Predicting studs and duds for NFL Week 14

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Putting reputation on the line with predictions

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We kick off NFL Week 14 by first congratulating the Los Angeles Rams for becoming the first team to clinch their division. With that being said, the Rams will look to continue their hot streak on the road against one of the league’s tougher defenses this Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys are in must-win mode when they host their divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles. A certain running back should record some off-the-charts numbers in this matchup.

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs offense might be tested when the Baltimore Ravens arrive at Arrowhead Stadium. If the 10-2 Chiefs fall, it would open up the door for three other AFC franchises — all 9-3 — to tighten the gap.

This leads to our stud and dud predictions for NFL Week 14.


Stud: Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints

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Thomas has been pretty vanilla in his past two games. But, he has an excellent chance of breaking his low-yardage, non-scoring streak in his upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The last time Thomas played the Bucs, he shredded their defense for 180 yards and one touchdown. The Bucs have since been very generous to opposing wideouts, having given up the third-most receiving yards (292.3) on average per game. All the while, Tampa Bay has allowed a preposterous 28 passing scores.


Dud: Golden Tate, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

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Finally fans saw Tate come out of hiding. He handily caught all seven of his targets for 85 yards and one touchdown in a Monday Night Football win over the Redskins. But, should we trust for more of the same from Tate in Week 14? Perhaps not. Tate next faces the Cowboys in Dallas against a defense that last made the Saints offense look like amateur hour. Surely, this defense stands to challenge quarterback Carson Wentz while it attempts to keep the hot-handed Philly receiver restrained.


Stud: Rob Gronkowski, tight end, New England Patriots

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Gronk is healthy and he should be on course for a rebound game as the Patriots attempt to better their standing in the AFC. Next up for Gronkowski is a very savory matchup against the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins have allowed three touchdowns to the tight end position in their last two contests. This obviously increases Gronk’s chances to find the end zone and score what would only be his third touchdown of the year.


Dud: Spencer Ware, running back, Kansas City Chiefs

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Ware did not exactly have the splashy impact many would have thought when he assumed the lead back duties in Week 13. Now, a worrisome game against the Baltimore Ravens defense awaits Ware. Add that to Charcandrick West rejoining the Chiefs, and with Damien Williams in the picture, Ware’s stock should take a dive. A timeshare looks to be the plan as the Chiefs attempt to gain a victory against a Ravens defense that is third-best against the run.


Stud: Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears

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Provided Trubisky is healthy enough to play in Week 14, he has a sweet home matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. With Trubisky excelling in the passing game and showing that he has some speedy wheels, the young quarterback should pile up quite the stat line facing the Rams. This defense has given up an average of 367.3 total yards per game as well as an average of 24.8 points. And if for some reason Trubisky has to miss the game, backup Chase McDaniel should also be able to cash in.


Dud: Tyler Boyd, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals

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With fellow wideout A.J. Green out permanently, Boyd will be the guy drawing double coverage again. This time it will be when Bengals head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers. The Chargers defense ranks No. 10 in the fewest passing yards allowed per contest. Plus, over the Chargers’ last four games they have permitted only two wide receiving touchdowns. This, coupled with the Chargers’ menacing pass rush, makes it really difficult to trust quarterback Jeff Driskel to consistently get Boyd the ball.


Stud: Bobby Wagner, linebacker, Seattle Seahawks

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The Seahawks defense was just awesome to watch when Wagner and Co. last dismantled the San Francisco 49ers. Wagner stands to add to his loaded stat line — which included a defensive touchdown last week — when the Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota’s offense was last witnessed playing very badly when it scored only 10 points in its previous game against a middling Patriots defense. Wagner and the Seahawks are surely studying that game tape as they look to better secure a Wild Card playoff spot with another victory.


Dud: Marlon Mack, running back, Indianapolis Colts

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We are not sure what happened when Mack and the Colts last got completely hosed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. But, that was sure an ugly shutout game. Next on the agenda for Mack is a road trip to Houston to face the Texans. Houston’s defense has been on fire and has yielded only 30 total points in its last two contests. Even worse for Mack is in this stretch, opposing running backs have combined for just 69 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Gross.


Stud:  Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Dallas Cowboys

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We last saw Zeke have one of his more meh rushing-yard games when he failed to score on the ground and toted the ball at 3.3 yards per carry. But, plan for Elliott to get his performance back on track across all fronts in his Week 14 clash with the Eagles. Elliott should light it up considering the Eagles defense just allowed old Adrian Peterson to rush for a 90-yard touchdown. It is also worth noting that Elliott completely burned the Eagles defense for 187 total yards and two touchdowns the last time the two parties met.


