to me, even without the sack. With the list of injured linebackers around the league growing daily ,Blackburn won’t be a free agent for long.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB ATL
For weeks now, we have seen the Atlanta Falcons make the subtle transition at running back, giving veteran starter Michael Turner fewer and fewer carries, while second year back Jacquizz Rodgers has earned more touches. This week, facing division rival Tampa Bay, the upstart running back easily out rushed Turner 49-17. Rodgers also caught two passes for thirty yards. With the struggles of Turner throughout the season, don’t be surprised to see Rodgers become even more involved in Atlanta’s strong offense.
IDP- Sherrod Martin, S CAR
If you watched that terrible game versus the Eagles on Monday night you know his night could have been MUCH bigger than it was. He had two chances to pick off Nick Foles in the red zone but couldn’t hold on to either one. He was still able to collect seven solo tackles and an assist. Currently rotating in and out with Haruki Nakamura, Martin is a name to watch and worth a stash in deeper dynasty leagues. He has nice instincts and some ball hawking tendencies.
Michael Bush, RB CHI
Outside of the usual suspects like Calvin Johnson and those who recently appeared in this column like Ryan Broyles, the NFC North was pretty quiet this week. Our spotlight player gets the honor, not because of anything that he did, but rather because of Matt Forte’s injury. There isn’t much else on the Bears roster at the position, which makes Bush the unquestioned 3 down back for the next few weeks. He should provide solid RB2 numbers for the next few weeks as we head into the fantasy playoffs. If you’re a team that didn’t make them, trade him to a contender for a player with long term upside.
IDP- Harrison Smith, S MIN
I’m a big Harrison Smith fan, but I’m an admitted Notre Dame homer too. Smith has had an up and down rookie season due to injury and typical rookie mistakes but it seems like it’s starting to click with him. After adding seven total tackles against the Bears, all solo, he’s now up to 18 total over his last three games. Smith is a very solid young safety and IDP dynasty asset.
Steven Jackson, RB STL
There were lots of potential candidates this week for the NFC player of the week, especially young rookie talents. However this week we are going to recognize a hardened veteran, Steven Jackson. Jackson looked young, fresh, and determined en route to St. Louis’ 31-17 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday. Jackson rushed 24 times for 139 yards which averages to 5.8 yards a carry. Not too bad at all for a running back many have written off for being over the hill!
IDP- Janoris Jenkins, CB STL
If your league requires you to start a cornerback, this is the type you want. A gambler who takes enough chances to make plays, but not enough to get benched. Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan are going to form one of the most intimidating cornerback duos for years to come. While both are beatable if you catch them gambling, both are able to burn quarterbacks if they catch them sleeping. This was on full display when Jenkins picked off two Ryan Lindley passes and took them both to the house for touchdowns. Jenkins is a high risk, high reward play every week in IDP leagues, but he’s a baller.