Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 8 was a fantastic one for countless rookie WRs: Donte Moncrief, Allen Robinson, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin. Do I need to go on? This crop is quickly making a name for itself as one of the best rookie WR classes of all-time. Will it continue? I think it will. Week 9 will be a rough one for many teams with a whopping 6 teams on byes this week. With that in mind, there will be a few more names listed as borderline this week, so make sure to read a little deeper on those guys and see if they are a fit for your lineup this week. Every league is different, so I have to trust that you know your team better than I do. If I say a guy is a borderline starter at WR, and you have 3 top-10 WRs and him, don’t play him. Alright, let’s dive into week 9’s rookie matchups….
Rookies to Start:
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. Was.): The ‘Skins D is a tough matchup on paper, but it’s mainly because they’ve been keeping RBs out of the end zone, giving up just 2 TDs all year to them. McKinnon is still a good bet to pile up yards. DeMarco Murray did dismantle Washington a week ago, and some of his holes to run through were massive. McKinnon did put up a huge day against the very stout Bills’ run defense a couple weeks ago too. He’s still a safe RB2.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 9: @Mia.): Oliver will get at least one more week as the Chargers’ feature back with reports that Ryan Mathews won’t return until after their week 10 bye. Oliver wasn’t great last week, but he did manage 63 yards in his worst start of the year. The matchup with the ‘Phins isn’t an easy one, but it should be easier than last week’s. The Broncos were ready for a run-focused attack, and they shut it down. Expect a bounce-back and a solid start from Oliver this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 9: vs. NO): Don’t be worried about the matchup with Saints’ corner Keenan Lewis after Lewis shut down Jordy Nelson last week. KB is a locked-in every week starter, and he just tallied nearly 100 yards against Richard Sherman last week. Expect another strong day.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 9: @Car.): On the other side of the Thursday night game, Brandin Cooks should be a safe option as well. The Saints finally started getting him the ball further downfield and it paid off big time. With the short week, there isn’t always time to install a whole new game plan, so Cooks should see similar work this week. The Panthers’ D is very burnable. Fire up Cooks as a WR3.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): With Cruz sidelined for the season, Beckham played on every offensive snap for the G-Men in week 7, and they used him all over the field. I’d expect that usage to continue, and production should continue to follow. You know the Colts can score, so the Giants should certainly be throwing enough to set up a very productive game for Odell. He has 3 TDs in 3 career games thus far.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 9: vs. Bal.): Bryant has broken out in a big way over the past 2 weeks, and he’s done it as a part-time player. The part-time thing is about to change. Bryant is exactly the kind of player the Steelers need opposite Antonio Brown to keep defenses honest. He’s a big, fast, dynamic downfield receiver, and he’s really hard to cover in the red zone. I expect the Steelers to continue to get him involved, and the matchup this week is a good one. The Ravens have allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to opposing WRs, and they just lost their top CB Jimmy Smith for the year last week. I love Bryant as a WR3 this week.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. Was.): Teddy has a primo matchup this week, but he’s still only a starting option in 2 QB leagues. He does make a solid QB 2 option this week though. Washington has allowed a 17:3 TD-INT ration so far and the 2nd most QB fantasy points per game. With that said, Teddy failed to capitalize on a plus matchup with the Bucs last week, and the Washington D looked rejuvenated against Dallas on Monday night. There’s serious upside here, but also some risk. 225 yards and 2 TDs would be a positive day.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 9: vs. Jax.): There’s a chance that Hill moves to must-start status if Gio Bernard is unable to go this week (he missed practice Wed. with a hip injury), but I’m assuming Bernard will play. The Jaguars have been better of late, but this still has serious blowout potential. Even if Bernard starts, I like the chances that Hill sees more work than usual. He’s a solid bet for a TD, and that makes him a real flex option.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): The Colts defense is not stellar against fantasy RBs, but they give up a lot of that damage in the passing game, where Williams is a non-factor. It looks like Rashad Jennings is likely to sit again, so there should be a healthy number of carries. I’d look for him to be in the neighborhood of 60-70 yards, but he’ll need to find the end zone to make you happy. He’s just a flex option.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. TB): Crowell is a dicey flex play this week, but one with plenty of upside. Head coach Mike Pettine said that the plan is to get Crowell more touches going forward, but also said he has trouble trusting him in tight games due to ball security issues. If the game stays close, it could be all Ben Tate in this one. If Cleveland is able to get out in front, Crowell could see extensive work. If he gets 10+ carries, I’d expect him to shine. I think he should approach that number.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 9: @Pit.): Taliaferro has vanquished Bernard Pierce for the number 2 RB spot in Baltimore, and that has value since he’ll get goal line work. He should be a legitimate threat for a TD this week against a mediocre Pittsburgh run defense, but he could be light on yards with Forsett around. There is a slight chance that Forsett isn’t able to play this week, and if that happens, Taliaferro bumps up to being a solid starting option.