Welcome back to the Rookie Report! It’s been an interesting season through 10 weeks. The Zeke and Dak show rolled through another one of the better teams in the league last week. CJ Prosise, Rob Kelley, Wendell Smallwood, and Tyreek Hill all made good on increased opportunities, while one of the steadiest rookie performers took a step back (Michael Thomas). Above all else, the national TV games were actually exciting this week (if you don’t count the Thursday game). While it’s been a rough season for some of the highest drafted skill position rookies, one of them did get some good news this week as the Rams are finally making the move to Jared Goff at QB. Most feel that they waited too long to make the switch, but it’ll be fun to watch at any rate. Maybe Paxton Lynch will be next. Let’s jump in and see what we can expect from the rookies in week 11…
Rookies to Start:
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 11: vs. Bal.): The Ravens rank number one in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat which measures efficiency, and have allowed he fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. None of that matters to Zeke. While he likely won’t duplicate last week’s monster game and isn’t exactly a chalk play in DFS this week, no matchup is daunting enough at this point to push him to your bench in season-long leagues.
RB Rob Kelley, WAS (Wk. 11: vs. GB): The Packers’ run defense that was so stout early on this season suddenly has looked vulnerable in recent weeks. They still rank 5th in run defense DVOA, and are in the top-10 in limiting RB fantasy points, but they’ve given up a whopping 77 points to running backs in the past 3 games (all point totals are in ESPN standard scoring). It’s true that 23 of those points were given up in the passing game, where Kelley has little impact, but with the volume he’s seen lately Kelley should have no trouble being a usable RB2 this week.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 11: @Car.): I think a bounce-back is in order for Thomas after a rough outing against Denver. He had tallied 50+ yards and/or a TD in every single game prior to week 10, and squared off with the best WR defense in the league last week. The Panthers are in the bottom third of the league vs. wide receivers, and Thomas managed to put up 5-78-1 in the Saints’ first meeting with Carolina. I expect something in that neighborhood again this week and think Thomas is back in play as a solid WR3 Thursday night.
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 11: vs. Bal.): Prescott finished as the QB10 against Pittsburgh last week, but the matchup is a little tougher this week. The Ravens rank 6th in pass defense DVOA, and allow the 7th fewest QB fantasy points per game. Dak has shown to have a usable floor, with 17 points or more in 8 straight games, but he’s probably more of a high-end QB2 this week rather than a locked-in QB1.
RB Jordan Howard, CHI (Wk. 11: @NYG): I’m not buying the injury talk around Howard. Coach Fox said he was hurt after he was limited to just 2 carries for 11 yards in the second half last week. Howard rolled to 89 yards in the first half and claimed he didn’t suffer an injury when he was first asked. He’s since changed his tune to the company line, but there’s something more going on here. He is practicing in full this week and should suit up. If he’s the lead back this week as he should be, he’ll be a mid-level RB2 in a bit of difficult matchup, but the bogus injury claim makes me question if he will have his usual role in this one. The uncertainty is enough for me to drop him down a few spots to a borderline RB2/RB3 play.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 11: vs. Phi.): Prosise is a much better option for PPR leagues than standard this week. Thomas Rawls seems all but certain after the release of Christine Michael, and he likely will take a bigger chunk of the workload than Michael did last week. Pete Carroll has already claimed that Rawls will ‘play considerably’ in week 11. With a decreased role and a tougher matchup this week, Prosise will be hard-pressed to duplicate Sunday night’s results. The Eagles allow the 5th-fewest RB points per game. It isn’t all bleak for CJ. The Seahawks offense has been pass-heavy of late, and Prosise is still the best receiving back on the team. Also, the Eagles rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA on throws to RBs. He should be good to go as a PPR flex, but I’d be cautious about using him in that capacity in standard leagues.
RB Kenneth Dixon, BAL (Wk. 11: @Dal.): Dixon was productive on 11 touches last week, and his snap share has been steadily increasing. He’s the superior passing down back of he and Terrance West, and the Cowboys have been allowing 54 receiving yards per game to running backs. West has just 12 catches for 77 yards in 9 games this season. Dixon has caught a pass on 41.7% of the plays in which he’s run a receiving route. There won’t be a ton of rushing volume for the rookie, but he is very much in play as a flex option in PPR leagues.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (Wk. 11: vs. TB): Hill saw 13(!) targets last week with Jeremy Maclin sidelined, and Maclin hasn’t practiced all week and appears likely to be out again with a groin injury. The Bucs do rank 7th in pass defense DVOA on short passes, which are Hill’s strength, but they also have allowed the 2nd-most WR fantasy points per game. With the volume Hill is likely to see, he should be a solid WR3 option in PPR leagues, and more of a borderline play in standard leagues. He did average just 8.9 yards per catch in week 10.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (Wk. 11: vs. Chi.): Shepard still isn’t producing big yardage numbers, but his target share remains steady and he’s found the end zone in each of the last 2 games. The Bears allow the most WR fantasy points per game in the league, so Shepard is a good bet as a floor WR3 again this week, and he gets a slight boost if Victor Cruz sits again (though that seems unlikely).
Rookies to Sit:
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 11: @Sea.): The Seahawks have definitely seemed more vulnerable against the pass this year, allowing 200+ yards passing in each of their past 6 games, but they’ve allowed multiple passing TDs just once. Wentz has thrown just 2 TDs and turned the ball over 6 times in the past 5 games, and has just 1 game with over 240 yards since their week 4 bye. The Seahawks struggles make them a matchup you don’t have to avoid with good quarterbacks, but not one you should target with mediocre ones. Leave Wentz on the pine.
