Welcome back to the Rookie Report! The chaos of week 3 seemed to spill over into week 4 as we were treated to another round of surprise results. The primetime games all seemed to go according to plan, but the morning and afternoon games on Sunday were chock full of surprises again. The Dolphins were shellacked again as Alvin Kamara piled up 10 catches. Buffalo stunned the Falcons. Deshaun Watson and the Texans dropped over 50 points on the Titans. The “tanking” Jets pulled off their second win in as many weeks, and the Rams upended the Cowboys as Cooper Kupp got into the end zone for the 2nd time this year. There were plenty of impressive rookie performances, from Watson to Kupp to Kamara to Elijah McGuire, and the rookies will get even more important as the bye weeks get started. This week will be a little trickier to set lineups with Washington, New Orleans, Denver and Atlanta taking the week off. Let’s take a look at what to do with the rookies on your rosters and see if any of them can help fill in for those starters on byes…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 5: @Hou.):The Texans allow just the 3rd-fewest fantasy points per game (all stats in PPR scoring unless otherwise noted), so this may not be the best week to fire up Hunt in DFS lineups, but he’s a must-start in season-long leagues. He had his worst fantasy game of the year on Monday night, and still topped 100 rushing yards and ended up the RB17 for the week. You simply can’t sit him regardless of matchup right now.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 5: @Pit.): Fournette has scored a TD and logged at least 16 touches and 61 scrimmage yards in every game so far, and the Steelers’ run defense has had some cracks this season. They’ve allowed 5.61 yards per carry to opposing backs over the past 3 weeks and have allowed the 9th-most RB points per game for the season. Fournette should be penciled in as an RB1 once again.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 5: @Dal.): This status only applies if Ty Montgomery sits as expected. Jamaal Williams is expected to miss this game as well, and that would mean Jones has the backfield pretty much to himself. The Cowboys allow the 7th-most RB points per game, and the 3rd-most RB receiving yards per game. While Jones hasn’t flashed much receiving ability at the NFL level, he did put up 646 receiving yards in his college career at UTEP. With the byes and injuries going on right now, Jones should be a solid RB2 if TyMo and Williams are both sidelined.
QB DeShaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 5: vs. KC):Watson has dazzled in his last two starts for the Texans. He gets a tougher matchup this week against a Chiefs team that has allowed just 7.1 QB points per game on the road (vs. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers). There is some reason for optimism though. Kansas City has allowed the 8th-most passing yards per game and the 2nd-most QB rushing yards per game so far. There’s certainly risk that Watson turns into a pumpkin this week, but he’s easily the highest-upside streamer that’s likely to be available in most leagues. He’s a borderline QB1 option this week.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 5: vs. NYJ):Don’t overreact when you see Kizer and Watson listed in the same section. Watson is a borderline option in standard leagues this week…Kizer is more of a borderline option in 2-QB leagues. With 4 teams on bye (3 with a top-10 fantasy QB), almost all of the starting QBs are in play in the 2-QB format. Kizer has been up and down so far this year with 2 games at 18 points or more scored, and two games under 4 points. The Jets have looked pretty good over the past 2 weeks at home after scuffling in 2 road games to start the year. There is some hope that with this game in Cleveland that the Jets return to their struggling ways, but I doubt that happens. The floor for Kizer is helped by the fact that the Jets allowed both mobile QBs they’ve faced, Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor, to rush for over 35 yards, but it’s still pretty a pretty low floor For DeShone. There’s always the chance that Hue Jackson benches him mid-game for Kevin Hogan again. Kizer is a boom-or-bust streaming option for 2-QB leagues.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 5: vs. Buf.):Sub-par O-line play has made it hard for Mixon to really get going, but his usage has been promising. Mixon only played on 48% of the offensive snaps in week 4, but he touched the ball 21 times on 31 snaps played. The Bills’ run defense is tough, but it isn’t impenetrable. They were ranked 9th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat through week 3, and then they allowed the Falcons’ RBs to rush for over 5 yards per carry. The Falcons’ rushing attack has been much more efficient than the Bengals’ this year, but Mixon remains in play as an RB2/flex option that carries a bit of risk. If he sees 20+ touches again, he should return better value than he did a week ago.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 5: @Det.):McCaffrey was a big letdown in a good spot last weekend. He posted just 8.9 PPR points on 10 touches against a Patriots defense that had been bleeding receiving points to running backs. For the season, he’s just the RB20 in PPR scoring and has finished higher than the RB24 just once in an individual week. The Lions are just a middling running back defense, but it’s hard to trust CMC as more than a lower end PPR RB2/flex play, even with the byes this week. He’s always a threat to have a blow-up week with his talent, but he’s had just one play all year that went for more than 16 yards.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 5: vs. Min.):Cohen clings to the borderline this week in PPR formats due to byes/injuries, but this is probably not a great spot to use him. For starters, there’s the uncertainty of how much his role will change with Mitch Trubisky at QB. He’s averaged 7 targets a game with Glennon at QB, and there’s no guarantee that holds up with Mitch. There’s also the fact that the Vikings run defense has been excellent so far, even after allowing 94 yards and a TD to Ameer Abdullah last weekend. They’ve allowed the 3rd-fewest rushing yards, the 4th-fewest yards per carry, and the 2nd-fewest RB fantasy points per game. While Cohen thrives on passing game work as much as rushing, the Vikes have allowed the 5th-fewest RB catches per game as well. Cohen’s game-breaking ability could help him overcome the tough matchup, but everything seems stacked against him this week. I’d only play him if you have to.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 5: vs. Sea.):Kupp has seen 6 or 7 targets in 3 of the first 4 games of the year. The Seahawks are more susceptible to slot WRs than perimeter guys, especially with normal slot corner Jeremy Lane out. Kupp should see mostly New England castoff Justin Coleman’s coverage in this one. The Seahawks’ vaunted Legion of Boom secondary has struggled away from C-Link Field so far this year, allowing 39.6 PPR points per game to opposing WRs on the road. Kupp should be a reasonable WR3 option in PPR again despite the Seahawks’ defensive reputation.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 5: vs. LAC):The Chargers have allowed the 7th-fewest points per game to opposing TEs, and held Travis Kelce to 1 catch for 1 yard in week 3, but Engram just keeps putting up borderline TE1 weeks. Through 4 games, he’s ranked as the TE14, TE9, TE14, and TE8. If you need a streamer to replace Jordan Reed this week, Engram is probably the best option you’re going to find if available.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 5: vs. Min.):It was nice of the Bears to give Trubisky his first start in the friendly confines of Soldier Field, but with a matchup against the stingy Vikings’ defense, that crowd may turn much less friendly on Monday night. Through the first 4 weeks of the season, the average weekly QB12 has put up 18.75 fantasy points. The Vikings are allowing 14.67 points per game to the position, and have faced a gauntlet of Drew Brees (posted QB16 week vs. Vikings), Big Ben at home in Pittsburgh (QB8), JameisWiston (QB19), and Matt Stafford (QB22). To expect a rookie making his first career start to succeed where that group has mostly failed is not wise. Trubisky could be in for a long Monday night.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 5: @Cle.):While McGuire was impressive last week, I doubt we get an encore in week 5. He was out-snapped 46-19 and out-touched 25-12 by Bilal Powell in that game last Sunday, and he put up 12.9 of his 21.1 PPR points on one play. The Browns have allowed just 3.08 yards per carry and have allowed only 2 carries of 20 or more yards for the year. The odds that McGuire turns limited snaps into another big day aren’t high. Powell is the Jets’ back to play. McGuire should be left benched.