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Week 14 Studs, Duds, and Thuds: Goodbye, Thomas Rawls

Every Monday, we look at the top performances and injuries which will impact our coming plays in seasonal and daily fantasy football leagues.

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Week 14 has been a week of many huge performances, but not all good and bad performances give us new decisions to make. Every Monday, we try to hone in on the standouts, busts, and injuries which will influence our play most for the rest of the season.

This is playoff time and there should not be many decisions made based on this week, but we can affirm some thoughts on studs, downgrade a couple of others, and we must make note of injuries.

Studs of the Week: Eddie Lacy and James Starks, Packers

The Packers may have a true timeshare going on, but the team is clicking and the clear effort to get Lacy the ball is shined through with Mike McCarthy calling the plays once again. Lacy was on the field for 49 snaps to Starks' 32 and had a huge 24/124/1 rush line with a 24-yard catch to Starks' 11/71/1 and 4/32/1 line in the pass game.

The two are both firmly top-20 in all formats with Lacy as an RB1 again and Starks gets a boost in PPR, especially where we can quit on Giovani Bernard, Danny Woodhead, LeGarrette Blount, and Frank Gore.

Sure, Russell Wilson's five TDs against the Ravens and Blake Bortles' three against the Colts affirmed our thoughts they were studs to ride through the playoffs, but no performance changed the landscape of a position like the Packers' commitment to the run. In Oakland for Week 15 and against the Vikings in Week 17, expect similar approaches. It is the Week 16 matchup in Arizona where Green Bay may have to go more pass heavy and Starks is the better play where we have both, as we will try to find better upside than Lacy.

Dud of the Week: That whole Buccaneers offense

They had the dream matchup of the Saints at home and only mustered 17 points. The faith in Jameis Winston to take advantages of great matchups, rest of season, has to be curbed with only 182 yards and one TD in this one. And with him sinks the value of Mike Evans (3/39/0), who has not had more than five receptions since Vincent Jackson returned four weeks ago.

Jackson (1/5/0) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (3/31/0) are nothing more than cheap DFS punts or deep league desperation flexes. Jackson left Sunday's game with a knee injury. His absence gives some hope to Evans' and ASJ's values, but more to ASJ and Cameron Brate as streaming options or DFS punts.

Thuds of the Week: Thomas Rawls, Seahawks; and Andy Dalton, Bengals

The run is done. Yet, another guy gets into my top-3 RB group and bites it for the rest of the season. Rawls had 906 total yards and five TDs in 156 touches, despite only seven starts before breaking his ankle on Sunday. He must be kept in all keeper leagues, no matter what Marshawn Lynch's status with the team is next season.

DuJuan Harris got tons of volume after Rawls left the game, so he is worth a waiver claim for volume, but this rushing game is dying.Fred Jackson not assuming that role, despite his full season with them bodes worse. Seattle signed Bryce Brown on Monday, so maybe there is a punt.

Andy Dalton suffered a thumb injury and the rumors range from out for the rest of the season to only missing a week. A.J. McCarron put up numbers (280/2/2), but the Steelers' secondary sucks. He can be serviceable in a 12-team league start in Week 15 against the 49ers where we were not prepared, but we really should have been because we should not have been planning to start Dalton in Week 16 against the Broncos anyway.

Notable Studs

Todd Gurley, Rams

There was a lot of talk that we should start benching Gurley, but that was difficult to buy. The Rams still have no pass game and Jeff Fisher loves to run the ball. The volume had to come back and the big plays with it. Gurley's 16/140/2 line was the strongest affirmation of maybe our more frustrating suspicions leading into the week.

Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas, Jaguars

Maybe writing off Hurns was premature. He is big play and TD-dependent, but Bortles gives him the opportunity to hit that so often that he has to remain in our top-25 conversation at the position, despite only three catches in four targets. It was Hurns' seventh game with four or fewer catches, but he has scored in five of those games to still average over 11 fantasy points per game.

Hurns playing healthy enough to be in the gameplan again did not hurt Thomas (5/54/1) much, especially in PPR. He led Bortles' big game with seven targets. The concern was Allen Robinson evening out with only one catch for four yards in four targets. I guess we can just chalk this up to Vontae Davis and Bortles only having to throw 30 times.

This is still the Jaguars, though. Against the Falcons, Saints, and Texans to close the year, we can always expect bombs to be slung by Blake, so continue to treat Robinson as a top-8 WR1, Hurns as a high-end WR3, and Thomas as a top-8 TE1.

Tim Hightower, Saints

This is why we can buy into Hightower's 28/85/1 game: C.J. Spiller stinks, there's no other act in town, and the Saints get the Lions and Jaguars at home in the next two weeks. The offense will be there for the entire team and Hightower has no mileage this season, so he can be run into the ground. It's a pure volume play, similar to LeGarrette Blount or Jeremy Hill.

