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 re-draft 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
Danny Woodhead, RB NE
It was a huge week for Danny Woodhead. With fumbles from both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, the Patriots gave the bulk of the running back load to Woodhead. He responded by scoring 2 TDs on the ground while adding 5 receptions through the air. He finished 2nd in fantasy points among running backs (Adrian Peterson) for the week. Not a bad day at the office.
IDP- Kelvin Sheppard, MLB BUF
Is there a better example of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde than Kelvin Sheppard? Against run heavy teams, Sheppard can be played as a high upside LB3, but against pass heavy teams he shouldn’t even be allowed within 50 feet of a lineup. Seattle definitely qualifies as a run heavy team and Sheppard collected six solo tackles, an assist, and a sack. I have been a huge fan of Kelvin Sheppard since he was drafted and I’m hoping 2013 brings an every down role.
Tennessee Titans, D/ST
Titans DST – How about the Titans defense helping win an ugly game on national TV? They held Sanchez to 131 yards and recovered six turnovers. It’s not likely that anyone playing in the playoffs started them in fantasy, but I felt they deserve a shout out.
IDP- J.J. Watt, DE HOU
I really don’t want to give this mention to Watt every week, but it’s so difficult not to. I felt even more obligated since he played such a vital role in eliminating me from playoff contention in one of my leagues. A 3-4 defensive end just doesn’t rack up 10 solo tackles in a single game. Then you add three sacks and a ridiculous six tackles for a loss and it all boiled down to a case of have-and-have nots. If you had him you probably won, if you didn’t have him you’re probably just as sour as I am.
Heath Miller, TE PIT
For a guy that wasn’t drafted on fantasy teams this fall and on a team with terrible offensive line play, Miller has been a really surprising fantasy tight end all season long. Sunday was no different as he set a career high in touchdowns in a season with eight. He is also on pace to pass his personal best in both catches and yards. All in all, Miller has been one of the year’s best waiver wire adds.
IDP- Josh Bynes, MLB BAL
From poor house to the Penthouse, Bynes was signed to the active roster when Ray Lewis went down with his triceps injury, but it was not until Dannell Ellerbe injured his ankle did Bynes get his shot. Against the Broncos, Bynes popped off for 11 solo tackles and two assists. As long as Ellerbe is out, Bynes is a fine plug and play for Championship week but highly doubtful to hold any value beyond that.
Ryan Mathews, SD RB
Mathews ended his disappointing 2012 last week breaking his collarbone for the second time this year. The 2012 offseason first round dynasty pick currently ranks as the 27th running back in standard PPR leagues on a points per game basis behind the likes of Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Reggie Bush. That’s disgusting for a guy many expected to be a perennial top five back. He finishes 2012 with zero games rushing over 100 yards, one game with more than 20 fantasy points, and only one touchdown. So why is he on here? I think he’s a great buy low candidate headed into the off-season.
IDP- Derek Wolfe, DE DEN
It’s been an up and down rookie campaign for Derek Wolfe, but I couldn’t be more excited for his dynasty outlook. After Sunday’s game of three solos, one assist, and a sack, Wolfe now has four sacks on the season. Nothing eye popping but being in a rotation with Robert Ayers has held his production back a bit. Playing on a defense with super studs, Von Miller, Champ Bailey, and Elvis Dumervil, the opportunity for single coverage will always be there. He’s definitely an off-season target for dynasty IDP leagues.
Kirk Cousins, QB WAS
The surging Redskins didn’t miss a beat without their dynamic signal caller as Kirk Cousins stepped in going 26/37, for 329 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as he carried the team to a win and the NFC East lead against a Browns team that had won three in a row. Cousins solid play solidifies his value as a handcuff to RG3 (for those that are into that) and also a potential trade target for future QB needy teams, especially considering the draft pick hole that the Skins find themselves in post-RG3 trade.
IDP- Brandon Graham, DE PHI
If I were Brandon Graham I would send ex-teammate Jason Babin one heck of a Christmas gift. Since Babin’s release, Graham has racked up four sacks in his last three games, including two and a half against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Graham was teetering dangerously close to being a draft bust, but the ditching of the Wide-9 line scheme has really put him in a position to succeed. Graham should definitely be near the top of off-season trade target lists.
Mark Ingram, RB NO
Saints running back Mark Ingram has been largely considered a bust his first two seasons, but he has been improving throughout the season. In week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ingram posted his best game of the season, rushing for 90 yards and a score on only 14 rushing attempts. The Saints will always be a pass heavy offense under Drew Brees, but Ingram is proving to have some value in dynasty leagues and makes a good buy low target as we enter the off-season.
IDP- Greg Hardy, DE CAR
There has been a changing of the guard in Carolina this year on the defensive line. Since Julius Peppers took his talents to the Windy City, Charles Johnson was the team’s top pass rusher. Was. This year Greg Hardy has nearly tripled his previous career high in sacks (four) with 11. Hardy is one of the best young defensive ends in fantasy. If you have him keep him. If you don’t have him go get him before he’s too expensive.
James Jones, WR GB
It isn’t often that you get a three touchdown day out of anyone that isn’t playing quarterback, but James Jones was one of those this week. Starting in place of Jordy Nelson, Jones made the most of his chance. Jones has always had a lot of talent, but he has struggled with drops, poor route running, and consistent effort. If he can fix those issues, he should have a solid role next year, assuming Greg Jennings and maybe Jermichael Finley move on to new teams. Don’t go overboard though, because Jones will still be at best the 3rd option in the passing game behind Nelson and Randall Cobb. He’ll be a decent bye week fill-in/flex play next year with WR2 upside when injuries happen.
IDP- Harrison Smith, S MIN
The light has really come on for this rookie. Smith has been trending upward all season long and should only get better in year two. Against the Rams, he collected nine solo tackles and one assist. On a team that doesn’t spend a lot of time on offense, Smith is a very high end DB2 in tackle heavy formats.
Sam Bradford, QB STL
This week the NFC Player of the Week didn’t win his game but he posted a very strong fantasy performance, and strong fantasy performances are why you’re on this site, right? The player I’m talking about is of course Sam Bradford who turned in a 377 yards passing performance that was complimented with three passing touchdowns. Bradford’s performance is the highest amount of passing yards in a game this season by an NFC West quarterback. The strength of his performance was not enough to elevate the Rams to a win unfortunately for Rams fans as the Rams feel to the Vikings 36-22.
IDP- Janoris Jenkins, CB STL
Playing opposite of Cortland Finnegan will grant you quite a few liberties. Lining up versus teams’ number two wide receiver is a big plus for someone with Jenkins’ ball skills. The odd thing is, Jenkins is a lot like a younger version of Finnegan, he’s scrappy and tends to pop up with big plays, whether it is an interception or a sack. This week Jenkins racked up eight tackles, all solo. Unless your league requires you start an actual corner back, the position often goes largely ignored, but Jenkins is definitely a name to watch if this offense can force teams to throw more.