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Evans has been remarkably consistent for a rookie. He’s caught exactly 4 passes in each of the last 5 games (he caught 5 in week 1), and he’s topped 50 yards in each of the last 4 games. He should put up similar numbers again this week. Having V-Jax around certainly limits his ceiling a bit.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Robinson gets listed as borderline because he faces the best defense in the league at limiting WR fantasy points, but the arrow is pointing way up for Robinson. He’s led the Jags’ WRs in snaps for each of the last 3 weeks and he has 4+ receptions in every game since week 2, 60+ yards in 5 of the last 7 games, and a TD in each of the last 2. He’s certainly worthy of WR3/flex consideration despite the matchup.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 9: @NYG): If you haven’t heard of Moncrief yet, you’re not paying attention. He’s a freak athlete who is quickly climbing past Hakeem Nicks on the Colts’ depth chart, and should start opposite T.Y. Hilton in Indy for a long time (after Reggie Wayne leaves). With Wayne out last week, Moncrief had a line of 7-112-1 on just 40 snaps. If Wayne sits again this week, Moncrief should be in your lineup. If Reggie plays, view him as more of a volatile WR3 option.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Brown surprised in a big way in week 8 at the expense of teammate Michael Floyd, but a repeat is unlikely this week. Brown is still a boom-or-bust WR3 option this week, but I’d expect the Cards to try to do more to get the ball to Michael Floyd this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 9: vs. SD): The matchup isn’t great this week and Landry had a weak game against Jacksonville, but I expect this game to stay competitive a bit longer than last week’s affair. As a result, Landry should have a better performance than last week, but it would be tough to bank on much more than 5 grabs and 50 yards.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 9: @Hou.): Matthews continues to see a healthy number of targets and catches, but it isn’t equating to big yards or TDs. He has 4+ catches in each of his last 5 games, but needs to start seeing more downfield targets. Maclin dominates this passing game too much to rely on Jordan. The matchup is a good one this week with the Texans allowing 24.6 WR points per game, so you could do worse that Matthews at WR3 in PPR leagues, but he’s a low-end option.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 9: @KC): Jace has a higher floor most weeks than the other rookie TEs simply because he is more heavily targeted. He has 26 catches over his past 5 games, and Mike Vick has a history of leaning on his tight ends. I would expect Amaro’s numbers to see a slight uptick with Vick in there. He should be a reasonable streaming TE option.
TE Crockett Gillmore, BAL (Wk. 9: @Pit.): With a weak TE pool this year made weaker by 6 bye weeks, Gillmore has some streamer appeal with a decent matchup. Pittsburgh allows 9 points per game to opposing TEs, and Gillmore should see just about all of the TE targets. He needs a TD to be productive, but he could get one.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): The Bengals have allowed a 9:8 TD-INT ratio so far this season, and Bortles has been hemorrhaging turnovers so far this year. The team has set a goal of less than 8 picks over the final 8 games, and I think he starts off behind the pace he needs to hit that goal. He will likely be throwing a lot, so there is upside, but I would have a hard time starting him even in a 2QB league.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 9: @Sea.): Don’t get cute here. This is a brutal matchup. Carr is one of the worst QB plays of the week. If he were starting, I’d have rather played Colt McCoy vs. Minnesota that Carr here.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 9: @SF): Mason had a strong game in St. Louis the first time they met the 49ers, but I’d expect they’ll be more prepared for him this time around. He’ll see some work since obviously Fisher likes him in this matchup, but I would expect about 40 or 50 scoreless yards. There are better options available.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): Despite a pretty strong week 8 showing, Blue should still be firmly on the bench unless something happens to Arian Foster. He’s an important handcuff, but not much more right now.
RB Storm Johnson, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Denard Robinson was great again last week, cementing himself as the lead back in Jacksonville. Storm will do battle with Toby Gerhart for the change of pace work and has no place in your lineup or even on your roster in standard leagues.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Hurns got a little bit more involved last week than he had been in the few weeks prior, but the Bengals allow the fewest WR fantasy points and Hurns hasn’t topped 50 yards or scored a TD in any of his last 4 games.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Jenkins has been playing plenty of snaps, and has been getting better with 5.8 and 6.6 points in his last 2 games, but the Browns’ D is better against TEs than you’d think. Jenkins is still a raw player and isn’t really reliable yet. I’d rather play Gillmore this week.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 9: @Cle.): The Bucs brass have been very high on Sims, and it looks like he should be active for the first time this week, a week that Doug Martin might not be able to play. I’d expect Tampa to ease Sims in, but he should work in a committee with Bobby Rainey this week if Martin is out. Sims will be a factor in the passing game right away. He should be owned in all leagues, and could have a surprising debut this week in a plus matchup.
RB Marion Grice, ARI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Grice is worth a stash in deeper leagues with Stepfan Taylor out with injury. Grice will see the change of pace work behind Andre Ellington and has the skills to be dangerous in the passing game. He could have big value if anything happens to Andre.
