Welcome back to the Rookie Report! This season seems to get stranger by the week. What’s wrong with the Seahawks? What exactly constitutes a catch? Can the Saints get back in the NFC playoff picture? Is someone going to go undefeated?...I’m not going to talk about any of these things. Instead, I’ll dive into the breakout week of Stefon Diggs, the continued disappearing act of Melvin Gordon, and the health status of Matt Jones, TJ Yeldon, and Marcus Mariota, and also what you should do with your rookies for week 7. Let’s dig in….
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 7: vs. Cle.): Gurley is the only rookie I can confidently recommend starting this week. He was a terror on opposing defenses for the last 2 games before the bye, and now he gets to face a Browns team that has allowed an NFL-high 789 rush yards to opposing RBs and the 4th most fantasy points per game to the position. Gurley will get the rock a ton, and has easy RB1 upside in a plus-plus matchup. Get him in there this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 7: vs. Atl.): Mariota is confident that he will play this week, but I’m not. If he does suit up, I think he’s due for a bit of a turnaround game. The Falcons have allowed just a 7:6 TD:INT ratio for the season, but they’ve also allowed over a 65% completion percentage and over 295 passing yards per game on the season. I think he’ll find some success throwing against a Falcons’ team that hasn’t been quite as good as their 5-1 record would make you think. He should be a decent QB2 option if he plays, and a sleeper QB1 in really deep leagues. Several starting QBs have tough matchups or byes this week (Rodgers, Bradford, Dalton, Bortles, McCown, Kaep). I know they aren’t all big names, but all have been productive at points this year.
RB Melvin Gordon, OAK (Wk. 7: vs. Oak.): I'd lean toward sitting Gordon this week after he was benched for fumbling last week. He failed to break out against two bad run defenses in Cleveland and Green Bay this year, and this week he gets a decent one. The Raiders have allowed just 3 RB TDs all year, and 14.2 fantasy points per game. I'd expect the Chargers to go back to Gordon this week despite the benching, but there might not be much upside.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 7: @StL.): Duke remains an intriguing PPR option. The Rams have a strong defensive front vs. the run, but they've averaged giving up 6 catches and 55 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs. Johnson will remain very involved in the game plan and could be a really solid PPR flex play once again.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 7: vs. TB): Keep an eye on Jones's health this week. This could be the most positive game script Jones has seen in weeks. Washington is a 3-point favorite, and Tampa is allowing 105 RB rush yards per game and have give up 4 rushing TDs. I think Washington will actually be able to establish the ground game this week, and I like Jones better than Alfred Morris as long as he's able to play.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 7: @SD): You are likely playing Cooper if you have him, but this is not a week to run him out there in DFS. He saw just 4 targets in a tough matchup with the Broncos before the bye, and this week he gets to tangle with Jason Verrett, who has yet to allow more than 2 completions in any game on passes thrown into his coverage. Number one receivers Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Randall Cobb, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown have all failed to record 50 rec. yards and none had more than 3 catches against San Diego. That isn’t a fluke. I wouldn’t be optimistic for Amari in week 7.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 7: @Det.): Diggs has done enough to warrant more work over the past 2 games. He may have surpassed Charles Johnson on the depth chart while CJ's been out with a rib injury. The Vikings' offense centers around AP running it, so the volume won't be consistent for Diggs, but the matchup this week is juicy. The Lions allow 15 catches and over 200 yards per week to WRs, and Diggs has been the most effective Viking WR this season. He's a better play if Johnson is out again, but still in the WR3 discussion even if Johnson plays.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 7: vs. TB): DeSean Jackson is unlikely to play again this week, and Crowder has seen at least 6 targets in 4 straight games, and at least 8 in 3 straight. Jordan Reed seems likely to play this week, which could cut into Crowder's targets, but I'd still expect him to be good for at least 5 catches and is a decent PPR WR3 option. The Bucs allow the 5th most WR fantasy points per gm.
Rookies to Sit:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 7: vs. Buf.): You might not have any better options with how thin the RB position has been this year, but this week doesn't set up well for TJ. He might not even play due to injury, and if he does play, he might be competing for touches with the now healthy Denard Robinson. Yeldon hasn't been very efficient with a lot of volume, and this week's matchup is tougher than it looks on paper. The Bills are middle of the road vs. opposing RBs, but they've held the opposition under 50 RB rush yards 3 times in 6 games. The Jaguars might make it 4 of 7. I'd steer clear of Yeldon if you can.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 7: vs. Bal.): Johnson finally showed what should happen when you only get 4 touches in a game. He had been scoring touchdowns weekly with very few touches, and this week it finally caught up with him as he turned his 4 touches into 17 scoreless yards. The Ravens have been stingy to opposing RBs, allowing just 14 ppg to them each week, and DJ still is fighting with CJ2K and Ellington for touches.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 7: @Ten.): The matchup is better for Coleman than it looks on paper, but unless something happens to Devonta Freeman, the workload won’t be large enough for Coleman to be worth playing him. He did manage 40 yards on 4 carries last week, and he’s got home run potential, but to bank on him producing with single-digit touches would be a desperation play. Leave him benched.