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 5: vs. KC):Kansas City is allowing just 13.2 PPR points per game to opposing RBs over the past 3 weeks. The Broncos are the best RB defense in the league so far, and they allow 14.4 per game. Foreman only played 29% of the offensive snaps last week in Houston’s blowout win. He would need a Lamar Miller injury or a plus matchup where he can turn limited opportunity into production in order to be playable. He certainly doesn’t get the latter this week, and there’s no way to predict the former.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 5: vs. Car.):Even if Golladay suits up this week, the Panthers have been pretty good at limiting his bread and butter: the deep ball. They’ve allowed just 8 completions of 20 or more yards through 4 games. Golladay will be a TD-or-bust option this week, and he remains questionable to even play. I’d steer clear of Kenny.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 5: @Ind.):While it was nice to see Taylor get targeted 10 times last Sunday, he’s unlikely to see the same volume this week. Garcon isn’t going to be locked down by Patrick Peterson in this one, and the way to beat the Colts is to throw downfield. Taylor has made his living on short passes, with just 8.5 yards per catch. The Colts have allowed 26 completions of 20 or more yards in 4 games. Only the Patriots (19) and Saints (21) have allowed more than 15 other than Indy. Aldrick Robinson or Marquise Goodwin (if he plays) will be the better second option to Garcon in this one.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 5: @Cin.):The connection with Tyrod is still just not there despite Zay playing basically full-time snaps. Taylor completed 11-of-13 throws targeting anyone other than Jones last Sunday, but connected on just 1-of-5 when Zay was the target. That brings the season totals for Jones to 4 catches on 17 targets. Jordan Matthews is expected to miss about a month with an injury, so it’s worth watching to see if Zay’s role increases, but his efficiency has been so bad you can’t play him anywhere this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 5: vs. NYJ):The Jets have allowed just 3 catches for 16 yards to opposing tight ends in the past 2 games, and haven’t allowed a tight end TD since week 1. They held Marcedes Lewis without a catch a week ago after the Jags TE caught 3 TD passes in London the week before. Njoku is yet to top 3 catches or 27 yards in any game this season. There’s no reason to start him and hope for a TD.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 5: @Mia.):Smith is already a TD dart throw at best with Delanie Walker around, and now it sounds like Marcus Mariota will miss this game after the Titans signed Brandon Weeden. The odds Jonnu scores a TD definitely are lower with Matt Cassel under center.
Rookies on Byes: RB SemajePerine, WAS, RB Alvin Kamara, NO
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 5: vs. LAC):Gallman got on the field last week and scored his first career TD. He was also the Giants most effective runner, but he still put up just 3.8 yards per carry. There’s a chance the Giants don’t let Gallman continue to see the amount of work he did last week with Orleans Darkwa expected back, but I think he’s earned a bigger role. The Chargers have allowed over 100 RB rushing yards in all 4 games this year, and have coughed up over 30 RB PPR points in each of the last 2. Gallman is still really cheap in DFS ($3,900 on DrafKings), and could be a decent flex option in deep leagues this week. The Giants’ shaky run game makes him hard to trust as more than that.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 5: @NYG):Melvin Gordon has been battling a knee injury and general ineffectiveness, and Ekeler has looked better in his limited touches than Branden Oliver has. Ekeler is only an option as a stash in really deep leagues as he’s played just 12 offensive snaps, but he’s made the most of those snaps. He’s put up 82 yards and a TD on just 6 touches. Oliver, meanwhile, has 78 yards and no scores on 22 touches. If something were to happen to Melvin Gordon, I think there’s a real chance Ekeler would play a really big role. Hopefully his recent play has been impressive enough to warrant a bigger role going forward anyway.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 5: vs. Jax.):No team allows fewer fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers than the Jaguars. Luckily for JJSS, he gets to avoid their top corners since Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant are around. Smith-Schuster has seen 14 targets in the past 3 weeks, and scored 2 TDs. It’s tough to trust him with just 34 yards per game in that stretch and a tough matchup this week, but he’s a stong TD dart throw once again. We all know how much better Big Ben is at home.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 5: @NYG):I mention Williams only as a stash at this point, and only for deeper leagues. The Chargers have gotten decent production out of Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams, but Mike is expected to return and be active this weekend. If he looks good, he could supplant Travis Benjamin as the WR3 before long. The Chargers face two very burnable pass defenses in the next few weeks (Oakland in week 6 and New England in week 8). It might make sense to scoop him up now before people see what he can do.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 5: vs. NE):Howard isn’t running nearly as many routes as teammate Cameron Brate, and he’s only seen 8 targets through 3 games, but there are several factors working in his favor this week. The 4 targets he received last weekend were a season-high, he’s still playing about two-thirds of the Bucs’ offensive snaps, and he gets a choice matchup with the Patriots this week. The Pats are allowing the 4th-most TE fantasy points per game so far, and they have a good enough offense to force Tampa to keep throwing to stay in the game. The floor is pretty low for season-long leagues, but OJ has great upside for DFS tournaments this week, and costs just $200 more than the minimum on DraftKings.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 5: @Ind.):Kittle has been playing almost full-time snaps, and is second on the 49ers in number of pass routes run. It’s only a matter of time before it starts to translate into more targets for the Iowa product. He’s had 14 targets through the first 4 games. The Colts allow the 8th-most receiving yards to TEs per game, so there is a chance his improvement starts this week. I like Kittle’s chances to post his best game of the season. I don’t know what that means for where you would play him, but a 50-yard game isn’t out of the question here.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with those tough lineup decisions and helps you fill in some of your bye spots. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury report throughout the week and do a final check before the games to make sure your guys are active. If you take issue with anything above or have any questions or general feedback, feel free to hit me up on twitter to discuss (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 3 was certainly an interesting one. Between all of the anthem protest drama, there were some intriguing football games. Almost nothing went according to plan, which should have been predictable with 10 road favorites (6 of them lost). The chaos started right away on Thursday night with an unexpected Rams-49ers shootout that was full of fantasy goodness. Sunday stunners included the Ravens getting housed in London with Joe Flacco throwing for 28(!) yards, the Steelers being topped in OT by a Bears team that completed just 1(!) pass to a WR the entire game, Case Keenum throwing for 369 yards in an easy Viking win, the tanking Jets demolishing the Dolphins, and the Lions losing on an incorrect call that cost them the opportunity for a final play. It was a whirlwind. If your team was one of the ones that got stunned, hopefully your fantasy team came out of week 3 in better shape than your real one. I wonder what week 4 will give us for an encore. Take note that for the players listed within the same category at the same position, they will be listed in the order I would rank them. Any point totals listed will be PPR scoring unless otherwise noted. Let’s take a look at what to expect from your rookies this week…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 4: vs. Was.): There’s a down week coming at some point for Hunt, but you obviously have to keep riding the wave right now. Washington isn’t a matchup to fear, and Hunt played a season-high 70% of the snaps last week against the Chargers. His role is getting bigger, not smaller. Andy Reid also said this week that he has no plans to scale back the rookie’s workload. Plug him in as an RB1 again.
