Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We're 7 weeks in, and there are an NFL record FIVE unbeaten teams remaining entering week 8...hopefully your fantasy team is in the same kind of shape as the Panthers, Broncos, Bengals, Pariots and Packers. I was right on a few rookies last week (Diggs, Gurley, Lockett, Jameis, Gordon), and wrong on a couple others (Amari, Yeldon). I've learned to stop doubting Cooper at this point. Twice this season I've felt like the matchup wasn't in his favor (against Baltimore and against San Diego), and those have been his two best games of the year. This past week was especially impressive. A lot of elite receivers have struggled with Jason Verrett and the Chargers. With last week in the books, let's move on to week 8...
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 8: vs. SF): Gurley continued his domination tour last week, and you really can't sit him right now with how well he's running. If you need any deeper reasoning...the 49ers allow the 7th most points to opposing running backs and were shredded for 156 yards and a TD by a physical Seahawks run game in week 7. Teams who have committed to the run against the 49ers have had success, and you know the Rams will be committed to it. Gurley has RB1 upside again this week.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 8: vs. NYJ): As I said in the intro, I'm done doubting Amari. The matchup again isn't great, not as bad as you'd think on paper, but Cooper should still see some Darrelle Revis coverage. With that said, Cooper has come through in tough matchups this year and can't be benched unless you have 3 stud WRs to play over him.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 8: @Chi.): Can Diggs make it 3 big games in a row? I'm guessing he can. He's clearly moved ahead of Charles Johnson on the depth chart, and the Bears give up more WR points than any team not named 'Chiefs' or 'Ravens.' The Bears have allowed 3 or more WR touchdowns in 3 of their 6 games this season. Diggs is a really good bet to find the end zone again this week, and is the best WR on the Vikings right now. He's a borderline WR2/3 this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 8: @Hou.): This is an interesting matchup for Mariota. On the season, the Texans' defense has been better against QBs at home than on the road (16.7 fantasy points per game allowed at home vs. 21.8 on the road), but they've been especially bad overall the last two weeks, allowing 627 yards and 7 TDs combined to Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill. There is also the question of where this team is mentally after losing Arian Foster for the season in an embarrassing loss in which they trailed 41-0 at one point. It looks like Marcus will be able to play this week, and if he does, he could shred the Texans. He's worth consideration as a high-end QB2 or as a streamer if your QB is on a bye.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 8: @Bal.): Last week was a rough one for Gordon owners. It looked like his benching from week 6 carried over into week 7, but the fact that he got on the field as they tried to mount a furious rally to get back in the game hopefully means he'll be back out there this week. Unfortunately, he has limited upside this week in a matchup that should favor the pass game. The Ravens have allowed just 3 RB rushing scores this year and only 2 100-yard rushers despite playing from behind several weeks during their 1-6 start. I'd think long and hard before trusting Gordon as anything more than a deep league flex this week.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. Ari.): This is another tough matchup for Duke, but he's been producing lately in tough matchups. In the last 3 weeks, Johnson has faced the Ravens, Broncos and Rams, and he's averaged 5.3 catches and 74.3 scrimmage yards per game, and had at least 8 PPR points in each game. Over his last 5 contests, he's tallied at least 6 catches in 4 of them, and the Cardinals have allowed 46 RB receptions on the season. only the Falcons have allowed more than 48 on the season. Duke should be a decent PPR flex option once again despite facing a top-7 RB defense.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 8: @Atl.): The Falcons have been the 5th best defense in the NFL against opposing QBs, but that ranking doesn't tell the whole story. Atlanta has allowed a robust 280 passing yards per game, but they've limited opposing signal-callers to an 8-8 TD:INT ratio in 7 games. Winston has already shown that he's going to throw some picks this year, but with the weapons he has, a multiple TD game isn't out of the question. I wouldn't dare start him in a one QB league (I'd rather start the Atlanta defense), but he should be a low-end QB2 this week with some upside.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 8: @KC): Nothing I've seen from Abdullah would make me feel good about playing him this week. Abdullah has yet to rush for more than 50 yards in a game, and his passing down work is now going to Theo Riddick and even Joique Bell, who had 3 catches last week to Abdullah's zero. While the Chiefs have been bad against opposing WRs, they've done a much better job limiting opposing RBs, ranking in the top-10 against the position. With Joique back in action, the backfield situation is just too muddled to roll Abdullah out there this week. Add in a new offensive coordinator and there is even less clarity on what to expect this week.