Dud: Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams

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Goff disappointed in a major way when he passed for only 207 yards, one touchdown and one pick in his last game against the Detroit Lions. Next up for Goff and the Rams is a matchup with an even tougher defense in that of the Chicago Bears. Chicago leads the league with 30 total takeaways and has registered a whopping 37 sacks in 12 games. If the Bears pass rush strikes fast, even a good quarterback such as Goff stands to feel the heat.


Stud: Aaron Jones, running back, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones

Jones should rebound playing with his hopefully less-stressed quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Following the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy, Jones and the Pack will strive to get their game back on track. This could easily happen when the Packers next host the Atlanta Falcons.

Opposing running backs have scored the fourth-most fantasy points against Atlanta so far this season. This is ideal for Jones who has averaged a stout 5.7 yards per carry in 2018.


Dud: Peyton Barber, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Barber has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his last three games. And, he has averaged 17.3 rushing attempts during this same stretch. Next on the calendar for Barber is a home clash against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are reeling from their upset loss against the Cowboys and could force quarterback Jameis Winston to revert to a heavy passing game to keep competitive. This would impact Barber, who will face a defense that has yielded only six running back rushing touchdowns all season.


Stud: T.J. Watt, linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers' T.J. Watt earnes rookie's top Week 1 honor.

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Attempting to snap a two-game losing streak, Watt and the Steelers head out west to take on a very beatable Oakland Raiders. This matchup should present Watt with plenty of opportunity to create chaos for quarterback Derek Carr and the gang. To date, Watt has produced 10 sacks and that number could easily climb. Carr has been sacked a ridiculous 38 times on the season. Besides this, Watt might easily have a hand in creating a turnover from those fumble-prone Raiders running backs. Just watch and wait.


Dud: Julio Jones, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons

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Jones is banged up and coming off a pathetic performance that saw him catch only 2-of-8 targets for a total of 18 yards. Next up for Jones is a potentially bumpy road matchup against the Packers. Quarterback Matt Ryan has been struggling as of late and should be challenged against a solid Packers defense that has given up the sixth-fewest passing yards. Plus, Ryan has managed only four touchdowns in his last three games. None of this supports Jones having one of his monster performances.


Stud: Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers

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It is time to toot McCaffrey’s horn after watching him pile up a massive 398 total yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. These numbers are no joke. And, McCaffrey is readily primed for another huge cash out when the Panthers next play the Cleveland Browns. To date, the Browns have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. This has been accomplished by Cleveland yielding 4.8 yards per carry and 136.4 rushing yards on average per contest. CMC is going to feast!


Dud: Eli Manning, quarterback, New York Giants

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Manning has not passed for at least 300 yards since Week 8. And, he has nailed the end zone only twice over his last two games. Most recently, what might have counted as a score for Eli was stolen by Odell Beckham Jr. in a trick passing touchdown. For these reasons, Manning is hardly trusted to rebound with a sound performance in Washington D.C. in Week 14. The Redskins defense has yielded a mere five passing touchdowns in its last four contests. And the secondary will be pulling out all of the stops to eliminate OBJ as Manning’s top target.


Stud: Jeff Wilson, running back, San Francisco 49ers 

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Wilson got the nod for some touches and racked up 134 total yards when fellow back Matt Breida became injured in Week 13. Breida is not expected to play, which leaves the door wide open for Wilson to next showcase his wheels against the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos have been a bit leaky in defending the run and have given up 4.7 yards per tote on the season. Wilson last showcased some big plays and also caught eight of his nine targets, priming him for standout performance in Week 14.


Dud: Josh Adams, running back, Philadelphia Eagles

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Adams appears to be the flavor of the month for the Eagles moving forward. But, the rookie has a grueling matchup next in Dallas against the Cowboys. This is a Cowboys defense that last held Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to a lowly combined total of 63 rushing yards and zero touchdowns. Given that cold fact, Adams would seem hard-pressed to thrive. Also keep in mind, the Cowboys have permitted only six running back scores all year.


Stud: Jaylen Samuels, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Samuels is on course to fill in for the injured James Conner, who will remain sidelined in Week 14 with an ankle sprain. This primes Samuels for a great outing against the Raiders. Oakland’s run defense has been non-existent as proven by the team giving up a massive 153.3 rushing yards on average per tilt. It is also allowing 5.0 yards per attempt. We can certainly envision the Steelers gaining a lead and affording Samuels plenty of opportunities to run. Baring anything unforeseen, Samuels could easily be a top five running back this week.


Dud: Adam Thielen, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings

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In his last game, Thielen and Kirk Cousins were terribly on the wrong page. The talented wideout caught only 5-of-10 of his targets for just 28 yards. Fortunately, a touchdown saved Thielen’s day. But, things might not get any easier for Thielen and the Vikings playing in Seattle for a prime time “Monday Night Football” game. The Seahawks defense has been incredibly sharp as of late. It is sure to pressure Cousins who is coming from fresh off a two-interception game. Thielen will be the guy who suffers if Seattle has its way.


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