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
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB BUF
It was a down week for most of the AFC East for the most part. Even Fitzpatrick’s line wasn’t all that pretty, but he did throw for 2 scores and also chipped in a rushing TD. In all, it earned him the 10th highest scoring fantasy day among quarterbacks in week 13. Given the high stakes of week 13 (playoff seeding), if you had to start Fitzpatrick, you were probably pleased with the results.
IDP- Reshad Jones, S MIA
For the second time in three weeks, Jones put up an IDP monster game. Against the Patriots, Jones had 10 tackles, all solo, a sack, and an interception. That brings his three game total to 24 solo and five assists. Proven by the two monster games, it’s going to be hard to predict such breakout games. Miami had three defenders with double digit tackles versus New England, so the opportunities were abundant.
Andrew Luck, QB IND
Yet another stinker in the AFC South. The leading rusher for the Texans was Justin Forsett (not Arian Foster). Reggie Wayne had a weak outing in an otherwise electric game. No one did anything on the Jags and the Titans are just plain awful. Chances are if you are reading this and still in contention you don’t have anyone from the AFC South as a key member of your fantasy team. Must say I like this Luck kid. Seems that he might have a chance to be pretty good. Not sure how he flew under the radar in the draft process.
IDP- J.J. Watt, DE HOU
It’s getting old picking J.J. Watt so often, but nobody else in the division is stepping up and Watt refuses to slow down. This week’s game versus Tennessee was no different. Watt totaled five tackles, all solo, one sack (15.5 for the season), three tackles for loss, and two more passes defended. The guy is leading his team in tackles from a 3-4 defensive end spot. That’s insane.
Josh Gordon, WR CLE
Gordon racked up six catches for 116 yards, including a 44 yard touchdown. On a team desperately seeking playmakers, this year’s draft class seems to have finally paid off. The young(ish) trio of Gordon, Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden have given Browns fans the most to be excited about since the Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Jamal Lewis days. Gordon’s second half of the season has his dynasty value trending upward.
IDP- Paul Kruger, DE BAL
There wasn’t a ton to choose from in this division so Paul Kruger and his one solo, one sack performance gets the nod. After tallying five sacks over the last four games, Kruger is now up to 6.5 on the season. We knew filling the void left by Terrell Suggs’ injury was going to be difficult, but Kruger actually hit his stride when Suggs returned from injury. Now comes the real test if Suggs misses more time with this latest torn biceps injury.
Danario Alexander, SD WR
Many are extremely cautious in supporting Alexander as he has the well-documented injury history. However, over the last four weeks, Alexander is a top five receiver over receivers like AJ Green, Brandon Marshall and many others. He’s been tremendous and is clearly Phillip Rivers go-to-guy being targeted close to ten times per week. There have been various stints over the past few years where fantasy owners have jumped aboard the hype train for this guy, but this is the first time he’s been productive over an extended period and been able to stay healthy. Sure, we need to be cautious with the injury issues, but this guy looks to be one of the big second half surprises.
IDP- Von Miller, SLB DEN
Refusing to let J.J. Watt run away with defensive player of the year honors, Miller is putting up very similar numbers. Against Tampa Bay, he posted five solo tackles, one assist, one sack and had an interception returned for a touchdown. Miller and Watt are both exceptional talents, obviously, but the greatest trait they have to offer is youth. We theoretically have another decade of watching these two tear through the league.
Bryce Brown, RB PHI
This week featured 24 carries, 169 yards, 2 TDs, 4 receptions, 14 yards and 1 fumble lost. Brown has lit the league on fire the last two weeks with 347 rushing yards, 8.1 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns. Only 3 lost fumbles have marred that performance, but that is a correctable problem long-term (see Barber, Tiki and Peterson, Adrian). Unfortunately for Brown owners, he is signed through 2015 and there is the little matter of LeSean McCoy playing in front of him. For the time being, think of him as Ben Tate 2.0.
IDP- Brandon Graham, DE PHI
After the somewhat puzzling release of Jason Babin, Graham was put into the starting lineup and for one week at least, it was a lot less puzzling. Graham abused the poor offensive line of Dallas to the tune of four solo tackles, two assists, one and half sacks, and four quarterback hits. Further muddying the waters, Philadelphia fired defensive line coach Jim Washburn this week, which should also mean they’ll be moving on from the Wide-9 scheme. Graham is firmly back on the IDP radar and should be rostered if you can still get him.
Lance Moore, WR NO
The New Orleans Saints have so many offensive weapons it is hard for defenders to account for them all each game. In week 13, it was once again Lance Moore’s time to shine. The Saints wide receiver consistently got open in the middle of the field and caught seven balls for 123 yards, leading the team in receptions and yards. Moore should continue to be a great target for quarterback Drew Brees and teams focus on stopping tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Marques Colston.
IDP- William Moore, S ATL
The NFL Network cannot catch a break. Every week they get an offensive dud. Drew Brees was riding a 53 consecutive game streak with a passing touchdown and it ended on Thursday, thanks in large part to William Moore. Moore totaled 11 tackles, nine solo, two tackles for loss and two of Drew Brees’ FIVE interceptions.
Mike Thomas, WR DET
With Titus Young acting like a spoiled 5 year old and Ryan Broyles ripping up his “good” knee, there is a gaping hole at the wide receiver position for the Lions. Their passing game has accounted for at least 260 yards in every game except for one. We all know that Calvin Johnson will get his (and is breaking the Madden Curse in the process), but someone else needs to step up. The tight ends will account for some of it, but Mike Thomas is the most likely wide receiver to start opposite Megatron and enjoy the single coverage. He isn’t a great play, but if you’re desperate for a WR3 or WR4 in the playoffs, he might work for the short term.
IDP- Harrison Smith, S MIN
This was another great IDP outing for Harrison Smith. Against Aaron Rodgers, Smith had eight solo tackles, three assists, and an interception. Smith’s game has adapted very quickly and fluidly to the pro level and he has many years of IDP starter talent in him. (Go Irish!)
Chris Givens, WR STL
This week saw one great game in the NFC West, one decent game and one stinker of a game. This week’s MVP comes from the great game, thankfully. The St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers battled to their second overtime of the season and almost to their second tie of the season. On the Rams side rookie Chris Givens stepped up in a big way catching 11 receptions for 92 yards, by far his best performance of the season thus far. His performance helped the Rams keep pace in what turned out to be a war. I don’t think I’m alone here when I say I’m really happy this rivalry is returning as it produced numerous amazing games through the late 80’s and early 90’s.
IDP- Bobby Wagner, MLB SEA
I can’t believe how many great IDP rookies that have excelled this year. Wagner has been the linebacker Pete Carroll has desperately needed to run his defense. Against the Seahawks overtime win against Chicago, Wagner had nine solo tackles, two assists, and another sack. It’s going to be real interesting to see who walks away with Defensive Rookie of the Year honors between Lavonte David, Luke Kuechly, and Wagner.