WR Paul Richardson, SEA (Wk. 9: vs. Oak.): Richardson hasn’t exactly made an impact on the stat sheet yet, but he did break a 47-yard kick return in last week’s win for the Seahawks, and I have a hunch he breaks a big play against a poor Raiders’ D. He’s not a guy you’re going to play, but could be a really cheap daily league option.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some tough bye week lineup decisions. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! The season marches on another week, and the rookie WR crop spent that week showing off once again. Martavis Bryant, Jordan Matthews, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham and John Brown each found the end zone at least once, and the party isn’t likely to end for that group. With that said, let’s dive into what to expect from the rookie crop in week 11…
Rookies to Start:
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 11: @NO): It’s being reported that Gio Bernard will be out yet again this week. Don’t be scared off by Hill’s lackluster performance last week. The Bengals abandoned the run far too early, and Hill was actually pretty effective when they were giving him the ball. I’d expect Cincy to get back to running the ball this week, and with Saints top corner Keenan Lewis likely out, the Bengals whole offense should run more smoothly. I expect Hill to get back into double-digit fantasy points against New Orleans.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 11: vs. Hou.): The Browns’ backfield situation is only slightly clearer than the ones in Denver and Buffalo right now, but the Texans are a bottom-10 defense against fantasy running backs and West is a very good bet to lead Cleveland in carries this week. He should be a mid-level RB2 this week with the Browns’ run-heavy scheme.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 11: vs. SF): Beckham has been a revelation since returning from his early season hamstring issues. He’s already established himself as Eli’s go-to-guy, and he’s put up 15+ points in each of the last 3 games. The matchup isn’t an easy one, but Beckham did just carve up the Seahawks’ vaunted secondary last week, even schooling Richard Sherman downfield with a double move for a big gainer. Beckham is an every week WR2 right now.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 11: @Was.): Evans is quickly becoming the top option in the Tampa Bay offense, and it seems pretty clear that the switch to Josh McCown hasn’t hurt his output. After catching 4 balls each week for 5 games in a row, Evans has exploded for 7 catches each of the past 2 weeks with 125 and 124 yards respectively, and scored 3 TDs. It’s even more impressive when you factor in that he had a different starting QB each game. I’d expect the breakout to continue and see Evans as a safe WR2 this week.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 11: @Mia.): Watkins is coming off a poor week 10 showing as he battled through a groin injury that was apparently worse than it seemed. Despite that, he’s practiced in full this week and he looks ready to roll against the ‘Phins. The matchup is tough. Brent Grimes has played like a true shutdown corner at times, but Sammy did torch Miami for an 8-117-1 line in their first matchup. I expect a bounce back from last week and see Sammy as right on the WR2/3 borderline this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 11: vs. Atl.): Obviously, Kelvin’s stat line last Monday was garbage time aided, but the stats still count the same. He’s still seeing a mountain of targets each week and gets to face off with a Falcons’ secondary that has allowed 23.6 points per game to opposing WRs. Even if KB winds up facing off with Atlanta’s top CB Desmond Trufant all day, I still like his chances for a TD and for double-digit fantasy points. Continue to trust him in your lineup.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 11: @GB): Believe in the connection between Matthews and the Sanchize. They’ve had a great chemistry since training camp, and Sanchez has already connected with J-Matt for 3 TDs in less than 2 full games at the helm. Maclin is still the clear number one WR on the Eagles, but Sanchez doesn’t take nearly as many deep shots as Foles used to, so Maclin’s numbers won’t be quite as steady as they’ve been and Matthews’s should continue to rise. Jordan should be a steady WR3 the rest of the way.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 11: @Ten.): The hot streak continued for Bryant last week despite the Steelers’ embarrassing loss. This week he gets the oft-burned Blidi Wreh-Wilson who should get burned some more. I wouldn’t bet against another Martavis TD this week. Keep putting him in the lineup and reaping the rewards.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 11: @Chi.): Teddy has had a reputation all year of coming up small in the best matchups. The Bears are a juicy one. They allow a league worst 20.8 points per game to opposing QBs. Despite his struggles in good matchups, I think this is the game where Teddy breaks through. The Bears’ defense is painfully predictable, and with Kyle Rudolph back, I think this will be Bridgewater’s first game with multiple passing TDs. I see him producing like a high-end QB2 Sunday.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 11: @Chi.): I hope McKinnon owners are ready to be frustrated again by Matt Asiata vulturing TDs from Jerick. The Bears’ defense has been terrible, so McKinnon should again have a strong yardage day (he’s averaged 83 yards from scrimmage in his past 3 games), but I don’t have a ton of confidence that he scores his first TD of the season. Chicago’s cover-3 defense limits the home run plays, so I would be surprised if McKinnon is able to break a long TD run.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 11: vs. Pit.): There is some good news for Bishop Sankey: he’s finally emerged from the Tennessee timeshare to be the clear featured back. The bad news: he’s still not scoring TDs. He hasn’t hit paydirt since week 2, and while the Steelers can be run on, I’m not sure I see the Titans keeping this game tight and being able to run it throughout. Are you going to be happy with 80 scoreless yards from a starting RB this week? If you are, fire up Bishop.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 11: vs. Den.): Mason faces another tough matchup this week, but he did manage 81 yards from scrimmage vs. the Cardinals last week. I wouldn’t bank on much more than what he did last week, but his role certainly puts him on the RB2/flex radar.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 11: vs. Oak.): Ryan Mathews looks ready to go for week 11, but in a matchup with the Raiders, Oliver should still have some value. He should assume the old Danny Woodhead role as a change of pace and receiving back, and he did rattle off 124 total yards and a TD the last time he faced Oakland. He’s a reasonable roll of the dice flex option.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 11: vs. Cin.): Cooks has been very good in the Superdome, where he plays this week. He’s put up 90+ yards and a TD in each of his last 2 home tilts, but there is a little reason for hesitation since Cincy doesn’t give up a ton of points to opposing WRs. He should still be a safe WR3 in PPR leagues, and a little less safe in standard leagues.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 11: vs. Buf.): Landry remains a reasonable WR3 options in PPR leagues. He had a season-high 7 catches last week, and will continue to see a solid amount of targets each week. Ryan Tannehill still struggles to connect on the deep ball, and Landry makes his living on the short-to-intermediate stuff. He should continue to tally 5 or 6 catches just about every week.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 11: vs. Phi.): I have a hunch that Adams has a strong game this week. He was the only Packer who didn’t have a big night against the Bears, and I think Rodgers will look for Adams a bit more this week. Randall Cobb gets to tangle with Brandon Boykin, the Eagles’ toughest cover corner, which should help a few extra targets to go Davante’s way. I think he’s worth the risk as a WR3 this week, but there certainly is risk.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 11: @Was.): There was a lot of hubbub about the switch from Mike Glennon to Josh McCown, but it seems to have worked in ASJ’s favor. McCown looked in the direction of Brandon Meyers quite a bit at the start of the year, and that tight end love has carried over to the rookie. ASJ caught 5 of 9 targets for 30 yards and a score last week. He makes a decent streaming play this week against a ‘Skins defense that has allowed 9 points per game to opposing TEs.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 11: @SD): Carr has been improving as the season has gone on, especially now that he’s found a safety valve in TE Mychal Rivera, but he’ll need some garbage time this week to have any QB2 appeal. The Chargers’ D hasn’t been as good as you might think, but since Andre Holmes disappeared (34 yards per game over the past 4), any chance of blowup games for Carr is pretty much off the table.
