Welcome to the sixteenth edition of Studs & Duds! You may be familiar with The Fantasy Footballers’ Studs and Duds segment. This will take a closer look at who shined and who disappointed specifically in pricing and scoring the week before. If you’re new to DFS all together, read The Beginner’s Guide To FanDuel DFS. First, we’ll take a look at the Expensive Studs; guys who were worth the big bucks. Second, the Value Studs; guys you got at a decent price, good value. Third, I’ll highlight the Super Bargain Studs; guys who were studs in a big way at little cost to you. Then, last and least, we’ll look at the Duds; guys who really disappointed relative to their cost.
All prices and point totals are from FanDuel.
WR Jordy Nelson vs MIN, $7800, 31.9 pts.
-11 receptions, 154 receiving yards, 2 TDs
Holy Jordy, Batman! Nelson was a flat out stud in the first half alone where he caught 9 passes for 145 yards and 2 TDs. The 31-year old has had one heck of a comeback season. He leads WRs in TDs with 14 while catching 91 passes for almost 1,200 yards. He’s re-solidified himself as one of the top WRs in the game. The good news for Week 17 is his team is right in the thick of the playoff hunt and there’s no slowing down this train. The Detroit Lions have given up double-digit fantasy performances to 4 different receivers in their last 3 games. If the Lions’ DB Darius Slay misses yet another game, Nelson is a must start at $8200.
QB Aaron Rodgers vs MIN, $8600, 37.2 pts.
-347 passing yards, 4 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD
Rodgers has been on absolute fire in his last 6 games. Posting a 14:0 TD to INT ratio, he’s had at least 20 fantasy points in 4 of his last 6 games including this almost 40-burger. Rodgers’ is arguably the scariest QB in the NFL when he’s locked in and that’s exactly how he looks. As mentioned with Nelson, his team has a chance for an NFC North title and I’ll take Rodgers in a big game any day of the week. Detroit’s passing defense has contained QBs lately but no one as talented as Rodgers. I see him and Nelson having huge games. Fire him up at $8800 this week.
TE Travis Kelce vs DEN, $6500, 27.5 pts.
-11 receptions, 160 receiving yards, 1 TD
If you haven’t seen pictures of Kelce partying at 1:30 AM the night before his game against the Denver Broncos, please check my Twitter. The guy still put up career highs in both catches and receiving yards. Since Week 11, Kelce’s number’s have been impressive. He’s had at least 100 receiving yards in 5 of his last 6 games while averaging 7 catches per contest. There’s not much more you could ask of this guy (except a few more touchdowns, hint, hint, Alex Smith). Like the first two guys of this section, his team is playing for a possible division title and he will be the focus of the offense once again. The San Diego Chargers have a very beatable defense (i.e. Cleveland Browns) and I like Kelce at $6800.
RB Le’Veon Bell vs BAL, $9500, 27.2 pts.
-3 receptions, 15 receiving yards, 122 rushing yards, 2 TDs
RB David Johnson vs SEA, $8700, 31.6 pts.
-4 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 95 rushing yards, 3 TDs
RB DeAndre Washington vs IND, $5300, 24.2 pts.
-1 reception, 18 receiving yards, 99 rushing yards, 2 TDs
After a very impressive preseason, Washington’s hype dropped faster than the price of Beanie Babies. He led the rushing attack on Sunday as head coach Jack Del Rio went with the hot hand. Touting an 8.3 YPC, he came just 1 yard shy of 100. So, that’s the good news and unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad news. First is the crushing injury to QB Derek Carr. Carr was the heart and soul of not only the team but the offense. Backup Matt McGloin has only attempted 51 passes the last two years and has a career 11:11 TD to INT ratio. This team will get nowhere near the number of scoring opportunities as they did with Carr. Secondly is that he’s still in a very crowded backfield. Latavius Murray was given 15 carries and Jalen Richard caught 3 passes and carried the ball 6 times as well. It’s great to see him finally break out but he’s purely a dart throw play in a tough matchup against the Denver Broncos at $4500.
WR Adam Thielen vs GB, $5700, 38.6 pts.
-12 receptions, 202 receiving yards, 2 TDs
It’s true, you can’t stop the Thielen! Not to be shown up by Jordy Nelson, the Vikings WR achieved career highs in literally every receiving category. It’s now safe to say he is the Vikings WR1. He was drowning in targets with 15, catching 12 of them. The Minnesota native went from an undrafted rookie in 2013 to being on the verge of a 1,000-yard season. Although the Vikings are eliminated, I can assure you he’ll be gunning for that 1,000-yard mark. Naturally, he received a huge price boost to $6500 this week against a depleted Chicago Bears defense. He has a safe floor with his targets and big play upside making him a decent play this week.
TE Antonio Gates vs CLE, $5400, 19.4 pts.
-8 receptions, 94 receiving yards, 1 TD
Not even Father Time himself could keep the Cleveland Browns winless (last Browns joke, promise). Gates had season highs in catches, yards, and targets. With his touchdown, he’s now just 1 behind the great Tony Gonzalez for most tight end touchdowns of all time. With half their team on IR and no playoffs in sight, this will be the goal of the Chargers on Sunday. The team talked about it all offseason and made it a priority this season. The only issue is Gates has struggled against the Kansas City Chiefs, averaging just 3.4 catches and under 50 yards a game in last his 5 matchups. However, I think the team finds a way to get him involved to get 1, if not 2 touchdowns for the record. At $5800, 40-60 yards and a score seems more than reasonable.
