Jerome Simpson and the NFL's 10 Best-Kept Secrets
The NFL is not the NBA. The great teams aren't built on the backs of stars, but rather on the shoulders of people who garner less credit than they deserve.
No more. It's time these men got the recognition that they have earned.
They put in the same amount of work in the offseason, put up solid numbers and do all the little things that create team success.
So click through to find out who the NFL's best-kept secrets are.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
It's coming. Jerome Simpson is going to explode for the Minnesota Vikings soon.
He had a very solid 2011 for the Cincinnati Bengals. He caught 50 balls for 725 yards and four touchdowns.
Simpson hasn't been able to find the field enough this year. Health has kept him out of a few games, and Ponder didn't find him much against the tough Arizona Cardinals defense.
His game against the Detroit Lions (4 catches, 50 yards) is more indicative of the type of impact that Simpson will have in the future.
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have failed to take a significant step forward in the wins department. Yet, that doesn't mean that every player has struggled this year.
Josh Freeman has done well, but the defense cannot stop anyone from scoring. Therefore, no one pays attention.
Freeman is second in yards per attempt (8.23), 11th in quarterback rating, and is one of the least sacked starting signal-callers. And he's also been proficient with the ball as evinced by his 11 touchdowns against only five interceptions.
The Bucs aren't back yet, but they're not too far behind either.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Alfred Morris is not getting the attention that the NFL's second-leading rusher deserves.
Seriously, he has the second-most rushing yards in the league with 658, exactly one yard behind Arian Foster.
There has been a buzz in Washington, but we don't hear about him nearly enough in my opinion. Especially when it's pointed out that he only has one fumble in 143 touches.
Not bad for a rookie. If Robert Griffin III wasn't on his team, we'd hear plenty more about this kid.
Maybe in time, we will.
Donald Butler, LB, San Diego Chargers
The first thing linebackers are taught in high school is to stop the run and to make the first step of each play toward the line of scrimmage.
Donald Butler took that lesson to heart.
The San Diego Chargers are the second-stingiest rush defense in the league, and Butler is a significant reason for that ranking. He's second on the team with 35 tackles and has added an interception for good measure.
If only the Chargers had a Donald Butler who could play in the defensive backfield.
Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
Just like Morris, some of you will know who Geno Atkins is, but too many of you won't.
He is the monster in the middle of the Cincinnati Bengals defense. Through seven games, Atkins has seven sacks.
That would be a great stat for a defensive end. However, Atkins lines up at tackle.
He's amazing, and you should know it.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Everyone knows who Chris Johnson is, but that doesn't mean there isn't a secret regarding him.
He's a top-10 rusher in the NFL this year.
It's true. Thanks to two huge games, Johnson sits at No. 10 with 496 yards.
Just when you think you're out, he pulls you back in. Although, if I had him on my fantasy team, I'd trade him to the highest bidder.
Chris Clemons, DE, Seattle Seahawks
The higher the Seattle Seahawks star rises, the more exposure Chris Clemons will receive.
The stud defensive end is well known among defensive buffs. However, he isn't nearly as well known among the general football-loving public.
Thus far in 2012, he has racked up seven sacks and four passes defensed. If it weren't for J.J. Watt, you'd hear quite a bit more about Clemons.
Soon enough, you will regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets
The New York Jets don't have anyone to catch the ball!
Don't tell Jeremy Kerley that. The kid has done quite well holding it down as the only Jets receiving threat.
Just check out his game against the New England Patriots: seven receptions, 120 yards.
Pretty solid. As he and Mark Sanchez develop more chemistry, the makings of a decent duo could be established.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
Fantasy football owners know who Brian Hartline is after a couple monster games. But he plays for the Miami Dolphins, so nobody else really cares.
His major flaw is that he lacks consistency, which could also be the result of playing with a rookie quarterback. First-year signal-callers aren't usually a fountain of consistency.
However, through six games, he has 29 receptions for 514 yards and a touchdown.
Jeff Backus, OT, Detroit Lions
Okay, you can laugh a little.
But Jeff Backus is actually a decent left tackle.
He's shouldered the brunt of the blame for all the years of poor play. However, he was hardly the issue.
And don't bring up Julius Peppers beating him and hurting Matthew Stafford. The best tackles are going to get beat every once in awhile, especially by someone as dominant as Peppers.
Besides, even the Lions wouldn't let someone start 181 games if they weren't any good.
Henry Melton, DT, Chicago Bears
People need to wake up and smell the Henry Melton. Dude is a beast.
Through five games, he had 4.5 sacks. And he is another player who is dragging down quarterbacks from the defensive tackle position.
Just because you've seen two on this list doesn't mean it's common. It isn't.
Melton is a big reason why the Chicago Bears defense is so stout. It's time people found out.