Welcome back to the Rookie Report! It’s been an interesting season through 10 weeks. The Zeke and Dak show rolled through another one of the better teams in the league last week. CJ Prosise, Rob Kelley, Wendell Smallwood, and Tyreek Hill all made good on increased opportunities, while one of the steadiest rookie performers took a step back (Michael Thomas). Above all else, the national TV games were actually exciting this week (if you don’t count the Thursday game). While it’s been a rough season for some of the highest drafted skill position rookies, one of them did get some good news this week as the Rams are finally making the move to Jared Goff at QB. Most feel that they waited too long to make the switch, but it’ll be fun to watch at any rate. Maybe Paxton Lynch will be next. Let’s jump in and see what we can expect from the rookies in week 11…
Rookies to Start:
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 11: vs. Bal.): The Ravens rank number one in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat which measures efficiency, and have allowed he fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. None of that matters to Zeke. While he likely won’t duplicate last week’s monster game and isn’t exactly a chalk play in DFS this week, no matchup is daunting enough at this point to push him to your bench in season-long leagues.
RB Rob Kelley, WAS (Wk. 11: vs. GB): The Packers’ run defense that was so stout early on this season suddenly has looked vulnerable in recent weeks. They still rank 5th in run defense DVOA, and are in the top-10 in limiting RB fantasy points, but they’ve given up a whopping 77 points to running backs in the past 3 games (all point totals are in ESPN standard scoring). It’s true that 23 of those points were given up in the passing game, where Kelley has little impact, but with the volume he’s seen lately Kelley should have no trouble being a usable RB2 this week.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 11: @Car.): I think a bounce-back is in order for Thomas after a rough outing against Denver. He had tallied 50+ yards and/or a TD in every single game prior to week 10, and squared off with the best WR defense in the league last week. The Panthers are in the bottom third of the league vs. wide receivers, and Thomas managed to put up 5-78-1 in the Saints’ first meeting with Carolina. I expect something in that neighborhood again this week and think Thomas is back in play as a solid WR3 Thursday night.
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 11: vs. Bal.): Prescott finished as the QB10 against Pittsburgh last week, but the matchup is a little tougher this week. The Ravens rank 6th in pass defense DVOA, and allow the 7th fewest QB fantasy points per game. Dak has shown to have a usable floor, with 17 points or more in 8 straight games, but he’s probably more of a high-end QB2 this week rather than a locked-in QB1.
RB Jordan Howard, CHI (Wk. 11: @NYG): I’m not buying the injury talk around Howard. Coach Fox said he was hurt after he was limited to just 2 carries for 11 yards in the second half last week. Howard rolled to 89 yards in the first half and claimed he didn’t suffer an injury when he was first asked. He’s since changed his tune to the company line, but there’s something more going on here. He is practicing in full this week and should suit up. If he’s the lead back this week as he should be, he’ll be a mid-level RB2 in a bit of difficult matchup, but the bogus injury claim makes me question if he will have his usual role in this one. The uncertainty is enough for me to drop him down a few spots to a borderline RB2/RB3 play.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 11: vs. Phi.): Prosise is a much better option for PPR leagues than standard this week. Thomas Rawls seems all but certain after the release of Christine Michael, and he likely will take a bigger chunk of the workload than Michael did last week. Pete Carroll has already claimed that Rawls will ‘play considerably’ in week 11. With a decreased role and a tougher matchup this week, Prosise will be hard-pressed to duplicate Sunday night’s results. The Eagles allow the 5th-fewest RB points per game. It isn’t all bleak for CJ. The Seahawks offense has been pass-heavy of late, and Prosise is still the best receiving back on the team. Also, the Eagles rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA on throws to RBs. He should be good to go as a PPR flex, but I’d be cautious about using him in that capacity in standard leagues.
RB Kenneth Dixon, BAL (Wk. 11: @Dal.): Dixon was productive on 11 touches last week, and his snap share has been steadily increasing. He’s the superior passing down back of he and Terrance West, and the Cowboys have been allowing 54 receiving yards per game to running backs. West has just 12 catches for 77 yards in 9 games this season. Dixon has caught a pass on 41.7% of the plays in which he’s run a receiving route. There won’t be a ton of rushing volume for the rookie, but he is very much in play as a flex option in PPR leagues.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (Wk. 11: vs. TB): Hill saw 13(!) targets last week with Jeremy Maclin sidelined, and Maclin hasn’t practiced all week and appears likely to be out again with a groin injury. The Bucs do rank 7th in pass defense DVOA on short passes, which are Hill’s strength, but they also have allowed the 2nd-most WR fantasy points per game. With the volume Hill is likely to see, he should be a solid WR3 option in PPR leagues, and more of a borderline play in standard leagues. He did average just 8.9 yards per catch in week 10.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (Wk. 11: vs. Chi.): Shepard still isn’t producing big yardage numbers, but his target share remains steady and he’s found the end zone in each of the last 2 games. The Bears allow the most WR fantasy points per game in the league, so Shepard is a good bet as a floor WR3 again this week, and he gets a slight boost if Victor Cruz sits again (though that seems unlikely).
