Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 6 clearly demonstrated just how fickle the fortunes of fantasy rookies can be. Teddy Bridgewater and Sammy Watkins hit huge speed bumps, Bishop Sankey continued to struggle to breakout, Storm Johnson ran like every other Jacksonville running back, and Eric Ebron continued to under-perform with Calvin Johnson on the shelf. It wasn't all bad for the rooks though. Derek Carr had his biggest game of the season, Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell and Jarvis Landry each found the end zone, Jace Amaro pulled in double-digit receptions and a score as well, Branden Oliver had another big game, and Jerick McKinnon finally looks like the starter in Minnesota. There should be plenty more rookie fun in store this week, so let’s dive in and talk about what to expect in week 7.
Rookies to start:
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 7: vs. KC): His match-up isn't quite as sweet this week, but the Chargers have been committed to the run game and Oliver has been far more effective than Donald Brown. He should be a very safe RB2 option this week, and maybe even a low-end RB1 in PPR leagues. Start him
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 7: @Dal.): If the Giants want to beat Dallas, they’ll have to get the run game going, and Rashad Jennings is out again this week. Williams is a punishing runner who will surprise Dallas with his physicality. I like his chances of being a decent RB2 this week and an excellent flex option. If he doesn't at least come close to 20 touches, I’d be very surprised.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 7: @GB): Kelvin has earned must-start status every week. Green Bay’s offense should keep Carolina throwing, and Benjamin should be trotted out there as a very safe WR2 in fantasy again this week.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 7: @Det.): The Saints might be without Jimmy Graham this week, and the Lions have a ferocious pass rush that dropped Teddy Bridgewater 8 times last week. Look for the Saints to get Cooks involved early in the short passing game to counter Detroit’s pressure. He might even see a couple rushing attempts. He’s a solid WR2 option in PPR leagues and WR3 in standard ones.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 7: vs. Min.): Don’t be scared away by last week’s rough game from Sammy. He was matched up against Darrelle Revis all day. He won’t face anyone that imposing against the Vikings, and he saw at least 8 targets in each of the previous 4 games before last week. I’d expect close to double-digit targets again, and I like his chances to turn in a strong fantasy day. Orton certainly makes him a better fantasy play than E.J. ever did.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 7: vs. Ari.): Carr finally escapes the “Rookies to Sit” category. With Tony Sparano in charge as the interim head coach, the playbook was opened up and Carr was unleashed a bit against SD. The Arizona matchup is an interesting one. The Cards bring pressure a high percentage of the time and trust their corners to win one-on-one matchups. Carr struggled against pressure in college, but he’s responded well to it at this level. There will be a chance for Carr to have a nice day with crafty James Jones and physical freak Andre Holmes finding ways to get open. I like Carr as a low-end QB2 with upside for more.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 7: vs. Cle.): Like Carr, Bortles is fodder for 2 QB leagues. I like Carr better this week. Bortles has the better match-up, and he’s built a great rapport with Cecil Shorts and Allen Robinson, but the Jags’ lack of a running game will keep Bortles no more than a low-end QB2.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 7: @Was.): Sankey has been absolutely maddening to anyone who owns him. Coach Ken Whisenhunt claims that “nerves” factored into Sankey’s slow start last week against Jacksonville, but Whiz still sprinkled in too much Dexter McCluster and Leon Washington for Sankey’s owners to feel good starting him against the #5 defense vs. fantasy RBs. There’s plenty of upside for Bishop, but plenty of risk too.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 7: @Jax.): Crowell was very impressive as a runner last week against Pittsburgh, putting up 77 yards and a TD on just 11 carries. He would be breathing down Ben Tate’s neck for the starting gig right now if not for 2 fumbles, but he’s still going to get his work and could torch the Jaguars’ terrible defense. He could end up with just 20-30 yards, or he could blow up. The talent is real.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 7: @Ind.): The Colts allow the 7th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, and the Bengals should continue to lean on their running backs with A.J. Green likely out another week. There is a risk of Cincy falling behind in this one and having to throw more than they’d like, but Hill should see 10-15 touches, which normally makes him a decent bet for a TD.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 7: @Buf.): McKinnon finally has leaped over Matt Asiata on the depth chart, out-touching the plodding Asiata 18-3 against Detroit. This week, he faces off against the best defense in the league against opposing RBs. The volume should be there for him to be an OK flex option though. The Vikes should look to run as much as possible to keep Bridgewater upright after he was sacked 8 times last week.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 7: vs. Car.): Adams role continued to increase last week. He remains a boom or bust WR3 option, but he’s good a decent chance to boom this week against the lackluster Panthers’ secondary. Carolina has allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing WRs.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 7: @Dal.): The stats would say that this isn't a good match-up for Beckham, but we can just throw out the stats when the Cowboys and Giants get together. I feel like this game will be a bit tougher for the Cowboys, and I actually really like Beckham as a decent flex option this week.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 7: vs. Cle.): I like Robinson this week in PPR leagues. He’s been surprisingly steady since week 2, averaging 5.8 catches and 62.2 yards per game over his past 5 with at least 4 catches and 6 targets in each game. I like his chances to at least get to his averages in a game that will likely have the Jaguars throwing.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 7: @Chi.): Landry is seemingly gaining more and more trust from Ryan Tannehill each week, and he found the end zone for the first time last week. His efficiency has been impressive, with 18 catches on 25 targets in the past 4 games. This game has shootout potential, so Landry could approach the 6-75-1 line he registered last week and should be a reasonable WR3 option in PPR leagues.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 7: @NE): Despite his breakout last week, Amaro is more of a 2TE league option. The Patriots do a good job of taking away a team’s best options. I still think Geno peppers him with targets again, making him a guy you could roll the dice on in 12-team PPR leagues, but he’s a risky play this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 7: @Buf.): I believe in Teddy’s talent, but this matchup is daunting. The Vikings haven’t thrown a passing TD in the past 4 weeks and the Bills haven’t allowed a rushing TD all season. I’d like to believe that Bridgewater will find a way to throw his first career TD pass this week, but I can’t say with certainty he will. He’s coming off a 3 interception, 8 sack game against Detroit and gets another good pass rush this week.