RB Dalvin Cook, MIN (Wk. 4: vs. Det.): Cook is probably licking his chops this week as he watches film of Devonta Freeman dismantling the Lions’ defense last Sunday. He’s coming off his best game as a pro, and the Lions have been coughing up 150 scrimmage yards per week to opposing RBs. With his usage, Dalvin is a borderline RB1 this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 4: @NE): As expected, CMC’s receiving usage blew up against the New Orleans defense with Greg Olsen out and Kelvin Benjamin leaving the game early. The Saints had allowed the most receiving yards to RBs going into that game, and that hasn’t changed after McCaffrey hung 101 receiving yards on them. The team that has allowed the 2nd-most is the New England Patriots, who McCaffrey faces this week. He should have a great receiving floor and easily be an RB2 this week in PPR leagues. He’s more of a low-end RB2 in standard leagues, but one with big upside.
RB Chris Carson, SEA (Wk. 4: vs. Ind.): Any doubts about Carson’s role were put to bed last week and Thomas Rawls played just 1 snap. I’d expect Rawls to play a few more this week, but that’s mostly because C.J. Prosise has already been ruled out for the Seahawks and Carson isn’t going to play 100% of the snaps. The Colts are allowing just 3.2 yards per carry so far, but they’ve allowed the 11th-most RB points and Seattle opened as an 11.5-point favorite this week. The game script should very much in Carson’s favor, and he should be a rock solid RB2 option this week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 4: @NYJ): Even after limiting the Dolphins running backs to 21 yards on 14 carries, and just 7.8 PPR points last weekend, the Jets have still allowed more RB points per game than any other team in the league, and a 4.1 ypc average on the season. Perhaps the Jets’ week 3 improvement is a sign of things to come, but even if it is Fournette should still manage an RB2 day on volume alone. The upside is big in this one if the Jags get ahead early.
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Watson impressed last week against a Patriots D that typically feasts on rookie QBs. The Titans have allowed the 3rd-most QB points per game after being shredded by Russ Wilson last weekend, and DeAndre Hopkins should have a great shot to breakout and help out his quarterback. The Titans have allowed 22-243-2 to opposing number one WRs through 3 weeks. With the extra boost that Watson’s rushing gives him, he’s a borderline option for 2-QB leagues this week. There’s always a low floor with a rookie passer in a run-heavy scheme, but the ceiling Watson showed last week was nice.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 4: @Cle.): Week 3 was a promising one for Mixon. He may finally be breaking out of the 3-man timeshare the Bengals started with now that they have a new coordinator. Mixon played 56% of the offensive snaps and saw 62% of the running back touches in week 3. OC Bill Lazor seems to be turning the backfield over to him, and I expect him to play better with extended opportunities that will allow him to get in rhythm. The increased work is just a one week sample, and the Browns have been decent against the run so far this year, so there is some risk. If the increased usage continues this week, he should finish in the RB2 range.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 4: @GB): If you own Cohen in a non-PPR league, I’d probably lean against using him this week. This stacks up as more of a Howard game with the Packers allowing 97 RB rushing yards per game compared to 29 RB receiving yards. Then again, last week stacked up as a Cohen game and it was Howard who blew up. For PPR leagues, Cohen remains a steady flex option with big play upside. The Bears completed just 1 pass to a wide receiver last week, and Mike Glennon clearly has a connection with Cohen. I’d still expect him to be peppered with targets in a game the Bears should be trailing in as a 7.5-point road underdog.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin are both dealing with concussions this week, so Kupp should see plenty of targets if Watkins can’t play. He disappointed last week with just 2-17 on 2 targets despite the team’s gaudy passing numbers, but I’d look for a bounce back against Dallas. The Cowboys are allowing the 6th-most points per game to opposing WRs. Cooper is on the flex radar in PPR leagues.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 4: @Min.): It’s been a quiet couple weeks for the sax man (Kenny G). He’s always going to have a bit of a boom-or-bust element with the way the Lions use him, but I kind of like his chances to boom this week. The Vikings have allowed the 2nd-most WR points per game (44.3) despite strong play from top CB Xavier Rhodes. I’d expect it to be Marvin Jones who tangles with Rhodes most often (Rhodes is unlikely to go to the slot to cover Tate). Kenny still has a really low floor, as evidenced by the 3-33 totals he’s put up in the past 2 games, but I love his upside this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 4: @TB): Engram seems to have established a pretty reliable 4-40 floor so far, which should make him a borderline weekly TE1 in PPR leagues. He’s been the TE14, TE9, and TE14 in PPR in the first 3 weeks. Tampa has been solid against TEs so far, but their defense is dealing with some injuries this week and Engram has seen 7 targets in each of the past 2 games. Engram should be a safer bet than some of the other streaming options available (I’m looking at you Hunter Henry).
