It takes into account which quarterbacks made plays, and which ones let their receivers do all the work. Which defensive tackles stood up offensive linemen to redirect runners. Which cornerbacks were bailed out by dropped passes.
So with that in mind, enjoy our Team of Week 16.
Quarterback: Russell Wilson, SEA (+7.2)
It had to be something special to keep Joe Flacco out of the team, and boy was it. He went wild on the 49ers with some breathtaking playmaking, highlighted by some pinpoint accurate throws.
Running Back: Peyton Hillis, KC (+3.4)
While the numbers Jamaal Charles put forth were breathtaking, I’m not so keen on his fumble. Instead, I opted for his teammate Hillis who turned his 15 carries into 101 yards and broke four tackles in the process.
Full Back: Patrick DiMarco, KC (+3.5)
Patrick ‘The Decleater’ DiMarco has had himself a nice finish to the season, and continued it with a dominating display of lead blocking against the Colts.
Tight End: Michael Hoomanawanui, NE (+3.8)
Not the New England tight end you’d normally expect to see on this list. Hawaii Mike broke a couple of tackles and picked up 46 yards receiving, but it was his run blocking that wowed us.
Wide Receivers: Dez Bryant, DAL (+4.2) and Roddy White, ATL (+3.4)
It’ a shame that injury is impacting Bryant so much. The possible season-ender meant he caught only nine balls for 224 yards versus the Saints. Weak. Over in Detroit, Roddy White kept chugging along. Miffed at our Pro Bowl snub (nearly as much as I was) he picked up 153 yards and two touchdowns while beating the Lions’ cornerbacks all over the field.
Tackles: Donald Penn, TB (+5.4) and Gosder Cherilus, DET (+4.4)
Big game Donald showed up even without much attention thrown his way. The result? Robert Quinn getting schooled aplenty. Cherilus gave up a couple of hurries, but has really emerged as one of the leagues’ better right tackles this year.
Guards: Evan Mathis, PHI (+5.2) and Jahri Evans, NO (+4.3)
One day the world will be such that regardless of how poor your team is playing, elite guards will be recognized globally for their play. Until that day you’ll have to trust us that Mathis is raising the bar at that spot. Evans wasn’t quite as dominant in the run game, but the Saints got him to work in the screen game and he showed just how versatile a talent he is.
Center: John Sullivan, MIN (+6.3)
Whisper it quietly, but Sullivan may just be the best center in the league at the moment. There aren’t many of his peers who have as much of a post-snap positive impact on the play as he does.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Julius Peppers, CHI (+6.7) and Everson Griffen, MIN (+6.7)
Our all-NFC North pairing had to produce something special to prevent Lamarr Houston from making this team, and boy did they. Peppers had three sacks, a hit and three hurries, while Griffen himself notched two hits and five hurries. Relentless.
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, CIN (+9.6) and Ndamukong Suh, DET (+3.8)
Just another day at the office for the best defensive tackle in football, and I’m not talking about Suh. The Bengals’ Atkins again made plays all over the field and is easily one of the three best defensive players in football. The man taken 118 spots higher than him in 2010 has played some good football in the second half of this year, and really took Peter Konz to task. Suh is the kind of bully you want on your team.
Linebackers: Lance Briggs, CHI (+6.2), Thomas Davis, CAR (+6.1) and Luke Kuechly, CAR (+7.0)
With Brian Urlacher out, Briggs is stepping it up and putting forth his most complete display of the year. That was enough for him to join the Panthers’ pair who had a real game for the ages. I mean, we’ve seen one player grade that high before, but two from the same team?
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: Casey Hampton, PIT (+3.9), Antonio Smith, HST (+6.6) and Calais Campbell, ARZ (+6.1)
It was like watching the Hampton of old as he had his way with Kyle Cook, flinging him about in the run game and not even concerning himself with the quarterback. Classic Casey. Meanwhile, there’s controversy with our defensive end rankings with the exclusion of J.J. Watt. He was outdone by the run defense of Antonio Smith (not something I ever expect to say again) and general brilliance of Calais Campbell. There’s some fine 3-4 defensive ends in the league right now.
Outside Linebackers: Jarret Johnson, SD (+2.7) and Garrett McIntyre, NYJ (+2.2)
Not really a vintage week for outside linebacker play was it? Johnson reminded us of the edge-setting fiend he used to be in Baltimore with some good work in the run game, while McIntyre exploited the Chargers’ left tackle situation to the tune of a sack, hurry and some success in the run game.
Inside Linebackers: Lawrence Timmons, PIT (+3.9) and Perry Riley, WAS (+3.6)
The Steelers will be glad that Timmons is finally starting to show some of that old 2010 form that had us convinced he was the next great linebacker in the league. I’ve never had such lofty expectations for Riley, but he was extremely active against the Eagles.
Cornerbacks: Trumaine Johnson, SL (+4.6) and Richard Sherman, SEA (+4.5)
Johnson allowed just three of nine balls into his coverage for 37 yards with a pick, making a mockery of the decision of Josh Freeman to keep going after him deep. The Seahawks’ Sherman allowed 73 yards, but his big play (a red-zone interception and three pass breaks up) went some way to helping everyone see what we’ve seen since his rookie year. This kid is special.
Safeties: Glover Quin, HST (+4.5) and Harrison Smith, MIN (+4.2)
A nice combination here, with Quin in the team for his work in the box in run support and Harrison for his skills in coverage. What more could you want?
Kicker: Blair Walsh (MIN)
Punter: Donnie Jones (HST)
Returner: Michael Spurlock (SD)
Special Teamer: Chimdi Chekwa (OAK)
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