Rookies to Sit:
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 11: @Sea.): The Seahawks have definitely seemed more vulnerable against the pass this year, allowing 200+ yards passing in each of their past 6 games, but they’ve allowed multiple passing TDs just once. Wentz has thrown just 2 TDs and turned the ball over 6 times in the past 5 games, and has just 1 game with over 240 yards since their week 4 bye. The Seahawks struggles make them a matchup you don’t have to avoid with good quarterbacks, but not one you should target with mediocre ones. Leave Wentz on the pine.
QB Jared Goff, LA (Wk. 11: vs. Mia.): It’s worth keeping an eye on Goff’s start to see how he fares against a middle-of-the-pack QB defense. We’ve seen other rookies have success right out of the gate in recent years. With that said, there’s no good way to justify starting a guy who has spent the past 10 weeks not being good enough to unseat Case Keenum. He should only be considered in leagues where EVERY starting QB is in a lineup.
RB Wendell Smallwood, PHI (Wk. 11: @Sea.): Smallwood had a surprising productive game in week 10, but he still played fewer snaps than both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. He disappeared for weeks after his first productive game this year, with a total of 53 scrimmage yards in the 5 games between his 70-yard outbursts. I’d expect him to fade back to being irrelevant this week.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 11: @Ind.): Henry remains a high-value handcuff for DeMarco Murray who won’t have much standalone value unless something were to happen to the starter. He saw a decent amount of work against Green Bay, but a lot of it was in garbage time with the Titans comfortably ahead. That’s not something you can count on each week with a 5-5 team, and he still only put up 3 fantasy points against the Packers.
RB Paul Perkins, NYG (Wk. 11: vs. Chi.): Perkins still hasn’t moved ahead of Rashad Jennings on the depth chart, and the Bears’ run defense has been better than you’d think. They’ve allowed the 4th fewest RB fantasy points per game, and held 4 backfields to single-digit fantasy totals in their past 6 contests. Considering that Perkins will split that with Jennings, and will take the lesser part of the split, there isn’t a good reason to fire him up this week.
RBs DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard, OAK (Wk. 11: vs. Hou.): The extreme elevation in Mexico City (it’s more than 2,000 feet higher above sea level than Denver) could cause the Raiders to give Latavius Murray some extra rest and even out the carries a bit between he and his backups, but there is no way to know if it will benefit Richard or Washington more. Playing either of them is playing with fire, and it isn’t something I’d recommend.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 11: vs. Pit.): Coleman is always liable to break out with a big game thanks to his big-play ability, but Kessler still hasn’t shown the arm to throw deep, and only 4 teams have allowed fewer 20+ yard pass plays than the Steelers have. This shapes up as more of a Terrelle Pryor week, as the Steelers rank 29th in pass defense DVOA on throws to WR1’s, and 11th on throws to WR2’s. There is upside, but I would probably steer clear if you have better options.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN (Wk. 11: vs. Buf.): Boyd has topped 40 yards just twice all year, and only once in the past 7 games. The floor is really low, and there isn’t a ceiling to chase.
Rookies on Byes: RB Devontae Booker, DEN, WR Robby Anderson, NYJ, TE Hunter Henry, SD, TE Austin Hooper, ATL
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Cody Kessler, CLE (Wk. 11: vs. Pit.): I know, this is an odd call given I just said to sit one of his best wide receivers, but Kessler might make a decent floor QB2 this week. The Steelers have allowed 250+ passing yards in 8 of their 9 games this season, and 14+ QB points in 7 of them. The Browns’ passing game has been a bit of a mess lately, but Kessler should be getting more comfortable as he gains experience and continues to get used to having his full complement of weapons. I like Kessler’s chances at approaching 250 yards and throwing at least one TD…Those are hardly exciting numbers, but there is a chance for more.
RB Dwayne Washington, DET (Wk. 11: vs. Jax.): Washington is the clear number 2 back behind Theo Riddick in Detroit, and the Jaguars have been struggling mightily against the run of late. They’ve allowed over 150 rushing yards in 2 of their past 3 games, and rank 28th in run defense DVOA for the year. If Washington sees 10 or more carries, he may creep into an RB3 day.
WR Will Fuller, HOU (Wk. 11: @Oak.): I know, Fuller isn’t exactly an unknown guy…but after putting up just 49 yards in the last 3 games he played and then sitting out 2 with injury, he’s probably off your radar a little. It doesn’t help that his QB Brock Osweiler is a complete bum. Fuller should return this week, and there are some things to like about this matchup. Although the Raiders haven’t allowed a top-20 receiver since week 5, they’ve allowed a league-high 11 pass plays of 40 or more yards in 9 games. Fuller is certainly the most likely Texan to come up with one of those. He’s a very risky boom-or-bust option. His floor is basically zero, but he could make a big impact with just one deep ball.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 11: @Ind.): Sharpe is another guy who, like Fuller, isn’t some new name you haven’t heard. He’s been a disappointment for much of the year despite basically being the Titans’ WR1. The Tennessee offense has gotten on a roll lately, and Sharpe’s numbers have finally started to stabilize. He’s had 58 or more yards in 3 of the past 4 games, and scored his first career TD last weekend. Delanie Walker will likely be the focal point this Sunday, but Sharpe is still playing a starter’s snaps and facing a defense that ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA. He’s actually in play as a WR3 in deep leagues.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with some of your tougher lineup decisions this week. Keep an eye on the injury report with players like Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Howard, Will Fuller, and others who may affect your lineup. Feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything included above (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.