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 4: vs. Cin.): I’m not as confident in Kizer’s outlook this week as I was for week 3. The Bengals struggled to contain the Packers’ passing last week, but Aaron Rodgers is special. Prior to that game, Cincy held the Ravens and Texans to a combined 246 passing yards and 1 score. They did allow a 50-yard rushing score to Deshaun Watson, but those can be kind of fluky. I don’t expect a high volume passing game from Kizer, so even with his rushing upside it will be tough for him to return QB2 value this week.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 4: @Mia.): There is still a little upside here for DFS tournaments, but the matchup for Kamara this week isn’t ideal. It’s a small sample size, but through 2 games the Dolphins have allowed the 4th-fewest RB points per game. They’ve allowed just 3.25 yards per carry and 3.5 receptions per game to opposing backs. They’ll also be playing angry after an embarrassing loss in New York last weekend. It’s probably best to avoid rolling the dice on Kamara this week.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Foreman made two nice plays in the passing game Sunday, putting up 65 yards on the 2 catches, and the Titans have coughed up 175 receiving yards to opposing backs so far. This doesn’t mean much for Foreman though. His receiving plays should be viewed as outliers, not the norm. For now, this is still Lamar Miller’s job. There has been a lot of talk that Foreman has been outperforming Miller so far, but Miller is averaging 3.7 yards per carry to Foreman’s 3.3, and Lamar out-snapped D’Onta 50-17 in week 3. Foreman will continue to get change of pace work, but not enough to make him a viable option this week.
RB Semaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 4: @KC): It was a little bit surprising that Rob Kelley sat out last weekend with injury, but Perine didn’t do much with his starting opportunity. He totaled 49 yards on 19 carries, and added a 6-yard catch, but he also lost a fumble. He’s now at 2.9 yards per carry on 40 totes. Even if Kelley were to miss another game, Perine is a low-end flex play with little to no receiving upside.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 4: @NE): The Patriots have allowed at least 32.9 PPR points to the opposing WR group each week so far, and Carolina is running low on WRs at this point with KB questionable. There is a little upside for Samuel, but the Panthers have struggled to show they know how to use him and have struggled to get their passing game clicking in general. If Benjamin sits, Curtis might be worth a roll of the dice in really deep leagues, but I’m struggling to trust much in the Carolina passing game at this point aside from McCaffrey.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): It was nice to see Godwin get involved a little bit in game 2, putting up a 3-44 line on 3 targets as TB tried to play catch-up. The Giants likely won’t score enough to keep Tampa throwing all game again, and New York has allowed just 22.6 PPR points per game to opposing WRs. Most of those points are earmarked for Mike Evans and D-Jax.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 4: @Atl.): LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay each have more catches on the year than Zay has targets. Until that trend changes, there isn’t much reason to even consider Zay in your lineups.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 4: @Cle.): Ross looks unlikely to play this week. Even if he is active, I’d like to see him actually do something on the field before I put him in any lineups.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 4: @Hou.): With Corey Davis out with injury last week, Jonnu played about 65% of the Titans’ offensive snaps, and scored his second TD in as many weeks. He also has just 3 catches in those 2 weeks, and gets a tougher matchup in this one. The Texans rank 13th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA stat on throws to tight ends, and they’ve allowed just 4 catches for 60 yards to the position in the two games where they didn’t face Gronk. This is probably not the best week to use Smith as a TD dart throw.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): Howard has played about 65% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps each week, but has just 2 catches and 4 targets to show for it. He’s being used primarily as a blocker for now. Until that changes, there’s no place for him in your lineup.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 4: @Ari.): The Cardinals just held an ageless Jason Witten to one catch for 3 yards on Monday night, and Kittle has 3 catches for 21 yards in the past 2 weeks combined. It’s not a good spot to consider him.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): You would think his outlook would be better this week if the Rams are without Sammy Watkins, but he has been slowly ceding playing time to Derek Carrier. His snap count has gone from 29 to 16 to 11 in the first 3 games. He might still make a downfield play in this one, but it’s hard to rely on a player who isn’t on the field much.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 4: @TB): This is mostly just a hunch, but Gallman may get some opportunity this week if Orleans Darkwa is out and Paul Perkins gets off to a slow start. The Bucs are dealing with a myriad of maladies on their defense right now: Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Chris Baker, and Gerald McCoy are all banged up, and Tampa just allowed 33 fantasy points to the Vikings’ running backs. Gallman is only worth considering as a DFS punt play, and he’s a risky one at that. He played zero snaps last week. If Darkwa dresses, I’d take a long look at Shane Vereen for DFS lineups. He could have a strong day.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 4: @SD): Clement likely has little to no value for this week, but with Sproles done for the year he’s worth a stash in really deep leagues. He’s the primary backup to LeGarrette Blount, and he put up 22 yards and a score in just 9 snaps and 6 carries a week ago. The Eagles backfield is still very much in flux in the wake of the Sproles injury.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 4: @Bal.): The Ravens have allowed the 5th fewest WR points per game so far this year, but they’ve allowed 53.2 points to opposing tight ends in the last 2 weeks including 4 TDs. The Steelers will likely be using JJSS as a de-facto tight end if Jesse James is out with injury. He’s been playing plenty of snaps and has averaged 5 targets per game in the past 2 weeks. I like his chances for a TD in this one.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 4: @Ari.): Taylor played almost 50% of the week 3 snaps and was targeted in the red zone, scoring his first career TD. He also was the victim of a terrible OPI penalty on the 49ers final drive. The Cardinals have struggled against WRs so far, allowing the 5th-most WR points per game to them. The 49ers are a 6-point underdog, and Pierre Garcon could be shadowed by Patrick Peterson. Taylor has the chance for a really nice game.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): This is contingent on Watkins and Tavon being out with their concussions. He needs both out to see the snaps needed to produce. If both are out, I’d expect Reynolds to play in 3-wide sets with he and Robert Woods on the outside and Cooper Kupp in the slot. The Cowboys have been bleeding points to WRs the past 2 weeks (46.4/game). There is a chance that J-Rey surprises in this one.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 4: vs. Cin.): Njoku is probably a TD or bust option, but the Bengals are not as tough a matchup as their #5 rank at limiting TE points would suggest. They faced Baltimore in week 1, who only threw 17 passes all game (3 to TEs), and then played the Texans in week 2 who were missing ALL of their tight ends with concussions. In week 3 they allowed 2-52-1 to Lance Kendricks. The Bengals rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA on throws to TEs, and Njoku has hit paydirt each of the last 2 weeks. Limited snaps and splitting time with DeValve have hurt his output, but the Browns don’t have a ton of other red zone weapons.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with the tougher lineup decisions involving these guys. If you have any questions, arguments, or opinions, feel free to hit me up on twitter and let me know (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve got another week of data on this rookie crop, so we’re starting to get a better idea of who these guys are. Hopefully all of your teams are off to 2-0 starts, but obviously not everyone’s is. The key if you’ve started 0-2 is not to panic (unless you’re the Bengals). Be patient with your stud players. I’m looking at you owners of OBJ, Le’Veon Bell, Isaiah Crowell, Kirk Cousins, Doug Baldwin, and Tyler Eifert. Speaking of Tyler Eifert & the Bengals, they did in fact panic after an 0-2 start, and have replaced their offensive coordinator with former Dolphins’ OC Bill Lazor. Hopefully this can jump-start the offense and help Eifert and Joe Mixon get going. Of course Mixon needs to get on the field more for that to happen. Let’s dive in and take a look at what to expect in week 3…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 3: @LAC): You have to play Kareem Hunt. He’s the number one scoring running back so far by a wide margin, and this week he faces a defense that just allowed 122 yards rushing to Jay Ajayi last weekend. Hunt is decidedly a different style runner than Ajayi, but he should have success running in this matchup. TD regression is coming at some point for Hunt, but he should be a locked in RB1 in your lineups right now.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 3: vs. NO): McCaffrey hasn’t gotten off to the start that most fantasy owners had hoped he would, ranking as the RB27 in PPR leagues so far. His usage has been strong, but he hasn’t made any of the spectacular plays we were used to from him at Stanford. Things should get better this week. New Orleans hasn’t shown they can cover anyone. They’ve allowed 92.5 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs, and CMC should see extra passing game targets with Greg Olsen out. This game is a real opportunity for McCaffrey to blow up. He should be at least a solid RB2 with week-winning upside if things go his way.
RB Dalvin Cook, MIN (Wk. 3: vs. TB): Cook managed a surprisingly solid 5.3 yards per carry against a normally stout Steelers front despite having Case Keenum under center. The Steelers were without Stephon Tuitt on their defensive line, but it was impressive from Cook nonetheless. His fantasy totals weren’t inspiring since he saw just 12 carries in a lopsided loss and he was vultured at the goal line by CJ Ham, but his performance showed that he can succeed against good defenses. Tampa isn’t quite as stingy as Pittsburgh typically is, and it sounds like there is a good chance that Sam Bradford will return in this one. Even if Bradford is out, Cook should put up RB2 numbers.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Bal.): Fournette faces a tough matchup this week, so he’s more of a volume RB2, but with a score each week so far he should be in your lineup. The Ravens allowed the 6th-fewest RB fantasy points last year, and the 11th-fewest so far in 2017, but Fournette has seen 40 carries and 8 targets already. As long as the volume keeps up, and it should, Leonard should be able to post a respectable line again.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 3: @Ind.): Kizer is a borderline option in 2-QB leagues this week, and is an interesting DFS tournament play with a meager $5,000 cost on DraftKings. The Colts have allowed over 300 passing yards in each of their first two games with top corner Vontae Davis sidelined, to Jared Goff and Carson Palmer. If Davis is out again, Kizer makes for an interesting play now that he has found a trusted possession receiver in Rashard Higgins. The Colts have stifled the running game, allowing just 2.73 yards per carry and have forced teams to throw instead. The throwing has worked out pretty well for those teams. I don’t know that I’d expect 300 passing yards out of Kizer, but I think he’ll post his best yardage total to date, and his rushing skill gives him an added boost. He’s worth considering if you are struggling for a second QB this week.
RB Chris Carson, SEA (Wk. 3: @Ten.): Carson put the Seahawks on his back in week 2, and may have earned the starting RB job in the process. The Titans’ run defense isn’t an easy matchup this week. They allowed the 2nd-fewest RB points in the league last year, and although they are off to a slower start in 2017 they held the Jacksonville running backs to 3.3 yards per carry. In addition to the tough matchup, there is always the chance that Rawls plays more as he gets healthier, and Carson was barely used in the passing game with Prosise around to handle 3rd down work. I see Carson as a risky flex play this week, but one with big upside if the game script is in Seattle’s favor.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 3: vs. Pit.): As I mentioned with Dalvin Cook above, the Steelers’ defense has been pretty stout against opposing runners, but they have been susceptible to receiving yards out of the backfield. Pittsburgh allowed the 4th-most RB receiving yardage and the 13th-most receptions to the position a year ago. This is a matchup that already favors Cohen over his backfield mate Jordan Howard, and Howard is battling a shoulder injury that had him in a sling after their last game. The rookie’s usage has been outstanding through 2 weeks, with 12 rush attempts and 16 catches on 21 targets. He should be a strong PPR flex option once again.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 3: @SF): Kupp saw the same 6 targets in week 2 that he did in week 1, but he did quite a bit less with them. I got ahead of myself by calling him a ‘Rookie to Start’ last week. He gets another solid matchup this week, but I won’t make the mistake of going all in on him this time. The 49ers have been improved against WRs so far compared to 2016, but they’ve still been in the bottom half of the league against the position. Kupp should see another 6-7 targets, which puts him firmly on the flex radar again, especially in PPR leagues. Give him a slight bump up if both 49ers safties are out.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 3: vs. Atl.): Golladay is going to remain a boom-or-bust option for the time being, and he’s shown both extremes through 2 weeks. Atlanta has a talented secondary and has allowed just 4 completions of 20+ yards so far this season, but they did struggle to contain Green Bay’s wide receivers late in their win over the Packers. What you do with Golladay depends on what your other options are, but he’s a volatile flex play for deeper leagues.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 3: @Phi.): He’s in the concussion protocol at the moment, so there’s a chance he doesn’t play this week, but most updates I’ve seen are suggesting he’ll be able to go. He’ll likely need a TD to return real value as a streaming TE, and the Eagles had allowed just 4 TE touchdowns in their last 17 games before being shredded by Zeus last Sunday. Engram has some appeal as a streamer in deeper PPR leagues, as 4-40 seems like something he can keep putting up, especially if Brandon Marshall continues to struggle. The Giants’ protection issues are making it hard for Eli to throw anything down the field, so Engram will continue to make his living on shorter catches. Engram is a borderline top-15 option this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 3: @NE): Even against New England’s defense, which has allowed 362 passing yards per game so far, Watson would be a shaky QB2 option. He salvaged his fantasy day last week with a 50-yard TD run, but plays like that are pretty fluky, and Bill Belichick knows how to gamplan for rookie QBs. In the last 10 games the Patriots have played against a rookie QB, New England is 9-1 and has allowed just 8 total TDs to those rookie signal callers.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 3: @GB): While it was nice to see Mixon actually outperform Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard in week 2, the timeshare continues to hamper his upside. He could be worth a dart throw in GPP daily tournaments after seeing what Atlanta’s backs did to Green Bay (145 scrimmage yards and 3 TDs), but the Cincy offense hasn’t been anywhere near as effective as Atlanta’s. The Bengals did swap offensive coordinators this week, promoting QB coach Bill Lazor to the OC position. Hopefully Lazor will start to get Mixon more involved, but in his initial media session after getting the promotion, he didn’t really clarify what his plans were for the RB position. He said that he hadn’t done a 3-back committee before, “but that’s where we’ve been so far.” I’ll need to see Lazor actually increase Mixon’s role in a game before I trust him in season-long leagues.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 3: @NE): Foreman saw a decent workload last week, but week 3 may be a different story. Houston was able to pound the ball on the ground thanks to the stagnant Bengals’ offense keeping the game close. The Texans are likely to be playing from much further behind this week going to New England. If Houston is in catch-up mode, it should be mostly Lamar Miller and a little Tyler Ervin sprinkled in. Foreman offers nothing in the passing game. If you play D’Onta, you’re counting on a TD that is unlikely to come.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 3: vs. Oak.): This outlook could change if Rob Kelly has a setback or winds up missing the game Sunday, but if Kelley plays you’d have to expect ‘Fat Rob’ to start. The Raiders are vulnerable against the run, so Perine becomes a flex play option if Kelley sits. He’s a worse option in PPR leagues than in standard, since he offers little in the passing game. Oakland allowed the 9th-most RB points last season, and the 6th-most rushing yards, and they just allowed the lowly Jets’ running backs to post 95 yards on 21 carries (4.5 ypc). If Kelley is a go, Perine likely won’t see enough work to be started.