Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 8 was a fantastic one for countless rookie WRs: Donte Moncrief, Allen Robinson, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin. Do I need to go on? This crop is quickly making a name for itself as one of the best rookie WR classes of all-time. Will it continue? I think it will. Week 9 will be a rough one for many teams with a whopping 6 teams on byes this week. With that in mind, there will be a few more names listed as borderline this week, so make sure to read a little deeper on those guys and see if they are a fit for your lineup this week. Every league is different, so I have to trust that you know your team better than I do. If I say a guy is a borderline starter at WR, and you have 3 top-10 WRs and him, don’t play him. Alright, let’s dive into week 9’s rookie matchups….
Rookies to Start:
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. Was.): The ‘Skins D is a tough matchup on paper, but it’s mainly because they’ve been keeping RBs out of the end zone, giving up just 2 TDs all year to them. McKinnon is still a good bet to pile up yards. DeMarco Murray did dismantle Washington a week ago, and some of his holes to run through were massive. McKinnon did put up a huge day against the very stout Bills’ run defense a couple weeks ago too. He’s still a safe RB2.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 9: @Mia.): Oliver will get at least one more week as the Chargers’ feature back with reports that Ryan Mathews won’t return until after their week 10 bye. Oliver wasn’t great last week, but he did manage 63 yards in his worst start of the year. The matchup with the ‘Phins isn’t an easy one, but it should be easier than last week’s. The Broncos were ready for a run-focused attack, and they shut it down. Expect a bounce-back and a solid start from Oliver this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 9: vs. NO): Don’t be worried about the matchup with Saints’ corner Keenan Lewis after Lewis shut down Jordy Nelson last week. KB is a locked-in every week starter, and he just tallied nearly 100 yards against Richard Sherman last week. Expect another strong day.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 9: @Car.): On the other side of the Thursday night game, Brandin Cooks should be a safe option as well. The Saints finally started getting him the ball further downfield and it paid off big time. With the short week, there isn’t always time to install a whole new game plan, so Cooks should see similar work this week. The Panthers’ D is very burnable. Fire up Cooks as a WR3.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): With Cruz sidelined for the season, Beckham played on every offensive snap for the G-Men in week 7, and they used him all over the field. I’d expect that usage to continue, and production should continue to follow. You know the Colts can score, so the Giants should certainly be throwing enough to set up a very productive game for Odell. He has 3 TDs in 3 career games thus far.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 9: vs. Bal.): Bryant has broken out in a big way over the past 2 weeks, and he’s done it as a part-time player. The part-time thing is about to change. Bryant is exactly the kind of player the Steelers need opposite Antonio Brown to keep defenses honest. He’s a big, fast, dynamic downfield receiver, and he’s really hard to cover in the red zone. I expect the Steelers to continue to get him involved, and the matchup this week is a good one. The Ravens have allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to opposing WRs, and they just lost their top CB Jimmy Smith for the year last week. I love Bryant as a WR3 this week.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. Was.): Teddy has a primo matchup this week, but he’s still only a starting option in 2 QB leagues. He does make a solid QB 2 option this week though. Washington has allowed a 17:3 TD-INT ration so far and the 2nd most QB fantasy points per game. With that said, Teddy failed to capitalize on a plus matchup with the Bucs last week, and the Washington D looked rejuvenated against Dallas on Monday night. There’s serious upside here, but also some risk. 225 yards and 2 TDs would be a positive day.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 9: vs. Jax.): There’s a chance that Hill moves to must-start status if Gio Bernard is unable to go this week (he missed practice Wed. with a hip injury), but I’m assuming Bernard will play. The Jaguars have been better of late, but this still has serious blowout potential. Even if Bernard starts, I like the chances that Hill sees more work than usual. He’s a solid bet for a TD, and that makes him a real flex option.