Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 4 was a quiet one for several of the top rookies (byes were a factor in that), but there were some new rookie faces making waves this past weekend. Teddy Bridgewater, Bishop Sankey, Andre Williams, Mike Evans and Eric Ebron each made their first dalliance into an NFL end zone. Jerick McKinnon also burst onto the scene with over 150 yards. These are just the first of many standout performances to come from most of these guys. Let’s take a look at which rookies might standout in week 5…
Rookies to Start:
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 5: vs. Cle.): Sankey continued to perform with garbage time snaps last week, and coach Whisenhunt said this week he’ll see more carries, and he’ll see them earlier in the game. The Browns allow the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Sankey should be a decent RB2 this week. Double-digit points are likely.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 5: vs. Chi.): The Panthers’ pass attack runs through Kelvin. The Bears allow over 24 points per game to opposing WRs, and I’d think Kelvin is a good bet for half that number. The only other relevant Panther WR is Cotchery. Feel safe firing up Benjamin as a WR2/3.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 5: vs. TB): Cooks is always going to be a better PPR play than standard league, but even in a down game last week he pulled in 5 receptions and was on the field for 82% of the Saints’ snaps. He’s crushing Marques Colston in targets, and the Bucs allow the most fantasy points to opposing WRs at 30.8. Cooks should be a solid WR3 even in standard leagues this week, and potential WR2 in PPR.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 5: vs. Pit.): The potential is there for a really nice game out of Bortles. Pittsburgh has had an explosive offense so far, and a leaky defense. They’ve allowed a 7:1 TD-INT ratio so far and just got done letting Mike Glennon have a strong game against them in his first start of the year. Bortles should continue to get better each week as he gains more experience. I’d view Bortles as a mid-to-high QB2 this week. I’d trust him more than Tom Brady vs. Cincy.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 5: @NE): Hill is always a threat to score a TD, but the matchup this week may favor his teammate Gio Bernard. New England has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, but they’ve allowed them just 2 rushing TDs as opposed to 4 receiving scores. Gio is a bigger part of the passing game than Hill. I’d still expect 8-10 carries for Hill, more if the Pats play like they did last Monday, but Hill is a hope-for-a-TD flex play this week.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 5: @Ten.): With Ben Tate coming back from injury, it makes Crowell a dicey flex option. The Titans do allow 20 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs, but it’ll likely take a TD for Crowell to be productive. I like his chances of getting that TD, though.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 5: @Ind.): Zo-Bot found the end zone again in week 4, but he lost out on starter’s carries to Justin Forsett. Forsett is undersized and just a change-of-pace back, but until we start to see Taliaferro doing work early and often, it’ll be hard to trust him. The Colts give up a good amount of running back points (19.3/game), but a lot of it has been in the passing game. View Taliaferro as a low floor flex option.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 5: @GB): With Teddy likely to sit tonight, the Vikings will have to rely heavily on the ground game. That’s good news for McKinnon, but it’s better news for Matt Asiata. Asiata is still running as the lead back, and Green Bay will likely play from ahead. Asiata is the better back in the passing game despite his obviously inferior talent. McKinnon will see some work, and he could be a fun roll of the dice since the Packers do allow the 4th most RB fantasy points. He’s a high-risk, high-reward flex option.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. @Det.): Watkins definitely has the role to be a star, and Kyle Orton taking over at QB should actually help Watkins. He’s been the focal point of the offense and Orton is a more accurate passer than Manuel. With that said, the Lions’ defense has been fantastic. I’d expect 4-5 catches and 50-60 yards from Watkins, with the possibility for a little more.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 5: vs. Pit.): The Steelers defense allows plenty of points to opposing WRs, and Robinson has the most talent amongst the Jacksonville WRs. His production has been a little inconsistent like most rookie WRs, but he’s a promising WR3 option this week. I’d look for 60+ yards.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 5: vs. Pit.): Hurns’s outlook is a little less promising than Robinson’s. He’s reliant on the deep ball, and he might not get one in this game. His upside is greater than Robinson’s, but so is his risk. He’s just as likely (maybe more) to put up 2 or fewer points as he is to hit double-digits.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 5: vs. Min.): Adams seems to have moved ahead of Jarrett Boykin, but he’s yet to produce. He did have a long TD called back on a penalty against Chicago, and the Packers play more 3-WR sets than any team in the league. His breakout game is coming eventually. He’s a boom-or-bust WR3 this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 5: @GB): This one isn’t rocket science. Teddy’s unlikely to play this week, so he shouldn’t be in your lineup. Even if he plays, he’s a low-end QB2 at best. The Packers are just 13.3 points per game to opposing QBs, and that has come against Russell Wilson, Matt Stafford, Jay Cutler and Geno Smith. Take out Geno and that’s quite a gauntlet.