Before I get to this week’s rankings, I want to hand out a few awards. The fantasy year is approaching the postseason, and it’s time to give credit to the players who got you where you are now.
In one league, C.J. Spiller, Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson have me sitting at 8-4 and looking at a first round bye, and those boys deserve some credit.
In another league, Michael Vick, DeMarco Murray and Greg Jennings put me out of playoff contention five weeks ago and believe me; they will get their credit as well.
My awards aren’t necessarily based upon total points, but rather that player’s points compared to where they were drafted. Sure, Aaron Rodgers and Ray Rice have been productive, but that’s what is expected of top five picks like those two.
Andrew Luck, on the other hand, has been magical because of the fact that you got him in the 12th round and has produced on a top-ten level. Luck has scored more fantasy points this year than Cam Newton, who went just a bit higher than Luck did. That said, Luck doesn’t win my MVP award.
That belongs to the man taken one spot after him in the 2012 NFL draft.
Most Valuable Player
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
RG3 was great at Baylor, and many anticipated that he would be a good NFL player. But nobody guessed that he would storm onto the scene and be the most productive fantasy quarterback in 2012. Those who didn’t draft a QB until the late rounds and grabbed Griffin as their starter are probably looking good right now, making him my MVP.
Honorable mention: Doug Martin, Peyton Manning, Brandon Marshall, Tony Gonzalez
Sleeper of the year
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller began the year by jumping out to the NFL rushing lead despite being part of a time share with Fred Jackson. Spiller never looked back, and still leads the NFL in yards-per-carry at a monstrous 6.7 yards. For a guy I got in the 9th round, he’s as good as they get.
Honorable mention: Stevan Ridley
Waiver wire All-Star
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Cobb was undrafted in many leagues, but didn’t stay on the waiver wire for long, as he soon became one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets. Cobb has scored seven receiving TDs this year and has racked up 730 receiving/ rushing yards. In leagues that count return yards, he’s even more killer: Cobb has a return touchdown and over 1,000 return yards.
Honorable mention: Cecil Shorts, T.Y. Hilton, Alfred Morris
Least Valuable Player
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
A consensus first-rounder, Mojo was first ineffective and then injured. The Jags, out of playoff contention, have had no reason to rush him back to action, making him 2012’s biggest bust.
Honorable mention: Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews
Ok, on to this week’s rankings.
1. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
You didn’t think I was going to crown him MVP and then put someone else ahead of him did you?
2. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
He hung 411 yards and three TDs on the Saints in their last meeting and now the Saints have to come to the Georgia Dome for a rematch. Matty Ice may fare even better this time around.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
There simply isn’t a more consistent option out there. Since a dismal outing against Atlanta in week two, Manning has thrown for 300+ yards six times. He’s thrown a TD pass in every game so far in 2012, and has 6 three-score games. In Lehman’s terms, Peyton is great (and Tampa Bay is bad).
4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady has put together consecutive games with 300+ yards and three TDs. Miami doesn’t defend the pass well, so I expect the trend to continue.
5. Eli Manning, New York Giants
I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Eli and the Giants are back. It looks to me like the week off was all they needed to get back on track. Washington’s 31st-ranked pass defense will help Eli as well.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
It’s a testament to the Packers’ offensive line to see Rodgers ranked 6th against a team that ranks in the bottom five against opposing quarterbacks. Rodgers needs some time, and may not get much against Jared Allen and the Vikings.
7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford has quietly put himself atop the league in passing yardage, something he just missed doing a year ago. He’s been great at home this year and faces a middling Colts defense.
8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Even though Brees is “slumping” a bit by his standards, he has great numbers against Atlanta in his career. In a game that should be high scoring, Brees is very tough to sit.
9. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Romo is coming off his best fantasy performance of the year and faces another bad defense in Philadelphia. He may not go for 441 yards and three scores, but he’ll have a nice outing.
10. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton went off last week against the Eagles, but that’s the Eagles. Kansas City isn’t a ton better, but don’t expect another monster from Cam.
1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
I can safely rank this guy #1 almost every week and feel great about it. His matchup against Tennessee is as good as it gets.
2. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
If he can put up nearly 20 points (19.2 in half-PPR leagues) against the Steelers, he may go for 30 against the Raiders who rank last against opposing RBs.
3. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Chan Gailey now says that Spiller will get 60-70 percent of the touches in Buffalo, making him a must-start against Jacksonville.
4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
AP gets it done, no matter who he lines up against. This matchup against Green Bay is much better than the one he had against Chicago last week, a game in which he still rushed for 100 yards.
5. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin has a tough matchup against Denver this week, but no matchup scares me with this kid anymore.
6. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick may actually hurt Gore’s value slightly, as the QB will scamper in for a few scores that would go to Gore with Alex Smith at the helm. That said, a quarterback that moves the ball and scores points never hurt anyone’s value too much.
7. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Despite not having a team around him, Charles continues to produce effectively. He has a great matchup this week against Carolina.
8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
The Law Firm now has back-to-back games of 100+ yards and a score, and faces a middling San Diego run defense this week.
9. Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
Brown exploded onto the NFL scene last week to the tune of 178 yards and two scores. Don’t get too excited: it was against the Panthers. He should still produce against a Cowboys team that has allowed seven rushing scores in the last seven weeks.
10. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Moreno went from the IR to the end zone on Sunday, rushing for 100 yards in the process. He may have missed eight games, but it didn’t look like it.
11. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
12. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
13. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
14. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
15. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
16. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions
17. Marshawn Lynch, Chicago Bears
18. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
19. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
Megatron needs to average 116 yards per game to top J. Rice’s single-season receiving record
20. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
The man’s numbers from the last four are just torrid. He’s the best in the game and even though the Lions are out of the hunt, he’s motivated to break Jerry Rice’s receiving record.
2. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
He has fewer than eight catches just one time since week six. And oh, by the way, he’s coming off the best two-game stretch in NFL history in which he racked up 461 yards.
3. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Facing the league’s worst defense that ranks 30th against opposing WRs, White should have a field day. He caught seven balls for 114 yards in his last meeting with the Saints.
4. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
For the first time since week two, Green failed to find the end zone last week. His touchdown streak ended, but he still managed 111 yards. When that’s a bad day at the office, we’re talking about a truly elite player.
5. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Thomas has scored double-digit points in every game but one this year in half-PPR leagues, making him as safe a start as you can find.
6. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Wayne may be a more consistent producer than Thomas has been this year, especially in PPR formats. He’s caught either seven or eight passes for five consecutive games. Detroit ceded 188 yards to Andre Johnson last week, making this a favorable matchup for Wayne.
7. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
He’s been Jay Cutler’s favorite target all year, and that was more than evident last week when Cutler returned to the field after missing a game and a half. Marshall caught 12 balls last week and looks to do so again, albeit against a tough Seattle secondary.
8. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shorts has solidified himself as Chad Henne’s go-to receiver, putting together three straight games with a score. He now faces a soft Buffalo secondary; expect another TD.
9. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Here’s a stat for you: Bryant had two 100-yard games through the season’s first ten weeks. Now, he’s put together consecutive 145-yard performances. Is he finally realizing his potential? I think so.
10. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Cruz keeps hanging around in my top ten because of his upside. Now, with the Giants seemingly awakening from their slumber, Cruz may be poised for a breakout game against a Washington defense that is the NFL’s worst against opposing WRs.
11. Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
12. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
13. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
14. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
15. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
16. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
17. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
18. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
19. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
20. Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions
21. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
22. Devone Bess, Miami Dolphins
23. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
24. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
25. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
1. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
Gonzalez ran wild against the Saints in round one, and while round two probably won’t be a 11-catch, 122-yard day, he should find holes in a New Orleans secondary he knows well.
2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Like Gonzalez, Graham had a monster game when these two teams met in week 10. Expect another big day.
3. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
When he’s been on the field, he’s been heavily involved. Daniels’ injury is in the past now, and you’d be a fool to bench him against a Tennessee defense that ranks 30th against opposing TEs.
4. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten owners have been rewarded with a bazillion catches this year, but have been disappointed in his inability to reach the end zone. That said, you can’t justify benching a guy of Witten’s caliber.
5. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
I think he’s finally healthy now, making him a top tight end. Miami defends TEs pretty well (13th), but Hernandez’s athleticism make him tough to bench.
6. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
He’s solidified his spot as the Bengals’ number two option by now, making him a sure thing for 4+ catches and a good bet for a score. The Chargers pose a tough matchup, but Gresham will be just fine.
7. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steeler
Having Charlie Batch under center didn’t seem to hurt Miller’s value a bit, as he grabbed six passes for 63 yards last week. He should do just fine against Baltimore, as Batch will have to check it down regularly.
8. Dustin Keller, New York Jets
Keller has been pretty solid since returning from his injury, and his score last week has me believing.
9. Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Bennett has been flying under the radar this season, but has a great matchup this week against the Redskins, who have given up more fantast points to opposing TEs than any other team.
10. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Olsen has been steady this year, regardless of matchup. He has a tricky one against KC this week, but Newton keeps finding him, so you should keep playing him.
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