Welcome back to the Rookie Report! As usual, we're coming off a week with plenty of surprises, plenty of injuries, and plenty of storylines. We may have seen the end of Peyton Manning's legendary career. We may have seen the beginning of the end of the Matt Forte era in Chicago. We also saw the Lions miraculously hold on to upset the Packers when GB's own holder blocked Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal try. In terms of the rookie crop, Jeremy Langford and Matt Jones were the heroes, while several others had respectable days as well. Let's take a look at what week 11 should have in store...
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 11: @Bal.): The Ravens have been pretty good against opposing running backs, so this may be a week to fade Gurley in DFS games, but you certainly can't sit him in your year-long leagues. The Ravens have given up more than 81 rush yards to RBs in a game exactly twice this year. In those two games, they were absolutely gashed by Le'Veon Bell and Chris Johnson. Each gained over 120 yards and found the end zone. In their other 7 games, they've given up an average of 69 rushing yards per game and just one rushing score total. Don't be scared off by those numbers. Gurley has been a top-12 fantasy back in each of the past two games in poor on-paper matchups. He is the entire offense, especially with Case Keenum starting now, and he's still an RB1 until further notice.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 11: vs. Den.): The biggest concern for Langford isn't the dangerous Denver defense, it's whether or not Matt Forte plays. If Forte is a go, that likely moves Langford to your bench. He's earned an increased workload when Forte returns, but with the Bears still clinging to their slim playoff hopes, I'd expect Forte to see the majority of touches if active. If Forte is out, however, I'd be willing to trust Langford again. The Broncos have been incredible against the pass, but there have been cracks in that defense against the run. Charcandrick West just put up a monster game against Denver on Sunday, and the Colts' RBs put up 21 fantasy points (ESPN standard scoring) on Denver the week before. Langford has been on an absolute roll, and he should be the focal point of the offense with Alshon doing battle with Aqib Talib on the outside. Langford should easily return RB2 value.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 11: @Det.): Amari's upside is impossible to sit this week. He also should be due for a TD this week if you buy into the whole 'he alternates games with and without a TD' thing. The Lions' pass defense has looked a little bit improved the past 2 weeks, allowing 27 total fantasy points to the Packers' and Chiefs' WRs in those weeks. They had allowed 26.2/per game in the previous 5 games. The Lions have had a better pass DVOA (Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average statistic, which measures defensive efficiency) against number 1 receivers than against number 2 guys, but they've been really burnable at home under the Ford Field roof. They've allowed at least 25 WR fantasy points in all 4 of their games there. Cooper should be fine this week, and is a safe WR2/3 in MoTown.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 11: vs. GB): Diggs has shown his floor over the past two weeks, putting up lines of 3-42 and 2-46 with 10 rush yards. That is still a usable floor in deeper leagues, but you're typically looking for more from a starter. I expect the Vikings to have to throw a bit more this week, and Diggs should be noticeably more productive as a result. The Packers are one of the bottom-5 defenses in the league in pass DVOA against number 1 WRs. The floor remains 4-5 points in standard leagues, but I expect him to come in a bit closer to his ceiling this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): Mariota goes from a dream matchup to a nightmare matchup, then back into the dream. The Jaguars have allowed 10 TD passes in their last 4 games to Hoyer, Tyrod, FitzMagic and Flacco after allowing 7 TDs in the first 5 games. Mariota's weapons will be limited with Justin Hunter done for the year and Kendall Wright likely out again, but Mariota will have QB1 upside with a pretty decent floor. The Jaguars have allowed 8 straight QBs to put up 15 or more fantasy points on them. It also appears that interim coach Mularkey is willing to let Mariota use his legs a bit, scheming in a few designed runs in week 10. That development only increases Mariota's value. He's a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 this week with upside for more.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 11: @Phi.): The Eagles are 5th in the NFL with 12 interceptions, and Jameis has thrown 9 INTs 9 games and hasn't thrown a TD pass in the past 2 weeks. He has, however, kept his floor reasonable by scoring on the ground in 3 straight games. That floor should hold steady this week as Mike Evans should have his way with the Eagles' secondary. Philadelphia is the 3rd best team in the league in overall pass DVOA, but they are 31st in that stat against WR1s. They allow 100 yards per game to the top opposing WRs, and Evans has topped 125 in 3 of his last 4 games. Another big day from Evans should keep Jameis in the mid-to-high QB2 range even if he throws a pick or 2.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 11: @NE): Williams continues to defy the odds. His TD streak rolled on last week in a brutal matchup, and it's getting hard to bet against him doing it again. The Patriots run defense has allowed just 133 rushing yards total to RBs over the past 3 games, and Karlos will likely see about 6-10 touches in this game making him unlikely to find the end zone again this week. With that said, his results each week have defied logic. I mean, he has exactly 1 carry on the season from inside the opponent's 5-yard line, yet he's scored 7 TDs (5 rushing) in 6 games. He's sustaining the unsustainable. Feel free to trot him out there again if you want to roll the dice on him finding the end zone for a 7th straight game. Just know there's plenty of risk built in.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): Justin Hunter has a fractured ankle and Kendall Wright is looks to be out again this week as well. That forces DGB into a starting role this week. His targets and production have been inconsistent so far, but his upside and the volume he's likely to see this week make him a WR3 option. Jacksonville has allowed 7 WR TDs in the past 4 games, and the only recievers who have logged a snap this year the Titans have healthy are Green-Beckham and Harry Douglas. I like DGB's chances of finding paydirt in a decent matchup.
