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What Did We Learn – Week 14

Guys you can trust to perform at a high level:

A.J. Green
has been a stud this year. The rookie pass catcher has looked like anything but a rookie, as he’s been Andy Dalton’s go-to target. Green’s five-catch, 59-yard day marked the first time in four weeks that he didn’t finish with either 100 yards or a touchdown. The 10th-ranked receiver heading into Week 14, Green faced a tough Houston defense and a head-to-head matchup with Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Hopefully, fantasy owners can excuse his hiccup against a top defense and defender, and can get him in their lineups for his juicy matchups with St. Louis and Arizona, both of whom have given up their shares of points to opposing wide receivers.

Matthew Stafford
has put up numbers all season long. And while his production has certainly dropped off since his early season heroics, he’s still been a Top 5 signal caller. With Calvin Johnson out wide and a banged up running game, the Lions have turned Stafford loose, and he’s delivered. For the first time since October, Stafford made it through a game without turning the ball over. His 227 passing yards and pair of touchdowns seem fairly modest, but he made throws when he needed to, and looked strong in doing so. Health is always a concern with Stafford, as this is the latest he’s ever been healthy, but with matchups against the weak pass defenses of Oakland and San Diego, Stafford will looks to make a statement and secure a playoff spot.

Reggie Bush
has stepped up in a big way over the past two months, taking on the feature role as rookie Daniel Thomas has stumbled. His Week 14 matchup against Philadelphia proved to be every bit as productive as we’d hoped, as he ran for more than 100 yards once again. The only thing he didn’t do was get in the end zone. The coaching change in Miami will have little effect on Bush, as he and Brandon Marshall are really the only playmakers on the roster. He’s got some solid matchups coming up, with division foes Buffalo and New England on the schedule ahead.

Shonn Greene
made an appearance in this space last week. This is surprising, because I have never been a big fan of his. But the New York Jets are now putting an emphasis back on the running game, and Greene has been the focal point. His stat line this past week: 24 carries, 129 yards, one touchdown, three catches, 58 yards. Not bad for a day’s work. While I am no fan of Mark Sanchez, or his two short rushing touchdowns, Greene has become the workhorse that we’ve been waiting for, and with favorable matchups against Philadelphia and the New York Giants, Greene will continue carrying the Jets offense.

Jabar Gaffney
has become a major contributor for Rex Grossman in Washington. Since Grossman has taken the reins back, Gaffney has been targeted 34 times, posting 21 catches for 316 yards and a pair of scores. His 757 yards rank second on the team to Fred Davis, who is now suspended for the rest of the season. We shouldn’t be surprised, since Grossman and Gaffney played together at the University of Florida 10 years ago, and that trust has quickly translated for the Redskins. As Gaffney eyes games with the New York Giants and Minnesota, he may be eying that 1,000-yard mark, something he’s never done in his career.

Felix Jones
will get the starting job back by default, as DeMarco Murray broke his ankle on Sunday Night. The season ends for the Dallas rookie who had made a name for himself as a workhorse back, but Jones now has the opportunity to showcase his talents once again. Health has always been a major concern, but he should be well-rested as Murray has shouldered the load. With Murray on the sidelines, Jones racked up 106 yards on the ground and another 31 yards through the air. Jones will look to build on his performance against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia in the coming weeks.

Guys you can’t trust (even though you may have to start them):

Marshawn Lynch
has been a revelation over the past several weeks. He is running hard, but it’s his offensive line that has been really impressive, as they’ve opened massive holes for him to run through. On Monday night, Seattle featured Lynch once again, and he answered the call with 115 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he’ll draw the stingy run defenses of Chicago and San Francisco over the next two weeks. He’s been too good to consider sitting, but he may struggle, particularly against San Francisco.

Ryan Mathews
has developed into “the guy” in San Diego. Mike Tolbert started the season off as a major cog in the Chargers offense, but has since taken a back seat to the more dynamic Mathews, who posted 114 yards on 20 carries and another 34 yards receiving. Mathews’ emergence also provides enough of a rushing threat to keep defenses honest, and it’s no coincidence that Philip Rivers has been better lately as a result. But Mathews’ scoring potential is limited, as Tolbert is a superior short yardage back. In addition, Mathews has tough matchups with Baltimore and Detroit, who have allowed a combined 11 rushing touchdowns to running backs this season.

Frank Gore
has found the fountain of youth this season. Like Philip Rivers getting help with a running game in San Diego, his success is tied to the success of the passing attack in San Francisco. As Alex Smith has proven to be more competent as a passer, Gore has excelled. With wider running lanes and a shared workload with Kendall Hunter, Gore has had less wear and tear this year. On Sunday, Gore put up 72 yards on just 10 carries and scored a touchdown. With the division in hand, the 49ers will turn their attention toward securing a first round bye, but Gore will be taking on the tough run defenses of Pittsburgh and Seattle.

The New Orleans running backs
operate as a group, rather than individually. Mark Ingram and Christopher Ivory are the main runners, Darren Sproles is the third-down back and top backfield receiver, and Pierre Thomas is somewhat of a wildcard. Since they are so effective as a group, their fantasy potential is typically limited, but having Drew Brees at the helm is good for every offensive player. They’ll continue to share the load, making them all less attractive options, and their matchups with Minnesota and Atlanta make them even less appealing. Look for Brees to keep his aerial attack going.

If you’re in the Jacksonville area and can get to a radio around 8:50 a.m. on Fridays, I’m now a weekly guest on 1010XL’s Sports Final Radio with Jeff Prosser and Dan Hicken.

Good luck.

Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and can be reached at drewmagyar@gmail.com.

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