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 5: @Ten.): Tate should be back, and it appears he’s been passed on the depth chart by Crowell. Despite the good matchup, West won’t see enough work to be a productive option this week.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 5: @Dal.): Foster should be a little healthier this week after limited touches a week ago, and the Cowboys’ defense has been much better than advertised. Blue will see limited touches, and I just don’t see enough upside for Blue to be a strong play. His only TD this season came on a blocked punt.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 5: vs. NYJ): Despite Donald Brown’s struggles, Oliver isn’t a good bet to do damage this week. The Jets allow the fewest RB fantasy points in the league by a significant margin. It looks like Donald Brown will still start this week, and there won’t be enough stats for even one productive RB in this matchup.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 5: vs. KC): Hyde has yet to put up a reasonable yardage day, so he needs a TD to be productive. The Chiefs’ defense has been stout, allowing just 12.3 points per game to opposing RBs. I don’t expect a strong showing from Hyde this week. With just 2 byes this week, there are plenty of higher upside options you can play instead.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 5: @NO): Just making sure you’re aware that Evans is out for the next few weeks. Make other plans.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 5: vs. Pit.): Lee has already struggled to get involved in the Jags’ offense since week 1. Ace Sanders returns from suspension this week and could steal some slot looks from Lee, who already has a minor role in the offense. There just isn’t enough upside to even consider Lee.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 5: vs. StL.): I don’t love Matthews this week. The Rams have been getting gashed in the run game, and as a result, teams don’t have to throw. They’ve allowed under 190 yards per game through the air. Matthews has to compete with Maclin, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy for targets. There just isn’t enough to go around this week to rely on Matthews.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 5: @SD): Jace’s time is coming, but it’s not quite here yet. His role is rapidly expanding, but the Chargers are allowing just 6 points per game to opposing TEs. I don’t see Amaro eclipsing that number. He’s safe to expect a few catches for about 30 yards from, but anything more would be a bonus.
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 5: vs. Buf.): Fauria is still out, which keeps Ebron on the radar, but with Calvin back closer to full strength, his targets should drop this week. The Bills have been decent against tight ends, and Ebron will just be too touchdown dependent for my taste this week.
Rookies on Byes this week: QB Derek Carr, OAK, RB Damien Williams, MIA, WR Jarvis Landry, MIA
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. vs. Atl.): Williams tallied over 60 yards and a score in garbage time in last Thursday’s win over the Redskins, and Atlanta allows the most RB points in the league. Their run defense is putrid. If the Falcons keep this game close, it’ll be more Jennings than Williams, but I love the upside Williams has this week. Atlanta couldn’t even contain Matt Asiata last week.
RB Darrin Reaves, CAR (Wk. 5: vs. Chi.): With injuries to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera announced this week that Darrin Reaves is the starting RB right now. The Panthers haven’t consistently committed to the run game this year, and they’ve been predictable when they do with Cam staying in the pocket, but the Bears’ run defense isn’t very good. Reaves is an ok flex option in 12-team leagues.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 5: vs. Atl.): It’s hard to suggest playing Beckham in his debut game, but you should certainly keep an eye on his usage. He has incredible athleticism, and could find a big role in this offense as a dynamic playmaker. Make sure to pay attention.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 5: @Den.): Brown is still unlikely to be starting in many fantasy leagues, but he should be a sneaky flex/WR3 yet again this week. The Broncos allow the 2nd most passing yards in the league and the Cardinals have made Brown a part of the gameplan. When asked after the week 3 win over San Francisco if he was included in the gameplan because they didn’t know who he was, he responded “No one knows me.” I love that response, and I like Brown’s chances at a TD this week.
TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 5: @NO): This isn’t a great matchup, with New Orleans allowing less than 5 points per game to opposing TEs, but with Mike Evans out, ASJ should have a much more prominent role in the passing game. He has already passed Brandon Myers on the depth chart and played on every offensive snap last week. Glennon helped Tim Wright to some big games last year, and he could do the same this week. ASJ could be a sneaky good option this week.
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.