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 11: vs. Pit.): Like Carr, Mett doesn’t have that tough of a matchup, but I doubt he takes advantage. Pittsburgh has a history of making rookies uncomfortable with their blitzing schemes, and Mett won’t be immune to that. I wouldn’t be excited to start Mettenberger in a 2QB league.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 11: vs. Hou.): It’s impossible to trust that the workload will be there for Crowell this week. He did score a TD last week, but he also fumbled (it wasn’t actually a fumble and was overturned on replay review) and didn’t play another snap afterward. The last time he had ball control issues, he didn’t play for the next two weeks. I don’t know if he’ll be treated similarly this time around.
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 11: @Was.): I like Sims’s overall outlook, but I’m not a big fan of him for this week. He’s not getting the goal line work, and the ‘Skins are tough to run on in general. He should catch a few passes, but it likely won’t be enough to merit a spot in your lineup. His role will continue to grow, but he’s not a trustworthy start at this point.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk.11: vs. SF): This is an easy call. Rashad Jennings is expected to start this week and Williams was barely a passable fantasy performer while Jennings was out. No need to consider Andre.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN (Wk. 11: @StL.): I was right about the Broncos giving someone other than Ronnie Hillman some early game work, but I picked the wrong Denver back. It was C.J. Anderson and not Juwan Thompson who saw the extra work, and he was fantastic with the opportunities he had. Hillman is out this week, but Montee Ball is back, and both Ball and Anderson should continue to run ahead of Thompson. He won’t see enough work to be a worthwhile option.
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 11: @Ari.): Ebron should finally be back this week and the Cards do give up fantasy points to opposing tight ends, but the other 2 Lions’ tight ends should also be back. Ebron didn’t produce in weeks that the others were out, so I wouldn’t bank on him doing so with all 3 guys playing. Ebron isn’t a strong option this week.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 11: @NYG): The 49ers re-discovered their power running game last week in a tough win over the Saints, and they would be well served to roll with that ground attack again this week. The G-Men allow the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing RBs, and I think Hyde is a decent bet to find the end zone this week. He should get a good handful of carries to spell Frank Gore.
RB Damien Williams, MIA (Wk. 11: vs. Buf.): Lamar Miller is listed as probable, but he tried playing through the injury last week and was noticeably limited by it, putting up just 6 yards on 5 carries. Williams was the only Miami back who had a decent week, and he could do so again if Miller is again limited by the injury. If you are desperate and scouring the waiver wire for a playable running back in a deep league, Williams is worth a dart throw.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 11: vs. Det.): The Lions are the best defense in the league against opposing WRs, but the arrow is pointing up for John Brown for the rest of the season. He had a real connection with Drew Stanton when Drew started games earlier in the season, and Stanton takes more downfield shots than Carson Palmer. If you’re desperate for a WR, Brown just needs one deep ball to be worth a roll of the dice play.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you to fantasy victory. As always: good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! For most of us, it’s the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Hopefully you were able to secure a bye into the next round, but if not, this week’s lineup decisions will be critical. With rookies being inconsistent by nature, there are only a few that I can fully recommend starting this week. That doesn’t mean those are the only rookies worth playing. Before we get into specifics, I just want to offer one piece of advice: Start your studs! You don’t want to be kicking yourself next week because you decided to sit T.Y. Hilton for a guy like Doug Baldwin or Jarvis Landry just because Hilton’s facing Joe Haden and the other guy has a plus matchup. Sure there’s a risk of a dud from T.Y., but he could also have a monster game. It’s much easier to live with the dud from T.Y. than T.Y. blowing up on your bench. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the outlook for the rookies in week 14…
Rookies to Start:
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): Sure, Crowell was awful last Sunday, but if you want to win this week you’ll look past his miserable week 13 performance and get him in there this week. Crowell is listed as questionable with a hip injury, but the Colts allow 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. I’m starting the Crow in both leagues that I own him in, and I think he’s in line for a big game.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 14: @Ten.): Beckham failed to find the end zone in a dream matchup with the Jaguars last week, but he remains a must-start option as a borderline WR1. He has 6+ catches and 90+ yards in each of his past 5 games and is a great bet to find the end zone against a Titans’ defense that just let Ryan Fitzpatrick torch them for 6 scores. Rueben Randle’s recent disciplinary issues (benched due to tardiness to meeting) should only increase Beckham’s work.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 14: @NO): The Saints managed to contain KB in the first meeting between these teams, holding him to season-lows of 2 catches and 11 yards. Don’t expect a repeat of that game. The Panthers are still force-feeding the ball to Benjamin, and the Saints’ Keenan Lewis hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee against the 49ers a few weeks ago. I expect Kelvin to put up at least 60 yards and a TD, and those numbers should be in your lineup.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 14: @Det.): Despite the tough matchup with the Lions, and the relatively weak outing last Sunday, Evans fits the idea of starting your studs. He has to be in the lineup. He’s got a pretty high floor, tallying at least 47 yards in every game except the season opener, and he’s got a ceiling that can win your week. I wouldn’t be able to sit him knowing what he is capable of.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 14: vs. NYJ): I wouldn’t necessarily say Bridgewater is turning the corner just yet, but he’s thrown just 2 INTs in his last 5 games and is coming off back-to-back 2 TD performances (his only 2 of the year). This week he’s home against the Jets, who have allowed a staggering 27:4 TD:INT ratio to opposing QBs. Given the matchup, Teddy is a passable QB2 this week, but his ceiling will be limited by what should remain a run-heavy game plan.
