Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 6 was another wild one in the NFL. One of the most exciting things about the league is how unpredictable it can be. 7 underdogs came away victorious, including two that were double-digit underdogs in the Giants and Dolphins. Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending broken collarbone and opened up the NFC North race in the process. The Bears managed to top the Ravens by running the ball an astounding 54 times, and the Jets took a 14-0 lead on the defending champs before falling by 10. It was another week of top rookie performances, as Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette turned in top-10 running back weeks. Deshaun Watson maintained his spot as fantasy’s top scoring QB with a 3-touchdown day, and Evan Engram made the most of the lack of other receiving options for the Giants and finished as the TE3 for the week. There were let downs too, like Aaron Jones and Elijah McGuire, but all in all it was a decent week for the rookies. We also got to see another rookie QB take over as Brian Hoyer was benched in favor CJ Beathard in the bay. There’s plenty more on tap for week 7, so let’s dive in and discuss what to expect…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 7: @Oak.): Last week didn’t go quite according to plan for Hunt or the Chiefs, but the matchup is strong again this week. Hunt is still an obvious start in season-long leagues. He topped 100 scrimmage yards again last week and finished as the RB15 even in a down week. He should be a solid DFS option this week as well. The Raiders have allowed 85.9 PPR points to opposing backs in the past 3 weeks. That’s 28.7 per game, which would be the 4th-most in the league. Hunt is safe as usual.
RB Leonard Fournette, Jax. (Wk. 7: @Ind.): As long as the twisted ankle Leonard suffered last week doesn’t keep him sidelined, you have to play him. He came up big for you again last week, and the Colts allow the 4th-most RB fantasy points per game in the league. The volume for Leonard is unlikely to change despite him tweaking the ankle. He should be worth the price tag in DFS lineups this week as well.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 7: @GB): If their week 1 matchup with the Seahawks were removed from the equation, the Packers would go from allowing the 14th-most RB points per game all the way up to 4th-most. Kamara is still taking a back seat to Mark Ingram in the wake of the Adrian Peterson trade. He was out-snapped by Ingram 47-30 last week, but in the past 2 games Kamara has seen at least 14 touches and 85 yards in each, and I’d expect that usage to continue again this week. He’s got a high volume role in a plus matchup. He should return RB2 value in PPR leagues with no problem.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 7: vs. Sea.): The matchup with the Seahawks isn’t as daunting as you might expect this week. Seattle is in the middle of the pack when it comes to limiting tight end points. They have allowed the 15th-most TE points per game, and have given up 11+ PPR points to the position in 4 of their 5 games. Engram became the focal point of the Giants’ passing attack last weekend with their decimated WR group, so his target share should be strong again this week even if Sterling Shepard is able to play. The Seahawks are good enough to shut the Giants down as a whole, so I would probably fade Engram in DFS lineups, but he should be a low-end top-10 TE in PPR leagues this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 7: @Chi.): McCaffrey is a guy you should be starting every week in PPR leagues, but he’s much less of a sure thing in standard formats. He’s been held under 50 scrimmage yards in 3 out of the 6 games he’s played this season, but he’s kept up his PPR floor with at least 4 catches each week. It would be nice to see CMC’s rushing usage go up, but there’s no way to bank on it this week. The Bears are a middling run defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs, but they’ve given up a rushing score in 5 of 6 games and 90+ rushing yards to opposing backs in 4 of 6. If McCaffrey gets an increased rushing load, he might finally start to hit that ceiling we’ve been waiting on. In the meantime, the floor is working out just fine. He’s the overall RB10 in PPR leagues despite just 2 top-10 weekly finishes.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 7: @Pit.): I’m not quite sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s run defense so far this year. On the surface, they’re pretty bad. They’re in the bottom-10 in the league in terms of yards per carry, yards per game, and rushing TDs allowed, and they’ve allowed the 6th-most RB fantasy points per game, but they also rank a respectable 12th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat and just held all-world rookie Kareem Hunt to 21 yards on 9 carries. Hunt did save his day with receiving yardage, but it was the first time all year he was held under 80 rushing yards. The Bengals had the bye week to gameplan for this one, and the Steelers would qualify as a plus matchup for running backs, but I see Mixon as no more than an RB2 this week. He’s cracked the top-20 PPR backs just once in 5 games on the season.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 7: vs. NO): Splitting reps with Ty Montgomery likely saps the value for both backs going forward. Green Bay may try to run a bit more this week with Aaron Rodgers sidelined with a broken collarbone and Brett Hundley under center, but the Saints have been improved against running backs in their last 2 games. There is still upside to be had here, as the Saints’ defense still ranks just 24th in run defense DVOA and has allowed the 3rd-most running back receiving yards despite their recent improved play. Jones may still wind up being a fine flex play in a pinch this week, but I’d lean on more reliable options if I have them.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 7: vs. Car.): Cohen’s usage had taken a nosedive recently, but it should rebound with Benny Cunningham back on the shelf with another hamstring injury. Assuming Benny doesn’t play, Cohen should see significant snaps as he did in week 6. Cohen handled 15 touches in week 6 after seeing just 17 of them in weeks 4 & 5 combined. He also threw a TD pass, but that was a fluke trick play. Don’t expect it again. There is some warranted concern that only one of Cohen’s 15 touches was a reception, but I’d expect the game script to be a bit more negative this week, and only 2 teams have allowed more running back receptions than the Panthers. Cohen is back in play as a PPR flex option this week despite the Panthers allowing the 11th-fewest RB points per game.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 7: vs. Ari.): Any WR that doesn’t draw Patrick Peterson has a chance to burn the Arizona defense, but slot wide receivers have been especially effective. Golden Tate lit them up for 10-107 in week 1, and in the past 3 weeks they’ve allowed 5-47 to Trent Taylor, 4-93-1 to Nelson Agholor, and 6-51 to Adam Humphries. Kupp is as good a bet as any Ram to lead the team in catches this week, and the best bet to catch a TD pass. Despite Patrick Peterson being one of the premiere corners in the game, allowing just 7-82-1 total in 6 games on throws into his coverage, the Cardinals still allow the 5th-most WR fantasy points per game. Pat Pete should be on Watkins in this one, making Kupp a sneaky DFS play and decent flex/WR3 option.