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Biggest studs and duds from the 2018 NFL season

Rachel Wold
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A rock star one week and completely stink the next

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

All season long it has been fun to predict which NFL players will be studs or duds on a weekly basis. As we all know, any player can look like a rock star one week, then completely stink up the joint in his next game.

With the regular season winding down, it is only fitting to shout out some players who produced exceptional seasons — perhaps even surprising their fans and others who delivered heartache.

Outside of the no-brainer guys who we all knew would be superstars, here are this season’s biggest studs and duds.


Stud: Tyreek Hill, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs

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Hill is lightening in a bottle and nearly impossible to tackle. He has averaged a healthy 16.8 yards per catch and has 11 touchdowns on record this season. He has also averaged 91.9 receiving yards per game. Hill is far more than the “return specialist” who someone else within this list called Hill earlier in the season. Though, this is something Hill has also excelled in this season.


Dud: Marcus Peters, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams

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After having a salty final season with the aforementioned Chiefs, Peters was traded to the Rams. A lot of preseason hype led to a very pedestrian campaign for the All-Pro in his new digs. Peters got burned on coverage on several occasions, giving up some embarrassing touchdowns to his opposition. He still managed to log in three interceptions, but that marks his career-low. Peters currently headlines a Rams secondary that has given up 28 passing touchdowns on the season.


Stud: Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers

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The Panthers’ season has since gone up in smoke, but it has not been for a lack of effort on McCaffrey’s part. McCaffrey currently ranks fifth in the league with a whopping 106 receptions. This is just all kinds of amazing. But catching the ball is not all McCaffrey has excelled in this year. The sophomore running back has already tallied up 1,080 rushing yards while averaging a strong 5.0 yards per attempt. The young speedster also has a total of 13 touchdowns on the books. He certainly has earned a shout out.


Dud: Josh Rosen, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals

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This rookie was thrust into starting role when the Cardinals could not take one more second of former quarterback Sam Bradford under center. Armed with great weapons in that of Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, Rosen has not been able to survive dealing with his poor offensive line. By far the worst of any of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class, Rosen has struggled to complete just 55.4 percent of his passes. He also has managed only 10 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions and eight fumbles.


Stud: Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams

Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports

Throughout some rocky quarterback play, Adams has proven to be one of the most consistent receivers in the league. He has averaged a very solid 11.2 targets and 92.4 yards per game. This comes along with Adams finding the end zone 13 times thus far. And, his 111 receptions make for the third-highest in the NFL. For those who like reliability, Adams is your man.


Dud: Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Tennessee Titans

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The excuses are running thin as to why Mariota continually fails to live up to being a No. 2 overall pick. Aside from health issues causing him to occasionally miss time, Mariota’s struggles on the field are obvious. This year, Mariota has passed for only 11 touchdowns in 14 games. This has come with eight picks. He is also averaging a career-low 180.1 passing yards per game and a quarterback rating of 92.3. We must wonder what is in store for him approaching his fifth year in the league.


Stud: Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants

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Super-hyped prior to the 2018 draft, Barkley has far-surpassed expectations. Never mind he plays for a bumbling Giants squad. The rookie makes the most of his opportunities come game day and has averaged a lofty 4.9 yards per carry. Leaping over defenders is no problem en-route to Barkley finding the end zone 14 total times thus far. Also uber-talented as a pass catcher, Barkley is averaging nearly six catches and 46 yards per game. What an amazing start to what will be a very illustrious NFL career for Barkley.


Dud: Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Chicago Bears

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Robinson has not exactly had the gleaming year many would have expected as the Bears’ No. 1 receiver. Instead, he is averaging just 58 yards per game and has scored only four touchdowns. His lack of production is not all of his fault as the Bears lean heavily on their running back duo. Robinson’s mobile quarterback also steals some of the thunder. Though, Robinson’s catch rate of only 58.5 percent has done nothing to help those who drafted him with high hopes in fantasy football.


Stud: Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints

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Speaking on that topic, Thomas has been sneaky good this year and ranks No. 1 in the league with 120 receptions on record. This makes for 16 more catches than Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Thomas has averaged a stealthy 91.7 yards per game and is on record for a 72-yard long touchdown. He also sports a stellar catch rate of 85.7 percent which is why he calls himself “Cantguardmike” on Twitter.


Dud: Eli Manning, quarterback, New York Giants

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In a very Captain Obvious statement, Manning’s shelf life as a Giant is growing smaller. He has dealt his fans some horrific performances this season, which is sad considering the talent that he has been surrounded with on offense. Manning has had three games when he went scoreless and has managed a mere 19 passing touchdowns. Sadly, this has come along with 10 interceptions. With more losses than wins on record for a second year in a row, we must wonder what Manning’s NFL future holds beyond 2018.