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 14: vs. NYG): Mett left last week’s game with a shoulder injury, but he seems to have avoided any serious damage and the Titans expect him to start this week. He did lose his most talented downfield target in Justin Hunter to injured reserve, but he should again be a borderline QB2 with upside. The Giants D hasn’t been the same without Prince Amukamara in the secondary and Mett was on his way to what could have been a 300-yard game before getting hurt last week.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 14: vs. Pit.): Hill was called out by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson after questioning Jackson’s game plan on Sunday. Hue said he needed to block better and break more tackles because, “that’s what running backs do.” I expect Hill to want to make a statement this week in a game that could really cement the Bengals’ claim to the AFC North crown. The timeshare with Gio limits his upside a bit, but a bit of inspired play should make Hill a borderline RB2 with upside.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 14: @Was.): Mason made good on my prediction of triple-digit yards last week, but I didn’t expect 3 TDs to go with it. You have to be kicking yourself if you didn’t start him. It was the breakout game we’ve been waiting for from Tre, but he should come back to earth a bit this week. The Redskins have been very stout vs. the run, but Mason’s volume isn’t going anywhere. He’s the engine that makes the Rams’ offense go, and he’s at least in the RB2 discussion this week, and would be a strong flex-play.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 14: @Ten.): This only applies if Jennings is out this week. He’s questionable with injury. Even though Williams is an unsexy option who runs like he’s stuck in mud, you could do worse than the lead back facing the second-most generous defense in terms of RB fantasy points. I’d much rather play Williams if he starts than a questionable option like Bishop Sankey, Chris Ivory or LeGarrette Blount.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 14: vs. NYG): Speaking of the Bishop, he faces yet another favorable matchup on the other side of the Giants-Titans game. This may be Sankey’s last chance to show that he can produce in a good matchup, but it would probably be best if that chance comes with him on your bench. He’s still got some appeal in really deep leagues, but he’s even been vulture at the goal line by Dexter McCluster. He should be good for about 50 scoreless yards. It’s worth noting that he’s been returning kicks over the past 3 weeks if your league gives points for that.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): The targets and production have been steady with Sanchez at QB, but the Seahawks’ defense allows the fewest WR points in the league and has been downright dominant as a whole over the past 2 games. Matthews should remain a big part of the offense this week, but his upside will be extremely limited in such a tough matchup. He’s more worthy of a play in PPR than standard.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 14: vs. Bal.): Landry is going to be a safe WR3 this week for PPR leagues, but he should be on the WR3 radar in standard leagues as well. The Ravens allow as many WR points as any team in the league, and Ryan Tannehill just looks lost trying to throw downfield. Landry has been fantastic in the short passing game, and he should rack up catches again this week. The yardage should remain modest, but a TD is at least a 50/50 bet this week.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 14: @Den.): I’d actually lean towards sitting Watkins this week. Kyle Orton has been pretty bad lately, and Watkins’s production has suffered as a result. I’m not really confident that he rebounds this week against Aqib Talib and the Broncos, even if there is ample garbage time. At best he’s a WR3 this week.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. KC): It’s somewhat frustrating that Brown didn’t take advantage of his plus matchup last week with the Falcons, but he’s averaged 61 yards per game over the past 4 games, and 64 yards per game in 6 home contests (just 31 ypg on the road in 6 games). He should be an okay WR3 in deeper leagues even if Fitz plays this week, and okay for standard leagues if Fitz sits.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 14: vs. Atl.): Despite his monster game against the Patriots last Sunday, Adams is a risky play this week. He benefitted from the Pats’ focus on slowing down Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and he still managed to leave 2 TDs on the field. This week he’s back to being a boom or bust option, and is a major roll of the dice this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Johnny Manziel, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): If you saw the news on Tuesday, then you probably know not to play Manziel, but even if something were to change between now and Sunday, I’d still keep him benched. There’s no way to really know what to expect. Crowell would get a boost if Manziel starts though.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Hou.): His numbers have been very poor this year, putting up far more turnovers than the Jags can be comfortable, and the Texans have 15 interceptions in 12 games. Multiple turnovers are likely again , and it’s not a good sign that he’s averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt over the past 2 games without Allen Robinson. Keep him benched this week.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 14: vs. SF): Not much analysis needed here. The 49ers allow the 4th fewest pass yards in the league and Carr has failed to break 200 yards passing in 9 of his 12 starts. There is no reason to expect him to get to 200 this week.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 14: vs. NYJ): Jerick was out last week, but I wouldn’t trust him even if he plays this week. He should slide back into his usual role after Joe Banyard badly blew a blitz pickup last week, but zero touchdowns all year? You can’t make just make the argument that he’s due. There’s no reason to expect TD #1 this week.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): West was clearly played 2nd fiddle to Crowell last week, and was blasted publicly Monday by head coach Pettine this week for his fumbling woes. As long as Crowell is good to go, West should be on the bench. He gets a bump up to an intriguing flex option if the Crow is out.