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 7: vs. Dal.): Kittle has seen his target share take off in a big way in the past 2 weeks, and the installation of his college QB CJ Beathard as the 49ers new starter should only help. The Cowboys have allowed 50+ receiving yards to the opposing tights end in 4 of 5 games this year, and gave up a TD in the other. While they usually split that yardage allowed between multiple opposing TEs, the 49ers don’t really have much else at the position. The 49ers have targeted the tight end position 38 times on the year, and 31 of those targets went to Kittle, including 17 of 20 in the last 2 weeks. As long as that target volume continues this week, Kittle should be a solid streaming option in PPR leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 7: vs. Car.): The Panthers’ pass defense has shown some holes this season. They rank 15th in pass defense DVOA, they allow the 7th-highest QB rating to opposing QBs, and they’ve allowed multiple passing scores in 4 straight contests. With that said, they also rank 2nd in the league in quarterback sacks and allow the 7th-fewest passing yards per game. The Bears showed us what their gameplan is with Trubisky last week. Run, run, and run some more. They piled up a ridiculous 54 rushing attempts against Baltimore, compared with 16 pass attempts for Mitchell. If the Panthers don’t run out to a big lead, the Bears will lean on the run again. If Carolina does get out in front, Mitch lacks the weapons to put up a big game in garbage time. He’s a lackluster QB2 option against the Panthers on Sunday.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 7: vs. Ten.): The Browns have made the decision to go back to Kizer this week at QB, and he may even have a decent game, but I’d be hard pressed to use him in any lineups. The Titans have allowed the 6th-most QB fantasy points per game, but they allowed 33+ points each to Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, which has skewed their overall average. In their other 4 games, facing Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Jay Cutler and Jacoby Brissett, they’ve allowed just 12.25 points per game which would rank 7th fewest in the league. I’d argue Kizer seems to fit better into that second group of signal-callers than the first in terms of where you’d rank them as a fantasy QB. I hope he plays better in his second stint as the starter, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
RB Matt Brieda, SF (Wk. 7: vs. Dal.): It pains me to say you should bench Brieda against a Cowboys’ team that ranks dead last in run defense DVOA, but I’d expect the 49ers to be showcasing Carlos Hyde for any potential trade suitors in this plus matchup. Brieda’s playing time is already on the decline of late. The 17 snaps he played in week 6 were the fewest he’s seen in the past 3 contests. I’d expect similar usage for Brieda this week, and that kind of snap count doesn’t bode well for his fantasy prospects. You should still hold on to him on your bench if you can.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 7: vs. Sea.): Gallman’s run as New York’s lead back was shorter than expected. Orleans Darkwa appears to have stolen the job from him after racking up 117 rushing yards against a Denver defense that had allowed just 165 rushing yards to RBs in the previous 4 games combined. Gallman saw just 11 touches in that game, and that kind of usage isn’t going to get it done against Seattle. The Seahawks allow the 4th-fewest RB fantasy points per game.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 7: @Mia.): It was a disappointing week for McGuire as Matt Forte returned from injury and took away his opportunity to play as the Jets’ lead back. I expected the Jets to ease Forte back in, but they didn’t hold him back much. Forte didn’t exactly dazzle as a runner with just 22 yards on 9 carries (McGuire had 22 on 10), but Forte received 8 passing game targets compared to zero for Eli. What was even more disappointing was seeing Travaris Cadet get 3 targets. The Dolphins aren’t nearly as giving to RBs as the Patriots, and the lack of receiving usage makes McGuire basically unstartable this week regardless of whether or not Bilal Powell returns.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 7: @Phi.): It seems very likely that Rob Kelley will be able to play this week, which would send Perine back to a bench role. He scored a TD last weekend, but he still hasn’t really capitalized on the opportunities he’s been given. Even with the TD, Perine was outscored by receiving back Chris Thompson in non-PPR scoring. The Eagles allow the 6th-fewest RB points per game and have allowed just 40 rushing yards to opposing backs per week. There’s no way Perine posts a usable week with Kelley back.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 7: vs. Cin.): JuJu continues to see more usage than Martavis Bryant in this offense, but the matchup isn’t a great one this week. The Bengals allow the 3rd-fewest WR PPR points per game, allowing only Green Bay’s receiver group to eclipse 20 total points against them. As I mentioned, JJSS is still playing more snaps than Martavis Bryant, but he hasn’t had quite enough volume to be a trustworthy flex play. His matchup is tougher than it was last week, and yet his DraftKings price is $200 higher. I’d avoid him in all formats this week.
WR Taywan Taylor, TEN (Wk. 7: @Cle.): Jon Gruden referred to Taylor as a ‘gadget receiver’ during Monday Night Football this week, but I think Taywan had the last laugh after catching a 53-yard TD in the 4th quarter of the game. He’s shown some serious ability when given the chance with two 40+-yard catches on the season, but even with Corey Davis sidelined the volume just hasn’t been there. He has just 7 receptions in total. Here’s a weird stat for the Browns that will work against Taylor this week: The Browns have allowed 2 wide receivers to reach 40 yards in the same game just once this season (TY Hilton & Donte Moncrief). With Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker around, it’s hard to believe the guy to get to 40 yards will be Taylor if the Titans only get one.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 7: vs. Ari.): Everett scored his first career TD last week, but has hauled in just 3 catches for 20 yards on 9 targets in the past 4 games. The Cardinals were shredded by Brate & Ertz in the past 2 weeks, but there’s no reason to expect that from Everett. Tyler Higbee is the play if you want to attack the Cardinals’ TE defense.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 7: vs. Ten.): With Kevin Hogan under center last Sunday, Njoku saw a season-high 5 targets, but he caught just 2 of them for zero yards. Njoku has scored 3 TDs in 6 games, but he’s no more than a low-volume TD dart throw this week. The Titans allow the 12th-fewest TE points per game.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 7: @Buf.): Howard has been almost a non-factor in the passing game. He’s averaged just 2.4 targets per game, and the Bills have allowed the 8th-fewest TE points per game. It’s an easy call to avoid OJ this week.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB CJ Beathard, SF (Wk. 7: vs. Dal.): It’ll be Beathard’s first NFL start, but he acquitted himself well in mop-up duty against Washington last week and he gets a nice matchup in week 7. The Cowboys have allowed multiple passing TDs and at least 18 fantasy points to each QB they’ve faced in the past 4 games. The bye might have helped them get their heads on straight, but it’s hard to know. This will be Dallas’s first game since Jerry Jones issued his anthem ultimatum, and Ezekiel Elliott was only legally cleared to play on Tuesday. There could be some distractions affecting the team. Even if the Cowboys play well, Beathard should be playing from behind and have increased passing volume. He’s an interesting 2QB streamer option and upside DFS tournament play.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 7: vs. Jax.): Marlon Mack has a chance to explode this week. Robert Turbin has played at least 28% of the offensive snaps in every single game Mack has been active for. Turbin was lost for the season with an elbow injury at the end of the MNF game this week. The Jaguars have allowed an NFL-worst 5.2 yards per carry and 2nd-worst 145.7 rushing yards per game. Both Gore and Mack have brighter outlooks with Turbin out of the picture, but Mack is the more explosive back. Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus noted this week that the Jaguars have allowed 21 carries of 10 or more yards this season, 4th-most in the league, and Marlon Mack has 5 such carries in just 27 attempts. As long as Mack picks up some of the slack left behind by Turbin, he should be a great cheap DFS option and a fun sleeper for deeper leagues.