Rookies to Sit:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 11: vs. Ten.): Yeldon was in a walking boot on Monday and was listed as questionable for this week. He shed the walking boot on Tuesday and said he expects to play despite the short week. Even if he does play Thursday, he's at best a low-upside flex option. The Titans' defense has really been coming together lately, and has allowed just 1 total RB touchdown in the past 4 games to go with just 71 rush yards per game in the past 3. The volume is still likely to be there for TJ, but I wouldn't expect more than 50-60 scoreless yards. Anything extra would be gravy.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 11: vs. KC): Hopefully you aren't forced to play Gordon this week. The Chiefs have been strong against opposing RBs and Woodhead has consistently been the better fantasy back. If you throw out the one outlier game for the Chiefs' defense where the Bengals rushed for 4 TDs against them, KC has allowed just 10.4 RB points per game, which would be the best in the NFL. Considering Gordon hasn't topped 9 points all year or 5 points in the past 4 games, it's hard to expect much from Melvin this week.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 11: vs. Oak.): The Raiders' once stout RB defense has been crumbling lately. They've allowed 373 rushing yards and 3 TDs to opposing RBs in the past 2 games (mostly to Adrian Peterson and D'Angelo Williams), and they just lost Aldon Smith to suspension. The Smith news hurts their pass rush more than the run D, but it's a blow to the overall defense. None of that will matter against the Lions' rushing "attack." Detroit runs for just 67 yards a game, and Ameer Abdullah has just 6 carries in 2 games under new OC Jim Bob Cooter. There's no reason to play him this week.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 11: @Car.): Jones exploded last week, but don't chase last week's points here. There were actually some negative signs on Sunday as Alfred Morris out-touched Jones 18-14 and Jones played his lowest share of snaps in several weeks. There could be more strong weeks for Jones down the stretch, but this one probably won't be one of them. The Carolina RB defense has been much better since the return of inside linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Panthers allowed 67 fantasy points to RBs in the 3 games he missed, and just 83 in the 6 games he's played (a 9 points per game improvement). Add in that Washington figures to be playing from behind as a 7-point underdog, and it likely sets up for more Chris Thompson snaps. I'd avoid playing Jones this week.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): Cobb was a healthy scratch in his first game after being activated from the IR, but Antonio Andrews might have done as much to help Cobb's playing time hopes as he could have done himself. Andrews rushed 11 times for 8 yards, reminding us that 'workhorse' is a title that likely shouldn't be associated with him. Cobb isn't a startable option this week, but if Andrews continues to struggle going forward, it will help Cobb see some touches sooner than later. He remains a deep league and dynasty stash.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 11: vs. Cin.): Johnson is nearing the point where I almost don't have to mention him. He scored in double-digits in 4 of his first 5 games, but he's been a non-factor of late. He's scored just 5 points total in the past 4 games, and this week's big game with the Bengals isn't a spot where I'd expect that to change. He's firmly planted behind CJ2K and Ellington.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 11: @Car.): Crowder's decent PPR floor has remained in tact with DeSean Jackson back in action, and he even scored a TD in week 10, but this week could be a struggle. Panthers' slot corner Bene Benwikere has been struggling a bit lately, but seemed to get back on track against the Titans last week, and the Panthers are in the top-5 in the league in pass DVOA against non WR1 & 2's. Crowder has put up at least 4 catches and 40 yards in 7 straight games, and he might get to those numbers again, but I don't see upside for much more this week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 11: vs. SF): Feel free to consider Lockett if return yardage is counted in your league, but if they aren't, Lockett showed a scary low floor Sunday with just one catch for 7 yards. He did post his best game of the season against these 49ers (5-79-1), and he could be a DFS tournament punt play, but he shouldn't be in your regular fantasy lineups this week.