Sammy Watkins, Bills

A 5/81/1 game is good, not great, for 12 targets, but we have to buy the 12 targets. He will get a healthy Darrelle Revis in Week 17, but at Washington and hosting the Cowboys for Weeks 15 and 16, love the WR1  volume for WR2 production.

The Seahawks WR corps

Doug Baldwin (6/82/3), Tyler Lockett (6/104/2), and Jermaine Kearse (7/74/0) all pretty much split 24 targets evenly. With no Jimmy Graham and likely no run game, Russell Wilson's consistent 28-32-pass volume will have to rise. Hosting the Browns and Rams over the next two weeks, just love all three. It is really difficult to not treat Baldwin as a WR1 and the other two as flexes in all formats.

Notable Duds

Danny Amendola, Patriots

So, Rob Gronkowski was more than a decoy, but only saw four targets for a 4/87/1 line. Amendola was supposed to be the target monster and saw a decent eight on 30 passes from Tom Brady, but only put up a 6/46/0 line. He has to remain a top-15 WR in PPR, but may only be flexworthy in standard leagues with Gronk and James White getting more plays near the endzone.

Martavis Bryant, Steelers

This game got out of hand (no pun intended) when Dalton went down. Ben Roethlisberger still threw 39 times--nine time to Bryant--and Adam Jones was inactive for the game, but the deep ball did not come and Bryant's line was a disappointing 7/49/0. We should still treat him as a WR2 against the Broncos in Week 15, and as a WR1 in Weeks 16 and 17 against the Ravens and Browns as they fight for playoff positioning.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys

One catch. Nine yards. Six targets. Matt Cassel. Stop playing Dez, mkay?

Latavius Murray, Raiders

Hey, it was the Broncos, so we could forgive a 16/27/0 line. But he hasn't hit 100 yards since Week 8 and only has three TDs since Week 3. All of this while fifth in the NFL in touches (246). We have to roll him out for volume against the Packers, Chargers, and Chiefs, but wouldn't make fun of you for benching him because of the low upside this week. The last two weeks, we have to bank on TD regression for monster outings.

Charcandrick West, Chiefs

West saw 67% of the snaps again, but only ten carries to Spencer Ware's eight in 30% of snaps. Neither did anything against this terrible Chargers defense, but the faith has to remain. Chalk up this game to Andy Reid just wanting to come out alive. With the Ravens, Browns, and Raiders to close out the season and so few healthy RBs, West has to remain an RB1 and Ware a high-upside flex option.

That whole Eagles mess

Demarco Murray was active behind Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. Mathews led the team in carries with 13 and added two catches, then Murray with 11 and two catches, and Sproles last with seven carries and two catches. Sproles was the only one to score more than five fantasy points because he got a TD, but led the RBs with 27 snaps to Murray's 25 and Mathews' 20.

There is no pattern to find here other and the Eagles won 23-20. My thoughts are just that all three are flexes, preferring: Murray then Mathews then Sproles in standard: Sproles, Murray, then Mathews in PPR with Sproles and Mathews remaining decent punt plays in DFS.

Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Bengals

67 total yards, but only nine touches. He only has one TD this year, but this was his second straight week of single digit touches, as the team leans more on Jeremy Hill. Stop playing him. Hill was bad, too--worse with a 7/16/0 line--but the injury to Andy Dalton at least keeps Hill realistically in the gameplan to retain his RB3 value.

Donte Moncrief, Colts

Ten targets against the Jaguars did not mean squat for Moncrief, who finished with a lowly 3/52/0 line. Even T.Y. Hilton put big plays together for a 4/132/0 line. This passing game stink. Fade it.

Notable Thuds

Brian Hoyer, Texans (concussion)

Texans have such an awesome schedule (Colts, Titans, Jaguars) and a shot at the playoffs, so we cannot count out DeAndre Hopkins to not bounce back as a target monster. But we cannot bank on a play-it-safe T.J. Yates. Hoyer is still a QB1 and will be a sneaky DFS stud if he can come back for Week 15.

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots (hip)

Blount may have lost his job to injury. Branden Bolden came into the game and closed with a 16/51/0 line. The Patriots were still passing a lot with a large lead to show that there still is not much confidence in Bolden, but never know. James White only had one carry for his two-yard TD, but he got the carry only to put him out there to look like a pass play. If Blount cannot go Week 15, we should not be surprised to see some bum get signed off the street and get 30 carries against the Titans.

Tyler Eifert, Bengals (concussion)

After suffering a neck injury last week, Eifert left Sunday's game with a concussion. With McCarron at the helm, he is so TD-dependent that we may need to sit him anyway.

Greg Olsen, Panthers (knee)

Olsen did not return, but Ron Rivera said that he could have. The Panthers killed again, so doubt that Olsen will see a snap count unless there is a blowout to close.

T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars (knee)

Yeldon left the game, returned, and left again. In the meantime, Denard Robinson had over 70 yards and TD, so he should be added in all formats with the Jags nice schedule ahead.

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