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 7: vs. TB): Jordan Matthews’s status is still up in the air for this week, and Charles Clay is definitely out. If there was ever a spot for Zay Jones to get his rookie year on track, this is it. The Buccaneers allow the most WR PPR points per game by an incredible 8.7-point margin over the 2nd-worst unit (Eagles). That point gap is the same as the one between the Eagles and the Dolphins. The Dolphins allow the 17th-most WR points. Tampa has been absolutely shredded by wide receivers. I know Zay has just 5 catches on 23 targets for the year, but if Matthews sits out again he could see 8+ targets in this game against that Buccaneer defense. You can’t trust him in season-long leagues, but he could be a great value in DFS tournaments at just $3,600 on DraftKings.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 7: vs. Den.): The Broncos are never an ideal matchup to play a wide receiver, so this is about reminding you that Williams is still a solid stash for deeper leagues. He had just 1 catch in his debut, and will likely be eased in slowly, but the Chargers could use some wide receiver help. Only 16 of Philip Rivers’s 46 completions in the past 2 weeks went to wide receivers, and only 7 to receivers who weren’t Keenan Allen. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin aren’t getting it done. Among waiver wire WRs, I like Corey Davis’s upside more in terms of the rest of the season, but Davis has already been ruled out for this week. You can wait a week in most places to pick him up. You might not have that luxury with Williams.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 7: @Pit.): Ross is just a stash at this point. You can’t put him in the lineup this week, but with Tyler Boyd out, Ross might actually make an impact against Pittsburgh. You could beat the rush and pick him up this week in really deep leagues. Monitor Ross’s usage this week. Cincinnati gets the Colts, Browns and Titans in three of their next 5 games. There could be a couple big games for him if he manages to carve out a role.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps with some of your tough lineup decisions. I always try to include every fantasy relevant rookie, and if you see two guys at the same position under the same header, I try to rank them in the order I would play them this week. Keep an eye on the injury report throughout the week, and always check for any surprise inactives on game day. If you have any questions, or want to yell at me about anything above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully the fantasy gods have smiled upon your teams for the first 5 weeks of the season. Now that we’re this deep into the season, we’re starting to get a better picture of which teams are legit, which teams are not, and which teams are the Giants. Sorry Giants fans, it’s going to be a long few months, but you should get to see a bunch of Evan Engram! As far as the rookies go, week 5 featured the debut of one heralded rookie QB, and the benching of another. Mitch-a-palooza didn’t quite go according to plan for the Bears on Monday night, but Trubisky did show some flashes that will give Bears fans hope. DeShone Kizer, on the other hand, needs a few weeks off to get his head clear. He may eventually get the starting job back from Kevin Hogan, but the turnovers were just getting to be too much. Both Kizer and Trubisky have nothing on Deshaun Watson at this point. Aside from the QBs, we also got breakout games from Aaron Jones and George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey’s first TD, and ho-hum RB1 days out of Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette. Let’s check in on what to expect from week 6:
Rookies to Start:
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 6: vs. Cle.): Watson has been throwing straight fire the past few weeks even if the Texans aren’t putting up a ton of wins as a result. In his 4 starts this year, Deshaun has been the QB7, QB15, QB1, and QB1. The Cleveland Browns allow the 4th-most QB points per game (all ranks and point totals listed are in PPR scoring), so the good times should keep rolling this week. I’m not sure there’s another 4 or 5 TD game in the offing this week, but Watson might be worth his price tag in DFS lineups. It would be hard to sit Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees for the rookie, but I would rank only Tom Brady higher than him for this week.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 6: vs. Pit.): Obviously you weren’t considering sitting Hunt this week, but this is a week you should consider paying up for him in DFS lineups. The Steelers’ run defense has been shredded by Leonard Fournette, Jordan Howard and Dalvin Cook in the past 4 weeks. They gave up over 200 rushing yards and 2 TDs to both the Jaguars and Bears RBs. Hunt has been held scoreless in each of the past 2 games, but I expect him to find the end zone at least once in this one. He is the premier running back play of the week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 6: vs. LAR): Just like Hunt, Fournette is a weekly RB1 who you wouldn’t think of sitting in season long leagues, but also someone you should be getting into your DFS lineups this week. I’d have Hunt as the top RB play this week, but Fournette isn’t far behind. The Rams had allowed a top-6 RB performance in 3 straight contests before facing the Seahawks’ mess of a backfield last weekend, and even after that game still allow the 2nd-most fantasy points per game to RBs. Fournette has seen 20+ touches in 4 of the past 5 games, so his volume is pretty much a given. Leonard could put up a monster game this week.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 6: vs. NE): The stars have aligned for McGuire this week. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte should both miss this game, and the Patriots allow the most running back fantasy points per game and rank 27th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat. There is a little hesitation from the fact that the Jets are 10-point underdogs at home, and will face a negative game script all day, but that shouldn’t be too big a worry. McGuire has shown receiving ability at the NFL level so far, and he caught 130 passes in his college career. Also, the Patriots have allowed the 3rd most receptions, most receiving yards and most receiving TDs to opposing RBs. If the Jets get blown out, McGuire’s receiving usage should still get him through to an RB2 day. He’s a great value in DFS at just $4,600 on DraftKings.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 6: @Min.): Jones’s status hinges largely on whether or not Ty Montgomery is able to play this week. Updates on Thursday were that TyMo took some hits in practice and that his ribs ‘felt fine’ afterward. He’s been wearing a flak jacket in practice and has said it isn’t uncomfortable. There has been some speculation that Jones will take over as the lead back on early downs from local beat writers given the success he’s had the past couple weeks and the struggles Montgomery had running between the tackles early on. I’m not sure I buy this. I think this is still TyMo’s backfield for now. If both guys play, I’d consider each guy a flex option, but the matchup is a tough one. The Vikings have allowed the 2nd-fewest RB points per game so far. If Montgomery sits again, consider Jones a solid RB2 option. This offense has been too good to run from this matchup if there’s a clear lead back.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 6: vs. Phi.): McCaffrey has been pretty much an RB2/flex performer each week, with weekly finishes ranging anywhere from RB10 to RB36. We haven’t seen much of ceiling here yet, but the floor has been fairly steady. The matchup this week is somewhat favorable for CMC. The Eagles have allowed just the 7th-fewest RB points per game so far, but they’ve also allowed nearly as many RB receiving yards as they have RB rushing yards (239 rushing, 228 receiving). McCaffrey remains a PPR flex play.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 6: vs. Det.): I’d lean toward playing Kamara in PPR formats this week. The Adrian Peterson trade doesn’t have a huge impact on Alvin, but it may get him a small uptick in snaps and gives the backfield more clarity in general. The Lions allow the 17th-most RB points per game, but 58.5% of the PPR points they’ve allowed have come from receiving numbers. Kamara should be a solid flex play in PPR leagues.
