Wow. It is one thing to suggest that on any given Sunday, one team can beat another within the NFL. That maxim does seem sort of accurate, with the Vikings upending the Cardinals and the Bucs beating the Chiefs, but I also suspect that we would have a tough time convincing anyone from San Francisco or Cleveland this is true.
Although, on the flip, the Browns and Niners might just have one win between them, but they have similarly played some good clubs. At least this last weekend, Cleveland held the Steelers close, and the Niners kept their game with the Patriots tight until the second half, when Tom Brady's arm really finished the team off.
But, in a day when twelve extra points were missed, making the rule change of a couple of years ago suddenly important and fun, the decision to kick the extra point or go for two was at least something head coaches had to think about, and that is a good and fun thing for fans.
Actually, the thing that jumped out at me as I flipped through the channels and games awaiting the big Monday Night showdown with the Raiders was defensive play. Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, LeVeon Bell and David Johnson put up serious numbers on offense, but among the top ten scorers for the day were the Steelers, Vikings, and Lions defenses, meaning what I was seeing was being validated. So, this week is peppered with a cluster of defensive players which clearly caters to those of us who play in leagues with Individual D. But remember, the Defensive squads are the ones scoring the big points, meaning in the wake of a big Carolina game live the individual numbers of Luke Kuechly and for Houston, J.J. Watt.
Eli Rogers and the Steelers did not have much of an offense in the wind and snow, making Rogers the #2 receiver in Steeltown despite just four catches on six targets for 20 yards. Over the past three weeks, Rogers has caught 14 of 21 targets for 165 yards and a score.
However, on the defensive side of the ball, the Browns' Christian Kirksey, the third-year Iowa graduate, leads the NFL with 103 tackles to go along with his 1.5 sacks. The Browns, as sad as their record indicates, have some very good and interesting young players, and if the team can hold together and build upon what they have, Cleveland will be fun to watch.
The Colts' Frank Gore is a player I always feared owning, kind of like Adam Jones in baseball. There is no reasoning to my fear of either aside from the notion that despite putting up better than average numbers for a bunch of years, I felt the year I owned either guy they would tank. But, as Lord Z once countered regarding Jones, "maybe he is just better than you think." Touche. Same is true for Gore, who despite being long in the tooth, rushed for 50 yards on 18 carries and bagged four receptions on four targets this past weekend. He now has 592 rushing yards to go with four scores along with 24 receptions for 150 yards and three more TDs. Gore is certainly not in the free agent pool, but his low-key numbers make him a nice potential DFS play depending upon the matchup.
More exciting than Gore though is rookie and Notre Dame grad C.J. Prosise, who scrambled 72 yards on his first carry against the Eagles for a score, giving him two starts over the past two weeks to go with 20 carries for 172 yards. Thomas Rawls did return Sunday and he will surely get most of the touches through the remainder of the season, but Prosise makes a great pick-up in ultra leagues and is the future in Seattle I have to think.
Much like Prosise is the Bucs' Peyton Barber, who is playing second fiddle to Doug Martin, who is back, good, and brittle. Barber carried just four times Sunday but does have 182 yards on 43 carries. The rookie from Auburn has a score and solid 4.2 yard average and like Prosise, will likely not be in the shadows for much longer.
One more rookie making some noise is Tajae Sharpe, of the Titans, who has indeed become a solid contributor--moreso than Prosise or Barber--with 34 receptions for 453 yards and a couple of scores. Sharpe is likely gone in most leagues but he does make an interesting DFS option on a pass happy offense, and similarly, might still be just enough under the radar to sneak onto a roster for now and later.
Shifting to a couple of more defensive players, we come to Linebacker Thomas Davis, of the Panthers. The 12-year veteran--and complement to Kuechly--has 65 tackles this season to go with a pair of sacks, one forced fumble and a pair of picks. As Fantasy Football evolves amid screams of eliminating kickers, I have to think there will be more emphasis on individual defense rather than team defense.
Finally, LB Nick Perry, of the Packers, scored his seventh sack during the game Sunday night, placing the fifth-year player among the leaders in that stat. But, Perry has a solid 37 tackles and a pick as well, and while the Packers defense is still working up to something, Perry is a guy I am looking into in my Individual Defense leagues.
Don't forget you can follow me @lawrmichaels.