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 14: @Jax.): As expected, Blue has been a non-factor with Arian Foster back, and that should continue to be the case this week. There’s no reason to consider him despite a plus matchup.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 14: @Mia.): There were reports this week that John Harbaugh insists that Taliaferro isn’t in the doghouse. The fact that the question would even be brought up shows just how little Taliaferro has factored in the Ravens’ offense. He has just 3 carries in the last 3 games since a fumble in week 10 put him on the bench. He should stay on your bench as well.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 14: @Cin.): It’s hard to say to avoid Bryant altogether after the way he exploded onto the scene, but the bottom has fallen out over the past 2 weeks. He had just 2 catches for 11 yards in week 12 and dropped a sure touchdown in the process. The really troubling number is the 4 targets he received last week. It’s troubling because the Steelers threw the ball 58 times. The Bengals’ defense is really good against WRs, and you’d be better off not relying on Bryant to bounce back.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Hou.): Despite a really good matchup, I wouldn’t have the stones to trust Hurns with my season on the line. He could certainly blow up and have a big game against the defense that allows the most fantasy WR points in the league, but he’s much more likely not to. Hurns has done nothing to warrant a spot in the lineup, tallying less than 5 points (standard leagues) in 7 of his last 8 games. Why would you expect that to change this week?
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 14: vs. TB): Ebron has been a total disappointment this season. Lions’ fans have lamented the decision to draft Ebron over a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. for much of the season, and I can’t bank on the athletic rookie to pick it up this week. He’s been seeing a handful of targets each week, but has exactly 22 or 23 yards in each of his past 4 games. If you’re happy with 2 points out of your tight end, be my guest and start him.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 14: @Min.): Even if Amaro returns from the concussion that kept him sidelined in week 13, there’s no reason to expect a solid showing. The Vikings have allowed less than 5 points per game to opposing tight ends, and it looks like Rex Ryan and the Jets refuse to throw the ball as long as John Idzik forces him to play Geno Smith. Smith attempted just 13 passes on Monday night, with 5 coming on the final drive. The limited upside in the passing game means Amaro isn’t a realistic streaming option.
TE Richard Rodgers, GB (Wk. 14: vs. Atl.): Don’t overthink this. Despite scoring a TD in each of the last 2 games, Rodgers isn’t a real option for your lineup this week. He hasn’t caught more than 2 passes in any game this year, and the Packers’ stars should have no trouble piling up stats against the Falcons’ porous D. Pinning your tight end hopes to Rodgers on the chance he gets a 3rd TD in as many weeks isn’t a smart choice.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Marion Grice, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. KC): Andre Ellington is dinged up, and Grice is in line to get the start if AE can’t go. Grice doesn’t have overwhelming talent, but he’s a versatile player who could thrive in an offense that involves the running back in the passing game a bunch. Michael Bush and Stepfan Taylor should mix in a bit, but Grice will get the first carries against a defense that can be run on. Grice should be a solid flex option in PPR and deeper leagues if he gets the start.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 14: @Oak.): Teams rarely lose by 50 in the NFL and then proceed to lay another egg the following week, but I still expect the 49ers to be playing from ahead of the Raiders all day. Hyde hasn’t gotten a ton of carries over the past few weeks, but game flow should work in his advantage this week. I’d expect 12+ carries from Hyde, and against the Raiders’ league-worst RB defense, that makes him worthy of flex consideration in deep leagues.
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 14: @Det.): Doug Martin came back from the dead last week to take over as the lead back for the Bucs, but Sims could have some really sneaky upside as a PPR flex play in deep leagues. The Lions’ defensive front is stout against the run, but they’ve allowed a league-high 75 receptions to opposing RBs. Sims’s role in the passing game gives him value in what looks like a brutal matchup on paper.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 14: @Cle.): Moncrief was mentioned here last week, and he went off for 130+ yards and 2 TDs. He’s been great every time he’s been given a chance, and his snaps have increased each of the last 2 weeks. With Joe Haden likely shadowing T.Y. Hilton all day, there should be opportunities for Moncrief to make an impact again as he squares off with burnable Buster Skrine and K’Waun Williams. There’s some risk since Moncrief is just a part-time player, but you saw what he’s capable of last week.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Hou.): I mentioned that Hurns should be benched, but someone has to catch Blake Bortles’s passes, right? The polished rookie has been productive when given opportunities, and he should have plenty of them against a Houston defense that allows 27.4 points to opposing WRs per game. Lee should get the biggest piece of the Jags WR pie and makes for an intriguing WR3 in deep leagues, especially PPR.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 14: @Det.): If ASJ suits up this week, he’s the best option among the rookie TEs. Tight end is the one position the Lions have been vulnerable against, and when he plays, Austin is in on almost every play. He’s done little to suggest he’s more than a TD dart throw, but he’s got a slightly higher floor that Richard Rodgers or Amaro.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully some of this info helps you into the next round. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully you were luckier than I was last week and weren't saddled with both Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas's soul crushing fantasy let downs. Hopefully you survived another week. The rookies played a huge role last week, especially guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans. Martavis Bryant wasn't too shabby either, recording the longest play from scrimmage of the season. So which rookies are worth trusting with everything on the line again this week? Let's dive in and find out...
