Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Two weeks are in the books (and a Thursday night game), and week 2 was a quiet one for most rookies, but the trio of Matt Jones, Amari Cooper and David Johnson certainly made some noise with monster days. I was particularly impressed by Cooper. I'd like to give a quick shout out to the Reddit user who called me out for thinking Jimmy Smith could slow down the rookie. Cooper dusted him on a long TD early on. With week 2 in the past, let's move on to what to do with the rookies for week 3:
Rookies to Start:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 3: @NE): Game script might not work in Yeldon's favor with the Pats a 2 TD favorite, but volume and the defensive matchup should be in his favor. With both Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart dinged up, Yeldon should be on the field for a vast majority of the snaps, and New England has allowed a staggering 5.7 yards per carry this season and also 147 rush yards per game and 3 TDs in 2 weeks. I'm not saying Yeldon will break the century mark, but his volume will give him a high floor and make him a deent RB2 option. His upside may be limited by the game script as well.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 3: @Cle.): After last week, it's hard to doubt Cooper should pretty much be an every week start. Last week's stat line won't be the norm, but he should have a WR3 floor just about every week purely based on volume. Like Jimmy Smith last week, Joe Haden isn't a reason to be scared. The Browns play sides at CB rather than shadowing, and Oakland should move Cooper around so he doesn't only face Haden. Feel safe firing him up again.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): Mariota still posted a decent stat line in a loss to the Browns last week, and this week gets a defense that may be missing all of its top 4 CBs. Mariota has already showed that he doesn't need to use his legs to put up fantasy points, and thus far the Colts have allowed a 104.2 QB rating to Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick. They also don't generate a ton of pass rush, with just one sack so far on the season. Getting Delanie Walker back can only help Mariota, and he should be decent start in 2-QB leagues, and worth consideration in deeper 1-QB leagues.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 3: @Min.): The Vikings were gashed by Carlos Hyde in week 1, and then held Detroit to under 2.5 yards per carry in week 2. The reality likely falls somewhere in between. Gordon has been impressive in limited work so far, and should see similar volume this week. To really maximize his value, he'll have to find the end zone though. The Vikings are yet to allow a carry of 20+ yards on the year, and Gordon has zero red zone carries through 2 weeks. Gordon is more flex option than RB2 at this point.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 3: vs. SF): CJ?K is still the 'lead dog' according to head coach Bruce Arians, but David's done enough with the work he has gotten to warrant more of it coming his way. Arians has said as much, stating that David's role will increase as the season goes on. With Andre Ellington still out, Johnson is an upside Flex option this week, but he does have a low floor. He gets a boost in return yardage leagues.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 3: vs. Pit.): For the most part, I'd avoid playing Gurley. There has been a lot of talk about him being on a 'pitch count' and will likely see just 10-12 touches assuming he plays. He is a top-shelf talent, however, and that means there is a chance he gets hot and sees some additional carries. With several guys in doubt this week (Ivory, Lacy, Marshawn), Gurley has more upside as a fill-in than most of the alternatives. I've got him ready to go in the league I own him if Ivory sits.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 3: vs. Oak.): The Raiders are among the worst in the league vs. RBs in terms of fantasy points allowed, and while Isaiah Crowell has been more effective than Johnson thus far, Johnson will continue to see a decent amount of touches as the number 2 back. At some point, I would think they will have to start using him in the passing game, which is a specialty of his, but he hasn't been targeted once so far. The upside is likely limited for Duke, but he could have a solid day if they finally start throwing it to him.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 3: @NYG): I know, Jones has already played in week 3. I posted an update on Jones on twitter on Thursday afternoon (@shawn_foss). Here is what I posted: "You cant's chase last week's points vs. the Rams. Alfred Morris could see a bigger share of the work this week, especially on the short week. There is one caveat to this though: The Giants have allowed 20 RB fantasy points per game, 7th most in the NFL, and nearly half of them have come in the receiving game. Alfred Morris is essentially a zero in the pass attack, so there is definitely upside for a nice fantasy day from Jones." How did things turn out? Jones actually did continue to play ahead of Alfred Morris and saw 11 carries to Alf's 6. Unfortunately he did fumble going into the end zone, and Chris Thompson saw the receiving back work (8 rec, 57 yds, TD). There will be better weeks for Jones, and the fact that he got more early down work than Morris is a good sign.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 3: @Hou.): Game script should keep Tampa from becoming too pass-happy in this one. It projects as a low-scoring affair, with two mediocre offenses, and Houston may be the best defense Winston has faced yet. They at least aren't as bad as their numbers vs. opposing QBs have been, and I think JJ Watt and company could make life miserable for Winston. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a hard time putting up much more than 10 fantasy points in standard leagues.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 3: vs. Den.): Abdullah does his best work in space, and the Broncos don't allow much space, especially in the screen game. They have held opposing RBs to under 4 yards per catch (including 4 catches for 2 yards by Jamaal Charles), and it also doesn't help Ameer that Theo Riddick has had a bigger role than expected. I would be surprised if Abdullah finds his way to 50 yards in this one.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 3: @Mia.): At this point, Williams has a TD run in each game, but that won't be sustainable on the types of workloads he's seeing. For now, he's a handcuff for LeSean McCoy and a TD dart throw each week. He's not a stand-alone option this week.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 3: @NYJ): Until his production starts to spike, it's hard to trust Agholor in fantasy. It doesn't help that he may draw Darrelle Revis for much of the game in this one. The Jets have been content to let Buster Skrine cover the slot, where Jordan Matthews does most of his work. The tough matchup and limited production thus far make Agholor a poor option this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 3: vs. NO): I have a hunch that Funchess has his best game as a pro and scores his first career TD, but through 2 games he has just 2 catches for 24 yards. I'd be crazy to tell you to start him. I'd have to see his role increase before he's a realistic option.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 3: vs. Buf.): Parker's snaps increased a little bit in week 2, but he put up just one catch for 3 yards. Rishard Matthews has unexpectedly emerged as the number 2 WR over Parker, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, and until Parker's role increases he has to remain on the bench.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): DGB did score his first career TD in week 2, showing that the Titans do recognize what a tough matchup he can be in the red zone, but his usage still isn't where it needs to be for him to be a startable option. A bigger role is coming eventually, especially with the inefficient play of Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter ahead of him. It's just a matter of when.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 3: vs. Cin.): Crockett Gillmore made a big week 2 impact, and despite the Ravens throwing a ton, Williams still strugged to carve out a role in the passing attack, catching just 1 of the 32 Flacco completions. He's best left on the wire outside of dynasty leagues.
Deep League Sleepers & Cheap DFS Options:
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 3: vs. Chi.): Lynch is a game-time decision, and in a deeper league it would make a lot of sense to scoop Rawls just in case. The Bears defense has been bad at all levels, and Fred Jackson is unlikely to be an every down option if Lynch does sit. Remember, the Seahawks liked Rawls enough to trade away Christine Michael, and Robert Turbin is out again this week. I like Rawls a lot when you factor in that the Seahawks are a 2 TD favorite. If they get ahead big, they're more likely to run Rawls than risk an F-Jax injury in garbage time. Jackson is the one who has a role when Lynch is healthy. I think a 75-yard day is very possible if Lynch is out.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 3: vs. Chi.): I still think Lockett has a big game coming, and why not against the pathetic Bears' defense? Lockett had just 2 catches for 17 yards last week, but was on the field for 32 out of Seattle's 60 offensive snaps. As always, Lockett is worth more in leagues where return yardage matters, but I think he's got a sneaky amount of upside this week as a cheaper DFS option.
WR Ty Montgomery, GB (Wk. 3: vs. KC): Top CB Sean Smith is still out with suspension for the Chiefs, and Montgomery factored into the offense last week with 4 catches against the Seahawks on Sunday night. With Cobb lining up in the slot, there's a chance Montgomery gets to square off with Jamell Fleming on the outside, and Fleming has been burned regularly so far this season. It's sort of a shot in the dark play with Cobb, Adams and James Jones around, but he's already shown he can be a factor.
WR Devin Smith, NYJ (Wk. 3: vs. Phi.): Smith appears to be on track to play this week, and Eric Decker appears to be on track to not play. Coach Todd Bowles says it's not an injury issue at this point, it's just about getting Smith up to speed with his conditioning and the playbook. Smith's best skill is the deep ball, and Philly has allowed 7 completions of 20 or more yards and 2 of 40 or more in two weeks. Smith will likely be a boom-or-bust option this week if Decker sits. Another Jets rookie to keep an eye on though...
WR Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (Wk. 3: vs. Phi.): He's averaged 28 snaps per game in the first two and could also see an increased role if Decker sits. Enunwa would be safer and have a higher floor than Smith, but might not have the home run play upside. He's not a bad lottery ticket type of option in DFS.
That's it for this week. Hopefully it can help with some of your tougher lineup decisions or injury concerns. Feel free to hit me up on twitter with any rookie questions (handle listed above). As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.