Welcome back to the rookie report! Week one was full of surprises and upsets, but isn’t every week in the NFL? Hey, “On any given Sunday…..,” right? Nowadays it’s more like any given Thursday, Sunday or Monday. Hopefully your fantasy teams were able to come out on top in week 1, but if not, it’s time to bounce back. Before we dive in to week 2’s rookie outlook, let’s take a look back at the fantasy rookie performer of the week for the season openers.
Rookie Performer of Week 1: Brandin Cooks, WR, NO: Cooks was a stud in the opener with Kenny Stills sidelined, racking up 3 catches on the opening drive and ending the game with 7 catches, 77 yards, 18 rushing yards, and a TD. It was just the start of what figures to be a dominant rookie campaign in PPR leagues. Honorable mention: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, CAR
Here’s a quick look at what to expect for week 2:
Rookies to Start:
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 2: vs. NO): West was one of the biggest surprises in the league in week 1. He put up triple-digit yards after starter Ben Tate did what Ben Tate does and got hurt. West struggled throughout the preseason, registering a yards per carry mark somewhere in the negative YATR range (Yards above Trent Richardson. We’re making his usual 2.9 YPC football’s Mendoza line). West looked like a different player in week one, putting up over 6 yards a carry. He’ll start against a not so scary Saints run defense. If you’re afraid the Browns will abandon the run after falling behind, don’t be. They didn’t when they fell behind the Steelers 24-3 and it almost helped them win the game. West is a no-brainer flex choice and a low end RB2 in 10-team leagues this week.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 2: @Cle.): On the other side of the Browns-Saints game, Cooks should be able to come close to matching his week one output. He is running a lot of the same routes that Darren Sproles ran in New Orleans, and that means they’re getting him the ball in space. It’s only a matter of time before he’s able to break a long one. Until he does, you’ll happily settle for his 14-16 points in PPR formats. He should be good for that again with Stills still on the mend and possibly out this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 2: vs. Det.): I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, and I’ve been wrong about Benjamin. I still don’t think he’s got the upside of a true fantasy WR1, but he looks like a very safe play most weeks. The Panthers’ passing game really revolves around Kelvin and Greg Olsen. I’m a little hesitant to trust Kelvin since we haven’t seen him play with Cam, but everything I’ve heard this preseason said he and Cam were fast friends. I think the chemistry will be solid. Against the Lions sub-par secondary, Kelvin should approach 100 yards again and might find paydirt again. Feel free to trot him out comfortably as a WR3.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 2: vs. Dal.): I wouldn’t have the courage to play Sankey after watching him play behind Dexter McCluster and even Leon Washington on the depth chart in week 1, but I think he’ll climb soon. There’s at least a little worry that he’s this year’s version of Montee Ball, who was highly touted entering the season and wound up stuck behind Knowshon Moreno all season. Sankey did put up 25 yards on just 6 carries in week one, and the Cowboys defense is really bad. All Bishop needs is a chance. I’m just not sure if he gets it this week. You are probably best served with Sankey on the bench, but you should continue to keep him rostered. He’s got every-down skills.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 2: @NYG): Brown was really impressive in the Cardinals’ opener. He’s the clear cut WR3 in a vertical passing offense that often employs 3WR sets. He caught just 2 balls for 29 yards in the opener, but he did find the end zone and was on the field for nearly 60% of the offensive snaps. Head coach Bruce Arians has openly compared Brown to T.Y. Hilton, and Hilton had an impressive (albeit inconsistent) rookie campaign. Brown will be boom-or-bust. I feel like against the G-Men, Carson Palmer will have his pick of where to go with the ball. I’d expect Fitzgerald to be targeted more heavily to make up for week 1, which means Brown is likely more WR4 fodder than WR3.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 2: vs. Mia.): Like Brown, Watkins is likely more WR4 than WR3. He managed just 3 catches for 31 yards in week 1 as he played through a foot injury, and this week he’s likely to see a lot of Brent Grimes. I’d expect him to at least match the week one stats, but I’m not sure he exceeds them by much. I’d likely leave Sammy on the bench until I see him start to produce more, but like I wrote last week, Watkins is going to be a focal point in this passing game eventually.