Rookies to Start:
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 15: vs. Cin.): Crowell had a passable fantasy day in week 14, finding the end zone for the 8th time in his rookie campaign, but again he split the workload fairly evenly with Terrance West. There's some risk to starting Crowell as long as West is around, but he's still the better option of the duo, and the threat of Johnny Manziel running should open up all kinds of running lanes for the Crow. I'd feel comfortable firing him up as an RB2 against a Bengals' defense that allows the 4th most points to opposing RBs.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Was.): This one isn't rocket science. He's got 90+ yards in 6 straight games and 3 TDs in his last 3 games. The Redskins' defense has been burned repeatedly this year, and Beckham will likely burn them multiple times this week. He's got WR1 upside.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 15: @Car.): Evans continued to show off his considerable talents in week 14, catching 2 TDs against the stingy Lions' secondary. Carolina's defense is not nearly as stingy, and Evans has 8 TDs over the last 6 games. I expect he finds the end zone again this week, and there is no reason he should be on your bench.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 15: vs. TB): Although KB has been thoroughly inconsistent, he remains a solid WR2. There's a lot of boom or bust potential, but Benjamin scores touchdowns so often you'd have to have elite options to play instead in order to sit Kelvin this week. He burned Tampa for a 6-92-1 line the first time these teams faced off.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 15: @Atl.): Bryant is a boom or bust play as usual, but the arrow is pointing way up this week. The Falcons just got shredded by the Packers' pass attack on Monday night, and they are one of the five worst defenses in the league against fantasy wideouts. Bryant only needs one big play to be worth a lineup spot, and there's a good chance he gets that this week.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 15: vs. Dal.): Matthews didn't do much last week against the Seahawks, but that's because Mark Sanchez threw for less than 100 yards against an incredible defense. Things should be better this week. He caught 4 balls for 51 yards and a TD when the Eagles went to Dallas on Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't be surprised if he exceeds that stat line this week. The Dallas defense will look like a college team in comparison to the defense the Eagles just faced.
QB Johnny Manziel, CLE (WK. 15: @Cin.): Johnny Football has finally gotten the nod to start at QB for the Browns. The Manziel era has arrived! Should we be excited for his first start? The jury's still out on that. He will face a tough passing defense, but his running ability will give him the chance to put together an okay fantasy day. It's almost impossible to predict how Manziel is going to do, but if you feel like rolling the dice as a low end QB2, there's certainly upside.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 15 vs. Ari.): Mason runs into a brutal matchup with the Cardinals, at least on paper, but the Cards' D has softened against the run over the past 2 weeks. Jamaal Charles and washed up Steven Jackson both had strong days against them. Mason should be a strong bet for 60+ yards and should be on the RB2 radar.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 15: vs. Cle.): This week is a must win game for the Bengals, and if they're smart, they'll force feed the ball to Hill. The Browns' biggest weakness is their run defense, and Joe Haden has consistently gotten the better of A.J. Green. Hill saw a near even split of the carries with Gio Bernard just a week after questioning OC Hue Jackson's play calling. He still averaged over 5 yards per carry on his touches while Bernard had just 17 yards on 6 carries. Hill is at least a reasonable flex-play, but if the Bengals run the ball as much as they should, Hill could end up a high end RB2.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 15: @Cin.): He doesn't have nearly the upside that Crowell does this week, but as long as West is seeing close to half the carries, he still has flex appeal. The threat of Manziel's running will open up lanes for West the same as it will for Crowell.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Was.): Williams is coming off his best game as a pro, but that was against the awful Titans. The Redskins are awful as well, but they are stout against the run. If Jennings is expected to be out or extremely limited again, Williams will have some low-end flex appeal, but I wouldn't expect nearly the output he managed in week 14. I'd expect 60-70 yards and a TD to be his ceiling this week if he gets the start, but it's sounding like Jennings might be close to full strength for this one. Pay attention to the updates throughout the week.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 15: vs. GB): Watkins finally got back on track last week, even if a lot of the damage came in garbage time as the Bills scrambled to make it close. The Bills' offense had little to no downfield passing game for the few weeks before the Broncos game, but they should again have ample garbage time against the Packers' juggernaut offense. Watkins has shown himself to be a risky play of late, but he has a ton of upside as a WR3 this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 15: @NE): It's a tough matchup this week with the Pats' formidable corners, but he's had 5+ catches and 40+ yards in each of his past 6 games. I'd expect that to be the floor again this week, which makes him a high floor, low upside WR3 in PPR this week.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 15: vs. Hou.): Moncrief has a chance to blow up over the next few games. Reggie Wayne may have a torn tricep, and he might be shut down for the rest of the season before long. Moncrief is already ahead of Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart, playing 50 snaps to Nicks's 18. Even if Wayne plays this week, Moncrief has killer upside against the worst defense in the league against WRs. If Reggie sits, Donte has WR2 upside the rest of the way this season.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 15: @Bal.): Lee has settled in as a PPR WR3 in each of the past 2 weeks, and now gets to face a battered Ravens' secondary that has allowed 26.5 points per game to opposing WRs, tied with the Texans for most in the NFL. Lee should again be a solid WR3 option in PPR leagues, and should be in standard leagues with 12+ teams as well.