RB Semaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 6: vs. SF): With Rob Kelley likely out this week, Perine should get the bulk of the early down work in a plus matchup. The 49ers have allowed the 3rd-most points per game to opposing backs, but I’d still only view Perine as a low-end RB2 or flex option. He’s struggled when given extended opportunities this year. In weeks 2 & 3, he totaled 116 rushing yards on 40 carries (2.9 ypc), and both of those games were against teams in the bottom half of the league in run defense DVOA. The 49ers rank 14th. Chris Thompson is the Washington running back who should benefit the most from the matchup.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 6: @Den.): Engram unexpectedly put up a goose egg last week, but he should be peppered with targets this week with Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard all sidelined. The Broncos will probably pay him some extra defensive attention this week as New York’s de-facto number 1 target in the passing game, but tight end has been where the Broncos’ defense has been most vulnerable. They have allowed the 6th-most tight end point per game, and rank 26st in pass defense DVOA on throws that target the tight end. Engram should rebound and post a low-end TE1 game, even if he doesn’t find the end zone.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 6: @Was.): Kittle played only about half as many snaps in week 5 as he did in week 4, but he still managed to post a breakout game with 7-83-1 on 9 targets. It’s hard to imagine the 49ers wouldn’t give him more looks going forward. I wouldn’t expect that kind of game every week, but he should be able to flirt with TE1 numbers in PPR formats again this week. The 49ers face off with a Washington team that allows the 3rd-most TE points per game and ranks 31st on pass defense DVOA on throws to the tight end. He’s a decent streaming option if you’re without Charles Clay, Jimmy Graham or Jason Witten this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 6: @Bal.): Trubisky looked impressive at times during his Monday Night Football debut, but ultimately he didn’t have enough weapons to finish off a win and made a bad rookie mistake on a late interception. He should clean up some of the mistakes as he gains more experience, but the weapons issue isn’t going anywhere this season. Mitch gets an awful matchup this week. The Ravens at home have been tough on QBs, allowing only 2 of the past 10 QBs they’ve faced in Baltimore to top 12 fantasy points dating back to the beginning of last season. I don’t think Mitch makes it 3 of 11.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 6: @Ten.): Mack put up a strong performance last week in his first game back from injury against the 49ers, scoring a TD and setting up the game-winning field goal. It should lead to more work going forward, but that doesn’t mean you should start plugging him into lineups this week. He should be rostered in most leagues, but I still expect Frank Gore to lead the way in snaps and touches, especially after the comments from Chuck Pagano today that Mack is still a ‘work in progress.’ The Titans are also not a great matchup for RBs, allowing the 13th-fewest RB fantasy points per game.
RB Matt Brieda, SF (Wk. 6: @Was.): Like Mack above, Brieda should be rostered in most leagues, but not plugged into lineups just yet. The 49ers announced they’ll be employing a ‘hot hand’ approach at RB going forward, but I would expect Hyde to still be the better option on a weekly basis. There might not be enough production to make Brieda useful this week even if he does get the hot hand. Washington allows the 12th-fewest RB points per game and ranks 8th in run defense DVOA. They are also a 10-point favorite in this game. Brieda’s got an uncertain workload, a tough matchup, and likely a negative game script. That’s not a recipe for fantasy success.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 6: @Bal.): With a fully healthy Benny Cunningham around, Cohen’s snap share has slipped to under 30% the past 2 weeks, and he hasn’t been making the most of the opportunities he’s been getting. He looked indecisive with the ball on Monday night, dancing around too much and causing negative plays for the offense. I would like to see his snap count start to go back up before considering him in lineups for season long leagues again. His game-breaking ability still gives him a ceiling as a DFS tournament play, but at $5,100 in DraftKings, that’s a lot of cost with that risk. The Ravens aren’t a great matchup for him either. They’ve allowed the 3rd-fewest RB receptions so far this season.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 6: @Den.): The Broncos’ defense has been dominant so far, and the Giants’ offense is falling apart with injuries. The Broncos allow the fewest RB fantasy points per game, and Gallman will have to split RB snaps with Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen. He’s been the most effective rusher the Giants have had so far, but that doesn’t mean much in a game where the team’s implied total is 13.5 points (and I would actually bet the Giants end up under that).
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 6: @Car.): Clement’s snap percentage has increased each week this season from 0 in week 1 to 1%, 9%, 24%, and 34% since, but his touch totals haven’t really spiked and Philly seems content with a 3-man timeshare. Even with Wendell Smallwood out in week 5, the Eagles found a new 3rd guy getting Kenjon Barner 17 offensive snaps. Until we see an increase in usage, it’s hard to trust Clement anywhere.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 6: @Jax.): Only 4 wide receivers all year have made it 50 yards in a game against Jacksonville, and only Antonio Brown last week has made it to 60. The only one who got to 50 yards as primarily a slot receiver was JuJu Smith-Schuster last weekend. Jacksonville has also allowed just 1 TD to opposing WRs. I doubt Kupp breaks those trends. The volume will likely be low enough that he needs a TD for a productive day, and the odds of that TD aren’t great.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 6: vs. Phi.): His role clearly hasn’t increased as a result of the injury to Greg Olsen. The Eagles allow the 2nd-most WR fantasy points per game, but Samuel has just 4 catches on the season, and I don’t expect that number to go up much this week.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 6: @Was.): This might have actually been a nice spot to use Taylor in DFS tournaments if Josh Norman were healthy. Taylor has seen increased usage when Garcon faces a shutdown corner. He was peppered with 10 targets a couple weeks ago when Pierre was shadowed by Patrick Peterson, but he hasn’t topped 4 in any other game. I don’t expect that to change this week, and with the short distance targets he gets, you need volume for him to be useful.
WR Travis Rudolph, NYG (Wk. 6: @Den.): The Giants just signed this Florida State product off the street this week and may already be inserting him into 3-WR sets as soon as this Sunday assuming Sterling Shepard can’t go. He’s worth keeping an eye on over the next couple weeks with the Giants’ pass catching group decimated by injuries, but there is no New York WR who should be anywhere near your lineups this week with a daunting matchup with the Broncos on tap.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 6: @Hou.): The switch from DeShone Kizer to Kevin Hogan may lead to better results for Njoku, but I would take a wait & see approach here. He’s still splitting snaps fairly evenly with Seth DeValve, and is yet to top 3 catches in a game. You’re basically counting on a TD for him to be useful to you. This week’s matchup isn’t great for that. The Texans have allowed just 1 tight end score this season, and have been tough on the TEs they’ve faced that aren’t Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 6: vs. Ind.): Jonnu had a season-high 5 targets come his way last Sunday and he caught all of them, but he totaled just 21 yards. Marcus Mariota is expected to return this week and that should help the Titans’ offense, but I doubt it helps Jonnu all that much. The Colts have been a good matchup for opposing TEs, but it should be Delanie Walker who benefits from that this week. Jonnu is still a name to know in dynasty formats.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 6: vs. Ari.): If Howard can put up a goose egg against the Patriots, I’m not sure there is any matchup you can use him in as long as Brate is healthy. It was nice to see OJ get targeted in the end zone on the game’s final play last Thursday, but it was his only target of the night. This is essentially a redshirt year for Howard in dynasty leagues, but no reason to own him anywhere else right now.
