Fantasy Football Awards from Week 9
By Guest Writer John Belaska:
Now that was a great week of football! There were so many interesting storylines popping up from all corners. Week nine was filled with comeback and upset victories. Players who had not been performing well started picking up there games and rookies were making huge impacts. All of this equates to a great weekend for some fantasy football. A lot of big time players were resting this week as their teams were on bye, but that should not have matter too much with a bunch of players who are available in most leagues outperforming expectations.
Quarterback of the Week- Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles)
Did he really throw for seven touchdown passes? When Peyton Manning hit that mark in the first week of the season, people were surprised but could understand how a player like Manning would be able to do it. Nick Foles was Michael Vick’s backup coming into the season. He is 24 years old and is getting his first shots as a starting quarterback. Earlier, we gave him the sleeper of the week award and expected him to do good things in the remainder of the season. Key word: “good” things. 406 passing yards and seven touchdown passes in one game are unbelievable things. There is no reason to be afraid of starting Foles going forward. Obviously, he will more than likely never put up a stat line like this again in his entire career, but when you consider these stats was more impressive than any single game Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady ever had it makes starting him look like a pretty good idea. Speaking of Rodgers, Nick Foles and company will be traveling to Green Bay this week. If Rodgers has recovered from the shoulder injury, fans are in for a shoot out and anyone on either team will be a good fantasy starter.
Running back of the Week- Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans)
Chris Johnson reminded us all of his former self in week nine against the Rams. The former NFL rushing champion burned the St. Louis defense for 150 yards and two scores of the ground. He also added three receptions for an additional 20 yards. The Rams play poor run defense so it comes as no surprise Johnson put up good numbers; however 150 yards is a nice little surprise for fantasy owners. CJ2K, as he is so fondly called, has been a nonfactor in fantasy football since his 2000 yard rushing season. So what has changed? The answer is a healthy Jake Locker and a much improve offensive line. Locker has emerged as a solid quarterback who can throw the ball downfield well and the offensive line is protecting much better than it has in the past couple of seasons. Now, teams cannot afford to load up the box to contain Johnson. If they do, Locker will simply burn them down field. The running lanes are finally open and the Johnson we all used to know and love can start playing the way he used to. The only foreseeable problem is backup running back Shonn Green. Green is a big back who will potential take away a lot of short yardage runs away from Johnson in the redzone. The Titans are facing the Jacksonville Jags this weekend. Look for Johnson to be a major factor in the game, but a warning to fantasy owners: the Jags are tough in the redzone. Chris Johnson will have to break a long run if he is to score, otherwise count on Green to vulture away his chances at a one yard touchdown.
Wide Receiver of the Week- Andre Johnson (Houston Texans)
Until week nine, Andre Johnson was only a factor in point-per-reception leagues. The Houston wide receiver leads the league in catches, but had not caught a single touchdown pass all season. That changed this weekend. Johnson’s first quarter against the heavily favored Colts was one for the ages. He ended the game with nine catches for 229 yards and three scores. Three scores in one game is a major accomplishment. This weekend, three receivers hit the mark. The others were Riley Cooper and T.Y. Hilton. However, Johnson was the only one to post over 200 receiving yards. So, how impressive was his performance? In week eight, Calvin Johnson posted over 300 receiving yards. Andre still scored six more fantasy points. As long as Case Keenum is throwing the ball, Andre Johnson will be a threat to score. Keenum has no problem throwing the long ball and trusts the team’s best receiver to go up and get it. Up next for the Texans is the Arizona Cardinals. Johnson will be doing a lot of work one on one against Patrick Peterson. If Keenum is still the starter it would not be surprising if Johnson scores, however, Peterson hurts his value in PPR leagues.
Tight End of the Week- Jimmy Graham (New Orleans Saints)
Jimmy Graham protected his title again this weekend. No tight end has proven to be more valuable than Graham. Aside from one poor week in New England, he has finished in the top three at his position every week. This weekend, he showed he is completely back to form with a great performance against the Jets, playing 60 of the Saints’ 78 offensive plays. Graham caught nine balls for 116 yards and two scores in the matchup. Look for him to have another huge game against the Cowboys’ poor pass protection in week 10.
Kicker of the Week- Nick Folk (New York Jets)
Nick Folk is a turning into a stud kicker. He has yet to miss a single field goal this season. In week nine against the New Orleans Saints he hit all of his four field goal attempts and added two more fantasy points by way of point after attempts. Folk’s value comes from the Jets’ style of offensive play. The team plays a ball control offense which moves the chains primarily through short, high percentage passes and a strong running game led by Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. When Rex Ryan’s team gets in a fourth down situation, he will gladly take the three points rather than risk turning the ball over. The Jets will rest this weekend, but Nick Folk will be a strong starting option in all fantasy football formats for the rest of the season.
