Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week two was a fun one for some of the rookie crop, most notably Jeremy Hill, Sammy Watkins and Terrance West. It wasn’t nearly as much fun for the NFL, which is still scrambling to stop the PR maelstrom they’re up against in the wake of the Ray Rice video, several other domestic violence cases and the new accusations against Adrian Peterson. It’s getting to be a mess, but that’s not the sort of thing we dive into here at the Rookie Report. Let’s let others deal with those issues, and talk about what to do with the rookies for week 3.
Rookies to Start:
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 3: vs. Ten.): Week 2 more closely resembled how the Bengals intend to use Hill than week one did. The bruiser ran for 70+ yards and a score and caught for 22 more yards. The Titans, meanwhile, were busy getting steamrolled by DeMarco Murray and the Dallas running game. With A.J. Green still dinged up, expect the Bengals to hammer Tennessee on the ground, and I think Hill is a very good bet to score another TD. He’s a great flex play this weekend.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 3: vs. SD): It’s hard to envision Watkins duplicating his stat line from last week, but he’s clearly the focal point of the Bills’ passing game right now. I would expect that to continue in week 3 and San Diego’s secondary hasn’t been great thus far. Michael Floyd and the Cardinals torched them in week 1. I’d roll with Watkins as my WR3.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 3: vs. Bal.): West got it done in a surprising week 2 victory over the Saints. The Ravens boast a tougher run defense than New Orleans. West is still going to see a high volume of carries and could be a decent flex option, but I doubt he puts up the kind of points he did a week ago.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 3: vs. Min.): Cooks was disappointing last week vs. Cleveland, but he still makes a reasonable WR3 in PPR leagues going forward. The Mark Ingram injury could actually get him more work as a runner and in the short passing game. Expect a minor bounce back this week.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 3: @Atl.): Evans is sort of a roll of the dice this week. He has been a big part of the Tampa passing game, but his fantasy numbers haven’t been fantastic. Atlanta is likely to be playing from ahead, and their secondary isn’t very good. It’s a decent week to take a shot on Evans, but know there’s some bust risk.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 3: vs. Pit.): Kelvin didn’t do much damage in week 2, but he’s too big a part of the Panthers’ offense to not be considered in fantasy. It isn’t exactly a tasty matchup, but I’d expect Benjamin’s numbers to fall somewhere in between his lines from week 1 and week 2.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): Banged up for much of the preseason, Robinson finally looked healthy in week two, coming up with 4 catches for 75 yards. He has the size to physically dominate DBs, and I think he will be the best Jaguars receiver going forward. I think another 70 yards is likely in a game that will be played from behind again.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 3: @NE): This is going to be a weekly tradition before long. The Patriots just forced 4 interceptions from Matt Cassel, and I think their defense has a chance to be scary. Carr seems just cocky enough to test Darelle Revis. I doubt he wins that matchup. It could be another long day for Carr and the Raiders.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 3: @Cin.): Even if Sankey didn’t have some climbing to do up the depth chart, Cincy is a brutal matchup. Don’t expect much even if he sees extended work and keep him benched.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 3: vs. Bal.): This is one call I think might backfire on me. Crowell is touchdown dependent right now as long as West sees the majority of the carries. He has some value, but against a better defense this week, I don’t think he matches his rushing yards from a week ago. I do think he could overtake West for the starting gig eventually.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 3: vs. Hou.): Williams still isn’t seeing enough action to warrant a fantasy start. It’s still mostly Rashad Jennings. Until his role increases, you have to leave Williams benched, especially with the offense looking anemic so far.
WR Marquise Lee, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): The Jaguars quarterback play has been pretty bad so far, and Lee has been inconsistent. He hasn’t done much damage outside of garbage time in week 1. He’s going to have some solid PPR weeks, but I wouldn’t count on this being one of them. His value should rise once Blake Bortles takes over.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 3: vs. KC): Landry gets mention this week because it looks like he’s worked his way into the WR3 role in Miami, a role that has made Rishard Matthews and Brandon Gibson playable at times. It’s worth noting he had the lowest drop rate in college last year of any rookie wide receiver. He will become a trusted target before long.
Deep League Sleepers:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 3: @NO): I only mention Teddy because Matt Cassel threw 4 picks last week. Adrian Peterson is out for the foreseeable future, so this offense will need a QB that isn’t just a game manager. That isn’t Cassel. He’s still yet to complete a pass more than 15 yards downfield through 2 weeks. Another bad performance could be enough to get Teddy on the field. He should be squarely on the 2QB league radar.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): Speaking of starting QBs on the hot seat, Chad Henne’s should be scalding before long. The Jags haven’t had any semblance of an offense so far, and I’m sure the fans in Jacksonville are already clamoring for Bortles to take over. The Jaguars want to hold Bortles off as long as possible, but if things continue the way they’re going, they won’t be able to wait much longer. Blake could have mid-level QB2 upside if he gets the starting job.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 3: @NO): Like I mentioned above under Bridgewater, Peterson isn’t coming back any time soon. Matt Asiata isn’t exactly a stud. McKinnon is worth a stash in deeper leagues. He’s a raw prospect, but one with great athleticism (more than Asiata at least).
RB Damien Williams, MIA (Wk. 3: vs. KC): The Dolphins took some big hits last week losing Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller during the course of the game. They went out and signed Daniel Thomas back to the roster this week, but Williams was impressive in the preseason and beat out Thomas for a roster spot. Miller is likely to play this week, but Williams is likely to see the change of pace work. If Miller doesn’t play, treat Williams as a deep league flex option this week.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 3: @NYG): In the preseason, it looked like Jonathan Grimes was the number 2 back behind Arian Foster, even when the depth chart came out with Alfred Blue listed as number 2. By now, it’s become clear that it’s Blue’s job. He isn’t fantasy relevant yet, but it’s hard to imagine Foster stays healthy all year with his current workload. Blue could be a great speculative add in deep leagues.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 3: @Det.): It’s become pretty clear that Adams is pushing Jarrett Boykin for the WR3 spot in Green Bay, and might completely surpass him. This is a pass heavy offense with no tight end to speak of. The GB number 3 is a fantasy relevant role, and Adams is worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues.
WR Ryan Grant, WAS (Wk. 3: @Phi.): After DeSean Jackson went down in week 2, Grant shined in the blowout win over Jacksonville. He clearly has a great rapport with Kirk Cousins, but he will need DeSean out again to be fantasy relevant this week. He’s an interesting WR3 option in 12-team leagues if D-Jax doesn’t play. As of now though, Jackson is expected to suit up.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully it helps you come away victorious. I’ll end this the same way I end every week: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the rookie report! While week 11 saw many of the phenomenal crop of rookie WRs continue their dominance (most notably Mike Evans), it was the rookie runners who surprised this past week. Alfred Blue and Jeremy Hill both topped 150 yards, Tre Mason topped 100, and Isaiah Crowell saw his most extended work of the season and put up 90 total yards. The only way it could have been better would be if some of them found the end zone.
Before we dive into this week’s games, I just want to make a point to remind everyone to check the status of their lineup throughout the week, or at least one final check before the games get started on Sunday. Last week I didn’t even mention Alfred Blue in this column and recommended Terrance West as a starter. By Sunday, Arian Foster was out for the Texans and Crowell was announced as starter for the Browns. Pay attention so you don’t miss the boat when these sorts of things happen. There are a lot of borderline rookies this week, so make sure to pay attention to the details. With that, let’s dive into this week’s rookie matchups…
Rookies to Start:
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 12: @SD): The Rams have found the formula that works for them over the past few weeks, and it includes a lot of Tre Mason. The Rams have won 2 of 3 in a brutal stretch (@SF, @Ari, Den.), and Mason averaged 84 yards from scrimmage in those 3 contests. The Chargers are just a middle of the road run defense right now, so Mason is poised for what should be a solid RB2 day.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 12: vs. Cin.): This call hinges entirely on the health of Arian Foster. There’s been talk that Foster is expected to play in week 12, but if he doesn’t, Blue is in line for another big day. Mallett’s willingness to take shots downfield opens up some room to run, and the Bengals already allow the 6th most RB points in the league. If Foster does suit up, you’d probably want to keep Blue on the pine. The Texans haven’t really eased Foster’s workload if he plays, even when nicked up.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 12: @Chi.): Tell me one thing that you’ve seen from the Chicago defense that makes you think they can stop Mike Evans. Go ahead. I’ll wait. The truth is, they haven’t done anything to show that, and Evans has at least 7-100-1 in each of his past 3 games, and while he’s not a lock to hit those marks again this week, the upside is just too immense to sit him.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 12: vs. Dal.): The Cowboys’ defense has been really good against opposing WRs, but it’s been more of a product of their run-first offense and high time of possession. They don’t have anyone who can cover OBJ, and as long as the G-Men can keep the ‘Boys from from holding the ball for 40 minutes, OBJ should be a safe WR2 yet again.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 12: vs. Ten.): The matchup isn’t quite as good as you’d think, but J-Matt will continue to be a safe WR3 as long as Sanchez is under center. He’s topped 100 yards in each of Sanchize’s 2 starts and has 3 TDs to go with those yards. Expect the good times to keep rolling.
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 12: @Phi.): Mett’s going to continue to suffer through some rookie growing pains, but his big arm and porous Philly D should make him an upside QB2 option this week. The Eagles have allowed 287 yards and 2.2 touchdowns per game. If Mett approaches those stats, He’d be a borderline QB1.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 12: @Ind.): Bortles has had an extra week to get ready for the Colts, and their defense isn’t imposing (10th most QB points per game allowed), but he’s still no better than a QB2 option without Allen Robinson. He’s been too turnover prone to trust as a number 1, even with decent matchups.
RBs Isaiah Crowell & Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 12: @Atl.): The Browns’ backfield situation got a little less crowded this week when Ben Tate was waived by the team, but there still isn’t a ton of clarity as to who the starter will be. The plan seems to be to watch and see who practices best and let them start each week. Crowell is the more talented back, but until Sunday we probably won’t know for sure which guy will get the nod. Whichever back starts will be worth a start on your fantasy squad. The Falcons allow the 2nd most fantasy points in the league to opposing RBs, and Josh Gordon’s return should keep them from stacking the box. I’d expect Crowell to start, but check on Sunday. The back that doesn’t start will be a dicey flex play at best.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 12: @Hou.): Gio should be back this week, but Hill has undoubtedly earned a bigger role in the offense going forward. His carries will take a hit this week, which makes him more of a flex option than a safe starter, but if he gets a hot hand the Bengals know they can ride him. Bengals' beat writers expect Hill to continue to see the most carries on the team for the immediate future, but there’s a lot of volatility with Gio back in the mix.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 12: vs. GB): I’d expect Ben Tate to need at least a week to get up to speed on the playbook and be a part of the offense, so McKinnon remains the best bet to see lead back carries for the Vikes. Without a bunch of byes this week, he’s just a borderline option. The game flow is likely to keep him from piling up carries, and he still hasn’t scored his first TD, but his workload keeps him in the flex mix.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 12: @Phi.): Sankey’s role has stabilized over the past few weeks, even as his yards per carry have dipped a bit. He finally scored his 2nd TD of the season last week, but he’ll likely need another TD this week to be considered a successful flex play. I would expect over 60 total yards against a suspect Philly run defense.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 12: vs. NYJ): The Buffalo snow storm couldn’t have come at a worse time for Watkins. He’s coming off back-to-back down games, and this week gets to do battle with the Jets’ awful secondary, which he torched for 3-157-1 the last time he faced them. If weather isn’t a factor, Watkins would be a safe WR2. If things aren’t totally cleaned up by Sunday, it could be a run-heavy football game that will make it really tough for Watkins to blow up the way he could against New York. Pay attention to the field conditions on Sunday.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 12: @Sea.): Larry Fitzgerald is fighting through an MCL sprain, and although he plans to play through it, he will undoubtedly be limited. The Seahawks defense is outstanding against WRs, but the small, quick guys like Brown are the ones that give them trouble. Stanton clearly likes him. Until this past week, every Stanton TD pass was to Brown and he hit him 5 times in the game against the Lions. Expect 4-5 catches and an ok shot at a TD for Brown this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 12: @Den.): Landry is still just fodder for PPR leagues, but as usual he’s in the conversation for WR3 for those leagues. Denver should be playing angry after losing to the Rams, and they won’t take their foot off the gas pedal if they get ahead. That should keep the Dolphins throwing, and should help Landry to pull in at least 5 receptions. He’s more of a WR4 in standard leagues.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 12: @Ind.): Allen Robinson is done for the year, and it was announced this week that Hurns will start with Marqise Lee playing in 3-WR sets. Hurns has put up some blowup games with other Jaguar receivers sidelined, and there’s a chance he does it again this week. He’s very much a boom-or-bust option with Cecil Shorts likely to see a lot more volume, but Hurns’s deep threat skills give him some appeal as a WR3. Lee isn’t worth a play.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 12: @Min.): Adams appeared to be gaining consistency headed into the Packers’ bye week, but he has just 3 catches for 23 yards and a TD in the 2 games since. Aaron Rodgers said he expected Adams to have some chances going into the Philly game, but it didn’t really play out that way. You’d have to be pretty ballsy to play him, but Adams still has some boom-or-bust WR3 appeal. You just get the feeling that Rodgers has to start looking his way sooner or later.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 12: @Chi.): Seferian-Jenkins is an excellent streaming option this week if you’re missing Dwayne Allen, Julius Thomas, Heath Miller or Greg Olsen. The Bears give up a league-worst 12 points per game to opposing tight ends, and ASJ plays on just about every snap for the Bucs. He disappointed last week against the ‘Skins, but the Bucs should be throwing a bunch to keep pace with the Bears’ offense. He’s a low end TE1 option this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 12: vs. GB): Teddy’s likely to be throwing a bunch, but he still has a bit of a low ceiling. He still hasn’t thrown for multiple touchdowns in one game, and although they should be playing from behind, you can’t have any confidence that he’ll do so this week. He’s a dart throw low-end QB2 at best.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 12: vs. KC): The Chiefs’ defense has been stingy during their current 5-game win streak, and there’s no reason to expect that to stop against the winless Raiders. KC has allowed the fewest pass yards per game in the league. Carr isn’t a great option in good matchups. This is a really bad one. The KC defense is an ideal streaming play if they’re available.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 12: @NO): The 49ers and Bengals showed over the past two weeks that the way to win in the Superdome is to run the ball down the Saints’ throats, but there’s no way to know if it’ll be ‘Zo or Pierce who will see primary backup work behind Justin Forsett. Taliaferro is only worth considering for a flex spot if you know he’ll get the number 2 RB work for Baltimore.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 12: vs. StL.): With Ryan Mathews back, Oliver still saw the same 13 carries he handled in the previous 2 contests, but he just hasn’t been doing much with those carries lately. The Rams’ D is stingy vs. running backs, so I’d keep Oliver benched this week. There isn’t enough upside for the risk.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 12: vs. Was.): The ‘Skins do defend the run effectively, and the 49ers have still been using a lot more Gore than Hyde. You can do better than Carlos this week. At best, he’s a roll of the dice for a TD.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 12: vs. Dal.): This is an easy call, but I just wanted to point out that with Jennings back from injury, Williams saw just 3 touches for 6 total yards. Don’t even consider him.
WR Paul Richardson, SEA (Wk. 12: vs. Ari.): There are no changes for Richardson’s outlook this week. He just won’t see enough volume to make an impact, and he should see a lot of Antonio Cromartie this week. It’s just not a good situation for him.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 12: @Buf.): Amaro had a decent number of targets come his way in his last game, but he has just 2 catches for 6 yards and a TD in Vick’s 2 starts. Even with TE being incredibly shallow this year, I wouldn’t bank on much from Amaro this week.
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 12: @NE): The matchup is decent with the Pats allowing 9 points per game to opposing TEs, but the Lions have 3 capable tight ends. Even if the Pats are able to slow down Megatron, I haven’t seen anything that makes me think Ebron will pick up much of that slack. Don’t roll the dice here.
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 12: @Chi.): He hasn’t overwhelmed since returning from injured reserve, but he seems to have taken the lead back role from Bobby Rainey. The Bucs want to see what they have in Sims, and the Bears’ D is certainly beatable. Sims should be a dart throw flex option in deeper leagues.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN (Wk. 12: vs. Mia.): Ball and Hillman are both out for the next couple of weeks. C.J. Anderson undoubtedly has the lead back role going in, but Thompson is still capable of vulturing a TD or 2. He will at the very least see change of pace work.
WR Cody Latimer, DEN (Wk. 12: vs. Mia.): RB isn’t the only position where the Broncos are banged up. Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both are questionable for next week, and if one or both don’t play, I think this is the week Denver finally unleashes Latimer. If he gets his chance, he could really benefit from Brent Grimes playing on Demaryius Thomas. It’ll be hard to pull the trigger without more official news from the Broncos about his role, but his talent is real and his time may be coming.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 12: vs. Jax.): With Bradshaw out and Allen banged up, Colts may look for a spark from Moncrief. We saw in the first meeting with Jacksonville that the Colts won’t let up when they get a lead, and I could see Moncrief getting some extra snaps. He did catch 4 balls for 55 yards in garbage time in the first meeting, and a similar stat line this time wouldn’t shock me at all.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you win this week. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 1 is upon us. By now you should have your team drafted and it's all about picking the right guys to fill out the lineup and get off to that all-important 1-0 start. Before the bye weeks hit, the strategy should be pretty simple: Start your studs. Unfortunately, injuries may already be derailing that if you own(ed) Jordy Nelson, Kelvin Benjamin, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster, Mike Evans, Tre Mason, or any other player who is out or questionable for week one. Perhaps there is a rookie who could fill that void and help you get in the win column. Each week I'll break down the rookie matchups, listing which guys you should start, which ones are borderline options, and which ones you should keep planted on the pine. I'll also include a couple of sleepers each week for deep leagues who could also be cheap options for those who play daily or weekly fantasy games. So, without further ado...
(Note: Both quarterback projections are for 2 QB leagues. Both should be sitting in 1 QB format)
Rookies to Start:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 1: vs. Ten.): Famous Jameis gets one of his easiest matchups of the year in week one. The Titans have been a mess for a couple of years now, and most of their offseason additions will help on the offensive side of the ball, not defense. The Titans did bring in long time Steelers D coordinator Dick LeBeau, and he's traditionally made life hell on rookie signal-callers with his aggressive blitz schemes, but I doubt he has the personnel to wreak the havoc he's used to. I'd project Winston for about 225 yards and 2 TDs, which should make him a solid start in 2QB leagues (don't start him if you only get one). This projection takes a minor hit if Mike Evans is a no-go.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 1: vs. Cin.): Things have been kind of quiet on the Amari front through training camp. There was one great highlight of him burning Patrick Peterson in a preseason game on a comeback route, but otherwise there hasn't been much buzz. He's been flying a little under the radar. That changes on Sunday when the Raiders get to break out their new toy. Derek Carr will funnel Oakland's new #1 WR with targets, and I expect at least 7 catches in a stellar debut. He should be especially solid in PPR formats.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 1: @Atl.): The Falcons' defense wasn't very good against WRs a year ago, and there haven't been any substantial improvements made. J-Matt is number one in the pecking order, but he'll see a lot of Atlanta's top CB Desmond Trufant, and Zach Ertz's status is still up in the air. I'd expect a lot of volume to come Nelson's way. He has potential to be a solid WR2 in PPR leagues this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 1: @TB): Tampa Bay is back to running Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 defense, which is a bend-but-don't-break scheme featuring a lot of zone pass defense. If there's one thing Mariota showed in college, it's that he knows how to get the ball to guys in space, and there will be some soft spots in that zone. Unfortunately for Mariota, I'd expect a pretty conservative gameplan from Whisenhunt in the first start of his career. His running ability gives him top-15 QB potential this week, but I'd have to be pretty underwhelmed by my QB2 to roll the dice on Mariota. The Bucs allowed an NFL-low 78 rushing yards to opposing QBs last season.
RB T.J. Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 1: vs. Car.): The Panthers have an imposing front 7 on paper, but they were just a middling defense vs. RBs a year ago. The Jaguars' offense is ascending, but the o-line still has a little work to do. Yeldon makes an intriguing flex option this week, but I'd be happy with 75 yards and a TD from him in his debut. If you think you have better options than that, play them. I will say, I do like Yeldon better this week than...
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 1: vs. Det.): Let's not kid ourselves, you likely drafted Melvin Gordon to play him. He's probably your RB2, but he's only a 2-down back. He will continue to give way to Danny Woodhead in passing situations, and there might be a lot of those this week. The Lions allowed the 3rd fewest RB points last year, and yes they lost Ndamukong Suh, but they did replace him with Haloti Ngata, who was an integral part of the Ravens' defense last year. The Ravens allowed the fewest RB fantasy points. I'm not saying Ngata isn't a dropoff from Suh, just that he isn't as much of one as you might think. Temper your expectations for Gordon this week. Anything over 50 total yards would be a promising debut.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 1: vs. Phi.): The Eagles did give up 20 TDs to opposing RBs last season, but the front 7 was still stout, allowing just 3.5 ypc and just the 11th most fantasy points to RBs despite allowing them the 4th most TDs. Kyle Shanahan should improve the Falcons' running game, but week one could be a dicey one. I'd expect 12-15 touches for Coleman, and he has big play speed, but you'd basically be hoping he breaks a long one or finds pay dirt if you start him.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 1: @SD): After Joique Bell missed the entire preseason, I'd expect a decent sized role for Abdullah in week one. He should be solid flex option in PPR leagues, and I'd expect him to pull in 5+ receptions. The Lions know what a special playmaker AA can be, and they should look to get him involved. Don't go crazy here, we're still likely only talking about 10-12 touches, but there is upside in PPR formats.
Rookies to Sit:
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 1: @NYJ): Johnson was just cleared to resume practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion in the only game that he played in the preseason. Yes the Browns only have 2 running backs on the roster after trading away Terrance West, but I'd expect the bulk of the work to go to Isaiah Crowell. Johnson looks to be the 3rd down and receiving back for the Browns, but only 3 teams allowed fewer catches by RBs last season than the Jets, and new head coach Todd Bowles's Arizona team allowed just 3 more RB receptions than those Jets.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 1: vs. NO): The Saints were among the worst in the NFL against RBs a season ago, and things didn't get better when they released Junior Galette and lost Curtis Lofton in the offseason. Unfortunately for Johnson, there's no real telling what his role in the offense will be. He looked to be the clear number 2 to Ellington early on in preseason, but the addition of Chris Johnson has muddled the picture somewhat, especially after CJ looked good in the final preseason game. This is a situation best left avoided for week 1.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 1: @Jax.): The Panthers still won't commit to Funchess as a starter despite the Kelvin Benjamin injury. They have him listed with the second team, and will likely employ a conservative gameplan against a Jags team that was sieve-like against the run last year. With that said, I think the Jacksonville defense quietly came together late last year and will bump up to the middle of the pack of NFL defenses this season. I expect Funchess to disappoint in week one. Unless you're in a pretty deep league, you should have better options this week.
WR Breshad Perriman, BAL (Wk. 1: @Den.): He seems unlikely to play this week, so that should make the decision easier on you, but after limited practice time in camp, he's a poor bet to produce even if he's in the lineup. It's not a good week for him to be hurt. This should be a pass-happy week for the Ravens as they try to keep pace with Denver.
WR Devante Parker, MIA (Wk. 1: @Was.): I love Parker's upside this year, and it's very encouraging from a health standpoint that DeVante played at all in the final preseason game, but I expect him to be eased into regular season action with Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings playing more snaps early on. I could regret this recommendation given who the 'Phins are playing, but I don't think Miami will need much help from Parker to vanquish the Redskins.
WR Phillip Dorsett, IND (Wk. 1: @Buf.): At this point, the Colts' wide receiver depth and gameplan are way too uncertain to play Dorsett. All indications are that he beat out Donte Moncrief for the 3rd WR spot (Moncrief is listed as the starting return man), but we still don't know for sure if the offseason talk of the Colts running more 3 & 4 WR sets and less 2 TE sets was just talk or not. There's a very real chance Dorsett puts up a goose egg.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 1: @Den.): I know, the Ravens have to throw to somebody, why not Williams? While I think he's easily the best rookie TE in this class, at 21-years old, the sheer physicality of playing tight end in the NFL will take him some getting used to. There's a reason rookie tight ends typically don't produce in year one. Look for Crockett Gillmore to open the season at the number one TE, and for Williams to work his way into that role as the season progresses.
Deep League & DFS Sleepers:
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 1: vs. Mia.): Things could get really ugly this year for the Redskins. They'll be playing from behind a lot. Alf Morris is essentially a zero in the passing game, and his yards per carry average is 1.25 yards lower with anyone other than RG3 under center. Add in that the coaching staff has been singing Jones's praises, and Morris is in the final year of his contract, and it adds up to the torch being passed to Jones before the end of the year. I think he'll have a big role before that happens, and it starts week one. Look for close to a 50-50 split of touches between Alf and Jones, and look for Jones to be more impressive with them.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 1: @TB): DGB has impressed thus far in camp and the preseason, and the Titans are carrying just 4 wide receivers on the roster into the opener (Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter & DGB). Green-Beckham is easily the toughest cover of the group with his freakish size and athleticism, and I don't think anyone on the Bucs is big enough to cover him. He's the best bet of any Titans' pass catcher to score a TD in the opener.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps. Week one is always an unpredictable one for the rookies, so play it safe where you can, and go get a week one win. Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun...It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week one was full of surprises...the Bills topped the Colts, Peyton Manning's poor finish to 2014 seemed to carry over to 2015 despite the Broncos' win, and Dez Bryant suffered a broken foot. The surprises weren't limited to the veterans, however. Marcus Mariota and Ameer Abdullah both put up epic debuts, Jameis Winston had a premeire to forget, Nelson Agholor was almost invisible, and Rashad Greene was targeted a whopping 13 times. What does it mean for week 2? Let's take a look at what to expect...
Rookies to Start:
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 2: @Cle.): What a first impression, right? The former Duck was on fire in week 1, piling up 4 TD passes in his first pro game. The Titans were up so comfortably he threw just 4 passes the entire second half. That won't be the case every week. Most importantly, he was decisive with the ball, he didn't turn it over, and he was throwing downfield. He was fantastic in week one and he didn't even unleash his running ability. The Browns struggled mightily to slow down the Jets' offense, and I'd expect another decent outing out of Marcus. He should be a solid QB2 this week, and is worth consideration in deep 1 QB leagues. I am starting him in a 2QB league over Joe Flacco.'
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 2: @Min.): Ameer wasn't as impressive as Mariota, but he made a pretty big impact in his own right, piling up 94 total yards and an impressive 24-yard TD run on his first career carry, all while out-touching Joique Bell 11-8. It was a pretty harrowing week for Bell owners. If Abdullah keeps this up, his role should stay similar as the season rolls along. Bell will still get goal line work and a healthy share of the carries, but Abdullah is a great flex option in PPR leagues, and more of a borderline proposition in standard this week against the Vikings, who struggled mightily to contain the run game on Monday night. The short week won't help them get ready for Detroit.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 2: @NO): I know, this sounds crazy after week 1, but this is just for 2QB leagues. If there is a defense that could give the Bucs a run for worst in the league, it resides in New Orleans. Jameis isn't as bad as he looked last week, and he'll undoubtedly be better if he has Mike Evans back on the field. I think 2 more TDs are very much in play this week, and the yardage number has a chance to go up as I expect the Saints offense to bounce back in a big way this week and keep Tampa throwing.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 2: @NYG): Coleman was very involved in week one, toting the rock 20 times for 80 yards, but I think the Falcons will realize they need to get him involved in the passing game. He has big-time speed and operates well in space, and the Giants just gave up 12 catches and 131 receiving yards to the Cowboys' RBs last Sunday. Devonta Freeman will undoubtedly get a fair share of the passing down work, but if Coleman can steal a little bit of it, he could be a strong flex option against a sub-par defense. He's my favorite rookie RB this week not named Ameer Abdullah.
RB T.J. Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 2: vs. Mia.): I was very impressed by what Yeldon was able to do in the first half last week against the Panthers...I just wish he would have carried it over to the 2nd half. Despite adding Ndamukong Suh in the off-season, the Miami run D did not look impressive in week one, allowing 160 yards and a 4.7 ypc average to the Redskins' backs. Game flow may work against him, but I'd set the expectation at around 65-70 yards with the hope for a TD (less than 50/50 bet). That makes him more of a low-end flex option.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 2: vs. Ten.): Johnson got 7 carries a week ago shortly after being cleared from a concussion. While his 3.1 ypc weren't impressive, they were much better than the 1.7 average that Isaiah Crowell put up. I wouldn't expect Duke to overtake Crowell this week, but the Titans' D isn't nearly as imposing as the Jets', and I expect Johnson to be more involved in the passing game this week. He's an low-end PPR flex option, and I'd expect double-digit touches this week.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 2: vs. Bal.): The Ravens' corners are fantastic, and there's a chance that the Raiders don't have Derek Carr this week. Cooper was able to put up just a 5-47 line on 9 targets a week ago, and the Ravens have just as good a secondary as the Bengals. Amari will continue to be peppered with targets, so there is upside, but I wouldn't expect a lot more than he did last week.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 2: vs. Dal.): Agholor was a big let down last week, with just 2 targets, resulting in one catch for 5 yards. The good news? He was on the field a ton, and ran the second-most routes on the team (42), behind only Jordan Matthews (47). Eventually the targets and stats will come. This week's game with the 'Boys could be a shootout, and a 5-60-1 type of line from Nelson wouldn't be crazy. I could see trying him as a flex in deeper leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 2: @Cin.): The Bengals allowed a ridiculous 14 catches and 2 receiving scores to Oakland's RBs last week, and while Gordon had 3 catches in week one to Danny Woodhead's 4, the real issue for Gordon comes from last week's red zone usage. Danny Woodhead got all 8 of the Chargers' rush attempts inside the 20, cashing in 2 of them for TDs. I'd expect that to continue this week. It doesn't help that the Bengals are formidable up front against the run with th return of a healthy Geno Atkins. They allowed just 55 yards rushing on 15 carries to the Raiders' RBs on Sunday.