Fantasy football Week 9 awards: Martin, Luck share rookie spotlight
Doug Martin faces only one reliable run defense the rest of the fantasy season
The Colts' inconsistent running game has forced Andrew Luck to carry the offense
Peyton Manning has thrown for three touchdowns in three consecutive games
A pair of rookies had record-breaking afternoons on the same day that offenses everywhere were in full swing. Bucs running back Doug Martin exploded, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shined and Brandon Marshall scored a hat trick for the Bears. Four other players enjoyed two-touchdown days and owners most everywhere got a boost of box score love from an outpouring of offense.
The "That Just Happened" Award: By now Doug Martin owners have probably stopped smiling ... maybe. Martin happened all over the Raiders with a legendary performance of 272 total yards and four touchdowns. The arrow is pointed firmly up for the Boise State rookie after three straight scoring weeks and a second straight multi-touchdown outing. The rest of the schedule is promising, too. San Diego's fourth-ranked rushing defense next week looks like the biggest obstacle without one other top-11 ranked unit on the rest of the schedule. The Broncos (12th), Eagles (16th), Panthers (20th), Falcons (24th) and Rams (13th) are all middle of the pack at best, with Week 15's Saints matchup looking like playoff gold.
Rookie Quarterback of the Day: Andrew Luck's record 433-yard, two-touchdown day suggested a bigger win, but the Colts needed every completion to down the Dolphins. While Reggie Wayne has had a career resurgence this season, on Sunday the two biggest beneficiaries were rookie T.Y. Hilton (on a team-best 11 targets) and the inconsistent Donnie Avery, who both went over the 100-yard mark. In part, that was also a function of an inconsistent running game. Wayne is still the only receiver to wholly trust, but those in deep keeper leagues should have Hilton on their rosters for safe keeping.
A Giant Disturbance: Not only do Ahmad Bradshaw owners have to sweat out the injury report, but also backup Andre Brown. For the second straight week Bradshaw went scoreless, while for the third straight week Brown found the end zone. Brown has acquitted himself nicely as a flex RB3 in bigger leagues, while Bradshaw owners may want to wait and see how his foot problem comes along. This could either be the beginning of a decline in production or a brief interruption. Either way, it's a concern for now.
The Marshall Plan: When teams jump out to big leads, fantasy owners usually know the jig is up for top-flight receivers except for possible third-and-long pass plays. But the Bears took time from crushing the Titans long enough for Jay Cutler to keep finding Marshall for 122 yards and three scores on 10 targets. In four of the last five games, Marshall has found the end zone, while in the last four straight games he's enjoyed double-digit targets.
Pride of the Lions: Mikel Leshoure has not set the world on fire since I touted him after the Titans game so many weeks ago. But as the passing offense of the Lions settles in over the past two weeks, Leshoure will continue to be the main beneficiary. LeShoure, who is essentially still a rookie, became the first Lion since James Stewart on 2001 to run for three scores. He's the first option at the goal line, and with games yet to play against the likes of middle-of-the road rush defenses like the Vikings, Packers, Colts and Falcons, keep Leshoure in the mix as a high-end RB3.
Streak of the Week: While one streak ended for Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, another continued. Manning's three-touchdown pass streak hit five games in a row Sunday while his 300-yard streak came to an end after four games. At any rate, Manning is hot at the right time, with Eric Decker owners emerging as the biggest winners. Decker, with his two scoring catches in Week 9, became the first Broncos receiver to score in five straight games. And if you needed any further reasons to love the Broncos passing game, or to try to trade for a piece of it, the fantasy playoffs bring a happy holiday helping of Tampa Bay Week 13 (ranked No. 32 vs. the pass) followed by Oakland (21st), Baltimore (22nd) and Cleveland (23rd) through Week 16.
Waiver-wire Hero of the Week: Among all of the players starting for owners who didn't have a chance of being drafted in 99 percent of leagues, Randall Cobb continues to impress. He's been the silver lining in the Packers' dark cloud of wide receiver injuries, and Sunday could have been Exhibit: A. With Jordy Nelson returning to the field only to end up back on the sidelines and Greg Jennings recovering from surgery, Cobb continued his surge. With his two scoring catches yesterday, Cobb has five touchdowns in the last three games and six touchdowns in his last five. Even when Nelson returns, don't look for Cobb's production to wane much.
Steelers Running Back of the Week: After two straight 100-yard games by Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman did the honors in Week 9, pumping out 147 yards and a touchdown. Figuring out who might star for the Steelers at running back is little better than guesswork, as a three-way handcuff isn't the most practical way to assure one position. Going forward, owners with a horse in the running back race will have to scan the injury report weekly, for as Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall begin to mend, a timeshare backfield is also a possibility to be aware of.
Fantasy No-Show of the Week: There are bigger problems in New York these days other than football, much less fantasy production. But it was still surprising to see the top-ranked pass defense of the Steelers climb off a bus, then hold Eli Manning and the Big Blue passing game to 10-of-24 for 125 yards and no touchdowns. There are better days ahead for the Giants, but a tip of the hat to the Steelers who continue to be a matchup landmine for opposing fantasy owners.
Injury of the Week: From the "Stop Me When You've Heard This One Before" file, I give you Raiders running back Darren McFadden. It's been a strange year for Run DMC, who started the season being more effective catching the ball and despite flashes overall, is averaging a paltry 3.3 yards per carry and has two rushing touchdowns. He's never made it a full 16 games in the regular season and yesterday's leg injury shows why it's so hard for fantasy owners to trust him. Owners should grab Mike Goodson for a handcuff if they can, of if Goodson is too injured to go, target a Marcel Reece.