Drew Brees, QB (Saints)

WAS 31 at NO 34

If there was any doubt that this 38-year-old franchise passer can still get it done, then his performance during Week 11 should put a kibosh on any apprehension had.  The 17-year veteran was the league’s weekly passing leader and he was the primary reason the Saints came back from a 15-point deficit in the 4Q (the biggest comeback in franchise history) to beat the Redskins in overtime. Overall, Brees went 29-41, passed for 385 yards, and recorded a 106.2 passer rating.  And, in the last few minutes, he went 11-11 in the final 2 drives for 164 yards and helped to score 2 TDs.  By taking the team on his back when they were down and after he was drilled with 7 QB hits and 2 sacks, it shows he is much more than just a great “game manager”.  Brees is what 5th-year guard Larry Warford described on Sunday as: the ultimate “Field General”.   Possibly more than any QB in the history of the game, Brees has had the ability to carry teams under pressure to victory with consistency and sling the ball with great precision.  It’s why he has (5) 5,000 yard seasons (no other QB has more than 1); is the NFL’s all-time leader in completion percentage (66.64%); has 11 straight 4,000-yard seasons and 9 straight seasons with 30+ passing touchdowns (both NFL records); and is 3rd all-time in career passing yards, pass completions, pass attempts, and touchdown passes (only behind Brett Favre and Peyton Manning).  So, what will the Saints do in 2018 when Brees turns 39 and becomes a free agent?  If he remains healthy, perhaps they should take a page from the Patriots and give this first ballot Hall-of-Famer a two-year extension like they did with Brady earlier this year.

Mark Ingram, RB (Saints)

WAS 31 at NO 34

Two weeks in a row, the former Heisman winner out of Alabama is the top rusher in the league.  He also earned himself the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award for 134 yards on 11 carries and a 36-yard TD plus 21 more yards receiving.  Ingram helped the team in overtime as well when his 2 big runs (31 and 20 yards) set up the Saints field goal for the win. What makes him so good is a penchant for wanting to be the best.  He said recently, “I want to be the greatest ever.  Thats what drives me every day.  If youre not trying to be the greatest, I dont know why youre doing it.”  Ingram also has a multi-faceted style of play that makes him versatile and one of the most complete backs in the league.  Beyond his outstanding ability to run and catch, he blocks and has tremendous balance.  But, is he getting the proper accolades for his tremendous play this season following a career 2016 and living in the shadows of other great players?  This lack of respect pushes Ingram forward too. He said, “Doubters and critics always kind of make you put a chip on your shoulder, still fuel a fire just because you want to prove them wrong. But there are much more people that care about me and love me and want to see me do well, that that’s what I’m more focused on – being positive, being confident, taking in the things from the people that matter, the people that I work with every day.  Well said. 

Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins)

TB 30 at MIA 20

Some think it was amazing the show that this 25-year-old put on during Week 11 while nursing a back injury sustained in practice earlier in the week.  The five-year wideout was even listed as “questionable” to start the game against TB, but when he woke up Sunday morning, he knew it was his job to get out there and play.  He told himself, “It’s time to go.”  Maybe this extra drive to force his body into performing while hurt helped him attain a career day and earn the most receiving yards of the week.  Or, maybe it was all the legendary hard work he puts in to keep himself ready.  Whatever the reason(s), Stills caught 7 receptions on 8 targets, had a career high 180 yards and a 61-yard TD.  As a result, he recorded his 200th career catch, 25th TD and PFF indicated that QBs had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting him.  But, despite his obvious contributions, Miami could not stand up to the Buccaneers at home. They currently sit 4th in the AFC East with a 4-7 record and have lost their 5th straight game.

Yannick Ngakoue, DE (Jaguars)

JAX 19 at CLE 7

The sacks leader for Week 11 was this 22-year-old sophomore who had 2.5 sacks against Browns QB DeShone Kizer, 2 forced fumbles (one of those a strip sack recovered in the end zone to confirm the win), 1 QB hit, 2 tackles and 1 assist.  Through 10 games, he’s already surpassed his rookie total of 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and pressures and continues to be a strong pass-rusher.  In fact, some experts are already saying the 2016 third-round draft pick is becoming elite.  According to Pro Football Focus , Ngakoue had the highest grade amongst DEs for Week 11.  So, what’s his secret?  Jags linebacker Myles Jack says Ngakoue is “a bully”.  “Yan would take your lunch money,” Jack said. “Yan is a full-time bully. He doesn’t ever stop being a bully. And when he puts the helmet on, it’s like magnified by 10 because he can get away with it. He can legally be a bully.  Indeed, Ngakoue terrorizes QBs not just by knocking them to the ground, but with his constant pressure and ability to “get the ball out”, a skill he covets.  “Yeah, it’s nice to get a sack,” Ngakoue said. “It’s cool. But the great ones get the ball out, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”  Better hide your lunch money, Colts QB Jacoby Brissett, he’s coming for you next…

Matthew Judon, OLB (Ravens)

BAL 23 at GB 0

There is a nice buzz surrounding this 25-year-old second year Ravens outside linebacker and word is, we should be on the lookout for him in the future.  In the least, he should receive consideration for inclusion on our fantasy rosters.  During Week 11 he showed us his massive potential when Judon picked up his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for recording 2 sacks (12 & 13 yards on the same drive), forced a fumble, had 7 tackles overall (the 2nd most on the Ravens) and became 1 of only 4 defenders this season with 35+ tackles, 5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 1 FF.  Meanwhile, he also became the youngest Raven to win a league weekly award since the veteran Pro-Bowler Terrell Suggs did it in 2005.   By the way, Suggs was pretty impressed with Judon’s performance on Sunday saying, “he had a phenomenal game, one of the best I’ve ever seen.” Led by those 2 men, Baltimore’s defense has been keeping their team’s hopes alive in the march towards the post season.

Kansas City Chiefs (team)

KC 9 at NYG 12

Since what looked to be a very promising 5-0 start to the season, the Chiefs have lost 4 of 5 and capped off the recent misery by laying an egg against one of the league’s worst teams during Week 11 after a bye week.  How could this be?  It really doesn’t make sense.  They have a good consistent QB, great rookie RB, healthy O-Line, one of the best TEs in the NFL, the fastest WR in the league and one of the best special teams units.  So, where’s the offense?   Pro Football Focus theorized this week that most of the blame goes to QB Alex Smith and a drop off from the excellence he showed earlier in the year.  Namely, they pointed at his performance drop in the areas of completion percentage, passer rating under pressure, passer rating on quick passes and passer rating using play action.  He’s still good on the “deep ball”, but not in most other areas.  Could it be that Smith has relaxed the idea of being replaced by the young backup Pat Mahomes which may have motivated his early achievements?  Then maybe it’s time for KC to dangle the notion of bringing the kid in and see if it galvanizes Smith again before their post season is out of reach.


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