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 3: vs. Cle.): The Browns may look like a good matchup on paper, but Mack is still working well behind Frank Gore, and a Brissett-led offense is unlikely to make this game a blowout win where he’ll get garbage time run. Gore out-touched Mack 14-7 last week and out-gained him 46-8. Outside of a 24-yard carry in week one, Mack has a total of 15 carries for negative-3 yards.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 3: vs. Mia.): You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but even though the Jets have claimed that this will be a 3-man committee going forward, Elijah McGuire is not someone you should be considering for your fantasy lineup. The offense is a mess for the Jets so far, and a 6th-round rookie RB isn’t going to be the guy to jump start it.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Sea.): This is an easy decision now that Davis has been ruled out with a hamstring issue. I likely would have recommended you to sit him against the Legion of Boom even if he were going to play.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 3: @Chi.): JJSS played 51% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps in week 2, but saw just 4 targets and gained only 16 yards. The TD was nice, but it’s not something to expect every week based on his usage up to this point. He has received 2-of-8 red zone targets that Ben has dished out so far, so he may find some stray TDs here or there, but the weekly chances aren’t great and he won’t put up enough yardage to buoy his point totals whether it’s in a season-long league or DFS. The Steelers are also likely to lean on the run game in this one as a 7.5-point road favorite. Steer clear.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 3: @GB): Ross finally got on the field last week, but was given just one touch, a rushing attempt. Green Bay’s secondary is beatable, allowing the most WR points in the NFL a year ago, but Cincinnati’s offense just hasn’t gotten anything going on offense to make you think they’ll take full advantage here. Ross hasn’t been involved enough so far to use anywhere. Hopefully Lazor gets him more involved, but you should avoid Ross for now.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 3: vs. Den.): The last thing Zay Jones needed after opening the season with a 3-39 line on 10 targets in the first two weeks was a meeting with Denver’s corners. That’s exactly what he’ll get this week. There’s no reason to use Zay in any format against the best CB group in the league.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 3: @Ind.): The Colts have allowed 60+ yards per week to TEs so far, but have also allowed just 3 receptions per week to them. Njoku is still only playing about half of the offensive snaps and is splitting work with Seth DeValve, who seems the more likely Browns’ TE to get hit with a deep ball after posting a 49-yard catch last week. Njoku is a TD dart throw this week, and there are better options available. He won’t see enough volume to be a punt play in DFS tournaments either.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 3: @Min.): Howard ran just 11 pass routes last week despite playing more snaps than Cameron Brate, who ran 22 pass routes. He played more because the game script called for a lot of running, and Howard is the superior blocker. The volume simply isn’t going to be there for Howard early on this year if they are going to use him as blocker this much.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 3: @SF): Everett has made a big impact every time the ball is thrown his way, posting 4 catches for 134 yards on just 4 targets so far, but he’s still being more than doubled in snap count by teammate Tyler Higbee, and he’s battling through a thigh injury. To make matters worse for him, the 49ers have been much improved so far against tight ends this year, holding Greg Olsen to 2-18 and Jimmy Graham to 1-1. That’s right…3 catches for 19 yards between two of the best tight ends in the game. There will be better spots to take a shot on Everett.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 3: vs. LAR): Kittle rarely leaves the field, but he’s seen just 8 targets through 2 games and is dealing with a couple of injuries. He also faces a Rams’ defense that ranked 6th against tight ends last year, and hasn’t allowed a TD to the position yet this year. There’s not enough upside to try him in DFS, and too much downside to try him in season-long leagues.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 3: @Car.): Kamara is probably a better option for DFS tournaments than for season-long leagues this week. The Panthers ranked 7th last year in limiting RB fantasy points, and 5th so far this year, but they allowed the 3rd-most RB catches in ’16 and are tied for 4th-most allowed so far this year. Kamara is the best receiving back the Saints have, and they are a 5.5-point underdog on the road. I’d expect Alvin to get a lot of run, and likely catch 6+ passes. He’s been targeted 13 times in the first 2 weeks.
WR Taywan Taylor, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Sea.): With Corey Davis sidelined by a hamstring issue, I’d expect Taywan Taylor to be the guy who benefits the most in terms of playing time. In week 2, it was Jonnu Smith who benefitted from Davis’s injury, playing 37 offensive snaps and scoring his first career TD, but the Titans were playing from ahead all day. I’d expect Taywan to play a bunch this week. Some are speculating that it will be Eric Decker in the slot and Taywan outside since Decker played there a lot in New York, but Taywan spent more time in the slot in camp while Davis was out. The reason this matters is because the Seahawks’ weak link in the secondary is slot corner Jeremy Lane. Whoever gets to face off with him will be the best matchup the Titans have in the passing game. If that guy is Taywan, he would be in line for a strong day. He’s a sneaky DFS tournament punt play.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 3: vs. NO): Samuel saw his first targets of the year in week 2, and with Olsen hurt, it’s likely he becomes a bigger part of the offense. The Saints’ pass defense has been abysmal, and Samuel has a trait that Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin lack…speed. There’s a real chance he gets behind the defense for a big play or two. With just 3 targets on the year, he’s probably not to be trusted as anything more than a DFS punt play, but he costs just the minimum in DraftKings and has some nice upside.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Sea.): As spelled out in the Taywan Taylor description above, I’m not really on Jonnu for this week. Sure, he could find another TD, but Seattle is stingy to tight ends. I list him here because I think he’s a great dynasty league stash at this point. Delanie Walker is 33 years old, and has just one more year left on his contract. Jonnu is quickly earning the coaching staff’s trust with offensive snap percentages of 38% and 54% in the first two weeks. He’s also looked every bit the part of Walker’s heir apparent. I think he has a chance to be a really good player, and is in an ascending offense with Mariota, Derrick Henry, Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor around. Stash him if you can.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with some of your tougher lineup decisions. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury report all week and check back before kickoffs to see if there are any surprise inactives. If you have any questions or want to yell at me about anything included above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve finally been able to watch meaningful pro football again, unless you, like Jim Carrey, believe nothing has any meaning. It was an exciting first week, with several strong rookie performances. There were hits and misses from me on what to do in the opening week with those rookies, but that’ll be the case every week, and overall I’ll take last week’s results.