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): The Colts defense is not stellar against fantasy RBs, but they give up a lot of that damage in the passing game, where Williams is a non-factor. It looks like Rashad Jennings is likely to sit again, so there should be a healthy number of carries. I’d look for him to be in the neighborhood of 60-70 yards, but he’ll need to find the end zone to make you happy. He’s just a flex option.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. TB): Crowell is a dicey flex play this week, but one with plenty of upside. Head coach Mike Pettine said that the plan is to get Crowell more touches going forward, but also said he has trouble trusting him in tight games due to ball security issues. If the game stays close, it could be all Ben Tate in this one. If Cleveland is able to get out in front, Crowell could see extensive work. If he gets 10+ carries, I’d expect him to shine. I think he should approach that number.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 9: @Pit.): Taliaferro has vanquished Bernard Pierce for the number 2 RB spot in Baltimore, and that has value since he’ll get goal line work. He should be a legitimate threat for a TD this week against a mediocre Pittsburgh run defense, but he could be light on yards with Forsett around. There is a slight chance that Forsett isn’t able to play this week, and if that happens, Taliaferro bumps up to being a solid starting option.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Evans has been remarkably consistent for a rookie. He’s caught exactly 4 passes in each of the last 5 games (he caught 5 in week 1), and he’s topped 50 yards in each of the last 4 games. He should put up similar numbers again this week. Having V-Jax around certainly limits his ceiling a bit.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Robinson gets listed as borderline because he faces the best defense in the league at limiting WR fantasy points, but the arrow is pointing way up for Robinson. He’s led the Jags’ WRs in snaps for each of the last 3 weeks and he has 4+ receptions in every game since week 2, 60+ yards in 5 of the last 7 games, and a TD in each of the last 2. He’s certainly worthy of WR3/flex consideration despite the matchup.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 9: @NYG): If you haven’t heard of Moncrief yet, you’re not paying attention. He’s a freak athlete who is quickly climbing past Hakeem Nicks on the Colts’ depth chart, and should start opposite T.Y. Hilton in Indy for a long time (after Reggie Wayne leaves). With Wayne out last week, Moncrief had a line of 7-112-1 on just 40 snaps. If Wayne sits again this week, Moncrief should be in your lineup. If Reggie plays, view him as more of a volatile WR3 option.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Brown surprised in a big way in week 8 at the expense of teammate Michael Floyd, but a repeat is unlikely this week. Brown is still a boom-or-bust WR3 option this week, but I’d expect the Cards to try to do more to get the ball to Michael Floyd this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 9: vs. SD): The matchup isn’t great this week and Landry had a weak game against Jacksonville, but I expect this game to stay competitive a bit longer than last week’s affair. As a result, Landry should have a better performance than last week, but it would be tough to bank on much more than 5 grabs and 50 yards.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 9: @Hou.): Matthews continues to see a healthy number of targets and catches, but it isn’t equating to big yards or TDs. He has 4+ catches in each of his last 5 games, but needs to start seeing more downfield targets. Maclin dominates this passing game too much to rely on Jordan. The matchup is a good one this week with the Texans allowing 24.6 WR points per game, so you could do worse that Matthews at WR3 in PPR leagues, but he’s a low-end option.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 9: @KC): Jace has a higher floor most weeks than the other rookie TEs simply because he is more heavily targeted. He has 26 catches over his past 5 games, and Mike Vick has a history of leaning on his tight ends. I would expect Amaro’s numbers to see a slight uptick with Vick in there. He should be a reasonable streaming TE option.
