As usual, the rankings are determined based on performance, expectations and need — a wonderfully vague definition of valuable, to justify about any selection.
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Last week's rankings in parentheses
1. J.J. Watt, DE (1) — For the second straight week, Watt commands the top spot, and really, it isn't even close. His non-stop motor and enthusiasm are contagious. He wreaks havoc in the backfield. And just for fun, the junior has made his presence felt on special teams and offense, blocking a field goal and blocking linebackers at the goal line. He leads the team in pass break ups and tackles for a loss. Although he has consistently been in the quarterback's face for two straight games, he has yet to record a sack. Which really, reflects the limited value of sack statistics rather than downgrading Watt.
2. Gabe Carimi, LT (2) — The run game churned over 200 yards for the second straight week but needed a workman like 4.6 yards per carry to do it. There were miscues up and down the line as the talented group struggled to find rhythm against an undersized and overmatched opponent. With sophomore Ricky Wagner potentially starting in place of an injured Josh Oglesby, the onus will be on senior Carimi to make sure the unit can find its cohesive play once again.
3. John Clay, RB (4) — Another typical day for Clay, putting up 137 yards and two touchdowns at 6.0 yards per carry. Unfortunately, typical does not win Heisman Trophies. If Clay is going to have a real shot at college football's top prize, his conditioning must improve to pile on a few more style points and yards. Finishing off a breakaway — which was stopped after a 40 yard gain — would be a nice start.
4. Lance Kendricks, TE (7) — What to make of the Badgers talented tight end? First of all, defenses cannot forget about him, as Kendricks walked in for a touchdown when left unguarded. More importantly, however, chemistry has been lacking between the senior tight end and quarterback Scott Tolzien. Kendricks was visibly frustrated after Tolzien appeared to not see an open Kendricks down field. He finished the game with three catches for 60 yards, including a beautiful 25-yard haul over his shoulder, but Tolzien missed him on several other opportunities.
5. Antonio Fenelus, CB (NR) — Led the team in tackles. Made a fantastic play on the ball for an interception, finding it quickly in the air and timing his jump right. One of the lone bright spots on a secondary that let up two touchdowns to the San Jose State passing game. Fenelus now must maintain this level against tougher competition.
6. Scott Tolzien, QB (5) — Tolzien is a mature leader, quick to take responsibility for his own mistakes instead of shifting blame to others — as he could have with a fumble after a poor snap from center Peter Konz. There comes a point, however, where accepting responsibility becomes merely lip service if changes aren't made. Tolzien isn't at that point yet. Two bad games in a row makes a trend. If it becomes three, you have a pattern.
7. Jared Abbrederis, WR (NR) — While this spot in the rankings may be short lived, Abbrederis deserves recognition for his sterling performance. A quarterback in high school, the redshirt freshman has transitioned quickly to wide out and took advantage of every opportunity Saturday. He led the team in catches and was second in yards (five for 58), while demonstrating impressive hands in traffic. With Kyle Jefferson chipping in, the Badgers have found unexpected depth out wide behind Nick Toon.