Younger players are often secret weapons for teams on offense and defense. Unlikely to draw attention from opposing coordinators, these guys make a big difference for their teams before they become full-blown stars at the NFL level.
Offense: Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have struggled to find continuity on offense all season long. For whatever reason, Carson Wentz has yet to find a consistent groove as they pull their Jekyll and Hyde act, beating Green Bay and Buffalo, but losing this week to Miami. Miami. One positive that came out of the loss in South Beach might be the increased roll of Miles Sanders, who has played at the edges of the Eagles offense all season but became a focal point in week thirteen. Sanders had career highs in rushes, rush yardage, and receptions, plus a receiving touchdown in the close loss. He could well be the next star back for these Eagles, who are hanging around in the NFC East.
Defense: Ed Oliver, DT, Buffalo Bills
It’s actually kind of crazy that we haven’t mentioned Ed Oliver in this column yet this season. The Big DT out of Houston was picked ninth-overall last year by Buffalo. In many other drafts, he might have been the first defensive player taken, but last year’s draft was so loaded at DE/DT, the Bills got a steal. Oliver has been productive but hadn’t had a signature game until the Bills week thirteen win over Dallas. Oliver harassed Dak Prescott all night, ending the game with four tackles, two sacks, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.