Rookies on Byes: RB Joe Mixon, CIN, WR Zay Jones, BUF, WR John Ross, CIN
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 6: vs. Cle.): Foreman has some upside as a DFS tournament punt option. Houston is a 10-point favorite, and if Deshaun Watson goes supernova again, Foreman should see some extra work in a blowout. The Browns don’t have the offensive firepower to keep pace the way the Chiefs do. Foreman saw 13 carries in the blowout win over Tennessee a couple weeks ago, and something similar could be in the offing this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 6: @KC): JJSS is a screaming value in DFS formats this week in my opinion. He’ll cost just $3,600 on DraftKings. The Chiefs have been roasted by WRs this year, allowing the 5th-most WR points per game, and the Steelers were talking about giving Martavis Bryant ‘a break’ this week. I doubt they would sit him completely, but even if they scale him back it should mean more work for JuJu. Smith-Schuster has averaged nearly 6 targets a game in the past 3 weeks, and his yardage has increased each week. I like JuJu a lot as a cheap DFS tournament option.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 6: @NO): Golladay has missed the last 2 games, but if he’s able to suit up this week, this is a matchup where he can come up big. The Lions have desperately needed a vertical receiver the past couple weeks to open up the offense, and the Saints have allowed the 3rd-most pass plays of 20+ yards. I wouldn’t thrust Kenny G back into lineups in season long leagues just yet, but he’s an intriguing DFS tournament option.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 6: @Oak.): Mike should finally get on the field this week, but he likely won’t see a ton of targets in his first go-round after missing all of the preseason and the first 5 weeks. He’s still worth a stash in deeper leagues to see how his role develops. Chargers may wind up with the two Williamses on the outside (Mike and Tyrell), and Keenan Allen in the slot in 3-wide sets. Mike projects as a matchup nightmare in the red zone at 6’4”, 218.
WR Kasen Williams, CLE (Wk. 6: @Hou.): Ok, so Williams isn’t technically a rookie, but I wanted to mention her here as a guy to potentially stash in really deep leagues and dynasty formats. The Browns want nothing to do with Kenny Britt at this point, Ricardo Louis is one of Pro Football Focus’s lowest graded WRs (ranks 100th in the league), and Kevin Hogan showed the ability to move the team down the field last week. Williams has a little bit of appeal as a DFS punt play since the Texans’ secondary has been pretty burnable. Kasen flashed in training camp with the Seahawks before becoming a casualty of roster limits. He played 45% of the offensive snaps last week for Cleveland, and posted 4-33 on 5 targets. I expect him to get more involved going forward, and he has a chance to develop into the Browns’ number 1 target until Corey Coleman returns.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with some of your tougher lineup decisions this week. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury reports throughout the week. Plenty of situations are still fluid: Mariota, TyMo, Derek Carr, etc, that can have huge impacts on fantasy, and you don’t want to get stuck with a goose egg because you weren’t paying attention. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! The chaos of week 3 seemed to spill over into week 4 as we were treated to another round of surprise results. The primetime games all seemed to go according to plan, but the morning and afternoon games on Sunday were chock full of surprises again. The Dolphins were shellacked again as Alvin Kamara piled up 10 catches. Buffalo stunned the Falcons. Deshaun Watson and the Texans dropped over 50 points on the Titans. The “tanking” Jets pulled off their second win in as many weeks, and the Rams upended the Cowboys as Cooper Kupp got into the end zone for the 2nd time this year. There were plenty of impressive rookie performances, from Watson to Kupp to Kamara to Elijah McGuire, and the rookies will get even more important as the bye weeks get started. This week will be a little trickier to set lineups with Washington, New Orleans, Denver and Atlanta taking the week off. Let’s take a look at what to do with the rookies on your rosters and see if any of them can help fill in for those starters on byes…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 5: @Hou.):The Texans allow just the 3rd-fewest fantasy points per game (all stats in PPR scoring unless otherwise noted), so this may not be the best week to fire up Hunt in DFS lineups, but he’s a must-start in season-long leagues. He had his worst fantasy game of the year on Monday night, and still topped 100 rushing yards and ended up the RB17 for the week. You simply can’t sit him regardless of matchup right now.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 5: @Pit.): Fournette has scored a TD and logged at least 16 touches and 61 scrimmage yards in every game so far, and the Steelers’ run defense has had some cracks this season. They’ve allowed 5.61 yards per carry to opposing backs over the past 3 weeks and have allowed the 9th-most RB points per game for the season. Fournette should be penciled in as an RB1 once again.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 5: @Dal.): This status only applies if Ty Montgomery sits as expected. Jamaal Williams is expected to miss this game as well, and that would mean Jones has the backfield pretty much to himself. The Cowboys allow the 7th-most RB points per game, and the 3rd-most RB receiving yards per game. While Jones hasn’t flashed much receiving ability at the NFL level, he did put up 646 receiving yards in his college career at UTEP. With the byes and injuries going on right now, Jones should be a solid RB2 if TyMo and Williams are both sidelined.
QB DeShaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 5: vs. KC):Watson has dazzled in his last two starts for the Texans. He gets a tougher matchup this week against a Chiefs team that has allowed just 7.1 QB points per game on the road (vs. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers). There is some reason for optimism though. Kansas City has allowed the 8th-most passing yards per game and the 2nd-most QB rushing yards per game so far. There’s certainly risk that Watson turns into a pumpkin this week, but he’s easily the highest-upside streamer that’s likely to be available in most leagues. He’s a borderline QB1 option this week.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 5: vs. NYJ):Don’t overreact when you see Kizer and Watson listed in the same section. Watson is a borderline option in standard leagues this week…Kizer is more of a borderline option in 2-QB leagues. With 4 teams on bye (3 with a top-10 fantasy QB), almost all of the starting QBs are in play in the 2-QB format. Kizer has been up and down so far this year with 2 games at 18 points or more scored, and two games under 4 points. The Jets have looked pretty good over the past 2 weeks at home after scuffling in 2 road games to start the year. There is some hope that with this game in Cleveland that the Jets return to their struggling ways, but I doubt that happens. The floor for Kizer is helped by the fact that the Jets allowed both mobile QBs they’ve faced, Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor, to rush for over 35 yards, but it’s still pretty a pretty low floor For DeShone. There’s always the chance that Hue Jackson benches him mid-game for Kevin Hogan again. Kizer is a boom-or-bust streaming option for 2-QB leagues.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 5: vs. Buf.):Sub-par O-line play has made it hard for Mixon to really get going, but his usage has been promising. Mixon only played on 48% of the offensive snaps in week 4, but he touched the ball 21 times on 31 snaps played. The Bills’ run defense is tough, but it isn’t impenetrable. They were ranked 9th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat through week 3, and then they allowed the Falcons’ RBs to rush for over 5 yards per carry. The Falcons’ rushing attack has been much more efficient than the Bengals’ this year, but Mixon remains in play as an RB2/flex option that carries a bit of risk. If he sees 20+ touches again, he should return better value than he did a week ago.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 5: @Det.):McCaffrey was a big letdown in a good spot last weekend. He posted just 8.9 PPR points on 10 touches against a Patriots defense that had been bleeding receiving points to running backs. For the season, he’s just the RB20 in PPR scoring and has finished higher than the RB24 just once in an individual week. The Lions are just a middling running back defense, but it’s hard to trust CMC as more than a lower end PPR RB2/flex play, even with the byes this week. He’s always a threat to have a blow-up week with his talent, but he’s had just one play all year that went for more than 16 yards.