TE Crockett Gillmore, BAL (Wk. 9: @Pit.): With a weak TE pool this year made weaker by 6 bye weeks, Gillmore has some streamer appeal with a decent matchup. Pittsburgh allows 9 points per game to opposing TEs, and Gillmore should see just about all of the TE targets. He needs a TD to be productive, but he could get one.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): The Bengals have allowed a 9:8 TD-INT ratio so far this season, and Bortles has been hemorrhaging turnovers so far this year. The team has set a goal of less than 8 picks over the final 8 games, and I think he starts off behind the pace he needs to hit that goal. He will likely be throwing a lot, so there is upside, but I would have a hard time starting him even in a 2QB league.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 9: @Sea.): Don’t get cute here. This is a brutal matchup. Carr is one of the worst QB plays of the week. If he were starting, I’d have rather played Colt McCoy vs. Minnesota that Carr here.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 9: @SF): Mason had a strong game in St. Louis the first time they met the 49ers, but I’d expect they’ll be more prepared for him this time around. He’ll see some work since obviously Fisher likes him in this matchup, but I would expect about 40 or 50 scoreless yards. There are better options available.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): Despite a pretty strong week 8 showing, Blue should still be firmly on the bench unless something happens to Arian Foster. He’s an important handcuff, but not much more right now.
RB Storm Johnson, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Denard Robinson was great again last week, cementing himself as the lead back in Jacksonville. Storm will do battle with Toby Gerhart for the change of pace work and has no place in your lineup or even on your roster in standard leagues.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Hurns got a little bit more involved last week than he had been in the few weeks prior, but the Bengals allow the fewest WR fantasy points and Hurns hasn’t topped 50 yards or scored a TD in any of his last 4 games.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Jenkins has been playing plenty of snaps, and has been getting better with 5.8 and 6.6 points in his last 2 games, but the Browns’ D is better against TEs than you’d think. Jenkins is still a raw player and isn’t really reliable yet. I’d rather play Gillmore this week.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 9: @Cle.): The Bucs brass have been very high on Sims, and it looks like he should be active for the first time this week, a week that Doug Martin might not be able to play. I’d expect Tampa to ease Sims in, but he should work in a committee with Bobby Rainey this week if Martin is out. Sims will be a factor in the passing game right away. He should be owned in all leagues, and could have a surprising debut this week in a plus matchup.
RB Marion Grice, ARI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Grice is worth a stash in deeper leagues with Stepfan Taylor out with injury. Grice will see the change of pace work behind Andre Ellington and has the skills to be dangerous in the passing game. He could have big value if anything happens to Andre.
WR Paul Richardson, SEA (Wk. 9: vs. Oak.): Richardson hasn’t exactly made an impact on the stat sheet yet, but he did break a 47-yard kick return in last week’s win for the Seahawks, and I have a hunch he breaks a big play against a poor Raiders’ D. He’s not a guy you’re going to play, but could be a really cheap daily league option.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some tough bye week lineup decisions. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
- Carson Palmer has gotten over the shoulder issue now and is putting up very consistent points, while limiting turnovers. While it may be hard to tell which receiver on the Cardinals will have a great game between Fitzgerald, Floyd and Brown, the one thing they have in common is the guy under center. A consistent option as an every week starter or an incredible bye week replacement, if he's available. (249yds, 3TD, 1int, week 9 @DAL) - 61% owned
- Ryan Tannehill was rumored to be close to losing his job in Miami earlier in the year. Of course that was just nonsense, and he's been proving his worth in spades over the past few games. He's not putting up gaudy numbers but he's improved on his turnovers and continues to work on chemistry with his receivers. What's really put him on the radar this year though (he's the #11 QB overall right now in standard scoring leagues), are the rushing yards that he's putting in. Over the past 5 games he's averaged 40+ yards on the ground.. bonus! (288yds, 3TD, 4car for 47yds) - 57% owned
Palmer and Tannehill both already owned in your league? Kyle Orton(10% owned) is a great pickup that has been consistently good over the past few weeks, throwing over 230 yards and scoring at least 2 TD's per game in weeks 6-8. I hesitate to pick him up and play him over the next two weeks since he goes up against the Chiefs and Dolphins, both teams that don't allow a lot of fantasy points to opposing QB's but his match-up in week against the Jets' poor passing defense is a tasty one.