I was spot on with the top-5 picks of most rookie drafts (Corey Davis, Dalvin, Fournette, McCaffrey and Mixon), but I was off on Kenny Golladay and was way too tepid with my expectations for Kareem Hunt who wound up the top scoring fantasy player. I had Tarik Cohen pegged as a sleeper for week 1, but not even I expected the outburst he put up against Atlanta. My biggest miss of the week was probably Zay Jones, who I had pegged for 5+ catches, and he wound up with just 1-for-21 on 4 targets. I should get a clearer picture of who these guys are as the year progresses, but I’d chalk up week one as a success. Let’s dive in to what to expect in week 2…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 2: vs. Phi.): I liked Hunt as a season-long option, but was unsure about how he would do last week. I was wrong to be unsure. After fumbling on his first touch of the game, he was fantastic and dismantled the Patriots’ defense. He might never duplicate the point total he put up on opening night, but there is no way you can sit him after what he did in New England. You should temper expectations a little bit with his matchup against Philly. The Eagles allowed the 12th fewest RB points last year, but Hunt should have no problem returning RB2 value this week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 2: vs. Ten.): The Jaguars are going to run Fournette until the wheels fall off. He handled 29 touches last week (20 in the first half!), and had success against a stout Texans defensive front. The Titans gave up 76 yards to Marshawn Lynch in week one, and Lynch hadn’t played in an NFL game since January of 2016. If Leonard approaches the kind of volume he saw in week one, he’s got a solid shot of ending as an RB1 again.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 2: vs. Was.): The Rams will likely have to throw a bit more this week if Todd Gurley continues to be as ineffective as he was on Sunday, and Kupp was targeted a team-high 6 times in the opener. Sammy Watkins will likely be shadowed by Josh Norman in this matchup, and Washington ranked 29th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA stat on throws to #2 receivers last season. They also just gave up 6-86-1 to Nelson Agholor last weekend. I like Kupp more than I did in week 1, when he posted 4-76-1. He should be targeted early and often, and he could easily wind up as a WR2 this week, especially in PPR leagues.
RB Dalvin Cook, MIN (Wk. 2: @Pit.): Cook was impressive in the opener, but it was against a bad Saints defense that ranked 23rd in run defense DVOA a season ago. The Steelers ranked 11th in that same stat, and they held Isaiah Crowell to a 17-33 rushing line on Sunday. Cook should still be involved in the passing game, but I’d be surprised if he approached the 137 scrimmage yards he posted on Monday night. Volume will keep him in play as a RB2/Flex option, and you’re probably starting him, but there some reason for pause this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 2: vs. Buf.): Week one was both good and bad for McCaffrey. On the one hand, he was given 18 touches and was an integral part of the offense as promised. On the other hand, Jonathan Stewart remained the goal line back and saw more touches than CMC, and the game script won’t always be positive enough for them to combine for 38 touches. Head coach Ron Rivera has already talked about not wanting to “wear his batteries out,” so I’m not sure I’d expect the volume to continue at that level. This week CMC gets to face the Bills, who were really bad against RBs last year (allowed 5th most points), but they did hold the Jets’ backs to 13-38 on the ground and 8-37 through the air on 11 targets in week one. Granted, it’s the Jets, who are terrible. At the end of the day, McCaffrey’s outlook in week 2 is similar to what it was in week one. He’s an upside RB2/Flex option with a plus matchup. His speed and playmaking ability gives him week-winning potential, but he could just put up another 80 scoreless yards.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 2: @TB): Cohen was a shock to even most Bears fans last weekend, and while his results may have been due to a sweet matchup with the Falcons, he’s clearly going to be a featured part of the offense going forward. The Bears are desperate for playmakers in the passing game, especially with Kevin White done for the season yet again, and Jordan Howard demonstrated once again that it won’t be him after dropping a game-tying touchdown in the closing seconds. Enter Tarik Cohen, who turned a ridiculous 12 targets into 8-47-1, while also rushing for 66 yards. He isn’t going to put up those numbers every single week, but his skill set and the way the Bears will deploy him reminds me a bit of Dion Lewis from two years ago with the Patriots. Before getting hurt that year, Lewis averaged 5 catches and 89 scrimmage yards per game, and he scored 4 TDs in 7 games. If Cohen continues to be used like this and stays healthy, he has legitimate top-15 RB upside in PPR leagues. He gets another favorable matchup this week against Tampa Bay. We haven’t seen the Bucs yet this season, but last year they allowed the 11th most fantasy points to RBs, and ranked 26th in run defense DVOA and 26th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs. I doubt he sees another 12 targets, but Cohen is on the RB2 map in PPR leagues and a flex option in standard formats.
RB Chris Carson, SEA (Wk. 2: vs. SF): Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has already said that he expects Thomas Rawls to play this week, but I think it’s very possible that he’s eased in. If that’s the case, it’s Carson who would spell him on early downs, not Eddie Lacy. The Seahawks are a 2-touchdown favorite against the 49ers, so Carson would likely see extra work in the case of a blowout, and he impressed in limited opportunities against Green Bay. There is a very low floor here with Rawls back, but Carson is an upside flex option who could be a week-winner if things break his way. The 49ers allowed 3 more points per game to opposing RBs than any other team in the league last year, and allowed 27.8 to the Carolina backs in the opener. They also lost linebacker Rueben Foster to a high ankle sprain in that game. All Carson needs is the opportunity.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 2: @Jax.): Davis came out with a strong debut after missing the entire preseason, posting 6-69 on a team-high 10 targets, despite playing fewer snaps than Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker. Davis played 42 snaps while Decker played 60 and Matthews played 52. Another week removed from his return, I’d expect Davis to play a higher snap percentage. The matchup is tougher this week, and he may have to lock horns with standout corner Jalen Ramsey. Hopefully he’s able to avoid the shadow treatment. The Jaguars allowed the 7th fewest points to WRs in 2016. Given the tough scenario, a repeat of last week’s numbers would be a successful day, even with an increased snap count.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 2: @NYG): Golladay was a big-time performer in week one, with a 4-69-2 line while splitting WR3 snaps with TJ Jones. I’d expect that split to move even more in favor of Golladay going forward (Kenny outsnapped TJ 44-18 in week 1). Unfortunately for BabyTron (thanks @LateRoundQB), a repeat of Sunday’s performance will be hard to come by against the stingy Giants secondary. The Giants ranked 4th in pass defense DVOA last year, and despite struggling to defend the Cowboys last week, they allowed just 2-43 to Dez Bryant on 9 targets. Golladay is a boom-or-bust WR3 option this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 2: vs. Det.): Engram clearly has a prominent role in the Giants’ passing game, and he may actually get better with Odell Beckham back and drawing coverage away. Brandon Marshall struggled mightily in the opener, so Engram may get more red zone opportunities than expected. The Lions coughed up the 3rd most TE points last year, so Engram should make for a reasonable streaming option this week whether OBJ is back in the lineup or not.