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 8: @Dal.): As mentioned last week, with Lynch back at full strength, there isn't enough volume to go around for Rawls to be start-able. He did see more work in week 7 than the 1 carry he got in week 6 (6 car. for 32 yds, 2 catches for 9 yds), but 9 touches aren't enough to rely on Rawls in season-long leagues. The Cowboys are bad at stopping opposing RBs, but you should have better options on the roster.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 8: vs. TB): Much like Rawls, there isn't enough volume to trust Coleman. With the emergence of Devonta Freeman, Coleman hasn't had more than 4 touches in a game since returning from his rib injury. He's purely a handcuff for Freeman in re-draft leagues at this point, and in Dynasty you almost have to hope he changes teams at some point. The Freeman breakout is for real.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 8: @Dal.): On the road against a bad run defense, expect heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch in this game. Lockett had a really nice game last week with his first receiving touchdown, but I have a feeling it's someone else's turn this week. The Seahawks employ a WR-by-committee approach, and Doug Baldwin, Ricardo Lockette and Jermaine Kearse are just as likely as Tyler to make an impact. I'd avoid Lockett (no E) this week.
WR Ty Montgomery, GB (Wk. 8: @Den.): With a season-high of just 59 receiving yards, Montgomery has needed to find the end zone to have productive weeks. Denver has allowed just one WR touchdown all season long. While having Aaron Rodgers as your QB gives you a better chance than most, Montgomery is still not a good bet to score a TD this week. He is also battling a high ankle sprain suffered before the bye week.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 8: @Hou.): This would be a prime week for the Titans to get DGB going. It would be, if Coach Whiz had any interest in getting him involved. Whisenhunt stated this week that he's in no hurry to increase the rookie's workload, and as such, you can't start Dorial until you see his target count start to come up.
WR Chris Conley, KC (Wk. 8: vs. Det.): Conley had a really nice game in week 7, pulling in 6 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown starting in place of the injured Jeremy Maclin, but Maclin is almost certain to be back this week. That means Conley goes back to the bench. The Lions are a juicy matchup for WRs, but in the 4 games prior to week 7, Conley averaged 1.75 catches and 23 yards per contest. At 6-3, he's the big receiver the Chiefs sorely need, so his future is bright. He should be rostered in dynasty formats and should pass Albert Wilson on the depth chart by the start of next season.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 8: @Cle.): I can't recommend starting Johnson in season-long leagues this week since he's really only promised a handful of touches, but he could be an interesting punt play in DFS tournaments. We've seen him be very productive with limited touches earlier in the season, and while that has proven unsustainable, this matchup is the perfect one for him to strike again. The Browns allow the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing RBs in the league.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 8: vs. Ind.): Much like Johnson, this doesn't mean you can start him in season-long leagues. He's still yet to eclipse 2 catches in a game and is working behind Ted Ginn and Philly Brown. Despite that, I think there is some upside here for Funchess as a DFS punt play (again, like David Johnson). The Colts' defense has been shoddy against opposing WRs, allowing them 9 TDs in 7 games, and over 150 yards in 6 of those 7 games. He's still a long shot, but if Carolina gets in close, Ginn and Brown simply aren't the matchup problem Funchess is. There is legitimate TD potential for Funchess here.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 8: vs. NYJ): Walford is not startable yet in season-long leagues, but I wanted to mention him as a dynasty league add if he's available. He's made a couple of big plays in the last two weeks and put up a 3-75-1 line in those two contests. He should be passing Mychal Rivera on the depth chart soon, and Derek Carr really likes him. Carr said before last week's game that he thinks Walford has a chance to be a 'special' player in this league. That kind of praise is worth a dynasty roster spot.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you set the lineup this week. Always make sure to fit these suggestions to your league rules and your roster, and feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have any questions or just want to yell at me (@shawn_foss). As always...Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.