WR Sammy Watkins vs MIA, $6000, 24.9 pts.
-7 receptions, 154 receiving yards, 1 TD
QB Tyrod Taylor vs MIA, $7500, 31.2 pts.
-329 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 60 rushing yards
Super Bargain Studs
TE Charles Clay vs MIA, $4500, 24.5 pts.
-8 receptions, 85 receiving yards, 2 TDs
Those who stayed in the flames with Clay were reward with 2nd highest TE score of the week. Clay caught a touchdown for the 3rd straight game which is 3 more than he’s had all season long. For most of the season, he’s been bottled up by defenses not scoring double-digit fantasy points until 3 weeks ago. The presence of Sammy Watkins on the outside seems to have opened things up the middle for the former 6th round draft pick out of Tulsa. He gets a $1100 raise this week against the New York Jets who have all but given up this season. Given his recent usage, it’s not a bad idea to stay in the flames once again.
RB Alfred Blue vs CIN, $4900, 17 pts.
–4 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 73 rushing yards, 1 TD
In a game where I had to drink far more egg nog than I’d like to admit just to watch, Blue ground out a nice game in the absence of Lamar Miller. His 3.5 YPC wasn’t pretty but with Blue it’s all about volume. Head coach Bill O’Brien clearly trusts him to take the load, giving him over 20 carries for the 6th time since 2014. With Miller’s status up in the air once again, Blue is someone to keep on your radar. He won’t break out for any long runs or make flashy spin moves but he’s a safe bet for volume. Against a Marcus Mariota-less Titans, his team should find a lead and lean on Blue to kill the clock. At $5600 he’s not my favorite play, but if you’re looking for a safe play, he’s your boy, Blue!
QB Blake Bortles vs TEN, $6200, 26.7 pts.
-325 passing yards, 7 rushing yards, 1 passing TD, 1 reception, 20 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars finally showed some life, putting together one of their most impressive games of the year. He connected with Allen Robinson 9 times for 147 yards and a touchdown to Marqise Lee. Many DFS experts were on Bortles this week and should be recommending him once again against the Indianapolis Colts who are a bottom 10 defense against QBs. There should be a ton of points in this game as Vegas has it with the second highest over/under at 47. He’s a tad risky at $7600 but I expect him to finish the year strong (stat wise at least).
WR J.J. Nelson vs SEA, $5000, 20.7 pts.
-3 receptions, 132 receiving yards, 1 TD
RB Jalen Richard vs IND, $4900, 15.4 pts.
-3 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 66 rushing yards, 1 TD
WR Demaryius Thomas vs KC, $6500, 3.5 pts.
-3 receptions, 20 receiving yards
The Broncos’ offense was almost as bad as opening a pair of socks on Christmas morning. The team was dominated in every single aspect of the game and Thomas was no exception. QB Trevor Siemian looked awful, only able to connect with Thomas 3 times on 8 targets. Coming off two double-digit fantasy performances, Thomas’ 3 points were his lowest total of the season. After being eliminated from playoff contention, there’s a good chance Paxton Lynch will see the majority of action against the Oakland Raiders. In Lynch’s one start, he only threw for 223 yards with a touchdown and a pick. It’s hard to trust a receiver when you don’t trust his quarterback. While I do think he has some upside, his $6600 price is just a little too risky for me.
RB DeMarco Murray vs JAX, $8400, 7 pts.
-2 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 42 rushing yards
The dud was coming eventually. Murray’s 7 pts was the first time he’s had less than 10 fantasy points all season long. He’s been consistently great, rushing for over 1,2oo yards, catching 52 passes for another 379 yards and 12 touchdowns. Normally, he’d be my “Don’t Trip Chocolate Chip” of the Week but there is good reason to temper expectations. The devastating loss of QB Marcus Mariota is huge as the offense will suffer. Murray is also losing goal line touches to backup Derrick Henry. His $7800 price tag is something I’m trying to avoid given everything just mentioned plus a tough matchup against the Houston Texans.
RB Thomas Rawls vs ARI, $6200, .8 pts.
-8 rushing yards
The Rawls Royce seems to have been leaking too much oil, rushing 8 times for just 8 yards. Rawls hasn’t seemed to fully recover from his injury as he’s had flashes of last year’s speed but not consistently. His 3.3 YPC this year is nowhere near his 5.6 he had last season. There is no circumstance you play Thomas on Sunday but I’m sure you already knew that. The big reason I’m writing about Rawls is so I can mention his backup, Alex Collins. The Seahawks are extremely thin on running backs now, already losing C.J. Prosise to injury and releasing Christine Michael. Collins looked explosive, rushing 7 times for 28 yards. He’s the next man up and will get the bulk of the carries. He has an absolute dream matchup against the San Francisco 49ers whose run defense has been atrocious. I love Collins at $5800 this week but expect him to have a large ownership percentage.
TE Zach Ertz vs NYG, $5800, 4.3 pts.
-2 receptions, 33 yards
RB Ty Montgomery vs MIN, $6300, 6 pts.
-4 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 23 rushing yards
RB Latavius Murray vs IND, $7300, 6.1 pts.
-2 receptions, 11 receiving yards, 40 rushing yards
QB Cam Newton vs ATL, $7900, 11.52 pts.
-198 passing yards, 36 rushing yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
WR Emmanuel Sanders vs KC, $6700, 3.1 pts.
-1 reception, 26 receiving yards
WR Larry Fitzgerald vs SEA, $6800, 5.1 pts.
-4 receptions, 31 receiving yards
The new prices are already out for Week 17!