Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully the byes weren't an issue for you in week 8, but chances are if they weren't they likely are this week with another 6 teams off. There have been a lot of injuries piling up too, so you may be digging a little deep to find fill-ins to get by. Guys like Jacquizz Rodgers, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jamison Crowder, and Devontae Booker have proven useful in recent weeks, and believe me...there will be more unexpected contributors before the season is out. Let's take a look at this week's rookie matchups, and see if there might be a few of them who could fit that bill in week 9...
Rookies to Start:
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Dak's been rolling and faces one of the best matchups he'll see all year. The Jets were the first team all season to throw for fewer than 2 TDs against the Browns, and Dak has scored at least 17 points (all scores are ESPN standard scoring) every week after the opener. Dak should be a low-end QB1 at worst in a great matchup.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Zeke didn't quite extend his streak of 130-yard rushing performances to 5 in week 8, but he tallied 158 yards from scrimmage and now has 14 or more points in 5 straight. The Browns have allowed 75 fantasy points in the past 2 weeks to opposing RBs. Start-sit decisions don't get much easier than this one. Fire up Zeke as an RB1 again.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN (Wk. 9: @Oak.): Booker failed to hit his ceiling in a plus matchup with the Chargers last weekend, but he was still the RB16 on the week. The matchup is good again in week 9. The Raiders rank 25th in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA stat which measures defensive efficiency and have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Booker is likely to be at least a top-16 RB again. You should feel comfortable starting him this week.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 9: @SF): Thomas has been on a really nice roll of late. He put up his lowest fantasy output of the past 5 weeks in week 8, but that still meant a 6-63 line against the stingy Seahawks' secondary. He also led the Saints WRs in snaps played for the 2nd time this year. The 49ers aren't nearly as stingy vs WRs. San Francisco has allowed multiple WR touchdowns in each of their last 4 games, and Thomas's recent usage likely puts his floor right around that line he put up a week ago. With so many top WRs out on bye this week, that makes Thomas an upside WR3.
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 9: @NYG): The Giants have been solid against quarterbacks, allowing the 7th-fewest QB points per game, and Wentz is coming off of 3 straight down games. With all that said, Wentz's short passing game might pay off this week and help him to a bounce-back game. Wentz has the fewest average air yards per pass attempt in the league according to Football Outsiders, and the Giants are allowing 132.4 yards after catch per game, the 8th-most in the NFL. It's still not a great matchup, but not as bleak as it might appear. With just 26 active QBs this week, Wentz should be a low-end QB2.
RB Peyton Barber, TB (Wk. 9: vs. Atl.): Jacquizz Rodgers is questionable this week, and with the game being on Thursday, he seems more and more unlikely to play. Head coach Dirk Koetter has already said he sees the team using a committee approach against the Falcons, and that means Barber and Antone Smith are likely to split the work. There is some risk here with Barber since he was out-snapped and out-touched by Smith last week, but I'd expect Barber to get a good chunk of the early down work. Atlanta has been vulnerable against the run, ranking 21st in run defense DVOA and allowing 23 points per game to opposing backs if you throw out their 2 outlier games (One vs GB where FB Aaron Ripkowski led the team in backfield snaps, and one vs Carolina where they dominated the game and time of possession). As I mentioned, there's risk here without knowing the work split with Smith, but there is RB2 upside.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): With a lot of top WRs on bye this week, Shep is at least in consideration as a deep-league WR3. His production was less than stellar in the few weeks before the Giants' bye, but he's seen 7 or 8 targets in each of the past 7 games and the Giants had the bye week to get their passing game straightened out. This is more of a hunch than anything, but I like the Giants to get it together this week and for Shepard to have his best game since week 3. I still wouldn't recommend him as anything more than a WR3 in deeper leagues.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL (Wk. 9: @TB): I'd probably prefer to start Hooper over fellow borderline rookie TE Hunter Henry this week despite having a tougher matchup. The Bucs have been stingy to the position, allowing fewer than 7 fantasy points to the position in 5 of their 7 games and ranking 5th in pass defense DVOA on throws to opposing TEs. They are coming off allowing 6-67-1 to the Oakland Raiders' TEs, however, and Hooper is likely to see more targets than Henry as the Falcons’ clear lead TE with Jacob Tamme out. It also helps Hooper that Tamme was leading all tight ends in red zone targets. Hooper should have a decent shot at finding the end zone. He's a low-end TE1 in 12- or 14-team leagues this week.
TE Hunter Henry, SD (Wk. 9: vs. Ten.): Henry is a streaming option this week rather than a locked-in TE1. Antonio Gates seems to be back to full strength, running nearly twice as many routes as Henry in week 8. Henry has just 3 catches in the past 2 weeks, but there is a little upside with a soft matchup against the Titans on tap. Travis Benjamin is likely to miss the game, which could get the Chargers into more 2-TE sets and get Henry more snaps. Tennessee has allowed the 9th-most points per game to opposing TEs, so any increase in snaps and routes should give Henry some upside. Like Hooper, he's on the radar as a low-end streamer in 12- and 14-team leagues or deeper.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Cody Kessler, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. Dal.): As I mentioned earlier with Wentz, there are only 26 QBs playing this week, so pretty much all of them should be considered in 2QB leagues, but the matchup isn't great for Kessler and he's coming off an injury. The Cowboys have allowed just 11 or 12 fantasy points to 3 of the past 4 QBs they've faced. Cody may get a boost from the return of Corey Coleman, but I would avoid rolling with him unless you are desperate in a 2-QB league. There is still an outside shot Josh McCown gets the start.