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 15: @Det.): Bridgewater has finally showed the ability to produce in plus matchups, putting up 2 TDs in 4 straight games and just eclipsed 300 yards passing against the Jets in week 14. Unfortunately for Teddy, he gets to face the Lions this week. The first time around, he threw for just 188 yards, no TDs and 3 picks, and that was at home. This one's in Detroit. I wouldn't expect a much improved performance.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 15: @KC): Carr put up his second game of the season with 3+ TDs last week, and it was something no one saw coming. I don't expect a repeat this week. The Chiefs will be itching to get their hands on Carr in Arrowhead after what happened when the teams met in Oakland. Carr will struggle to get going in this one. There's no reason to trust Carr at Arrowhead.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 15: vs. NYJ): To put it simply, you can do better. Sankey's role has actually been shrinking of late, and I don't expect the trend to reverse this week against the stout Jets' defense. Sankey hasn't made himself much of a part of the passing game, and he'd be hard pressed to approach 50 yards on the ground.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 15: @Ind.): Blue vultured a TD from Arian Foster last week, but there's no reason to get excited. He gained just 15 yards on 9 carries against a bad defense. At this point he's nothing more than a Foster handcuff.
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 15: @Car.): There just aren't enough touches coming his way to trust him with your season on the line this week. He got a season-low 6 touches against the Lions, and I'm not sure he'll see much more than that this week. He's topped 50 yards just once, and there is no reason to expect that to change this week.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 15: @Det.): McKinnon hasn't played in a couple weeks, but I'd expect him to suit up this week [Editor's Note: McKinnon has since been placed on IR]. It doesn't mean there's a place for him in your lineup. The Lions are the 3rd best defense in the league at limiting RB fantasy production, and there's no reason to think McKinnon will suddenly go off in his return from injury. He still hasn't scored a TD all year.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN (Wk. 15: @SD): Don't chase last week's stats with Thompson. Sure he had more rushing yards than C.J. Anderson, but he touched the ball just 5 times all game, and Anderson scored all 3 touchdowns. Expect Thompson's numbers to fall off a cliff this week.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 15: @Sea.): I was wrong when I thought Hyde would have a surprisingly good game when the 49ers hosted the Seahawks at Levis Stadium. I won't make the same mistake as the 49ers head to Seattle. The 'Hawks are a different animal at home, and have been dominant of late on the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn't risk playing Hyde in any format.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 15: @Buf.): Adams predictably came back to earth after a huge game in prime time against New England. As long as Jordy and Cobb are able to get open, Davante is left fighting for scraps. The Bills are a slight upgrade at corner from what Atlanta offered. but they aren't in the same league as the Pats. Expect another quiet day for Adams unless he finds paydirt.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 15: @StL.): Brown was held catchless on 4 targets last week, and I'm not optimistic about his outlook this week either. He does his best work on the deep ball, but Stanton will need time to throw deep, and I doubt he gets it against the Rams' ferocious pass rush. St. Louis has the 7th most sacks in the NFL (35), and all but one of them have come since week 7. The odds of Brown getting loose for a deep one are really not good.
TEs Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk.15: @Ten.), Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 15: @Car.), and Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 15: vs. Min.): Not one rookie TE is worth playing this week. Amaro still hasn't been cleared from his concussion and ASJ is uncertain with injury this week as well. I wouldn't have any faith that they'll even play, and even less that they produce if the do. Ebron, meanwhile, has been putting up between 20 and 30 scoreless yards each week. This week he faces off with the Vikings, who allow less than 5 TE fantasy points per week. There's no reason to expect a breakout.
Deep League Sleepers:
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 15: @Bal.): Bortles has quietly cut down on his interceptions, throwing just 4 picks in his last 5 games after averaging 2 per game over the first 6 contests, and he's also continued to give his numbers a boost with his legs, averaging 28 yards per game on the ground. This week he gets a really brutal Ravens' secondary, and is a solid bet to throw multiple TDs for just the 3rd time all year. He's certainly risky, but if you're desperate this week for a QB2, you could certainly do worse.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. vs. Jax.): ZoBot finally got back into the mix in the Ravens' running game last week, and there's a decent chance they play from ahead in this one. It would have to be a really deep league to give Taliaferro a try this week, but there is upside for 50+ yards and a TD if things break right.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 14: @Bal.): Hurns makes it a trio of sleepers in the Jags-Ravens game. I mentioned that the Ravens' secondary is really bad, and Hurns has shown the ability to get deep for scores (at least in a couple games). There is a ton of risk in playing Hurns, but he's got great upside if you're really desperate. He could be a really fun option in daily leagues or if your out of the playoffs and your league still does a high score pool each week.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps secure you a spot in the championship. Be extra dilligent in staying on top of injury updates this week and double check the lineup before the games get started. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
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