As you gear up for this weekend’s upcoming games by realigning your fantasy rosters to optimize matchups, let’s take a quick look back at last week’s studs. (Note: Points listed are directly from the First and Goal Fantasy League and may not represent point totals in your individual leagues)
QB: Bruce Gradkowski, Oakland Raiders — WHO?!? In a league full of superstar quarterbacks, Gradkowski is certainly not in the limelight often. Hell, he wasn’t even the starter on his own team. But when your team is looking for an answer to deal with JaMarcus Russell’s complete lack of effectiveness and you have a performance like Gradkowski did on Sunday, people are going to start taking notice of you. Gradkowski completed 20 of 33 passes for 308 yards and 3 TDs to lead the Raiders over defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh. Tacking on 20 yards rushing, Gradkowski finished the day with 26 fantasy points. It may not have helped many fantasy owners as Gradkowski is owned in VERY few leagues, but he might prove valuable in coming weeks (remember that nobody named Austin Miles a few weeks back who is now a starting stud?).
RB: Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants — In one of the quietest games for a running back featured in the Fantasy Focus, Jacobs only delivered 39 rushing yards and 1 reception. Big deal, right? Except that 1 reception was a 74-yard touchdown and his 39 rushing yards were enough to find the endzone a second time. All in all, Jacobs accumulated 22 fantasy points, enough to top all other running backs in Week 13.
*Fantasy Stud of the Week*
WR: Devin Thomas, Washington Redskins — Thomas had the best game of his career in Week 13. Reeling in 7 receptions for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, Thomas showed he could be developing into a solid receiver. He also racked up 159 return yards, giving him 29 total fantasy points. In a week of surprising performances, the young Thomas grabbed Fantasy Stud of the Week honors and could be a threat to do so again in the future, even if not this season.
TE: Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers — Yet another player with sub-superstar status to be honored this week is Finley, who led the Packers to victory on Monday night over the Ravens. His career high 7 receptions for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns were the difference in the 27-14 game. Compiling 19 fantasy points, Finley almost surely helped some fantasy teams to victory as well, although not many as Finley is not considered to be a premier tight end and is not owned in well over half of all fantasy leagues. Perhaps after Week 13, he will get some more attention moving forward.
K: Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints — In one of the best games of the week, Hartley was the hero for the still unbeaten Saints. Hartley connected on 4 of 5 field goals (only missing a 58-yarder at the end of regulation), including the game winner in overtime. He also added 3 PATs for a total of 15 fantasy points. Technically in a tie with Matt Prater (recognized in Week 12), Hartley gets our nod for hitting more field goals (Prater had 5 PATs) and for winning the game.
D/ST: Carolina Panthers — A team in the midst of an season that has seen their offense implode with turnovers more often than not, the Panthers reversed the role in Week 13. The defensive unit tallied 5 interceptions to go along with 2 sacks and only 6 allowed points. By accumulating 19 fantasy points, the Panthers were the league’s best defensive unit in Week 13.
ROOKIE: Louis Murphy, Oakland Raiders — It just wouldn’t seem right to have a top rookie name honored in a week that showcased quiet and possibly rising stars. Fortunately, Murphy also matches that criteria. While his rookie comrad Darius Heyward-Bey is receiving most of the attention in Oakland, Murphy had a very solid performance in Week 13. Murphy caught 4 passes for 128 yards (a ridiculous 32.0-yard average) and 2 touchdowns. What’s even more impressive? His entire stat line was populated during Oakland’s amazing fourth-quarter comeback. His 24 fantasy points were best in the league amongst rookies.
Check back next week for another edition of Fantasy Focus as we recognize the week’s best fantasy performers. Best of luck to you in your respective fantasy football leagues!
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