Team Defense of the Week- Miami Dolphins
Technically in standard formats the Dolphins tied the number of fantasy points put up by the Chiefs’ defense. However, the Dolphins are going to get this award because some formats award more than the standard two points for a safety. The Dolphins recorded five sacks, three picks, and a fumble recovery in their matchup against the Bengals. One of those interceptions went back for six points. The Dolphins then ended up winning in overtime on a safety, which is only the third time in history this has been done. The Bengals were a heavy favorite going into the game due to their strong offense led by quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green. Miami was able to hold the Bengals to 20 points. Next week they play the Bucs who have been a nonfactor this season. If they are able to shut down Vincent Jackson, the Dolphins will once again be in the running for the top defense of the week. They are a strong start this weekend for fantasy owners who cycle through defenses based on their matchups.
Rookie of the Week- Zac Stacy (St. Louis Rams)
The Darrell Richardson experiment turned out to be a bust. The Rams then split carries between a committee of Richardson, Isaiah Pead, and Benny Cunningham. Then Zac Stacy returned from injury. The Rams gave him a chance and he has not looked back since. He now leads all rookies in rushing yards after posting 127 yards on the ground against the Titans. Stacy also added 51 yards on six receptions to the total and found the endzone twice. It appears the Rams have found their running back of the future and no longer need to worry about how they are going to replace Steven Jackson. Next week the Rams travel to Indy to take on the 27th ranked rushing defense. Stacy will be heavily relied upon due to the lack of a passing game.
Sleeper of the Week- Zac Stacy (St. Louis Rams)
Zac Stacy was a good backup and was maybe even worth a start before week nine. Now he has exploded onto the NFL rushing scene. To clear something up, Nick Foles’ performance was very impressive, but he is not a sleeper. If a player already was given the sleeper award, he can no longer be considered a sleeper because he has already broken out. It is true nobody expected him to throw for seven touchdown passes, but if that causes him to be a sleeper then Manning would have to be considered the top sleeper in week one and Calvin Johnson would have to be considered the top sleeper in week eight. Sure, Manning and Johnson are top tier players at their positions, but nobody every imagines these types of games. Nick Foles had already broken out and proved he was a strong option for starting lineups in fantasy football. Zac Stacy was a borderline option; only to be used on teams who have nothing going for them at the running back position. Now those teams have something they can start week in and week out.
Bust of the Week- Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
We knew it was coming. Eventually, the Falcons offense was going to be shut down without wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. Matt Ryan threw for 219 yards, only one touchdown, and three interceptions against the Carolina Panthers. When put into fantasy terms, he did nothing. The points for the lone touchdown were completely erased by the three picks and in many leagues the picks would even erase some of his fantasy points for his passing yards. Matt Ryan, who came into the season as a top five quarterback, only amassed six points in standard leagues. Without his star wide receivers, “Matty Ice” should be avoided in fantasy football. This is especially true next weekend against the Seattle Seahawks, who will more than likely completely shut down Atlanta’s passing attack.
Comeback Player of the Week- Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
It is about time Tom Brady gets a fantasy football award. Brady’s year has been characterized by poor play from his young wide receivers and offensive line. This has made Brady look like anybody but Tom Brady. Now he has his favorite target, Gronkowski, back and the young wide receivers are starting to get the picture. Danny Amendola also returned to the lineup this week. These things equated to Brady throwing 432 yards and four touchdowns. Brady was a top five fantasy football quarterback coming into the season, but had not performed at all up until last weekend. In many leagues, he was even available on the waiver wire. Tom Brady now has his offense firing on all cylinders and should be considered a borderline top ten fantasy quarterback going forward. The Patriots have a bye in week ten and then travel to Carolina to face the Panthers.
Fanspeak.com Most Valuable Player- Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles)
Nick Foles was on fire this weekend. He could have thrown for eight touchdowns if he had not been pulled in the third quarter. By this point in the season, many fantasy owners have been forced to resort to changing quarterbacks week to week based on matchups. This is because there are only so many elite quarterbacks, but there is a wealth of decent options at the position. Owners who trusted in the young Eagles’ gunslinger were rewarded with the second highest fantasy point total of the entire season. Nick Foles proved he should be in the running as the Eagles starting quarterback of the future and definitely proved he is a quality fantasy football quarterback for the rest of the 2013 season. If you do not believe it, consider this: prior to his hamstring injury, Michael Vick was considered a top five fantasy quarterback. Nick Foles has surpassed him in touchdown passes this season. Also, an interesting side note: In 2013, two quarterbacks have thrown for seven touchdown passes in a single game. This has never happened before. Before this season the last time a quarterback threw this many touchdowns in one game was in 1969, the same year people first stepped foot on the moon and Jimi Hendrix performed the National Anthem with his teeth at Woodstock.