RB Storm Johnson, JAX (Wk. 7: vs. Cle.): Storm may very well have a decent game with a good matchup against the Browns, but I’m giving up on the Jags’ running game until they show me more. The problem is the offensive line, and I don’t trust anyone running behind it. I’d sit Storm.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 7: @Jax.): He’s now 3rd in the pecking order in the Browns’ backfield and Crowell is separating himself. He needs an injury ahead of him to even be rostered in redraft leagues right now. He just won’t get enough work to play.
RB Darrin Reaves, CAR (Wk. 7: @GB): Even with the other Panthers’ runners out, Reaves hasn't been much of a factor. The Panthers have found something with Cam running the ball again, and Jonathan Stewart might be back this week. I wouldn't consider Reaves this week.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 7: @Den.): The way to beat Denver is to pound the ball on the ground and keep it away from Peyton Manning, but Gore will continue to see the lion’s share of the work. The Broncos don’t often play from behind, so it’s hard to bank on the game flow getting Hyde involved. Keep him on the pine this week.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN (Wk. 7: vs. SF): Hillman did plenty last week to earn the top spot in the Denver backfield while Montee Ball is out and possibly beyond. Against a plus defense like San Francisco’s, there just won’t be enough fantasy points to go around for Juwan Thompson.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 7: vs. Sea.): Mason had a couple of nice plays in his NFL debut on Monday night, but you know better than to play a running back who faces the Seahawks when they’re coming off a loss. The Seahawks will be playing focused and angry football, and Mason isn’t even the starter.
WRs Allen Hurns & Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 7: vs. Cle.): Hurns’s targets are falling off with Cecil Shorts back, and Lee is still working to crack into the rotation at wide receiver. Both guys should be out of your fantasy lineup this week.
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 7: vs. NO): Ebron’s comparison coming into the draft was Jimmy Graham. Who knows better how to defend that type of player than the Saints? They've allowed a league-low 4 points per game to opposing tight ends, and Ebron has already been under-performing with Calvin out. Don’t start Ebron this week.
Deep League Sleepers:
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 7: @Was.): Jake Locker’s status is in doubt yet again this week, and “Checkdown” Charlie Whitehurst hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in his stead. If Mettenberger gets the start, he’s a sneaky good QB2 option going against the worst QB defense in the league. Keep an eye on the situation if you have an issue at QB2.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 7: vs. Atl.): Zo has become a forgotten man in Baltimore as Bernard Pierce has returned to the mix, but I think he gets more involved this week and is a sneaky flex play against the awful Falcons’ defense. Forsett is still the top option, but I certainly like Taliaferro over Pierce this week. The Falcons allow 27.5 RB fantasy points per game.
RB James White, NE (Wk. 7: vs. NYJ): The Jets run defense has had some issues the past two weeks after being dominant prior to that, and the Pats’ backfield is in flux with Stevan Ridley done for the year. Brandon Bolden is the favorite to take over Ridley’s role, but White and preseason standout Jonas Gray could factor in as well. White was active for the first time last week, and was always a good pass blocker at Wisconsin, which is important at this level. It’s hard to trust White this week, but he’s a nice stash option in deeper leagues.
RB Damian Williams, MIA (Wk. 7: @Chi.): It’s still not clear who the number 2 runner is in Miami with Knowshon done for the year. Williams beat out Daniel Thomas for a roster spot in the preseason, but Thomas ran ahead of him in week 4 against Oakland. Williams could be worth a stash in deep leagues if he runs ahead of Thomas this week.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 7: @Oak.): Brown has been forgotten by most since his 2 TD game against the 49ers, but with Carson Palmer back, Brown should be a sneaky flex play against the Raiders in deeper leagues. Palmer re-established Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald last week, taking the focus off Brown again (even he had 4 catches for 43 in week 6), and I like his chances of finding the end zone this week. There’s a lot of bust risk, but Brown has shown himself to be a play-maker.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you find fantasy victory in week 7. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.