All-Star Team of the Week: Week 14
We’re now inside the final quarter of the season and slowly but surely the playoff field is beginning to take shape. There’s still all to play for though, even in a division like the NFC South with no team with a winning record, but we’ve got another three weeks for that to sort itself out. What we don’t have three weeks for, is highlighting the best players in Week 14 in our All-Star Team of the Week.
So who made the Team of the Week this week? Let’s find out.
(Note: Team will be updated as needed after Monday Night Football and by Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail.)
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, GB (+3.9)
A big night for Rodgers saw him finished with a passing grade of +4.4 or higher for the fourth time in the last five games, further hammering home his candidacy as an MVP favorite. Even when Atlanta got pressure on him he got the job done, with an Accuracy Percentage of 85.7% and two touchdowns on throws under pressure.
Honorable Mention: Matt Ryan, ATL
Running Back: Johnathan Stewart, CAR (+2.1)
Newton wasn’t the only star for the Panthers offense however, with Stewart rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown in the win too. His overall production was enough to see him earn the starting spot over Miami’s Lamar Miller, who forced eight missed tackles on just 12 carries.
Honorable Mention: Le’Veon Bell, PIT
Fullback: John Conner, NYJ (+2.0)
Like last week we saw a few fullbacks impress as lead blockers in Week 14. None more than the Jets’ John Conner though, as he took advantage of his second highest snap count of the year to deliver a second strong showing in a row.
Honorable Mention: John Kuhn, GB
Tight End: Jared Cook, STL (+2.4)
In a week where we saw more impressive performances from blockers than receivers at the tight end position, Cook graded positively as both. Coming back from a big hit from Ryan Clark early in the game, he pulled down two touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: Rob Gronkowski, NE
Wide Receivers: Julio Jones, ATL (+6.3) and Calvin Johnson, DET (+4.2)
Two big performances from two of the best in the league in Johnson and Jones. Johnson caught eight of the nine passes thrown his way for 158 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay, only for Jones to go one step further with a whopping 259 yards on Monday night.
Honorable Mentions: A.J. Green, CIN and Jordy Nelson, GB
Tackles: Duane Brown, HOU (+3.9) and Jordan Mills, CHI (+4.8)
Neither gave up any pressure or penalties while impressing as run blockers, they might not be the household names at offensive tackle, but they were very good this past week. It’s a massive step up from Mills, who has struggled since entering the league, but has now delivered two solid performances in a row.
Honorable Mentions: Jared Veldheer, ARZ and Sebastian Vollmer, NE
Guards: Ronald Leary, DAL (+6.2) and Marshal Yanda, BAL (+5.4)
One of the best run blocking performances you’ll see from an offensive lineman all year came from Leary in Chicago on Thursday. On the right side, the season Marshal Yanda is having shouldn’t be understated. Once again completely dominant against the run, with a mouth watering battle with J.J. Watt looming in the coming weeks.
Honorable Mentions: Zane Beadles, JAX and Brandon Linder, JAX
Center: Travis Frederick, DAL (+6.1)
Like his teammate to the left, Frederick was utterly dominant as a run blocker against the Bears. He didn’t give up any pressure either, but it was his work in the run game that really deserves the attention.
Honorable Mention: Chris Myers, HOU
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: Fletcher Cox, PHI (+6.4) and Sheldon Richardson, NYJ (+6.6)
With some dominance as run blockers along our offensive line, it’s only fair that we highlight this Eagles defender. Cox was a one-man wrecking crew against the Seattle running game on Sunday, finishing the game with eight tackles which resulted in a defensive stop. Richardson was even more dominant, with three sacks, a hit and two hurries as a pass rusher.
Honorable Mentions: Geno Atkins, CIN and Marcell Dareus, BUF
Defensive Interior – Nose: Chris Baker, WAS (+2.4)
Baker gave the Rams interior offensive line plenty to deal with on Sunday, registering a sack and two pressures while drawing penalties as a pass rusher, and made two tackles resulting in a defensive stop against the run.
Honorable Mention: Ahtyba Rubin, CLV
Edge Rushers: Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (+6.1) and Charles Johnson, CAR (+4.3)
Pierre-Paul did it both as a pass rusher and against the run against the Titans, finishing the game with two sacks and three hurries to go along with a pair of defensive stops against the run. Johnson was a terror as a pass rusher too, coming away with a hit and seven hurries against the Saints.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Babin, JAX and Michael Bennett, SEA
Linebackers: Gerald Hodges, MIN (+5.0) and Jamie Collins, NE (+4.6)
There were a number of solid performers at linebacker this week, but Hodges pick-six against the New York Jets pushed him to the top of the list in a game that saw him also break up a pass. For the Pariots, Collins continued a strong second half of 2014, with positive grades as a pass rusher, against the run, and in coverage.
Honorable Mentions: Brandon Marshall, DEN and Daryl Smith, BAL
Cornerbacks: Joe Haden, CLV (+5.3) and Bene Benwikere, CAR (+3.2)
Haden gave up two touchdowns and 99 yards through the air but, targeted 13 times in coverage, he also had some really good plays to force incompletions also. Benwikere saw Brees throw 10 passes into his coverage but he allowed just 48 yards and came away with an interception and a pass breakup.
Honorable Mentions: Byron Maxwell SEA, and Sean Smith, KC
Safeties: David Bruton, DEN (+2.3) and Roman Harper, CAR (+3.9)
In the most significant action he’s seen all year, Bruton showed himself to be deserving of more playing time, with the five receptions caught in his coverage going for a total of just 18 yards. Harper did his damage both in coverage and against the run, with no receptions allowed and a pass breakup to his name.
Honorable Mentions: Glover Quin, DET and James Ihedigbo, DET
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski, OAK: He went 1-for-1 on field goals, but the one he did kick happened to be from 50+ yards.
Punter: Johnny Hekker, STL: Showing why he recently signed a new contract, Hekker had another outstanding game, dropping punts inside the 20-yard line, near the sidelines, and allowing just three return yards.
Returner: Tavon Austin, STL: Even before his touchdown he looked dangerous, and it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before he broke one, which he duly delivered in the third quarter.
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