- Mark Sanchez was blamed for a lot of things in New York during his time with the Jets, but he is still a young quarterback that has a lot of upside. It's just as easy to blame the lack of receiving talent, coaching and playcalling during his time as a Jet. Anyway, now Sanchez is taking over the reins of a potent Philadelphia Eagles offense and he showed quite a spark coming off the bench to take over for Foles on Sunday. Since Foles will be out almost indefinitely with a broken collarbone, Sanchez is a legitimate weekly starting option with QB1 upside. (202yds, 2TD, week 9 @HOU) - 4% owned
- Zach Mettenberger was on bye in week 9 but really impressed in his debut in week 8 against the Texans. There are a few good weapons on the Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Delanie Walker) for Mett to throw to and we should only see him get more comfortable as the year progresses. He does have a bad match-up in week 10 against a surely angry Ravens team though, so Mettenberger remains a wait-and-see in most leagues, only holding value in 2QB leagues as an upside bye replacement or lower-end QB2. (299yds, 2TD, 1int, week 8 vs. HOU) - 2% owned
- Martavis Bryant will score a TD in almost every game from here on out. Roethlisberger is absolutely on fire, the Steelers' passing offense is clicking and Bryant is the big redzone receiving target that Big Ben hasn't had since Plaxico Burress. Still playing less than half of the game's snaps on average, Bryant is a little dependent on the success of the offense but regardless he should get at least a few good-lucking targets in each game going forward. (3rec for 44yds, 2TD, week 9 vs. BAL) - 42% owned
- Mike Evans has appeared to struggle from afar, but a lot of that is just the usual rookie jitters paired with poor play in general from Tampa Bay QB's and being thrust into an important role right out of college. Talk about trending up, over the last 4 games that he has played he is averaging about 5 receptions for 80 yards and a TD. Evans is a guy that you must own for the rest of the season and 39% of leagues still haven't figured that out. (7rec for 124yds, 2TD week 9 @CLE) - 61% owned
- Kenny Britt has shown flashes throughout his career, but never seems to be able to put it all together for a long stretch of time. Who cares though, right? Fantasy Football is all about match-up play, especially going into these tough bye weeks, and the season-ending injury to Brian Quick has propelled Britt to an immediate increase in relevance. In week 10, Britt goes up against a Cardinals team that has allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs this season. If stars actually aligned for specific events, they may be moving around up there right now. (2rec for 32yds, 1TD week 9 @SF) - 9% owned
- Josh Gordon's story is very familiar to everyone by now, but consider this to be just one more reminder to pick him up in your league if he is available. Gordon comes off of suspension in week 12 against the Falcons and it's almost likely that playing Gordon in your playoff run could be the difference that your team needs down the stretch. Let's not worry about his stats.. the guy is an idiot - but he's an all-pro idiot. 65% owned
Flip a coin:
Allen Robinson(41% owned) and Allen Hurns(15% owned) are toss-ups every week for the touchdown dance.. but Robinson is actually a decent PPR start on the regular. Davante Adams(13% owned) has secured the WR3 job in Green Bay and therefore is deserving of a FLEX spot each week in most leagues. Jarvis Landry(8% owned) is a secret Dolphin pick that may pay off, as he's been getting 4 or 5 receptions per game and has scored 2 TDs in the last 4.