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 5: vs. Min.):Cohen clings to the borderline this week in PPR formats due to byes/injuries, but this is probably not a great spot to use him. For starters, there’s the uncertainty of how much his role will change with Mitch Trubisky at QB. He’s averaged 7 targets a game with Glennon at QB, and there’s no guarantee that holds up with Mitch. There’s also the fact that the Vikings run defense has been excellent so far, even after allowing 94 yards and a TD to Ameer Abdullah last weekend. They’ve allowed the 3rd-fewest rushing yards, the 4th-fewest yards per carry, and the 2nd-fewest RB fantasy points per game. While Cohen thrives on passing game work as much as rushing, the Vikes have allowed the 5th-fewest RB catches per game as well. Cohen’s game-breaking ability could help him overcome the tough matchup, but everything seems stacked against him this week. I’d only play him if you have to.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 5: vs. Sea.):Kupp has seen 6 or 7 targets in 3 of the first 4 games of the year. The Seahawks are more susceptible to slot WRs than perimeter guys, especially with normal slot corner Jeremy Lane out. Kupp should see mostly New England castoff Justin Coleman’s coverage in this one. The Seahawks’ vaunted Legion of Boom secondary has struggled away from C-Link Field so far this year, allowing 39.6 PPR points per game to opposing WRs on the road. Kupp should be a reasonable WR3 option in PPR again despite the Seahawks’ defensive reputation.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 5: vs. LAC):The Chargers have allowed the 7th-fewest points per game to opposing TEs, and held Travis Kelce to 1 catch for 1 yard in week 3, but Engram just keeps putting up borderline TE1 weeks. Through 4 games, he’s ranked as the TE14, TE9, TE14, and TE8. If you need a streamer to replace Jordan Reed this week, Engram is probably the best option you’re going to find if available.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 5: vs. Min.):It was nice of the Bears to give Trubisky his first start in the friendly confines of Soldier Field, but with a matchup against the stingy Vikings’ defense, that crowd may turn much less friendly on Monday night. Through the first 4 weeks of the season, the average weekly QB12 has put up 18.75 fantasy points. The Vikings are allowing 14.67 points per game to the position, and have faced a gauntlet of Drew Brees (posted QB16 week vs. Vikings), Big Ben at home in Pittsburgh (QB8), JameisWiston (QB19), and Matt Stafford (QB22). To expect a rookie making his first career start to succeed where that group has mostly failed is not wise. Trubisky could be in for a long Monday night.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 5: @Cle.):While McGuire was impressive last week, I doubt we get an encore in week 5. He was out-snapped 46-19 and out-touched 25-12 by Bilal Powell in that game last Sunday, and he put up 12.9 of his 21.1 PPR points on one play. The Browns have allowed just 3.08 yards per carry and have allowed only 2 carries of 20 or more yards for the year. The odds that McGuire turns limited snaps into another big day aren’t high. Powell is the Jets’ back to play. McGuire should be left benched.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 5: vs. KC):Kansas City is allowing just 13.2 PPR points per game to opposing RBs over the past 3 weeks. The Broncos are the best RB defense in the league so far, and they allow 14.4 per game. Foreman only played 29% of the offensive snaps last week in Houston’s blowout win. He would need a Lamar Miller injury or a plus matchup where he can turn limited opportunity into production in order to be playable. He certainly doesn’t get the latter this week, and there’s no way to predict the former.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 5: vs. Car.):Even if Golladay suits up this week, the Panthers have been pretty good at limiting his bread and butter: the deep ball. They’ve allowed just 8 completions of 20 or more yards through 4 games. Golladay will be a TD-or-bust option this week, and he remains questionable to even play. I’d steer clear of Kenny.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 5: @Ind.):While it was nice to see Taylor get targeted 10 times last Sunday, he’s unlikely to see the same volume this week. Garcon isn’t going to be locked down by Patrick Peterson in this one, and the way to beat the Colts is to throw downfield. Taylor has made his living on short passes, with just 8.5 yards per catch. The Colts have allowed 26 completions of 20 or more yards in 4 games. Only the Patriots (19) and Saints (21) have allowed more than 15 other than Indy. Aldrick Robinson or Marquise Goodwin (if he plays) will be the better second option to Garcon in this one.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 5: @Cin.):The connection with Tyrod is still just not there despite Zay playing basically full-time snaps. Taylor completed 11-of-13 throws targeting anyone other than Jones last Sunday, but connected on just 1-of-5 when Zay was the target. That brings the season totals for Jones to 4 catches on 17 targets. Jordan Matthews is expected to miss about a month with an injury, so it’s worth watching to see if Zay’s role increases, but his efficiency has been so bad you can’t play him anywhere this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 5: vs. NYJ):The Jets have allowed just 3 catches for 16 yards to opposing tight ends in the past 2 games, and haven’t allowed a tight end TD since week 1. They held Marcedes Lewis without a catch a week ago after the Jags TE caught 3 TD passes in London the week before. Njoku is yet to top 3 catches or 27 yards in any game this season. There’s no reason to start him and hope for a TD.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 5: @Mia.):Smith is already a TD dart throw at best with Delanie Walker around, and now it sounds like Marcus Mariota will miss this game after the Titans signed Brandon Weeden. The odds Jonnu scores a TD definitely are lower with Matt Cassel under center.
Rookies on Byes: RB SemajePerine, WAS, RB Alvin Kamara, NO
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 5: vs. LAC):Gallman got on the field last week and scored his first career TD. He was also the Giants most effective runner, but he still put up just 3.8 yards per carry. There’s a chance the Giants don’t let Gallman continue to see the amount of work he did last week with Orleans Darkwa expected back, but I think he’s earned a bigger role. The Chargers have allowed over 100 RB rushing yards in all 4 games this year, and have coughed up over 30 RB PPR points in each of the last 2. Gallman is still really cheap in DFS ($3,900 on DrafKings), and could be a decent flex option in deep leagues this week. The Giants’ shaky run game makes him hard to trust as more than that.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 5: @NYG):Melvin Gordon has been battling a knee injury and general ineffectiveness, and Ekeler has looked better in his limited touches than Branden Oliver has. Ekeler is only an option as a stash in really deep leagues as he’s played just 12 offensive snaps, but he’s made the most of those snaps. He’s put up 82 yards and a TD on just 6 touches. Oliver, meanwhile, has 78 yards and no scores on 22 touches. If something were to happen to Melvin Gordon, I think there’s a real chance Ekeler would play a really big role. Hopefully his recent play has been impressive enough to warrant a bigger role going forward anyway.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 5: vs. Jax.):No team allows fewer fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers than the Jaguars. Luckily for JJSS, he gets to avoid their top corners since Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant are around. Smith-Schuster has seen 14 targets in the past 3 weeks, and scored 2 TDs. It’s tough to trust him with just 34 yards per game in that stretch and a tough matchup this week, but he’s a stong TD dart throw once again. We all know how much better Big Ben is at home.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 5: @NYG):I mention Williams only as a stash at this point, and only for deeper leagues. The Chargers have gotten decent production out of Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams, but Mike is expected to return and be active this weekend. If he looks good, he could supplant Travis Benjamin as the WR3 before long. The Chargers face two very burnable pass defenses in the next few weeks (Oakland in week 6 and New England in week 8). It might make sense to scoop him up now before people see what he can do.