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 7: @SF): Rawls got just one carry last week with Marshawn back at full strength. He’d be a threat to get more work if the Seahawks blow this game open, but the 49ers have been playing well in primetime games (win over MIN and last minute loss to NYG) and the Seahawks haven’t looked like themselves, blowing 4th quarter leads in all 4 of their losses this year. Don’t look for much work for Rawls in this one.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 7: @Jax.): It's unlikely that Williams plays yet again as he battles back from a concussion, and Shady McCoy re-established himself in week 6 with a big game. If Karlos is able to go, he'll likely see just a few change of pace carries unless it's a blowout, making him a TD dice roll. It's not a gamble I'd want to take. Editor's Note: Karlos Williams was removed from this list, since he didn't make the trip to London with his team.
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (Wk. 7: @Ari.): This is a tough matchup, and Forsett has emerged as the workhorse in the Ravens’ backfield again since Taliaferro went on the IR. Forsett has had 24 or more touches in each of the last 3 games while Allen has totaled 18 touches. Allen needs a Forsett injury to be relevant in most leagues.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 7: @Car.): Agholor should be back from injury this week, but he gets a brutal matchup in the return. If he plays, he will likely see a bunch of Carolina’s top CB Josh Norman, who has been one of the league’s top cover guys thus far in 2015. Agholor hasn’t been lighting up the stat sheet in plus matchups. Why play him in a really bad one?
WR Devin Smith, NYJ (Wk. 7: @NE): After his inefficient performances in his first two games, Smith ran behind fellow rookie Quincy Enunwa in week 6 and saw zero targets. He’ll have to work his way back up to be an option in any leagues. Enunwa is also not worth starting this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 7: vs. Phi.): His volume increased in week 6, seeing a season-high 6 targets last week, but he did drop a couple of them and tallied just 2 catches. Until he develops some consistency, his targets won't increase much. Keep him sidelined again this week.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 7: vs. Hou.): Parker had zero targets in the Dolphins’ first game under interim coach Dan Campbell. I wouldn’t expect much to change for him this week in a tougher matchup.
WRs Keith Mumphery and Jaelen Strong, HOU (Wk. 7: @Mia.): With Cecil Shorts back last week, Mumph and Strong combined for just 5 targets against the Jaguars. They had twice that many with Shorts and Nate Washington both out the week before. Shorts will be out again this week, but Washington is expected back. With DeAndre Hopkins soaking up all the targets he can handle, there isn’t enough to go around to the 3rd and 4th WRs in the pecking order, even in a plus matchup.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 7: @Ari.): With Crockett Gillmore back from injury, Williams is an afterthought in the pass game. He has just 5 catches for 24 yards in the past 2 weeks. Leave him sitting.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 7: @Was.): Jameis's transition to the NFL hasn't exactly been smooth, but he may have some sneaky upside this week against a Washington defense that has allowed a 9:3 TD:INT ratio in 6 games. They've allowed less than 240 pass yards per game, but they haven't played with a ton of leads and teams aren't throwing on them late very often. There won't be many DBs in this matchup that can cover V-Jax or Mike Evans, and ASJ may return as well. This could be a good week to take a chance on Winston in a 2 QB league or as a DFS punt option.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 7: vs. Min.): I think this is the week that the Lions get the run game going. It might be Joique Bell, it might be Abdullah. Ameer has had issues with fumbles this season, but the Lions did put him back in the game late vs. the Bears. For the season, the Vikings have allowed the 7th fewest points to opposing RBs, but that doesn't tell the whole story. At home, Minnesota has given up just 153 rush yards and zero TDs to RBS, but on the road they've allowed 335 yards and 3 TDs in 2 games, as well as 4.5 yards per rush on the season. I have a hunch that either Abdullah or Bell has a nice game, I'm just not sure which one.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 7: @SF): San Francisco gives up heaps of fantasy points to opposing WRs, and the Seahawks don't have a WR who stands out as the obvious guy who will score them. That makes Lockett an interesting really cheap DFS option. He's always a threat to score a return TD, and someone on this team will score some points. Why not Lockett? Don't read much into the 2 targets he had last week. No Seahawk WR had more than 4 in that game, and Lockett had 5 in each of the two games before that. Is that a lot of volume? No, but if he gets 5 targets and takes a kick or punt to the house? DFS Gold.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some tough lineup decisions with some big bye weeks upon us. Feel free to hit me up on twitter if you want to say nice things or call me an idiot (@shawn_foss). As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.