- Terrance West started the year off strong, rushing for 100 yards against PIT in week 1. His decline after that was a result of being outplayed by fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell. The problem here isn't whether Crowell or West can be productive, but rather that the RBs in Cleveland are one of these 3-headed committees that we've been seeing lately in the NFL. The Browns take on the Bengals in Week 10, who have given up the 6th most fantasy points to RBs so far this season. (15car for 48yds, 1rec for 2yds, 1TD week 9 vs. TB) - 24% owned
- Alfred Blue has played snaps in every game so far this season, and the Texans have no problem going to him as their lead back when Foster goes down or needs to be spelled. Some beat reporters in Houston believe that Grimes may be a better talent, but the Texans have already demonstrated who will take the role over. Since Foster may be out for a week or two following the Texans' bye week, Blue is a speculative add that could provide FLEX quality fantasy production but the latest news is that Foster may be okay to jump back into the #1 role come week 11. (13car for 78yds week 3 @NYG when Foster was injured) - 12% owned
- Ryan Mathews looks to resume his lead back role when he comes back after the Chargers' bye this week (latest news, speculative information) even though Branden Oliver has flashed with some brilliant plays over the past several weeks. It's much more likely for Oliver that he will take the Danny Woodhead / Darren Sproles type role for the rest of the year which bodes well for Mathews as the Chargers get back on their feet against Oakland's porous rushing defense in week 11. 67% owned
- Bobby Rainey should now be considered the lead back on Tampa Bay. Take this with a grain of salt, however, since Rainey has had some ball control issues this year and was not given a heavy workload toward the end of the game in week 9 even though it was winable. Still, although Charles Sims has upside, he's an untested asset and could easily falter whch would leave Rainey with the uncontested job for the rest of the season.. unless they sign Ray Rice. :P (19car for 87yds, 1rec for 34yds week 9 @CLE) - 46% owned
- Charles Sims was picked up by hosts of fantasy team managers hoping for a miracle to solve their bye week and injury woes. Unfortunately Sims - who was just coming off of IR last week - was inactive for the game, but it looks like he'll be 100% for week 10's match-up against the Falcons. Yes, that's the Falcons - the team currently giving up the most fantasy points to RBs each week. My thoughts are that Sims will impress and eventually get the #1 job in Tampa Bay this season, but that is still quite a gamble. 26% owned
- Jeremy Hill was one heck of a play last week and now that it looks like Giovani Bernard might be sidelined for a few games, he is an every week starter on your team. He is owned in 75% of leagues though, so this is a sidenote for those of you that may still see him as available.
- Denard Robinson used to be on this list, but he is now over 70% owned and therefore past the threshold of a possible pickup in leagues populated with mildly intelligent people. Now, if you're not in one of those leagues.. best of luck with life, and go grab him up ASAP!
- Adrian Peterson is a must add this week if you have the space, because he was able to plead the child abuse charges against him down to a misdemeanor. Since he has already been out for 8 games, the NFL may allow him back to play as early as next week. We'll see how the Vikings will use him now that they have been going to the tandem of Asiata and McKinnon each week, but one would think that AP's talent would make them switch back to him immediately as the lead back.
Deeper Leagues: Tre Mason(38% owned) could be great but I don't see him breaking free of the committee approach in St. Loiuis, Anthony Dixon(18% owned) and Bryce Brown(22% owned) are just not good enough to be owned in 10-12 team leagues, Chris Polk(1% owned) has some value as LeSean McCoy's backup, but not enough to be rostered in 10-12 team leagues.
