Most of the time.
You see for every Drew Brees or Arian Foster who makes this team you’ve got a Joe Mays or Kendrick Lewis. That’s the beauty of our Team of the Week. On any given Sunday you can have the best performance out of all your positional peers.
Enough with the motivational talk, though, let’s get on with it.
Quarterback: Drew Brees, NO (+8.6)
It’s not easy playing against a divisional rival that knows you inside and out, but Brees made it look so. Two touchdowns and 322 yards as he avoided what pressure the Falcons brought his way. Instrumental in a big win.
Running Back: Arian Foster, HOU (+4.6)
It’s not just what Foster brings in the running game that sees him on this team (though 84 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown is a good place to start). Get him the ball in space, as the Texans did on a simple screen pass, and he’ll make things happen like forcing two missed tackles and taking it the distance.
Fullback: John Conner, NYJ (+2.7)
Though it was a bad day for every Jet when all was said and done.
Tight End: Anthony Fasano, MIA (+3.7)
Picked up 60 yards in the air and was as impressive with his run blocking. This is the Fasano I remember from 2010.
Wide Receivers: Denarius Moore, OAK (+4.2) and Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ (+3.8)
Moore picked up two big touchdowns and they weren’t even his most impressive play of the day. 123 yards of awesome. It’s scary to think Fitzgerald is playing well as he is with some of the quarterback play he’s been subjected to. A franchise receiver if there ever was one.
Tackles: Donald Penn, TB (+3.4) and Andre Smith, CIN (+4.2)
You want your left tackle to be perfect in pass protection, and that’s exactly what Penn was against the Texans (even if his run blocking was just above average). Cincinnati fans saw a career day from Andre Smith, who actually looked like the player they thought they drafted. Imposing in the run game and perfect in pass pro. Needless to say Lamarr Woodley wasn’t playing.
Guards: Steve Hutchinson, MIN (+4.8) and Uche Nwaneri, JAX (+4.5)
Both our guards were perfect in pass protection and both excelled in the running game. What more do you want? Hutchinson, who has looked on the decline from the once great player he was, was a particularly pleasant surprise.
Center: Nick Mangold, NYJ (+3.8)
Maybe Mr Mangold has realized that Chris Myers has built such a lead in our center rankings that he needs to step it up himself. That or he’s just that good. Either way, he put in a great performance against the Pats.
4-3 Defensive Front
Defensive Ends: Cory Redding, BAL (+4.8) and Lamarr Houston, OAK (+4.1)
Redding was a bit too much to handle for James Carpenter, and when the Seahawks left Marshawn Lynch to block on him that was never going to end well. Houston picked up a sack, hit and six pressures, chiefly on Jeromey Clary. Nice day even if got overshadowed in the aftermath of the Raiders win over the Chargers.
Defensive Tackles: Tommy Kelly, OAK (+4.7) and Ndamukong Suh, DET (+4.4)
Big day from Tommy Kelly as the Raider went to work over whoever the Chargers had at right guard. His best pass rushing display of the year netted him a sack, hit and five pressures. Suh wasn’t as destructive in the passing game (a hit and two pressures), but he picked up four defensive stops as the Bears’ linemen couldn’t get a handle on him.
Linebackers: Kamerion Wimbley, OAK (+10.6), Joe Mays, DEN (+4.8) and Daryl Smith, JAX (+4.3)
As much as Von Miller deserves a spot on this, you simply can’t make room for him and Wimbley, and Wimbley was that bit better with his pass rushing (just the four sacks, three hits and seven pressures). Smith is the more conventional linebacker and is having the kind of year where it’s irritating that more people don’t notice it. Superb against the Colts, will somebody give the man his due? In between them we’ve got Joe Mays on the back of his usual good work in run defense. He may not be a three-down linebacker every week, but he got the job done against the Chiefs.
3-4 Defensive Front
Defensive Line: Justin Smith, SF (+6.3), Sione Pouha, NYJ (+3.3) and Antonio Smith, HOU (+3.2)
Look at the masses swarm to praise Justin Smith. Note to those that do – you’re late to the party; Smith has been playing lights out for the past three years. Antonio Smith (and I flip-flop between him and Brian Cushing) may be the man to have benefited most from the Texans move to a 3-4. He’s a handful inside and gave Jeremy Zuttah fits. In the middle, you couldn’t want a better anchor than Pouha. He even managed a pressure against the Pats! Needless to say his best work was done in run defense.
Outside Linebackers: Clay Matthews, GB (+5.7) and Antwan Barnes, SD (+3.6)
Every time I watch Barnes play I become more and more dumbfounded it’s taken injuries to get him more than just situational playing time. Shining at the moment. Matthews is playing well this year, and not just as a sack specialist. He added two to his tally against the Vikings, and was superb in run defense. His best year yet as a complete player.
Inside Linebackers: Patrick Willis, SF (+3.9) and Kevin Burnett, MIA (+3.1)
If someone tells you Patrick Willis isn’t the best inside linebacker in the game you have my permission to call them a liar. In whatever manner you deem acceptable. Another great game for the 49er. He’s joined by a rapidly-improving Kevin Burnett who is finally starting to show Miami what he has to offer after a tough start to the year.
Cornerbacks: Charles Tillman, CHI (+4.9) and William Gay, PIT (+3.8)
You have to love what Tillman did on Sunday against Megatron. Thrown at 17 times, he only allowed six catches and managed to grab himself a pick six. Gay picked up an INT and created another one for his teammate as he made life tough for Andy Dalton.
Safeties: Antrel Rolle, NYG (+3.1) and Kendrick Lewis, KC (+2.3)
Credit where it’s due; Antrel Rolle may be one of the most overpaid players in the league but he also had a heck of a game against the 49ers. Lewis was a bright spot on a dark day for the Chiefs, honoring his responsibilities to break up two passes.
Devin Hester remains ridiculous with his punt returning … David Akers was 4-for-4 and seems to be enjoying those kickoffs in California … Mike Scifres proved why on his day he’s a match for Shane Lechler … Cedric Peerman and Akeem Jordan did a good job chasing down punts and kick offs.