Fantasy football Week 13 awards: Brown adds to luster of rookie class

Publish date:

In many leagues Week 13 is bubble time for fantasy teams eyeing the playoffs, many of which heard a "pop" following Thursday's fantasy dud between the Saints and Falcons. On the flip side, needy owners still found some friends to rely on Sunday with huge performances in losses by Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson and a couple happy and healthy returns to the field by Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray. Meanwhile it's hard not to fall under Bryce Brown's spell of awesomeness, while the Cardinals-Jets duel was where fantasy hope and any semblance of offense, went to die.

Here are the awards ...

• What Brown Can Do For You Award: The Bryce Brown onslaught continues. Brown had his second monster performance and is averaging 173 yards rushing with two touchdowns in his two starts this season. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy, who is suffering from a concussion, might be in danger of getting "Wally Pipp-ed." Brown, a former collegiate wash out and prep blue chip is making McCoy an afterthought.

McCoy owners everywhere either: A) got the Eagles handcuff and are in love with Brown, or B) are bitterly looking for voodoo dolls they can fashion in his image. Despite all that's wrong with the Eagles, can they pick running backs or what? No matter how long McCoy is out, Brown is not going away. A timeshare of backs is going to happen in the near future, no matter who is coaching by then.

• The Cowboy Up Award: Dez Bryant is the top aerial target in Dallas and it isn't even close. Miles Austin owners will have to look for scraps going forward as Bryant continued to settle into a groove Sunday night. Bryant has posted six touchdowns in his last four games, including back-to-back two-touchdown outings. Over the past month, Bryant is averaging 119 yards a game and has a total of 29 targets. Austin, who did score Sunday night, was only targeted twice. After scoring three touchdowns in his first four games, Austin has two in the last seven games he's played.

• The Co-exist Award: C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson created some serious box score harmony in Buffalo. Spiller had 82 total yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars, while Jackson produced 119 total yards -- despite pregame talk he would only see 30-40 percent of the carries. As long as Jackson isn't sidelined with assorted injuries, which has happened twice this year, both he and Spiller have gotten enough touches in the Bills running game to warrant solid starting grades. Spiller rates as a mid-range RB2 and Jackson a solid RB3 or flex. The Bills' remaining schedule includes some middle-of-the-road run defenses that shouldn't be too tough with the Rams (15th against the run), Seahawks (13th) and Dolphins (eighth) upcoming.

• Warming Up At Just the Right Time: Marshawn Lynch seems to have saved his best football for the second half. Lynch owners have had ups and downs this season with the borderline first-round draft day pick who has not played up to his ranking. But the needle is pointed up after his 87-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Bears, especially with the Cardinals (ranked 24th against the run) and Bills (30th) the next two weeks.

• Mr. Ice Cold: Eric Decker continued his slide Sunday with two catches for 17 yards. It wasn't that long ago that the Broncos receiver was ranked in the top 12 and putting up big numbers. Combined with Sunday's brutal outing, Decker is averaging 29 yards in his last four games with only one touchdown in that month-long span. In that same time, teammate Demaryius Thomas has pulled away as Peyton Manning's favorite target, averaging 90 yards and scoring four touchdowns.

• Disappointing Injury of the Week: Jordy Nelson owners have seen this movie before, and even worse, they know how it ends. Nelson injured his hamstring on the first drive yesterday and came out, making the day a wash with one catch for 10 yards. It's been a streaky up and down season for Nelson, let alone the Packers, who have been juggling injuries on both sides of the ball all year. One has to wonder if Green Bay's underwhelming offensive performance would have been as bad with a healthy Nelson. James Jones and Randall Cobb owners shouldn't be looking to shelve them yet just because Greg Jennings is back. With hamstring injuries and the term "linger" being synonymous, both will likely see plenty of snaps going forward.

• Fantasy Siberia Award: The Cardinals and Jets combined for 168 passing yards and 25-for-59 passing with one touchdown pass and four interceptions among three quarterbacks. Larry Fitzgerald owners, who by now are used to this sort of self-inflicted pain, know the pickings are slim with Ryan Lindley at quarterback, but one catch for 23 yards on seven targets is ridiculous. Beanie Wells also did his thing, specializing in being underwhelming, but Shonn Greene was the game's lone bright spot. Those who dare touch Jets players, hopefully used Greene in their flex position. If so, they got rewarded with 104 yards on 24 carries.

• The Rookie Impact Award: To the Fantasy Five of this year's rookie group, which may be the story of the year. What the class lacks in depth it makes up for in star power. It seems every week, a different rookie is setting a record or blowing up a box score as many of the offensive rookies are playing and making a difference. Last season was all about Cam Newton, with no running backs distinguishing themselves and both Julio Jones and A.J. Green coming on midway through the season. This year a number of rookies have had big moments, but the top five are in a class of their own.

A) The quarterbacks: Robert Griffin III might be this season's fantasy MVP, and barring injury, is a sure-fire first-round pick next year. Griffin, despite not having a top-flight No 1 receiver and working along a fellow rookie at running back (see below) has had one of the most dynamic dual-threat seasons in fantasy, ever. Andrew Luck is a top-10 starting fantasy quarterback every week and in many leagues has replaced lower end starters like Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Josh Freeman, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Others such as Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill have been usable as spot starters only, but look promising.

B) The running backs: Three rookie backs -- Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris -- have entrenched themselves as top-10 starters at their positions this season, arguably even top-six at this point. Next season all three will be gone by the top of the second round in pretty much every draft. Bryce Brown has been a waiver-wire revelation, Vick Ballard has been a decent plug-in desperation pick and Mikel Leshoure (technically a rookie) has eight touchdowns for the Lions and is a top-flight flex option. In St. Louis, Daryl Richardson looks like the heir apparent to Steven Jackson, while the Denver watch is on for Ronnie Hillman, who may be the future there, as well.

C) The receivers: It's been less interesting, but Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill have flashed potential, and Josh Gordon, at times, has been a viable starter in deeper leagues and looks like the Browns' go-to target for years to come. The highest drafted rookie, Justin Blackmon, did record a 200-yard game but hasn't shown much else, and Alshon Jeffery has struggled to stay healthy. T.Y. Hilton, however has established himself as maybe the best of the bunch in the short term as a WR3 in larger leagues. He looks like a cross between [Carolina's] Steve Smith and former Falcon Terance Mathis.