RB Dwayne Washington, DET (Wk. 9: @Min.): Washington should return this week after seeming to be due back last week, but Minnesota probably isn't the best matchup to try him out in. The Vikings had their worst game of the season vs. running backs last Monday against the Bears and Jordan Howard, but I don't expect a repeat this weekend. Washington's role still isn't fully defined after Theo Riddick operated as the clear lead back in week 8. It's best to take a wait-and-see approach with Washington in this one.
RB Don Jackson, GB (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): Even with surprise RB fill-ins Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb both out with injury last week, Jackson couldn't manage to play ahead of FB Aaron Ripkowski. Knile Davis was cut this week, but Jackson is best left on the wire despite a plus matchup with the Colts. Look for Montgomery to operate as the lead RB again this week.
RBs DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard, OAK (Wk. 9: vs. Den.): The split between the two of the backup role continues to sap the usefulness of both backs. With Latavius back on the field, neither one is seeing enough work to be startable. Steer clear of both.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 9: vs. Buf.): Prosise made good on my 'Sleeper' prediction last week, cashing in for 103 scrimmage yards on just 8 touches. I wouldn't expect him to duplicate that production this week against the Bills if the workload stays the same. The Bills are a little stingier than New Orleans. It'll be interesting to see if his passing down role continues once Thomas Rawls finally returns.
RB Paul Perkins, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): Much like their passing game, the Giants need to get their run game fixed as well. While giving Paul Perkins more work could help, there's no evidence that they'll do it anytime soon. It's worth watching to see if there is any change to the work split, but not worth putting Perkins in any lineups.
WR Ricardo Louis, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. Dal.): Louis is only worth consideration if Corey Coleman is still out this week, or if Pryor surprisingly sits with his hamstring issue, and only as a desperation WR4 even in that case. He's averaging 5.6 targets per game over his past 6 games, but he's failed to catch even 50% of them and has topped 40 yards just once. His volume will drop if Coleman returns and Pryor plays.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 9: @SD): Sharpe just can't seem to put any production together despite a prominent role in the offense. He's seen 5.8 targets per game for the season but is putting up just 5.7 yards per target. Until one or both of those numbers come up, there is no reason to consider starting Sharpe.
Rookies on Byes: RB Jordan Howard, CHI, RB Rob Kelley, WAS, RB Tyler Ervin, HOU, WR Will Fuller, HOU, WR Tyler Boyd, CIN, WR Malcolm Mitchell, NE
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 9: @SD): Henry finally got some extended run last week due to an injury to DeMarco Murray, and he produced in a big way. Henry finished as the RB7 for the week. Murry is still dealing with the toe injury he suffered, but he seems likely to play. Still, he may cede some extra work to Henry as he plays through it against a Chargers team allowing the 6th-most RB fantasy points per game. I'd have a hard time starting Derrick in any season long leagues, but he'd be an interesting cheaper option in DFS tournaments. His price has spiked a little this week with the thin slate and his strong game last week, but there is upside if the Titans give him an extended role again.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. Dal.): Coleman looks likely to finally return this week. It’ll be hard to trust him in season-long leagues coming off such a long layoff. The Cowboys allow the 20th-most WR points per game and don’t give up the deep ball, allowing just 2 passes of 40+ yards on the year. With that said, it’s a hand injury that has kept Corey out, so his conditioning should be fine. Terrelle Pryor has been dealing with a hamstring tweak in practice this week as well. Coleman should be close to an every down player, and he’d be a great cheap DFS option and a desperation WR3 option in deeper leagues.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (Wk. 9: vs. Jax.): It’s hard to call a guy coming off a 5-98-1 line last week and 2 straight double-digit point games a sleeper, but Hill fits that bill this week. He’s more of a gadget player than a regular starter, but he should factor into the short passing game more heavily if Spencer Ware is unable to play. Nick Foles is getting the start Sunday, so there is also the 2nd-string connection between Hill and Foles that can help him as well. We’ve already seen that be a factor for Cameron Meredith and Brian Hoyer as well as Geno Smith and Charone Peake to a lesser extent. 2nd string QBs tend to have a better rapport with 2nd string WRs who they throw to in practice. 4 of Hill’s week 8 catches, 88 of his yards, and the one TD were thrown by Foles. Add in that the Jaguars rank 28th in pass defense DVOA on throws to WRs that aren’t the opposing #1 or #2, and Hill could have another nice game this week.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (Wk. 9: @Mia.): The Dolphins have allowed 22 or more WR points in 6 of their 7 games so far, and Anderson has been playing more snaps than Quincy Enunwa of late. He’s seen 6 targets twice in the past 3 weeks. I think he’s due for a breakout game, and I have a hunch it comes this week. He’s only an option in the deepest of leagues since he’s shown a floor of about 3-30, but I like him to have possibly his best game of the season.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully, it helps you navigate some of the tougher lineup decisions this week. Keep a close eye on the injury report throughout the week and make sure all of your guys are active on game day. If you want to yell at me about this info or have any specific questions, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always...good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.