- Owen Daniels has been a consistent TE most weeks, but in the last two has averaged 6 receptions and 50 yards or more in each game. He's not going to be amazing, and only has 3 TDs so far this season, but TEs are few and far between so far once you get past the top several and the Ravens play the Titans in week 10, giving up about 9.5 fantasy points per match-up. (5rec for 46yds, 1TD week 9 vs. SD) - 31% owned
- Mychal Rivera served as a capable TE last year and is doing the same this year for the Raiders. On track for the same kind of season (500 yards, 4 or 5 TDs), he seems like someone to avoid but his targets and redzone looks have been picking up in the past two games and Derek Carr loves him as a dumpoff target. Rivera is immediately a playable PPR TE with upside. (8rec for 38yds, 2TD week 9 @SEA) - 3% owned
- Mark Sanchez played well on Monday Night Football, letting us all know that he's an upside QB1 for the rest of the year. He ended up with 332 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions which are respectable numbers for any QB.. much less the inimitable butt fumblers. Sanchez will try as hard as he can over the next few weeks to put his past with the Jets behind him and take advantage of the fast-paced offense he finds himself in control of in Philadelphia. (45% owned)
- Teddy Bridgewater has yet to throw more than 1 TD pass in a game this year, but is slowly gaining composure in the pocket and chemistry with his teammates. Still, he has been averaging about 250 yards and a TD with 0 interceptions over the past two games and is up against the Redskins this week, who have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to QBs so far this season. If there is any week to play Bridgewater as a fill-in or in a 2 QB league, it's this week. (7% owned)
- Drew Stanton will be taking over for Carson Palmer after it was confirmed that Palmer tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. Stanton has been a more than capable backup for several teams and should be able to excel in Bruce Arian's offense. Unfortunately his upside is not comparable to what Palmer's was, but he should be a serviceable QB2 all season for fantasy teams. (2% owned)
- Andrew Hawkins was picking up steam when he was injured recently but looks to get back on track this week against the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So far this season they have given up the most fantasy points to WRs and - since Cleveland has been playing well - that doesn't look to change anytime soon. If Hawkins suits up this week, he could be a beast - especially in PPR leagues. His value long-term may be nice as well since Gordon's heralded comeback will take some much-needed pressure from Hawkins. (38% owned)
- Jordan Matthews caught 2 TDs on Monday Night Football on 7 receptions for 138 yards. Great numbers, Jordan. As rookies go, the class this year has been terrific to watch. While Matthews may have had some unproductive games earlier in the year, he did average about 5 receptions per game so far this season including another 2 TD performance in week 3 against the Redskins. Without a doubt, Sanchez has been comfortable targeting Matthews early and often and as long as they're winning games, why would that change? (28% owned)
- Jarvis Landry was my secret dolphin pick last week, and he performed well by PPR standards (7rec for 53 yds). Since he has only scored 2 TDs all season and it doesn't look like that will be changing anytime soon, Landry is solely a PPR WR3/4.. but he is a good bet to score you 10 points each week and should be owned in all PPR leagues as a bye week replacement for this reason. (11% owned)
- John Brown is the high-risk upsideplayer that you mayor may not have been looking for. 5rec for 119yds and a TD in week 8 and 5rec for 73yds and a TD in week 10 tells us that he can compete out there with the best of them, but Arizona's confounding love of spreading the ball around can sometimes stymie the best of us. Kenny Stills? Justin Hunter? Yeah, Brown is right up that alley and should continue to perform in that regard. Roll the dice if you don't have enough other good options. (4% owned)
- C.J. Anderson was the primary ball-carrier for the Broncos on Sunday and as we know, whoever holds that position has all of the opportunities in the world for fantasy production on a week-to-week basis. Since Hillman is out for at least two weeks, and Ball was not exactly performing at a high level even when he was healthy, Anderson may well get the chance to showcase his talents again in week 11 against the Rams. They are a tough defense, especially lately, but the Broncos (and C.J. Anderson) don't care. (11% owned)
- Theo Riddick is a name that I've heard called a lot this season, especially when I'm playing either Joique Bell or Reggie Bush in my fantasy lineup. We talk a lot about 3-headed (or more) RBBC's and how frustrating they can be on a weekly basis for fantasy owners.. but I'm not sure this is going to be one of them. It looks to me like Bell has been under-performing and Bush has has lingering issues going into the last half of the regular season that may well continue. All of this means that Riddick will - at least for a short time - be the recipient of a lot of work in the backfield. My money is on 5+ reception for 50+ yards and a TD in week 11 even against a stingy Cardinals' defense. (6% owned)
Do yourself a favor, and don't mess around with Anthony (Boobie) Dixon or Bryce Brown in the coming weeks. Fred Jackson will eventually feel better, but even until then they will all be out there on the field. Listen, if you have the opportunity to avoid frustration please take it. That's like boarding a boat that has a 33% chance to capsize. If you choose not to take my advice, bring a life raft.. or at least a stiff drink.
