Monday, December 12, 2011

Fantasy Football: 7 Unsung Heroes from Week 14

A heroic moment in sports is hard to anticipate, but easy to celebrate.

Often times those moments occur when a star athlete grabs victory from the jaws of defeat, even when it seemed impossible.

Then there are those moments where the unsuspecting athlete rises to a level beyond expectation and delivers a performance that reads like a football fable.

We refer to them as unsung heroes and in Week 14, there were several players who can wear that moniker.

Here are seven unsung heroes who not only made a difference on the field, but likely had a big impact in your fantasy league.

Ryan Grant, running back, Green Bay Packers

Grant, who was filling in for the injured James Starks, ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay's 46-16 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Sunday's game marked the first time since Week 3 that Grant rushed for more than 80 yards and his two touchdowns were his first scores of the season.

Prior to Week 14, Grant had tallied 31 fantasy points in standard scoring league. On Sunday, he scored 21 points.

For the owners who stuck with Grant, he rewarded them in a big way this week.

Brandon Jacobs, running backs, New York Giants

Jacobs had a season-high 19 carries Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys and responded with 101 yards and two touchdowns.

While Jacobs has found the end zone four times in his last four games, the 101 yards were the most for him this season. In fact, the closest he's come to gaining 100 yards in a game was in Week 9 against the New England Patriots when he rushed for 72 yards.

Jacobs has quietly put together a solid fantasy season, with eight total touchdowns. If he can continue to gain yards and keep getting into the end zone, he's going to a hard guy to keep out of your lineup.

Mark Sanchez, quarterback, New York Jets

With his 25 fantasy points in Week 14, Sanchez outscored Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in standard scoring leagues. The only two quarterback who scored more points were Tony Romo (28) and Matt Ryan (28).

Sanchez is the epitome of a risk-versus-reward fantasy quarterback. It's really quite remarkable when you look at the last six weeks.

Week 9: nine fantasy points at Buffalo Bills
Week 10: 19 fantasy points vs. New England Patriots
Week 11: eight points vs. Denver Broncos
Week 12: 21 points vs. Bills
Week 13: 10 points at Washington Redskins
Week 14: 25 points vs. Kansas City Chiefs
It's uncanny how Sanchez has been good one week, then bad the next.

In Week 14, he was great. He finished with 181 yards passing, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

Sanchez and Jets face the Philadelphia Eagles next week and if history is any indication, he's due for a dud.

Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

After Thursday night's performance against the Cleveland Browns, a lot more people know the name Antonio Brown.

Often overshadowed by Mike Wallace, Brown has emerged as the Steelers' most valuable fantasy wide receiver. If you don't believe me, look at the numbers.

Since Week 7, when Brown took over as Pittsburgh's No. 2 receiver, he has outperformed Wallace in nearly every statistical category.

In Weeks 7-14, Wallace has 39 targets, 29 catches, 422 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

During that same span, Brown has 59 targets, 37 catches, 663 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

When you convert those numbers into fantasy points, Brown has 81 points since Week 7 and Wallace has 65 points.

Detroit Lions D/ST

After four straight weeks of single-digit fantasy points, the Lions defense exploded for fantasy 24 points in standard scoring leagues in Week 14.

The Lions forced six turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings and scored two defensive touchdowns. The Lions also tallied four sacks and they did all that without Ndamukong Suh in the lineup due to suspension.

The Lions were a hot defense at the beginning of the year, with five double-digit fantasy games in the first eight weeks.

For the fantasy owners that started the Lions D/ST in Week 14, they have to be happy that their patience paid off and their Detroit defense came through at a crucial time.

Julio Jones, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons

Jones has been one of the most frustrating fantasy players this year, mostly because of injury.

Jones has missed a significant amount of time this year with a hamstring injury, forcing him in and out of the lineup.

In Week 14, he was definitely in the lineup and rewarded the fantasy owners that started him against the Carolina Panthers.

Jones finished Sunday with three catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. That was good enough for 22 fantasy points in standard leagues.

It's clear that Jones, when healthy, has big-play ability that will make him a star in the NFL. However, for fantasy owners, his standout performances have been too far and few between.

So far this season, Jones has 90 fantasy points. Fifty of those points came in two games, Week 14 against the Panthers (22 points) and Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts (28 points).

Jones' next task is proving he can get ready for his next opponent on a short week. The Falcons host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night in Week 15.

T.J. Yates, quarterback, Houston Texans (pictured)

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak gave Yates the game ball for his late-game heroics in Sunday's last-second win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

And Yates deserved it.

The rookie fifth-round pick from North Carolina rallied the Texans from 10 points down late in the fourth quarter to beat the Bengals 20-19 on six-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with two seconds left.

Yates' comeback wasn't the only impressive part of his performance Sunday; he also ranked ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton in quarterback fantasy points.

Yates finished the afternoon with 300 yards passing, two touchdowns and 36 yards rushing. It was good enough for 19 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues, compared to Newton and Rodgers who had 18 and 17, respectively.

Yates' rise to relevance has been fun to watch, and it's not over yet. The rookie will lead the AFC South champion Texans into the playoffs in January 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment