Welcome back to the rookie report! While week 11 saw many of the phenomenal crop of rookie WRs continue their dominance (most notably Mike Evans), it was the rookie runners who surprised this past week. Alfred Blue and Jeremy Hill both topped 150 yards, Tre Mason topped 100, and Isaiah Crowell saw his most extended work of the season and put up 90 total yards. The only way it could have been better would be if some of them found the end zone.
Before we dive into this week’s games, I just want to make a point to remind everyone to check the status of their lineup throughout the week, or at least one final check before the games get started on Sunday. Last week I didn’t even mention Alfred Blue in this column and recommended Terrance West as a starter. By Sunday, Arian Foster was out for the Texans and Crowell was announced as starter for the Browns. Pay attention so you don’t miss the boat when these sorts of things happen. There are a lot of borderline rookies this week, so make sure to pay attention to the details. With that, let’s dive into this week’s rookie matchups…
Rookies to Start:
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 12: @SD): The Rams have found the formula that works for them over the past few weeks, and it includes a lot of Tre Mason. The Rams have won 2 of 3 in a brutal stretch (@SF, @Ari, Den.), and Mason averaged 84 yards from scrimmage in those 3 contests. The Chargers are just a middle of the road run defense right now, so Mason is poised for what should be a solid RB2 day.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 12: vs. Cin.): This call hinges entirely on the health of Arian Foster. There’s been talk that Foster is expected to play in week 12, but if he doesn’t, Blue is in line for another big day. Mallett’s willingness to take shots downfield opens up some room to run, and the Bengals already allow the 6th most RB points in the league. If Foster does suit up, you’d probably want to keep Blue on the pine. The Texans haven’t really eased Foster’s workload if he plays, even when nicked up.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 12: @Chi.): Tell me one thing that you’ve seen from the Chicago defense that makes you think they can stop Mike Evans. Go ahead. I’ll wait. The truth is, they haven’t done anything to show that, and Evans has at least 7-100-1 in each of his past 3 games, and while he’s not a lock to hit those marks again this week, the upside is just too immense to sit him.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 12: vs. Dal.): The Cowboys’ defense has been really good against opposing WRs, but it’s been more of a product of their run-first offense and high time of possession. They don’t have anyone who can cover OBJ, and as long as the G-Men can keep the ‘Boys from from holding the ball for 40 minutes, OBJ should be a safe WR2 yet again.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 12: vs. Ten.): The matchup isn’t quite as good as you’d think, but J-Matt will continue to be a safe WR3 as long as Sanchez is under center. He’s topped 100 yards in each of Sanchize’s 2 starts and has 3 TDs to go with those yards. Expect the good times to keep rolling.
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 12: @Phi.): Mett’s going to continue to suffer through some rookie growing pains, but his big arm and porous Philly D should make him an upside QB2 option this week. The Eagles have allowed 287 yards and 2.2 touchdowns per game. If Mett approaches those stats, He’d be a borderline QB1.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 12: @Ind.): Bortles has had an extra week to get ready for the Colts, and their defense isn’t imposing (10th most QB points per game allowed), but he’s still no better than a QB2 option without Allen Robinson. He’s been too turnover prone to trust as a number 1, even with decent matchups.
RBs Isaiah Crowell & Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 12: @Atl.): The Browns’ backfield situation got a little less crowded this week when Ben Tate was waived by the team, but there still isn’t a ton of clarity as to who the starter will be. The plan seems to be to watch and see who practices best and let them start each week. Crowell is the more talented back, but until Sunday we probably won’t know for sure which guy will get the nod. Whichever back starts will be worth a start on your fantasy squad. The Falcons allow the 2nd most fantasy points in the league to opposing RBs, and Josh Gordon’s return should keep them from stacking the box. I’d expect Crowell to start, but check on Sunday. The back that doesn’t start will be a dicey flex play at best.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 12: @Hou.): Gio should be back this week, but Hill has undoubtedly earned a bigger role in the offense going forward. His carries will take a hit this week, which makes him more of a flex option than a safe starter, but if he gets a hot hand the Bengals know they can ride him. Bengals' beat writers expect Hill to continue to see the most carries on the team for the immediate future, but there’s a lot of volatility with Gio back in the mix.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 12: vs. GB): I’d expect Ben Tate to need at least a week to get up to speed on the playbook and be a part of the offense, so McKinnon remains the best bet to see lead back carries for the Vikes. Without a bunch of byes this week, he’s just a borderline option. The game flow is likely to keep him from piling up carries, and he still hasn’t scored his first TD, but his workload keeps him in the flex mix.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 12: @Phi.): Sankey’s role has stabilized over the past few weeks, even as his yards per carry have dipped a bit. He finally scored his 2nd TD of the season last week, but he’ll likely need another TD this week to be considered a successful flex play. I would expect over 60 total yards against a suspect Philly run defense.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 12: vs. NYJ): The Buffalo snow storm couldn’t have come at a worse time for Watkins. He’s coming off back-to-back down games, and this week gets to do battle with the Jets’ awful secondary, which he torched for 3-157-1 the last time he faced them. If weather isn’t a factor, Watkins would be a safe WR2. If things aren’t totally cleaned up by Sunday, it could be a run-heavy football game that will make it really tough for Watkins to blow up the way he could against New York. Pay attention to the field conditions on Sunday.