- Kyle Rudolph has been injured for quite a while, but a little birdie told me that he'll be back soon. The Vikings have admittedly struggled a little bit without the talents of Rudolph and are surely eager to have those extra receptions and red-zone targets back in the offense. He's not a pick up to play against the Bears specifically.. more like a playoff-run stash, but if he does play on Sunday I would start him without question. (32% owned)
- Mychal Rivera jumped for 3% to 34% owned this week, and for good reason. As Derek Carr's new toy in the Raiders' get-it-out-quick offense, Rivera has been racking up the receptions in the past three weeks, averaging 7 a game along with a TD. As long as these two are on the same team, Rivera is a low-end top 10 TE for me each week. Grab him before he's gone. (34% owned)
I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had a great game in week 10 with 5rec for 30yds and a TD. The Bucs have been using him all year fairly sparingly but that will likely change with McCown taking back the reigns.. we can probably count on a few more receptions per game as the dump-off target with upside. This huge target will always be a threat in the red-zone as well and is a good bye week fill-in if your other options are exhausted.
- Mark Sanchez played badly last week despite his fantasy production being more than serviceable, but he'll bounce back next week at home against the Titans. The Eagles have quite a few weapons available to them and they are not afraid to go for those risky plays! I still believe that Sanchez is better than Foles and his struggles in New York were just as much a product of the lack of offensive talent and poor playcalling as anything else. We should see better chemistry and decision-making from Sanchez over the next few weeks.
- Brian Hoyer has been playing well enough so far this season to rebuke advances from newly drafted rookie QB Johnny Manziel. Sorry, Johnny.. your time has yet to come. It IS time for Josh Gordon's return, though.. and apparently heralded by choirs of angels based on some reactions that I've read today! Anyway, Hoyer could show QB1 upside down the stretch with a weapon like Josh Gordon catching his passes.
- Kyle Orton put together a string of quality games but more recently has been delivering up some poor performances. This should change pretty quickly as he goes up against the poor passing defense of the New York Jets in week 12. I would expect nothing less than 200 yards and 2 TDs for Orton when he and the Bills try to jumpstart their offense this week.
- Zach Mettenberger still stands like a statue in the pocket, but we've seen him make some huge plays since taking over the starting job in Tennessee including the 80-yard touchdown bomb to Nate Washington last night against the Steelers. The Titans are certainly a rebuilding team but Mettenberger deserves a look with the right match-up and QBs playing the Eagles have had a good time of it in general.
It's just not going to happen for ya: Robert Griffin III has all of the upside in the world and some great talents at multiple positions on his team, but it was long ago time to throw in the towel. Stop picking him up, people! Honestly, you'd probably be better off with Andy Dalton!
- C.J. Andersonis the man now in Denver.. mostly because he HAS to be! Clearly the feature back, the competition that he would have faced going forward includes such injured players as Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman. Look for Anderson to settle in to his new role (at least for the next few weeks) and start to score some TDs as he gets more comfortable with his situation.
-Tre Mason was slowly being eased into the lead role in St. Louis but had a difficult schedule to contend with. His production suffered because of the struggles that the Rams were having on offense and the opponents that were put in front of them. Playing the Chargers, Raiders and Redskins over the next few weeks should take a little of the pressure from Mason and I would consider him a startable RB2 candidate for the rest of the season.
- Isaiah Crowell continues to do-si-do with Terrance West for the #1 RB job in Cleveland, but at least there is one less dance partner going forward after the Browns dropped the constantly under-performing Ben Tate today. I have a hard time recommending a situation where there is not a clear lead back, however I think we are likely to see Crowell field the majority of the carries. In a game against Atlanta, it would not be surprising to see both Crowell and West play a part once again, though.
