Cam Newton, QB, CAR – This week’s highest scoring player is also the NFL record holder for rushing touch downs by a quarterback. Pretty impressive with 4 games left to play from a rookie that frankly many people, myself included, expected to be a bust. I expected this big game to come last week against the Colts but a Josh Freeman-less Buccaneers team is not a whole lot better. Newton racked up 204 yards passing, 54 yards rushing and he caught a 27 yard pass too, because he needed to do more to justify his super man end zone celebration.
Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ – Greene had only two TDs on the season before Sunday. He had three in this week’s game on the road at Washington. He rushed 22 times for 88 yards and threw in 2 more fantasy points worth of receiving yards. He was most effective when it mattered, late in the game with the lead and should have earned enough trust to reliably see 20 touches the rest of the way. Especially considering LT is having a trouble staying healthy.
Percy Harvin, WR, MIN – With Adrian Peterson on the sidelines in street clothes, the Vikings have really looked to Harvin in order to provide a spark. That spark immediately caught fire as Harvin’s stats and fantasy value have never been better. He averaged just under 4 yards per rush and had 8 grabs for 159 yards and 2 scores. My gut says that Peterson misses one more game and Harvin would be considered a top 10 option if this is true. Coach Frazier was encouraging about Peterson’s progress on Monday and said that he is “very close” to returning. I for one see no reason for them to rush their franchise back into action too soon with the season already out of control and an offense that is still quite productive.
Ray Rice, RB, BAL – Rice absolutely tore the Cleveland Browns to shreds this week. It was almost hard to watch unless you happen to own Rice, then it was like Christmas came early. 29 carries for 204 yards and a score in the best game of his young career. Indianapolis, San Diego and Cleveland again are on the horizon for the fantasy playoffs and Rice is sure to be a big part of his owners’ playoff run.
Pierre Garcon, WR, IND – Since Curtis Painter was pretty terrible, the Colts looked to Dan Orlovsky and Pierre Garcon remained the favorite target. He was targeted twice as much as Reggie Wayne was and hauled in 9 catches for 150 yards and two TDs. Don’t take this for more that it was, one good game from an inconsistent receiver against the worst secondary in the NFL. With Baltimore next week I will rank Garcon above Wayne, but neither of them are likely to crack the top 40.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA – Lynch has been on fire lately and incredibly consistent. Before week 9 Lynch had yet to have a 100 yard game on the season or back-to-back 100 yard games in his entire career. In four of the last five weeks he crossed the century mark and has done it back-to-back twice. I am confident he will do well next week against the Rams, who are ranked 32nd on the NFL, but after that he plays against Chicago (8th in the league vs. the run) and then San Francisco (1st). The bubble will burst soon but not next week.
DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL – Dallas made an effort to get Felix Jones more involved this week against Arizona and it back fired big time. They lost in overtime to what should have been an easy opponent for them and were forced to turn back to Murray down the stretch. The momentum was never in Dallas’ favor and Murray only had 12 rushes. As a Murray owner, I hope Dallas learned their lesson and continues to use him as a feature back. He provided a consistent presence in the running game that this offense has not had in a long time and it was working. I think you have to start him this week in the playoffs against the Giants. This is going to be a crucial game for Dallas and New York has been vulnerable to the run, allowing 127 yards per game on the season.
Steve Smith, WR, CAR – Just three points is really hard to swallow considering how well the Panthers offense played and how big a game Cam Newton had. Because the offense is doing just fine I am not concerned about Smtih going into the playoffs.
Michael Turner, RB, ATL – We need to take notice of how ineffective the run was against the Texans. They played well and earned a tough win against Atlanta this week with TJ Yates at QB. Houston is also looking to add Jeff Garcia to the roster and he might just wind up the starter, which I think would be an upgrade once he learns the offensive playbook. This is two rough games for Turner in a row but going against Carolina this week should get things moving in the right direction.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB – The Buccaneers missed Josh Freeman this week but they missed a quality running game more. Blount had just 1.7 yards per carry on only 11 carries and was a huge disappointment for his fantasy owners in what should have been an easy match up. Jacksonville is next week and they have a very quality rush defense so I would consider Blount a flex play at best.