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 5: vs. NE):Howard isn’t running nearly as many routes as teammate Cameron Brate, and he’s only seen 8 targets through 3 games, but there are several factors working in his favor this week. The 4 targets he received last weekend were a season-high, he’s still playing about two-thirds of the Bucs’ offensive snaps, and he gets a choice matchup with the Patriots this week. The Pats are allowing the 4th-most TE fantasy points per game so far, and they have a good enough offense to force Tampa to keep throwing to stay in the game. The floor is pretty low for season-long leagues, but OJ has great upside for DFS tournaments this week, and costs just $200 more than the minimum on DraftKings.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 5: @Ind.):Kittle has been playing almost full-time snaps, and is second on the 49ers in number of pass routes run. It’s only a matter of time before it starts to translate into more targets for the Iowa product. He’s had 14 targets through the first 4 games. The Colts allow the 8th-most receiving yards to TEs per game, so there is a chance his improvement starts this week. I like Kittle’s chances to post his best game of the season. I don’t know what that means for where you would play him, but a 50-yard game isn’t out of the question here.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with those tough lineup decisions and helps you fill in some of your bye spots. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury report throughout the week and do a final check before the games to make sure your guys are active. If you take issue with anything above or have any questions or general feedback, feel free to hit me up on twitter to discuss (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 3 was certainly an interesting one. Between all of the anthem protest drama, there were some intriguing football games. Almost nothing went according to plan, which should have been predictable with 10 road favorites (6 of them lost). The chaos started right away on Thursday night with an unexpected Rams-49ers shootout that was full of fantasy goodness. Sunday stunners included the Ravens getting housed in London with Joe Flacco throwing for 28(!) yards, the Steelers being topped in OT by a Bears team that completed just 1(!) pass to a WR the entire game, Case Keenum throwing for 369 yards in an easy Viking win, the tanking Jets demolishing the Dolphins, and the Lions losing on an incorrect call that cost them the opportunity for a final play. It was a whirlwind. If your team was one of the ones that got stunned, hopefully your fantasy team came out of week 3 in better shape than your real one. I wonder what week 4 will give us for an encore. Take note that for the players listed within the same category at the same position, they will be listed in the order I would rank them. Any point totals listed will be PPR scoring unless otherwise noted. Let’s take a look at what to expect from your rookies this week…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 4: vs. Was.): There’s a down week coming at some point for Hunt, but you obviously have to keep riding the wave right now. Washington isn’t a matchup to fear, and Hunt played a season-high 70% of the snaps last week against the Chargers. His role is getting bigger, not smaller. Andy Reid also said this week that he has no plans to scale back the rookie’s workload. Plug him in as an RB1 again.
RB Dalvin Cook, MIN (Wk. 4: vs. Det.): Cook is probably licking his chops this week as he watches film of Devonta Freeman dismantling the Lions’ defense last Sunday. He’s coming off his best game as a pro, and the Lions have been coughing up 150 scrimmage yards per week to opposing RBs. With his usage, Dalvin is a borderline RB1 this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 4: @NE): As expected, CMC’s receiving usage blew up against the New Orleans defense with Greg Olsen out and Kelvin Benjamin leaving the game early. The Saints had allowed the most receiving yards to RBs going into that game, and that hasn’t changed after McCaffrey hung 101 receiving yards on them. The team that has allowed the 2nd-most is the New England Patriots, who McCaffrey faces this week. He should have a great receiving floor and easily be an RB2 this week in PPR leagues. He’s more of a low-end RB2 in standard leagues, but one with big upside.
RB Chris Carson, SEA (Wk. 4: vs. Ind.): Any doubts about Carson’s role were put to bed last week and Thomas Rawls played just 1 snap. I’d expect Rawls to play a few more this week, but that’s mostly because C.J. Prosise has already been ruled out for the Seahawks and Carson isn’t going to play 100% of the snaps. The Colts are allowing just 3.2 yards per carry so far, but they’ve allowed the 11th-most RB points and Seattle opened as an 11.5-point favorite this week. The game script should very much in Carson’s favor, and he should be a rock solid RB2 option this week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 4: @NYJ): Even after limiting the Dolphins running backs to 21 yards on 14 carries, and just 7.8 PPR points last weekend, the Jets have still allowed more RB points per game than any other team in the league, and a 4.1 ypc average on the season. Perhaps the Jets’ week 3 improvement is a sign of things to come, but even if it is Fournette should still manage an RB2 day on volume alone. The upside is big in this one if the Jags get ahead early.
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Watson impressed last week against a Patriots D that typically feasts on rookie QBs. The Titans have allowed the 3rd-most QB points per game after being shredded by Russ Wilson last weekend, and DeAndre Hopkins should have a great shot to breakout and help out his quarterback. The Titans have allowed 22-243-2 to opposing number one WRs through 3 weeks. With the extra boost that Watson’s rushing gives him, he’s a borderline option for 2-QB leagues this week. There’s always a low floor with a rookie passer in a run-heavy scheme, but the ceiling Watson showed last week was nice.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 4: @Cle.): Week 3 was a promising one for Mixon. He may finally be breaking out of the 3-man timeshare the Bengals started with now that they have a new coordinator. Mixon played 56% of the offensive snaps and saw 62% of the running back touches in week 3. OC Bill Lazor seems to be turning the backfield over to him, and I expect him to play better with extended opportunities that will allow him to get in rhythm. The increased work is just a one week sample, and the Browns have been decent against the run so far this year, so there is some risk. If the increased usage continues this week, he should finish in the RB2 range.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 4: @GB): If you own Cohen in a non-PPR league, I’d probably lean against using him this week. This stacks up as more of a Howard game with the Packers allowing 97 RB rushing yards per game compared to 29 RB receiving yards. Then again, last week stacked up as a Cohen game and it was Howard who blew up. For PPR leagues, Cohen remains a steady flex option with big play upside. The Bears completed just 1 pass to a wide receiver last week, and Mike Glennon clearly has a connection with Cohen. I’d still expect him to be peppered with targets in a game the Bears should be trailing in as a 7.5-point road underdog.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin are both dealing with concussions this week, so Kupp should see plenty of targets if Watkins can’t play. He disappointed last week with just 2-17 on 2 targets despite the team’s gaudy passing numbers, but I’d look for a bounce back against Dallas. The Cowboys are allowing the 6th-most points per game to opposing WRs. Cooper is on the flex radar in PPR leagues.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 4: @Min.): It’s been a quiet couple weeks for the sax man (Kenny G). He’s always going to have a bit of a boom-or-bust element with the way the Lions use him, but I kind of like his chances to boom this week. The Vikings have allowed the 2nd-most WR points per game (44.3) despite strong play from top CB Xavier Rhodes. I’d expect it to be Marvin Jones who tangles with Rhodes most often (Rhodes is unlikely to go to the slot to cover Tate). Kenny still has a really low floor, as evidenced by the 3-33 totals he’s put up in the past 2 games, but I love his upside this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 4: @TB): Engram seems to have established a pretty reliable 4-40 floor so far, which should make him a borderline weekly TE1 in PPR leagues. He’s been the TE14, TE9, and TE14 in PPR in the first 3 weeks. Tampa has been solid against TEs so far, but their defense is dealing with some injuries this week and Engram has seen 7 targets in each of the past 2 games. Engram should be a safer bet than some of the other streaming options available (I’m looking at you Hunter Henry).