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 2: @Bal.): Kizer had some good moments in an impressive debut vs. Pittsburgh, but this week he goes on the road to face a defense that forced 5 turnovers from Andy Dalton last Sunday. The best-case scenario for Kizer would be a repeat of last week, but I think it’s more likely that he takes a step back. He’s just a low-end QB2 option with upside this week.
QB DeShaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 2: @Cin.): No one was surprised that Watson was forced into action in week 1, but he didn’t look ready for prime time just yet. He posted just 4.44 yards per attempt and turned the ball over twice in a blowout loss. I don’t expect things to get much better this week. He’s battling an ankle injury, has a short week with a Thursday night game, and the Texans o-line should continue to struggle. The returns for Watson were mixed in week 1, but he should be avoided in week 2.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 2: vs. Hou.): The Texans struggled to contain Jacksonville’s rushing attack on Sunday, but they look like a tough run defense on paper and Mixon didn’t exactly impress in his limited week 1 role. He led the Bengals’ backfield with 11 touches, but totaled just 24 yards. The touches were split fairly evenly between Mixon, Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Until Mixon is able to separate himself from the other 2, this looks like a situation to avoid.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 2: @Atl.): Ty Montgomery proved this is his backfield in week 1. TyMo played 90% of Green Bay’s offensive snaps, and after posting PFF’s highest pass protection grade among RBs for the week, I’d expect that workhorse role to continue for him going forward. Williams received just 2 carries in the opener, and at this point likely needs an injury to Montgomery to return value any time soon.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 2: vs. Ari.): The Colts offense was predictably a mess while helmed by Scott Tolzien last weekend, and although Mack scored a TD, he also had 9 carries for zero yards outside of his longest carry of the day (24 yards). He also only had 4 touches in the first 2 and a half quarters of the game, and didn’t see extended run until the Colts were being blown out. They may very well get blown out again this week and turn to Mack in garbage time, but it’s hard to bank on. The Cardinals didn’t play well as a team last week, but they did hold the Lions’ RBs to 58 yards on 25 carries. The Lions don’t boast a great run offense, but neither do the Colts. Mack should be left on the pine.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 2: @Car.): It was promising that Tyrod Taylor looked better in the opener than he did in the preseason, but disheartening that Zay was out-targeted by both Charles Clay and Shady McCoy. The Bills will be a low-volume passing attack all year, and 4 targets won’t cut it for fantasy purposes for Zay. There will be game scripts that call for more passing, but you’d like to see more of a connection between Zay and Tyrod before running Jones out there in fantasy lineups.
WR Taywan Taylor, TEN (Wk. 2: @Jax.): There may be even fewer snaps for Taylor this week than the 6 offensive snaps he played last week now that Davis is closer to 100%. He did manage 2-14 on those 6 snaps, which is nice efficiency, but he belongs firmly planted on the bench until his role increases.
WR ArDarius Stewart, NYJ (Wk. 2: @Oak.): It’ll be tough to consider any Jets pass catcher until the offense demonstrates they can throw the ball. Stewart may lose snaps to Jeremy Kerley this week, and was mostly a non-factor on Sunday while Kerley was a healthy scratch, posting 2-10 on 5 targets. It’s going to be an ugly season for the Jets.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 2: vs. Chi.): Howard should be used mostly as a blocker early in the year, with Cameron Brate serving more in the receiving TE role. The Bears allowed just the 22nd most points to opposing TEs a year ago, and didn’t allow a single target to Austin Hooper until a long TD on a broken play in the 4th quarter. Howard is a dynasty stash who might not do that much damage in redraft leagues this year.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 2: @Bal.): Njoku was targeted just twice in the opener, and this week faces off with a defense that allowed the 7th fewest TE points a season ago and held Tyler Eifert to 1-4 on 1 target on Sunday. You would be best off avoiding Njoku this week.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 2: @Sea.): The Iowa product showed he was over his hamstring injury with 5 catches in the opener, but the Panthers allowed the 2nd most TE points in the league last year. Seattle allowed the 4th fewest. Kittle will be targeted a handful of times this week, but I wouldn’t expect him to have much success with them.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 2: vs. NE): Although the Patriots allowed the fewest RB points in the league last year in standard scoring, only the Atlanta Falcons allowed more receptions to the position, and Kansas City’s backs just shredded them in week 1. Kamara led New Orleans RBs in snaps and touches in week 1, and he is likely going to be their primary receiving back. This game could turn into a shootout, so he may increase the 50% snap share he played a week ago. Kamara’s volume is probably too low to trust him as anything more than a flex option in deep PPR leagues, but he could be a great DFS tournament option at just $3,500 on DraftKings.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 2: vs. Chi.): Godwin is strictly a boom-or-bust punt option for DFS tournaments. He’s at least behind Mike Evans and D-Jax on the depth chart, but he might also play fewer snaps than Adam Humphries. His floor for this week is zero points, but he has dazzled in every opportunity he’s been given. He’s been compared to Roddy White by his head coach this preseason, I expect them to try to get Godwin involved a handful of times on Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a couple of big plays.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 2: vs. Was.): Just like last week, the Rams face a defense that was below average against TEs last year (Washington allowed 10th most points to them), and McVay likes to use the position a lot. Everett turned his only target last week into a 39-yard gain. I’d expect him to see a few more targets this week, and is a nice TD dart throw that will cost the minimum in DraftKings.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with the tougher lineup decisions you have to make involving your rookies. Keep a close eye on the injury report through the week, and make sure to check for any surprise inactives on game day. If you have any questions, or want to yell at me about anything written above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.