Fantasy football Week 10 awards: Peterson, Johnson keep flex power
Adrian Peterson is averaging 157 rushing yards over his last four games
Calvin Johnson is ahead of last season's pace for receptions and yards
Danario Alexander has emerged as the Chargers' most reliable receiver
In a critical week that kicked off the final fantasy playoff push, Week 10 offered a hat trick of quarterback concussions and some mixed performances across the board. The Falcons finally lost, Adrian Peterson continued to prove he's Bionic and it was once again Christmas in fantasy land for the Patriots and Bills. So while the Ravens are still scoring on the Raiders, let's review the tape for Week 10's highlights and lowlights.
The Are You Sure He's Human? Award: Adrian Peterson is having a moment. Actually, a few of them -- just ask the Lions' defense. Peterson (171 yards, one touchdown) is enjoying one of the most dominant stretches of a legendry career less than a year removed from a horrific knee injury. He has averaged 157 yards rushing in his last four games while scoring five touchdowns in that span. Twice in that span, his starting quarterback, Christian Ponder, passed for 63 and 58 yards, leaving Peterson to carry the offense. Jamaal Charles, who had a three-month head start on his knee rehab, was one of a dozen backs ranked ahead of Peterson on most pre-draft lists. And while Charles hasn't had problems with his knee, he hasn't come close to the sustained production Peterson has shown, even with quarterback struggles and a similarly bottom-half of the league passing game in tow. Peterson's third- or fourth-round draft grade looks a one-time bargain we'll probably never see again.
The What Madden Curse? Award: Tentatively speaking (as I knock on wood while avoiding stepping on cracks), the curse might be taking a year off. Although he's played like he's allergic to the end zone, Calvin Johnson's numbers have been as healthy as it gets. On Sunday, he notched his third 200-yard day of his career and fifth 100-yard day of the season, albeit in garbage time, but they still count. His lack of touchdowns is alarming, but he's getting opportunities, as evidenced by his 21 targets the past two weeks combined while battling some injuries. A closer look shows that most of this season's numbers -- 95 targets, 60 catches and 974 yards -- are actually ahead of last year's at this point, when he had 93 targets, 54 catches and 885 yards. Touchdowns are the big difference, as last year Johnson had 11 at this point. Scoring grabs for receivers are hard to predict, but the good news for frustrated Johnson owners going forward is that he's in position for improved red zone success, and ahead of the catches and yards pace from last year's explosive totals of 96 for 1,681 yards.
The Not-Sophomore Jinx Award: A.J. Green is arguably the best receiver in fantasy right now after Victor Cruz's production dropped off a cliff along with the rest of the Giants' passing game and with Calvin Johnson's scoring well off his 2011 pace. Against those Giants Sunday (helped by a surprisingly spry Andy Dalton), Green scored a touchdown in his eighth straight game. The last time Green went scoreless was Week 1 against the Ravens. While he ranks sixth in yardage, Green has had only one 100-yard game in his last four, but he has had 85- and 93-yard games in that span. Green is on pace for 1,400-plus yards and 16 touchdowns as he and Dalton assist what's been a lackluster running game of late.
Fantasy Injury of the Week: It was a concussion-heavy week, especially for quarterbacks, but Michael Vick's is easily the one that affected the most owners Sunday. Vick led the Eagles to their first opening quarter scoring drive of the year before getting sidelined. Amid all the talk of Vick being benched, the Cowboys' pass rush made coach Andy Reid's mind up for him. I like to joke that Vick's crazy points potential but bittersweet reality makes him the first Fantasy GM-killer. A recent column by ESPN's Grantland.com illustrated the point perfectly, though in real life. Hopefully owners weren't relying on Vick, but for those who were, perhaps Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dalton or even Jake Locker are available via waiver wire or on the cheap as a Band-Aid.
The Fantasy Foresight Award: This goes to anyone who can predict how the Saints' running game will go from week to week. Darren Sproles was about the only constant when it came to Saints' running backs this season. With his injury and a renewed commitment to the ground game, picking a Saints running back to rely on has been tricky. Chris Ivory looks like the automatic choice for now, producing touchdown runs two weeks in a row. The problem is, he seems to get fewer snaps and/or carries than Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Ivory makes for a low-end RB3 or flex play for now, but fantasy owners are taking their chances. When Sproles returns, Ivory and the rest of the bunch's stock -- whatever it might be -- takes a hit.
The M.I.A. in Miami Award: Much has changed for Reggie Bush in the last year. Blame it on the lack of Brandon Marshall, an inconsistent rookie-led passing game or Daniel Thomas' short-yardage vulturing, but Bush's South Beach stock has slid to a mid-range RB3/flex. In his last six games Bush only has two touchdowns and only one 100-yard outing (172 vs. the Raiders) and his second-highest is 69 yards. His pass-catching has been nearly non-existent, with three games in which he posted one catch, two with two catches and one outing where he was shut out. Bush is a borderline start who is a low-end flex play at this point.
The Walking Dead Award: At this point, starting anyone from either the Dolphins or Jets is for sadists or owners looking to tank for next August's fantasy drafts. Both teams might as well be fantasy's answer to box score Siberia, while the Jaguars (save for the out-of-nowhere play by Cecil Shorts) also fit into this opposite-from-elite club. They technically aren't zombies, but they might as well be, as the Jets rank 24th, the Dolphins 25th and the Jaguars 32nd in points scored with no help in sight.
Pick-up of the Week: From the "Only If You're Desperate" category, as the Chargers implode, new receiver Danario Alexander is looking good. The former Rams castoff had five catches for 134 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs, tying Malcom Floyd for the lead in targets, with seven. Sunday marked the second week in row Alexander led the Chargers in receiving after grabbing three passes for 61 yards two weeks ago. Alexander's arrow is pointing up, while former Saint Robert Meachem's (in a not-surprising development) is going south. With Meachem disappointing, Alexander is a prime pickup, especially in bigger leagues.