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 12: @Sea.): Larry Fitzgerald is fighting through an MCL sprain, and although he plans to play through it, he will undoubtedly be limited. The Seahawks defense is outstanding against WRs, but the small, quick guys like Brown are the ones that give them trouble. Stanton clearly likes him. Until this past week, every Stanton TD pass was to Brown and he hit him 5 times in the game against the Lions. Expect 4-5 catches and an ok shot at a TD for Brown this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 12: @Den.): Landry is still just fodder for PPR leagues, but as usual he’s in the conversation for WR3 for those leagues. Denver should be playing angry after losing to the Rams, and they won’t take their foot off the gas pedal if they get ahead. That should keep the Dolphins throwing, and should help Landry to pull in at least 5 receptions. He’s more of a WR4 in standard leagues.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 12: @Ind.): Allen Robinson is done for the year, and it was announced this week that Hurns will start with Marqise Lee playing in 3-WR sets. Hurns has put up some blowup games with other Jaguar receivers sidelined, and there’s a chance he does it again this week. He’s very much a boom-or-bust option with Cecil Shorts likely to see a lot more volume, but Hurns’s deep threat skills give him some appeal as a WR3. Lee isn’t worth a play.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 12: @Min.): Adams appeared to be gaining consistency headed into the Packers’ bye week, but he has just 3 catches for 23 yards and a TD in the 2 games since. Aaron Rodgers said he expected Adams to have some chances going into the Philly game, but it didn’t really play out that way. You’d have to be pretty ballsy to play him, but Adams still has some boom-or-bust WR3 appeal. You just get the feeling that Rodgers has to start looking his way sooner or later.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 12: @Chi.): Seferian-Jenkins is an excellent streaming option this week if you’re missing Dwayne Allen, Julius Thomas, Heath Miller or Greg Olsen. The Bears give up a league-worst 12 points per game to opposing tight ends, and ASJ plays on just about every snap for the Bucs. He disappointed last week against the ‘Skins, but the Bucs should be throwing a bunch to keep pace with the Bears’ offense. He’s a low end TE1 option this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 12: vs. GB): Teddy’s likely to be throwing a bunch, but he still has a bit of a low ceiling. He still hasn’t thrown for multiple touchdowns in one game, and although they should be playing from behind, you can’t have any confidence that he’ll do so this week. He’s a dart throw low-end QB2 at best.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 12: vs. KC): The Chiefs’ defense has been stingy during their current 5-game win streak, and there’s no reason to expect that to stop against the winless Raiders. KC has allowed the fewest pass yards per game in the league. Carr isn’t a great option in good matchups. This is a really bad one. The KC defense is an ideal streaming play if they’re available.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 12: @NO): The 49ers and Bengals showed over the past two weeks that the way to win in the Superdome is to run the ball down the Saints’ throats, but there’s no way to know if it’ll be ‘Zo or Pierce who will see primary backup work behind Justin Forsett. Taliaferro is only worth considering for a flex spot if you know he’ll get the number 2 RB work for Baltimore.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 12: vs. StL.): With Ryan Mathews back, Oliver still saw the same 13 carries he handled in the previous 2 contests, but he just hasn’t been doing much with those carries lately. The Rams’ D is stingy vs. running backs, so I’d keep Oliver benched this week. There isn’t enough upside for the risk.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 12: vs. Was.): The ‘Skins do defend the run effectively, and the 49ers have still been using a lot more Gore than Hyde. You can do better than Carlos this week. At best, he’s a roll of the dice for a TD.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 12: vs. Dal.): This is an easy call, but I just wanted to point out that with Jennings back from injury, Williams saw just 3 touches for 6 total yards. Don’t even consider him.
WR Paul Richardson, SEA (Wk. 12: vs. Ari.): There are no changes for Richardson’s outlook this week. He just won’t see enough volume to make an impact, and he should see a lot of Antonio Cromartie this week. It’s just not a good situation for him.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 12: @Buf.): Amaro had a decent number of targets come his way in his last game, but he has just 2 catches for 6 yards and a TD in Vick’s 2 starts. Even with TE being incredibly shallow this year, I wouldn’t bank on much from Amaro this week.
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 12: @NE): The matchup is decent with the Pats allowing 9 points per game to opposing TEs, but the Lions have 3 capable tight ends. Even if the Pats are able to slow down Megatron, I haven’t seen anything that makes me think Ebron will pick up much of that slack. Don’t roll the dice here.
Rookies on Byes: WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR, WR Martavis Bryant, PIT
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 12: @Chi.): He hasn’t overwhelmed since returning from injured reserve, but he seems to have taken the lead back role from Bobby Rainey. The Bucs want to see what they have in Sims, and the Bears’ D is certainly beatable. Sims should be a dart throw flex option in deeper leagues.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN (Wk. 12: vs. Mia.): Ball and Hillman are both out for the next couple of weeks. C.J. Anderson undoubtedly has the lead back role going in, but Thompson is still capable of vulturing a TD or 2. He will at the very least see change of pace work.
WR Cody Latimer, DEN (Wk. 12: vs. Mia.): RB isn’t the only position where the Broncos are banged up. Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both are questionable for next week, and if one or both don’t play, I think this is the week Denver finally unleashes Latimer. If he gets his chance, he could really benefit from Brent Grimes playing on Demaryius Thomas. It’ll be hard to pull the trigger without more official news from the Broncos about his role, but his talent is real and his time may be coming.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 12: vs. Jax.): With Bradshaw out and Allen banged up, Colts may look for a spark from Moncrief. We saw in the first meeting with Jacksonville that the Colts won’t let up when they get a lead, and I could see Moncrief getting some extra snaps. He did catch 4 balls for 55 yards in garbage time in the first meeting, and a similar stat line this time wouldn’t shock me at all.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you win this week. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.