- Jonas Gray was explosive and violent last week, running like Beast Mode and racking up 199 yards on 38 touches for a staggering 4 TDs. Gray has now fully captured the Stevan Ridley role in the Patriots' offense, but with that comes a caveat: namely, the Belichick will play who the Belichik wants to play (and generally not who you are expecting). Those who want to chase numbers will likely see low usage of Gray this coming week just because, though surely he has not scored his last TD.
It's finally time for this guy: Charles Sims may break out in a big way this week against the Bears. Looking like the lead back for the Bucs, Sims took the most snaps and had the most production against the Redskins in week 11. Sims looks healthy and is trending up over the other RB candidates, but there is always the chance that Doug Martin comes back this week and sucks up some of the available touches - turning this into a 3-headed monster of a situation that you'll want to stay away from. Still, I'm betting that Sims ends up being productive this week against Chicago.. predicting at least 60 all-purpose yards and 1 TD.
- Josh Gordon is included in this list because there are some leagues out there that still don't have him rostered. Say what you will about Gordon, but he's an absolute beast on the field and should put up WR1 numbers in every match-up.
- Jordan Matthews had another great game last week, putting up 5 receptions for 107 and a TD. His chemistry with Sanchez has been beneficial for both players, and although Sanchez didn't have a great game (stats aside) last week, he should be able to perform much better at home against the Titans. It's a travesty that Matthews is still not owned in every league at this point.
- Cecil Shorts is a name much-mentioned around drinkfive, but this year his performance has been hampered by the success of Allen Robinson and Robinson's chemistry with new QB Bortles. Now that Robinson is out for the rest of the season with a broken foot, however, Shorts is once again thrust into the 'garbage-time' spotlight and should put up solid numbers from here on out.
- Doug Baldwin looked good last weekagainst the Chiefs, but he's just not fast enough, big enough or strong enough to really break out with consistency. He'll continue to put up numbers like 4 or 5 receptions for 50 yards and a 20-25% chance of a TD. Pick him up if you're desperate for a low-end starter or bench depth in a PPR league.
- Malcolm Floyd has been playing well this season, and his production looks to continue as Rivers and Co. get their heads out of their asses and back into the game. Mathews' return should bolster the offense and give the Chargers a believeable threat on the ground again which will keep Rivers upright and his receivers productive. Floyd is a better option in a standard league than Baldwin or Landry, but Matthews, Stills and Shorts are the superior plays here if they are available.. Consider Floyd the 'Andy Dalton' of WR free agents at this point in the season. You should not go with anyone ranked lower unless desparate.
- Jarvis Landry is going to give similar production as Doug Baldwin, but is not owned in as many leagues. He also has a better track record of getting in for TDs this season, scoring 3 over the last 6 weeks. A high-floor, low-ceiling PPR league play, Landry will generally score you between 8 and 14 points per week. Would consider other options in standard leagues, as his production is too dependent on touchdowns.
- Brandin Cooks has been sidelined for the rest of the season with an injury to his thumb, and meanwhile all-important fantasy games leading up to the playoffs are being played. What can Cooks owners (or those just trying to get a leg up) do to offset this inury? Pick up Kenny Stills, who has been averaging 4 receptions a game and has scored 2 TDs over the past 5 weeks. His production should only increase while Cooks is recovering.
Don't pick him up, he's a BUST: Kenny Britt (16% owned) had a huge game last week but can't be trusted for these important games leading up to the playoffs.
-Coby Fleener filled in for Dwayne Allen after he went down with an ankle injury in week 11 and ended up having an outstanding game, catching 7 passes for 144 yards. Fleener and Allen are both talented and share the load on a weekly basis so when either one goes down, the other should have a big boost in production. The Colts play the Jaguars in week 12 which is never bad news.
- Jacob Tamme is worth a look this week since Julius Thomas went down with an ankle injury against the Rams in week 11. He has proven chemistry with Peyton Manning and should be targeted at least 3 or 4 times if he starts. With Sanders and Thomas both questionable for the week 12 match-up against the Dolphins, Tamme might even end up with a TD.