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 11: vs. StL.): Don't chase last week's 4-40-1 line from Maxx. The Rams are a much stiffer defense than Jacksonville. The Rams have been beaten up by Jimmy Graham, Gary Barnidge, and the suddenly red hot Zach Miller, but in their other 6 games they allowed just 21 total TE points and zero touchdowns. Maxx is still running behind Crockett Gillmore. He's just a dynasty stash at this point.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 11: vs. SF): Lynch has been battling through injuries all season, and the Seahawks are a 12-point favorite in this matchup. There is blowout potential here with the Seahawks desperate for a win. This could be a prime spot to get Lynch some rest if Seattle is able to get up by a couple scores early. They're going to need a healthy Marshawn down the stretch if they really want to mount a playoff push. With that in mind, there is a good chance for some extra Rawls work. In the first go-round, Lynch put up 122 yards on the 49ers and Rawls tallied 32 on 6 carries, and that game was closer than some expected (20-3 final). It's always risky to play someone in the hopes of a blowout, but this game sets up to be a decent spot for Rawls at least on paper.
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (Wk. 11: vs. Dal.): Ajayi has been really solid in his first two pro games, putting up 89 yards on just 11 carries. He's become a great handcuff option for Lamar Miller owners, and could have his best game yet this week if he gets even a minor bump in touches. The Cowboys are in the bottom-6 in the NFL in run DVOA. The biggest hurdle to seeing increased work for Ajayi is the return of Tony Romo. If Romo is able to sustain drives more effectively than Matt Cassel was, Dallas can get back to the formula they used last year and control time of possession. That would limit the Dolphins' offensive opportunities, and Ajayi's as well. I'd expect there to be a little rust for Romo in his first game back though.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 11: vs. TB): Mark Sanchez showed the ability to produce in this offense during an 8-game stretch as starter last season, and the Bucs haven't been good against opposing WRs. They've allowed over 200 yards to opposing WRs 5 times in 9 games. Agholor finally returned last week and matched his season high with 3 catches on 4 targets. He did that while running behind Josh Huff on the depth chart. I'd expect him to get back into the starting lineup before long. He did only catch one pass from Sanchez in week 10, but he was targeted on a downfield throw by him as well. Helping Nelson's outlook even more is the fact that the Bucs have struggled more with true outside WRs (Julio, Hurns, A-Rob, Odell, Rueben Randle, DeAndre Hopkins) than with slot guys, and Jordan Matthews spends most of his time in the slot. I expect Agholor to set a new career high in catches and possibly get loose for a deep catch.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 11: vs. Was.): Funchess is in pretty much the same boat he was in heading into week 10. His play has been improving over the past couple weeks, but his snaps and target volume are very limited. He made 2 nice catches for 41 yards in week 10 after a 3-71-1 line in week 9, and he gets another plus matchup this week. If the improved play continues, his role should continue to grow. He'll be a TD dart throw this week and a DFS tournament punt play. He'd be a better option for FanDuel than DraftKings since DK is a full PPR scoring system, and his catch number will likely be low.
WR Tre McBride, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): McBride will be active for the first time in his career this week, and he'll step right into the number 3 WR spot in a game against a bad pass defense. Harry Douglas has been wildly inefficient with his targets this year except for week 9, when he went 5-73 against the worst pass defense in the NFL (New Orleans). If Douglas struggles with his efficiency again early on Sunday, it could lead to increased looks for McBride.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 11: @Det.): Walford is a better than average TD dart throw again this week. He's scored in 3 of his last 4 games, and the Lions have allowed a TE touchdown in 7 of their 9 games this year (8 total TDs). No other Oakland tight end has scored a touchdown this season, so if one of them is going to score this week, it's very likely that it's Walford.
That's all I've got this week. Hopefully it helps with some tough lineup decisions this week involving rookies. Make sure and fit the suggestions to your roster and your league format, and feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have any questions or just want to yell at me about something (@shawn_foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.