WR Marquise Lee, JAX (Wk. 2: @Was.): Lee put up a respectable stat line in week one with 6 grabs for 62 yards, but he got a bunch of it in garbage time. Not sure there will be as much of that this week in what I think is actually a winnable game for the Jags. I think he still might approach last week’s numbers as Allen Hurns comes back down to earth, but it would have to be PPR and a deeper league for me to consider trotting out Lee, even against a weak Redskins D.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 2: @Hou.): This is going to get redundant quickly. I have to put Carr somewhere on here as long as he’s starting, but things are going to be ugly for a while. They have a weak o-line, limited weapons, and are down MJD this week. They also face JJ Watt and the Houston Texans. I wouldn’t want Carr starting in a 2 QB league. He’s a bottom 10 option amongst the 32 starters.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 2: vs. Atl.): I was excited for Hill coming into week one, and then he got just 4 carries and played just 10 offensive snaps. I still think Hill has some big weeks coming as coach Hue Jackson mentioned that Hill will play more going forward, but I can’t trust that it starts this week. The Falcons’ defense is far from frightening, but I just don’t know how much more work Hill will see. Gio Bernard wasn’t exactly great on the ground last week, but he got the red zone touches. Keep playing the waiting game with Hill this week.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL (Wk. 2: @Cin.): Freeman looked really good on the limited touches he saw against the Saints, and his time is coming, but Steven Jackson isn’t done for yet. I think most of Jacquizz Rodgers’s touches will eventually make their way to Freeman, who might be the heir apparent to S-Jax. The problem for now is that the backfield is just too crowded to even roster Freeman in re-draft leagues. Antone Smith also continues to see some work, making this a 4-headed monster at RB.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 2: vs. StL.): I like Evans' upside, but I’m not sure the Bucs will throw it enough this week to make Evans playable. He was targeted a healthy 9 times in week 1, making 5 grabs for 37 yards and nearly secured his first TD. The usage is encouraging, but the Rams looked like a dumpster fire in the opener. If the Bucs can get out in front, they’ll ride the running game and really limit the damage Evans can do. He might be a good buy-low candidate after this week.
TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 2: vs. StL.): ASJ caught just one pass in the opener for 26 yards, and seems like a long shot to even suit up this week. He’s still running behind Brandon Myers on the depth chart, but his size will make him a tough matchup once he starts getting starter’s reps.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 2: vs. NO): With West getting the starting nod, Crowell will undoubtedly be overlooked in many leagues, but he is the superior talent of the 2 Browns’ rookies. Crowell is worth a stash if you have room on your bench in any league. He has RB1 upside if he can secure the starting gig and is a player to target in dynasty leagues. He’ll see change of pace work this week behind West in a run-heavy offense, but he found the end zone twice on just 5 carries last Sunday. He might still be a goal line vulture this week.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 2: vs. Chi.): Hyde was impressive in limited carries in the season opener, and this week the 49ers get the porous Bears’ run defense. The Bears let Fred Jackson carve them up for 61 yards on just 7 carries and allowed nearly 6 yards per carry to the Bills as a team. The 49ers live for the power run game, and Hyde is going to be a big part of that, especially now that LaMichael James is off the team. I think he could certainly match the 50 yards and a score he put up against Dallas last week.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 2: @Ind.): I was a bit disappointed by Matthews usage in week one. He saw just 4 targets, and ended the game with 2 catches for 37 yards. He has superior talent to Riley Cooper, but until he leapfrogs him on the depth chart, his fantasy production will be inconsistent. He gets a solid matchup this week in what should be a shootout with Indy, but it’s hard to predict a huge week given his limited opportunities. Anything over 60 yards would be a win for Matthews in my opinion.
That’s all I’ve got for week 2. Hopefully it helps you make some tough lineup calls this week, but as always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.