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 2: @Was.): I know it's exciting that Gurley may see the field week 2. He was a full participant at practice Tuesday and looks like he should be active Sunday, but pump the brakes a bit. Jeff Fisher did just hold out Brian Quick as a 'healthy scratch' as he rehabs from a shoulder injury, so they might hold off just a bit longer. If Gurley does play, he'll almost certainly be on some sort of pitch count and faces a better than you think 'Skins run defense. They were among the best in the league last year vs. the run and allowed just 53 RB rush yards to the Dolphins in week 1. The coming out party is coming, just not in week 2.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 2: vs. NE): The Pats looked vulnerable against the run in the opener against D'Angelo Williams, and Karlos looked great in his limited touches behind Shady McCoy in week 1, but I doubt he does as much damage this week. He was able to get some of his work with the Bills up comfortably on the Colts and able to pound the ball. I don't expect them to be up more than one score all game against New England, which should keep McCoy dominating touches. Williams would have to break another long TD run to be worth a play. He was out-touched in week 1 20-6 by Shady, and McCoy had 3 red zone carries to Williams's one.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 2: vs. StL.): Alfred Morris, who many (myself included) were ready to write off as done in Washington, proved reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Jones did a decent job with the touches he did get, but Alf should be the clear number 1 until his performance slips. The Rams did do a nice job of limiting Marshawn Lynch last weekend as well.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 2: @Jax.): He was a non-factor in week one with Rishard Matthews starting and the passing game revolving around Jarvis Landry. I expect him to work his way in to the scheme eventually, but for now he's best left on the pine.
WR Rashad Greene, JAX (Wk. 2: vs. Mia.): Greene did see a ridiculous 13 targets in a surprisingly conservative Jags' passing attack in week 1, but he averaged just FOUR yards per catch on 7 grabs. I wouldn't expect that target volume to continue, but even if it does, that efficiency just isn't going to get it done. Greene was very productive at FSU over the past 2 years, so he could work his way into reasonable PPR value, but he's still 3rd in the pecking order after A-Rob and Hurns. Don't bet on a repeat this week.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 2: @Cle.): Pretty simple here, DGB was on the field for just 3 snaps in week one despite the team only carrying 4 WRs. You have to leave him benched for now until his playing time starts to increase. I would have no problem dropping him for now in shallower leagues. He will eventually find his way onto the field more, though, so monitor his playing time as the season progresses.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 2: @Oak.): The Ravens' pass attack looked to be desperately in need of more play-makers in week one with Torrey Smith gone and Breshad Perriman on the shelf, and Maxx Williams could eventually be that. I don't think it'll be this week. The Broncos' defense deserves much of the credit for shutting the Ravens down, and the Raiders won't be as stiff a test. Williams was targeted twice a week ago, and even if he doubles that this week he won't be worth a start. There are better options out there.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 2: @Chi.): Johnson got just one touch in week one, and it went for a 55-yard TD. Andre Ellington will be out a couple weeks, and although Bruce Arians called Chris Johnson their lead dog, I'd expect a decent chunk of work to go to David. 10+ touches are a real possibility, and he's already showed he's explosive and gets a poor Chicago defense this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 2: vs. Hou.): The Panthers' pass attack struggled mightily against the Jaguars a week ago, and Funchess could help that situation improve sooner rather than later. His role will increase dramatically soon. Part of his limited role week one could have had to do with his limited preseason reps due to injury. He's the type of playmaker the Panthers could have desperately used Sunday, and he should be the best bet for a Carolina WR to score a TD this week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 2: @GB): For leagues that count return yards, Lockett is a must own. He's one of the few return men who will also have a role in the offense. He should quickly ascend the pedestrian WR depth chart and become a weekly PPR WR3 option. For now he's still under the radar, but I'm not sure how long that will last. The Packers' defense was solid in coverage versus the Bears' banged up WR group, but with the focus likely on Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham, Lockett will have a chance to make plays.
WR Phillip Dorsett, IND (Wk. 2: vs. NYJ): This projection only holds up if Hilton is out this week. Donte Moncrief would move into a starting spot opposite Andre Johnson (who underwhelmed in week one), and Dorsett would man the slot in 3-WR sets. The Jets' slot corner Buster Skrine might move outside if Antonio Cromartie is out, which could open up the middle of the field for Dorsett big time. Keep an eye on the Jets' cornerback plans for the week. Dorsett is the type of player who could break one for a TD at any time, and it would certainly help if he gets a burnable corner to face off with in the slot. He's likely not worth a start in most leagues, but he could be a sneaky DFS play.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you a bit with your tough rookie lineup decisions this week. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
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