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 4: vs. Cin.): I’m not as confident in Kizer’s outlook this week as I was for week 3. The Bengals struggled to contain the Packers’ passing last week, but Aaron Rodgers is special. Prior to that game, Cincy held the Ravens and Texans to a combined 246 passing yards and 1 score. They did allow a 50-yard rushing score to Deshaun Watson, but those can be kind of fluky. I don’t expect a high volume passing game from Kizer, so even with his rushing upside it will be tough for him to return QB2 value this week.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 4: @Mia.): There is still a little upside here for DFS tournaments, but the matchup for Kamara this week isn’t ideal. It’s a small sample size, but through 2 games the Dolphins have allowed the 4th-fewest RB points per game. They’ve allowed just 3.25 yards per carry and 3.5 receptions per game to opposing backs. They’ll also be playing angry after an embarrassing loss in New York last weekend. It’s probably best to avoid rolling the dice on Kamara this week.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Foreman made two nice plays in the passing game Sunday, putting up 65 yards on the 2 catches, and the Titans have coughed up 175 receiving yards to opposing backs so far. This doesn’t mean much for Foreman though. His receiving plays should be viewed as outliers, not the norm. For now, this is still Lamar Miller’s job. There has been a lot of talk that Foreman has been outperforming Miller so far, but Miller is averaging 3.7 yards per carry to Foreman’s 3.3, and Lamar out-snapped D’Onta 50-17 in week 3. Foreman will continue to get change of pace work, but not enough to make him a viable option this week.
RB Semaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 4: @KC): It was a little bit surprising that Rob Kelley sat out last weekend with injury, but Perine didn’t do much with his starting opportunity. He totaled 49 yards on 19 carries, and added a 6-yard catch, but he also lost a fumble. He’s now at 2.9 yards per carry on 40 totes. Even if Kelley were to miss another game, Perine is a low-end flex play with little to no receiving upside.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 4: @NE): The Patriots have allowed at least 32.9 PPR points to the opposing WR group each week so far, and Carolina is running low on WRs at this point with KB questionable. There is a little upside for Samuel, but the Panthers have struggled to show they know how to use him and have struggled to get their passing game clicking in general. If Benjamin sits, Curtis might be worth a roll of the dice in really deep leagues, but I’m struggling to trust much in the Carolina passing game at this point aside from McCaffrey.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): It was nice to see Godwin get involved a little bit in game 2, putting up a 3-44 line on 3 targets as TB tried to play catch-up. The Giants likely won’t score enough to keep Tampa throwing all game again, and New York has allowed just 22.6 PPR points per game to opposing WRs. Most of those points are earmarked for Mike Evans and D-Jax.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 4: @Atl.): LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay each have more catches on the year than Zay has targets. Until that trend changes, there isn’t much reason to even consider Zay in your lineups.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 4: @Cle.): Ross looks unlikely to play this week. Even if he is active, I’d like to see him actually do something on the field before I put him in any lineups.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 4: @Hou.): With Corey Davis out with injury last week, Jonnu played about 65% of the Titans’ offensive snaps, and scored his second TD in as many weeks. He also has just 3 catches in those 2 weeks, and gets a tougher matchup in this one. The Texans rank 13th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA stat on throws to tight ends, and they’ve allowed just 4 catches for 60 yards to the position in the two games where they didn’t face Gronk. This is probably not the best week to use Smith as a TD dart throw.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): Howard has played about 65% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps each week, but has just 2 catches and 4 targets to show for it. He’s being used primarily as a blocker for now. Until that changes, there’s no place for him in your lineup.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 4: @Ari.): The Cardinals just held an ageless Jason Witten to one catch for 3 yards on Monday night, and Kittle has 3 catches for 21 yards in the past 2 weeks combined. It’s not a good spot to consider him.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): You would think his outlook would be better this week if the Rams are without Sammy Watkins, but he has been slowly ceding playing time to Derek Carrier. His snap count has gone from 29 to 16 to 11 in the first 3 games. He might still make a downfield play in this one, but it’s hard to rely on a player who isn’t on the field much.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 4: @TB): This is mostly just a hunch, but Gallman may get some opportunity this week if Orleans Darkwa is out and Paul Perkins gets off to a slow start. The Bucs are dealing with a myriad of maladies on their defense right now: Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Chris Baker, and Gerald McCoy are all banged up, and Tampa just allowed 33 fantasy points to the Vikings’ running backs. Gallman is only worth considering as a DFS punt play, and he’s a risky one at that. He played zero snaps last week. If Darkwa dresses, I’d take a long look at Shane Vereen for DFS lineups. He could have a strong day.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 4: @SD): Clement likely has little to no value for this week, but with Sproles done for the year he’s worth a stash in really deep leagues. He’s the primary backup to LeGarrette Blount, and he put up 22 yards and a score in just 9 snaps and 6 carries a week ago. The Eagles backfield is still very much in flux in the wake of the Sproles injury.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 4: @Bal.): The Ravens have allowed the 5th fewest WR points per game so far this year, but they’ve allowed 53.2 points to opposing tight ends in the last 2 weeks including 4 TDs. The Steelers will likely be using JJSS as a de-facto tight end if Jesse James is out with injury. He’s been playing plenty of snaps and has averaged 5 targets per game in the past 2 weeks. I like his chances for a TD in this one.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 4: @Ari.): Taylor played almost 50% of the week 3 snaps and was targeted in the red zone, scoring his first career TD. He also was the victim of a terrible OPI penalty on the 49ers final drive. The Cardinals have struggled against WRs so far, allowing the 5th-most WR points per game to them. The 49ers are a 6-point underdog, and Pierre Garcon could be shadowed by Patrick Peterson. Taylor has the chance for a really nice game.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): This is contingent on Watkins and Tavon being out with their concussions. He needs both out to see the snaps needed to produce. If both are out, I’d expect Reynolds to play in 3-wide sets with he and Robert Woods on the outside and Cooper Kupp in the slot. The Cowboys have been bleeding points to WRs the past 2 weeks (46.4/game). There is a chance that J-Rey surprises in this one.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 4: vs. Cin.): Njoku is probably a TD or bust option, but the Bengals are not as tough a matchup as their #5 rank at limiting TE points would suggest. They faced Baltimore in week 1, who only threw 17 passes all game (3 to TEs), and then played the Texans in week 2 who were missing ALL of their tight ends with concussions. In week 3 they allowed 2-52-1 to Lance Kendricks. The Bengals rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA on throws to TEs, and Njoku has hit paydirt each of the last 2 weeks. Limited snaps and splitting time with DeValve have hurt his output, but the Browns don’t have a ton of other red zone weapons.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with the tougher lineup decisions involving these guys. If you have any questions, arguments, or opinions, feel free to hit me up on twitter and let me know (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Fantasy football is a passion shared by many - we hope to provide you with insightful articles that help with tough decisions during the season, as well as beer to drink, tv to watch and recipes to make. Good luck! -drinkfive.com