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Warning Signals for RB/WR/TE - Week 14

Every year, certain players are highly drafted in drafts by fantasy owners due to the belief that they will vastly outperform expectations throughout the season. Oftentimes, these players carry a significant amount of hype due to breakout potential, elite status, or lack of alternative options on their teams.

However, with every player that does meet the threshold for good performance, there seem to be several similar players that fail to live up to the lofty expectations placed on them by fantasy owners. Whether the players are drafted at the beginning, middle, or end of drafts, not living up to the draft capital spent on them is one of the weekly dilemmas for fantasy owners.

Because fantasy owners tend to hold on to players that they believe in for too long, it is important to recognize warning signals from players early on so that the players can be removed from lineups and the damage of their poor performances can be mitigated. Let's take a look at some players at each of the skill positions who have shown some worrying signs this week. Fantasy owners should proceed with caution with the following players.

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Players With Warning Signals

Marlon Mack (RB, IND)

Although he faced a very difficult matchup against a tough Jaguars defense, Marlon Mack still had a rather disappointing performance in the team's 6-0 loss. Mack carried the ball eight times for 27 yards and had one reception for six more yards on the night. Returning from a concussion and playing in a game where quarterback Andrew Luck threw the ball 52 times, Mack didn't really have the opportunity to perform. However, as the past four weeks have indicated, the second-year pro has largely failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by his performances in Weeks 7 and 8. Mack is a good football player, but considering that most fantasy owners believed he would return solid RB2 value each week with RB1 upside, he may be worth taking a second look at before plugging him into your lineups going forward.

Latavius Murray (RB, MIN)

After Dalvin Cook suffered a plethora of early-season injuries, Latavius Murray looked primed to handle the majority of the backfield touches for a red-hot Vikings offense in 2018. From Weeks 6-9, Murray had four very solid performances that saw him find the end-zone five times. However, with the return of running back Dalvin Cook to the fold, Murray has largely been relegated to a secondary role in the team's running game. Murray only has 49 yards on the ground in his last three weeks and looks largely like a backup player at this point in the season. Murray should not be started outside of the deepest formats at this point in the season.

Mike Evans (WR, TB)

One player who was largely missing from the Buccaneers' victory over the Carolina Panthers was wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans only caught four of his six targets for 48 yards and failed to live up to his previous two performances (where he had over 100 yards in each contest). Mike Evans has had six 100+ yard games on the season, but only has five touchdowns on the year. Evans is clearly a talented receiver, but the team's inability to consistently get him involved in the end-zone makes him more of a WR2 than the elite WR1 that many believe he is.

Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG)

In a season where quarterback Eli Manning has struggled to find his receivers, Sterling Shepard has been more of a boom-bust option than a reliable WR that most assumed he would be heading into the season. Facing a slight injury in the team's Week 13 victory, Shepard was only able to come up with four catches for 28 yards on the night. Shepard has not had more than 37 receiving yards since Week 7 and only has one touchdown through that time (three on the season). At this point, Shepard is only worth a roster spot in deeper formats as the Giants offense continues to run through running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)

This has been a long time coming. It seems like the era of Gronk is coming to an end, as an injury-riddled season has seen the big tight end's performances seemingly fall off a cliff. Usually an unstoppable force in the red-zone, Gronk only has two touchdowns on the season and only has one 100+ yard game as well. Gronkowski is no longer the centerpiece of the Patriots offense, as the team shifts to a focus on the ground-game and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. Gronkowski should by no means be dropped, and if you have him you are likely starting him, but expectations should be tempered for the rest of the season for the veteran tight end.

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