All-Star Team of the Week: Week 15
We’re now closing in on the end of the regular season, and this week saw the first teams stamp their spots in the playoffs as others edged close and closer to a high draft pick. It’s looking more and more likely we’ll have a losing record claim the NFC South, while the AFC North could easily feature three 10 win teams. With all that the favorites are starting to be clear for the individual end of season awards too, with some of them featuring in this Week’s 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: Drew Brees, NO (+4.3)
As much as the Saints have struggled this season, Brees is still battling it out with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers to see who will be our highest graded QB in 2014. He has clinical against the Bears, completing over 80% of his passes and throwing three touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: Joe Flacco, BAL
Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, SEA (+1.7)
An interesting week at running back where we saw a number of players impress on very few carries. Lynch was as dependable as always though, rushing for 91 yards and forcing 11 missed tackles in the process.
Honorable Mention: Arian Foster, HOU
Fullback: Bruce Miller, SF (+1.4)
Miller fought off competition from several other full backs this week with some solid performers across the board at full back. In the end, his work as a blocker to go along with a pair of short catches was enough to see him get the nod.
Honorable Mention: Henry Hynoski, NYG
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, NE (+4.4)
He may have caught just three passes, but they went for a total of 96 yards and a touchdown and came accompanied with some impressive work as a run blocker. That combined was enough to see him make the team over Greg Olsen, who had a big day as a receiver.
Honorable Mention: Greg Olsen, CAR
Wide Receivers: Demaryius Thomas, DEN (+4.0) and Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (+3.6)
Continuing his impressive rookie season, Beckham pulled in 12 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns, earning himself the highest receiving grade of any wide receiver this week. Thomas wasn’t far behind though, with 123 yards and a touchdown of his own in the win over the San Diego Chargers.
Honorable Mentions: Dez Bryant, DAL and Harry Douglas, ATL
Tackles: Joe Staley, SF (+4.3) and Bryan Bulaga, GB (+4.6)
Staley wasn’t perfect in pass protection, giving up a hurry, but made up for it with the highest run blocking grade by an offensive tackle this week. Bulaga stood out, even as the Packers stumbled against the Buffalo Bills, finishing the game with zero pressures allowed and some solid work as a run blocker.
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Whitworth, CIN and Derek Newton, HOU
Guards: Evan Mathis, PHI (+4.7) and Kevin Zeitler, CIN (+6.4)
Two standout performances as run blockers from Mathis and Zeitler here, with the Bengals guard a big reason for Jeremy Hill’s big day with his best game of the season so far. Mathis continued his run of form that has seen him grade positively in every game since his return from injury in Week 10.
Honorable Mentions: Logan Mankins, TB and Andrew Gardner, PHI
Center: Travis Frederick, DAL (+4.9)
Frederick earns the nod as our starting center for the second week in a row with another dominant performance as a run blocker. Perfect is pass protection too, he beats out Corey Linsley purely because of his superior run blocking.
Honorable Mention: Eric Dietrich-Smith, TB
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: Frostee Rucker, ARZ (+5.7) and J.J. Watt, HOU (+8.2)
Two players earning their spot in different ways, with Rucker standing out against the run. He wasn’t poor as a pass rusher, adding a sack and two hurries, but his work against the run is was pushed him over the top. Watt makes his return to the Team of the Week after dominating as a pass rusher once again. Two sacks, three hits, seven hurries and a batted pass are just the latest stat line in a ridiculous season as a pass rusher for Watt.
Honorable Mentions: Tommy Kelly, ARZ and Cameron Heyward, PIT
Defensive Interior – Nose: Quinton Dial, SF (+2.3)
A big game against the run from Dial sees him steal this spot over Johnathan Hankins of the New York Giants. Tough to move in the middle of the San Francisco defense, he gave the Seattle Seahawks interior offensive line plenty to deal with this week..
Honorable Mention: Johnathan Hankins, NYG
Edge Rushers: Charles Johnson, CAR (+6.4) and Justin Houston, KC (+5.0)
Johnson went up against Tampa Bay’s Oneil Cousins and it went as you would expect, with Johnson dominating and coming away with a sack, two hits and seven hurries. It was a fairly similar story for Justin Houston and the Chiefs, with Houston one hit away from matching that stat line himself.
Honorable Mentions: Chandler Jones, NE and Jared Allen, CHI
Linebackers: Dont’a Hightower, NE (+4.4) and Lavonte David, TB (+3.6)
A big day for Hightower saw him allow just 23 yards through the air while racking up a total of four defensive stops. David was even more impressive in coverage, allowing just six receiving yards and coming away with a pass breakup.
Honorable Mentions: Rey Maualuga, CIN and Bobby Wagner, SEA
Cornerbacks: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, NYG (+3.2) and Vontae Davis, IND (+3.1)
It was tough to complete passes on Rodgers-Cromartie on Sunday, with the Giants corner allowing just eight yards on two receptions from the six passes thrown into his coverage. Davis wasn’t too far behind him, allowing just the single, 30 yard reception and breaking up one pass and picking off another.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Owens, KC and Aqib Talib, DEN
Safeties: Eric Weddle, SD (+2.7) and Patrick Chung, NE (+3.1)
There were big performances from safeties around the league, but Weddle’s work against the run saw him stand out above the rest. He was no slouch in coverage either, allowing just two receptions as he finished the day having recorded four defensive stops. Chung was targeted seven times in coverage, but allowed just 45 yards while coming away with a pass breakup and an interception.
Honorable Mentions: Glover Quin, DET and Dawan Landry, NYJ
Kicker: Josh Scobee, JAX: Going 4-for-5 on field goals, including 2-for-2 on kicks of 50 yards or more, Scobee stood out in a week where there were plenty of viable options.
Punter: Pat McAfee, IND: The three way battle to be crowned our top punter rolls on and it was McAfee who had the edge this week. Five of his seven punts landed inside the 20 yard line as the punt unit allowed just six yards on punt returns.
Returner: De’Anthony Thomas, KC: 156 yards from eight punt returns, including an 81 yard touchdown. Thomas is showing his worth on special teams already in Kansas City.
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