Stud: Phillip Lindsay, running back, Denver Broncos

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Out of literally nowhere, this undrafted rookie running back has taken the league by storm. This has been much to the chagrin of rookie Royce Freeman who has originally believed to be the workhorse in Denver. Nevertheless, Lindsay has outperformed and is currently averaging a ridiculous 5.4 yards per carry. He has also proven himself as a pass catcher with 35 receptions on record. It is just too bad Lindsay’s Broncos have not done him better this year.


Dud: Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas’ fans can never be sure what version of Prescott is going to take the field. Sometimes good Dak shows up. But far too often, the bad Dak makes an appearance. This is the guy who recently helped produce a Cowboys shutout for the first time in 15 years. Fortunately, the Cowboys are still headed to the postseason. Overall, Prescott has three games on record with zero passing touchdowns and is on pace to throw for what would be a career low 19 on the season.


Stud: Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Chicago Bears

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Fuller’s contributions have been a huge part of the Bears producing such a tremendous defense this year. Whatever Fuller is having for breakfast before he suits up, we all want it. The former 14th overall pick from 2014 currently has a league-high seven interceptions as well as NFL-best 21 defended passes on record. It is no wonder that Fuller was one of five Bears players to be selected for the 2019 Pro Bowl. Though, Fuller surely has Super Bowl aspirations more in mind after helping his team clinch the NFC North.


Dud: Jameis Winston, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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We recently pegged Winston as one quarterback who will be playing for a new team next year. After another poor campaign that kicked off with Winston suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, the Bucs could choose to move on. Through 10 games Winston has thrown for only 15 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and seven fumbles. It is no wonder Winston found the bench on more than one occasion this year.


Stud: Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

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This guy has far exceeded any expectations when he took on the starting job for the Chiefs. When Mahomes steps on the field, he is simply magical at times. Opposite-handed passes, throws completed without even looking and finding open guys in tight coverage have fans in awe of Mahomes every game. With records being broken left and right, Mahomes sports league-highs with 48 touchdowns and an average of 321 passing yards.


Dud: Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Maybe if Ramsey had focused more of his efforts into performing rather than trash talking this season, things would have been better. Kidding aside, the third-year cornerback has not looked as dynamic on the field as he did last season. He did manage three interceptions, but he has also been responsible for six penalties — the second-most of any Jaguars player. Overall, Ramsey and the Jaguars would surely love a do-over this season.


Stud: George Kittle, tight end, San Francisco 49ers

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The Kittle bandwagon has picked up full-steam. Kittle has absolutely excelled as one of the league’s top pass-catching tight ends. He leads all of his 49ers teammates with 1,228 yards and is averaging eight targets per game. His big plays have earned him an average of 15.5 yards per catch. There isn’t muck to dislike about the contribution Kittle brings to the field. It should be awesome to watch him back in action when Jimmy Garoppolo returns in 2019.


Dud: Alex Collins, running back, Baltimore Ravens

Ravens running back Jarvorius Allen on Monday Night Football

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We should have known that the Ravens’ running back situation would evolve into a murky one as the season progressed. Collins finished his 2017 campaign with 973 yards and six touchdowns — prompting us to believe he would be the “Bell Cow” back for the Ravens this year. This has proved to be wrong. Collins averaged only 41.1 rushing yards per game prior to his season-ending foot injury in Week 11. His eight scores save a little face. But those who reached for Collins in fantasy football ended up getting scorched.


Stud: Aaron Donald, defensive end, Los Angeles Rams

Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald

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Sometimes players who hold out during a contract stalemate return at less than 100 percent. This was definitely not the case for Donald who finally got what he deserved pay-wise in a record-breaking contract. Fully earning his keep and then some, Donald has been magnificent this season. He boasts a league-best 19.5 sacks and 24 tackles for losses on the season. The All-Pro pass rusher has also forced four fumbles. Perhaps Donald’s next stop is a Super Bowl.


Dud: Blake Bortles, quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Lastly, it would seem only appropriate to finish this piece with a quarterback who got benched in favor of Cody Kessler a short while back. When on the field, Bortles dumped out some absolutely cringe-worthy performances. This includes him managing a mere 13 passing touchdowns that came with 17 ghastly turnovers in 12 games. Yuck. Bortles even admitted he did a good job “tricking” his team into extending his contract in 2018. Well, the trick is on Bortles who might have a hard time finding a starting job again.


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