NFC West: Stock Watch 2011 Week 11

NFC West Stock Watch

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
1:00
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. John Skelton, Cardinals quarterback. This feels like a late hit -- piling on. Skelton took enough criticism from coach Ken Whisenhunt following the Cardinals' 23-7 defeat at San Francisco. But if we're going to list NFC West players whose stock fell in Week 10, Skelton has to rank at the top. He completed 6 of 19 passes for 99 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions before Whisenhunt benched him to start the fourth quarter. A strong performance from Skelton against the 49ers would have put pressure on Whisenhunt to stick with the second-year passer a while longer.

2. Sam Bradford, Rams quarterback. The Rams' second-year quarterback took five more sacks, lost two fumbles and threw an interception while averaging only 4.5 yards per attempt during a 24-7 home defeat to Seattle. This was Bradford's third game back from injury, but he seems to be getting worse, not better. He has taken 31 sacks in eight starts, nearly double his rate from last season (34 sacks in 16 starts). The Rams appear inept offensively and Bradford, though hardly the No. 1 problem, has shown no ability to lift up the offense.

3. David Akers, 49ers kicker. Akers had two field-goal tries blocked Sunday against Arizona. He missed another attempt. Akers had missed only twice all season, both against Philadelphia in Week 4. There's no reason for alarm at this point. Akers has enjoyed a Pro Bowl-caliber season, even with the misses. But as the 49ers prepare to play what could be a close game against Baltimore on Thanksgiving, they'll need Akers to bounce back from an uncharacteristically rough day. In fairness, Cardinals kicker Jay Feely deserved mention in this space a week earlier. He missed twice against the Eagles. Akers, like Feely, escaped serious scrutiny because his team won.

RISING

[+] EnlargeMichael Crabtree
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireMichael Crabtree is turning it on as the 49ers' go-to receiver.
1. Michael Crabtree, 49ers WR. Crabtree caught seven passes for 120 yards against the Cardinals. A week earlier, he caught a two-point conversion pass. Crabtree, slowed by injury early in the season, broke tackles and showed better breakaway ability in winning his initial matchup with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. Crabtree has made his mark as a blocker all season. He hasn't gotten many breaks as a receiver. Officials incorrectly waved off a Crabtree touchdown at Cincinnati. Quarterback Alex Smith has missed an open Crabtree a few other times. This performance Sunday marked a step forward. It was the first time this season Crabtree has reached 100 yards receiving.

2. Chris Clemons, Seahawks DE. A three-sack performance against the Rams left Clemons with eight sacks for the season. He forced two fumbles, giving him three for the season, a career single-season high. Clemons became the first Seahawks player since 2007 to collect three sacks in one game (Patrick Kerney did it three times in a four-game stretch that season). Clemons is an impact player in all areas and arguably the best player on the team. He has recorded seven of his eight sacks on the road this season. A three-game home stand against losing teams should let Clemons reach double-digit sacks for the second consecutive season.

3. Kyle Williams, 49ers WR. This was a tough call. Seattle's Leon Washington also came to mind after his punt returns helped the Seahawks control field position against the Rams. Williams was the choice because he basically came out of nowhere to catch five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers were having issues with consistency in the passing game when Williams came off the bench to spark the team.

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