Fantasy Football Studs & Duds: Week 12
Here’s a look at the studs and duds of Week 12. We’ll look at one stud and one dud from each of the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions. The purpose of this exercise is not simply to identify the best and worst at each position but to find players who had over- or underwhelming performances that warrant discussion.
Stud: Baker Mayfield (CLE)
19/26; 258 Yards; Four Touchdowns
“No love lost” doesn’t even begin to describe the Browns’ sentiments towards their former head coach Hue Jackson. Don’t overthink it: Cleveland was very much motivated in this game by revenge, and the players made no effort to hide it, Mayfield included. To his credit, he backed it up with his play, even if the Bengals defense is putrid. The highly-touted rookie is quickly developing into a solid streaming option, though with bad timing as bye weeks officially wrap up after this one. If you aren’t overly confident in your quarterback situation going into the playoffs, Mayfield is a name to consider, and he gets this same exact matchup again in Week 16 at home.
Dud: Nick Mullens (SF)
18/32; 221 Yards; One TD/Two INTs
Mullens’ last-minute start and ensuing dominance against the Raiders was only a couple of weeks ago, but it feels like an eternity away at this point. His previous two opponents — the Giants last week and now the Bucs — are as good as it gets for a quarterback, but Mullens looked every part the third-stringer in both games. What’s important, though, is how he’s affecting the skill position players on the team, and interestingly enough he isn’t really dragging any of them down. The touchdowns aren’t there, but they weren’t bountiful with C.J. Beathard under center either. George Kittle is still getting his volume and Matt Breida continues to rack up impressive yardage. All we as fantasy players can ask is that he doesn’t hold anyone back, and, well, he isn’t.
Stud: Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
17 Carries for 125 Yards; One Touchdown; 11 Receptions for 112 Yards and a Touchdown
McCaffrey came into the 2018 season with question marks, and he’s all but erased each and every one of them. There were concerns over his ability to handle a full RB workload, and he’s done it so well that the Panthers won’t even let anyone else into the backfield to take touches away. Then there was the issue of red zone issues and the Cam Newton problem where the quarterback dominates touchdown opportunities. This too has been a non-factor. In fact, it appears as though he’s trending towards becoming the team’s unquestioned go-to scorer. We all knew he had the talent, and the only thing holding him back was opportunity. Now that McCaffrey has that too, he’s a lethal fantasy asset.
Dud: David Johnson (ARI)
17 Carries for 63 Yards; Two Receptions for 16 Yards
Sorry David Johnson holdouts, but it’s going to take more than a change at offensive coordinator to let him live up to his draft capital. Last week may have been fool’s gold, as a quick regression to the norm leads to another disappointing outing for Johnson. First of all, let’s dispel any qualms over the score and game flow. Even if Johnson was a player who’s subject to game flow (he’s not, given his prowess as a receiver), the Cardinals actually led this game for an entire quarter. Unfortunately, this offense is so bad that they were only able to accrue 149 total yards even after losing a hold of the game in the blink of an eye. The line is bad, the quarterback is raw, and the coach appears lost. This team needs too many things to improve before Johnson even sniffs first-round value again.
Stud: Juju Smith-Schuster (PIT)
13 Receptions for 189 Yards; One Touchdown
Juju is a monster, especially in games that the Steelers don’t win. Seriously, he has over 100 yards receiving in each of the four games that Pittsburgh lost or tied. What does that mean? Nothing probably, since he’s also been very good in most of the team’s wins as well. Even if you take away is 97-yard touchdown from this game, he still had a great day. Antonio Brown woke up during the team’s big win streak, but Smith-Schuster remains ahead of his teammate in both yards and receptions. Taking away Brown appears to be a winning recipe for teams playing the Steelers, and you can bet that Chargers, Patriots, and Saints — three out of the next four games — will be using their elite cornerbacks to do just that. Bad news for the Steelers, but great news for Juju.
Dud: Sterling Shepard (NYG)
Four Receptions for 37 Yards
Sterling Shepard had been quietly piecing together a nice little campaign on an awful team up until a month ago when he completely fell off the face of the Earth. In his first seven games, Shepard broke 70 yards receiving four times, and in the four games since he hasn’t even been able to reach 40. It’s no mystery than Eli Manning is over the hump and then some, but that alone doesn’t account for Shepard going AWOL in some cake matchups. His past three games have been against the 49ers (one of the least talented teams in the league), the Bucs (easily the worst secondary in the league), and the Eagles (who worked out a receiver at cornerback prior to the game). It doesn’t get any easier than this, and with the fantasy playoffs looming, there’s just no way to risk riding someone like Shepard.
Stud: Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Three Receptions for 56 Yards; One Touchdown
Gronk wasn’t the best tight end this week — far from it in fact. But he looked good, and that’s huge for anyone who took the chance on the injury-riddled hall-of-famer. His 37-yard touchdown was reminiscent of his glory days, and more importantly his first score since suffering a drought dating back to Week 1. Rob’s blocking duties haven’t gone anywhere, and his routes will be limited until Dwayne Allen can return from injury. If he’s playing you’re riding him, and it really is as simple as that, even if it’s bound to blow up in your face eventually. The upside is just too alluring.
Dud: C.J. Uzomah (CIN)
Six Receptions for 39 Yards
There’s such a massive void in this offense waiting to filled by Uzomah, and his inability to do so is astounding. He’s the top tight end on this team and the receiving corps is hurting without A.J. Green. To top it all off, even the targets are there. Uzomah was targeted 13 times, five more than any of his teammates. Six catches and 39 yards is fine in a vacuum, but not on 13 targets. Nobody has high expectations of Uzomah, and he’s none the less managed to be a big disappointment.