QB Jared Goff, LA (Wk. 11: vs. Mia.): It’s worth keeping an eye on Goff’s start to see how he fares against a middle-of-the-pack QB defense. We’ve seen other rookies have success right out of the gate in recent years. With that said, there’s no good way to justify starting a guy who has spent the past 10 weeks not being good enough to unseat Case Keenum. He should only be considered in leagues where EVERY starting QB is in a lineup.
RB Wendell Smallwood, PHI (Wk. 11: @Sea.): Smallwood had a surprising productive game in week 10, but he still played fewer snaps than both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. He disappeared for weeks after his first productive game this year, with a total of 53 scrimmage yards in the 5 games between his 70-yard outbursts. I’d expect him to fade back to being irrelevant this week.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 11: @Ind.): Henry remains a high-value handcuff for DeMarco Murray who won’t have much standalone value unless something were to happen to the starter. He saw a decent amount of work against Green Bay, but a lot of it was in garbage time with the Titans comfortably ahead. That’s not something you can count on each week with a 5-5 team, and he still only put up 3 fantasy points against the Packers.
RB Paul Perkins, NYG (Wk. 11: vs. Chi.): Perkins still hasn’t moved ahead of Rashad Jennings on the depth chart, and the Bears’ run defense has been better than you’d think. They’ve allowed the 4th fewest RB fantasy points per game, and held 4 backfields to single-digit fantasy totals in their past 6 contests. Considering that Perkins will split that with Jennings, and will take the lesser part of the split, there isn’t a good reason to fire him up this week.
RBs DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard, OAK (Wk. 11: vs. Hou.): The extreme elevation in Mexico City (it’s more than 2,000 feet higher above sea level than Denver) could cause the Raiders to give Latavius Murray some extra rest and even out the carries a bit between he and his backups, but there is no way to know if it will benefit Richard or Washington more. Playing either of them is playing with fire, and it isn’t something I’d recommend.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 11: vs. Pit.): Coleman is always liable to break out with a big game thanks to his big-play ability, but Kessler still hasn’t shown the arm to throw deep, and only 4 teams have allowed fewer 20+ yard pass plays than the Steelers have. This shapes up as more of a Terrelle Pryor week, as the Steelers rank 29th in pass defense DVOA on throws to WR1’s, and 11th on throws to WR2’s. There is upside, but I would probably steer clear if you have better options.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN (Wk. 11: vs. Buf.): Boyd has topped 40 yards just twice all year, and only once in the past 7 games. The floor is really low, and there isn’t a ceiling to chase.
Rookies on Byes: RB Devontae Booker, DEN, WR Robby Anderson, NYJ, TE Hunter Henry, SD, TE Austin Hooper, ATL
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Cody Kessler, CLE (Wk. 11: vs. Pit.): I know, this is an odd call given I just said to sit one of his best wide receivers, but Kessler might make a decent floor QB2 this week. The Steelers have allowed 250+ passing yards in 8 of their 9 games this season, and 14+ QB points in 7 of them. The Browns’ passing game has been a bit of a mess lately, but Kessler should be getting more comfortable as he gains experience and continues to get used to having his full complement of weapons. I like Kessler’s chances at approaching 250 yards and throwing at least one TD…Those are hardly exciting numbers, but there is a chance for more.
RB Dwayne Washington, DET (Wk. 11: vs. Jax.): Washington is the clear number 2 back behind Theo Riddick in Detroit, and the Jaguars have been struggling mightily against the run of late. They’ve allowed over 150 rushing yards in 2 of their past 3 games, and rank 28th in run defense DVOA for the year. If Washington sees 10 or more carries, he may creep into an RB3 day.
WR Will Fuller, HOU (Wk. 11: @Oak.): I know, Fuller isn’t exactly an unknown guy…but after putting up just 49 yards in the last 3 games he played and then sitting out 2 with injury, he’s probably off your radar a little. It doesn’t help that his QB Brock Osweiler is a complete bum. Fuller should return this week, and there are some things to like about this matchup. Although the Raiders haven’t allowed a top-20 receiver since week 5, they’ve allowed a league-high 11 pass plays of 40 or more yards in 9 games. Fuller is certainly the most likely Texan to come up with one of those. He’s a very risky boom-or-bust option. His floor is basically zero, but he could make a big impact with just one deep ball.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 11: @Ind.): Sharpe is another guy who, like Fuller, isn’t some new name you haven’t heard. He’s been a disappointment for much of the year despite basically being the Titans’ WR1. The Tennessee offense has gotten on a roll lately, and Sharpe’s numbers have finally started to stabilize. He’s had 58 or more yards in 3 of the past 4 games, and scored his first career TD last weekend. Delanie Walker will likely be the focal point this Sunday, but Sharpe is still playing a starter’s snaps and facing a defense that ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA. He’s actually in play as a WR3 in deep leagues.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with some of your tougher lineup decisions this week. Keep an eye on the injury report with players like Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Howard, Will Fuller, and others who may affect your lineup. Feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything included above (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! If you're like me, you're going to need fantasy football to distract you from the nightmare our country brought down on us on election night. We're getting close to the final playoff push, so if you're not mathematically eliminated from contention yet, keep grinding. You might just wind up fighting your way back in. There are a few more byes to get through this week, so fill-ins might be necessary again, and as usual there are a few rookies who may be able to help. Let's dig into this week's matchups:
Rookies to Start:
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 10: @Pit.): Dak is fresh off his best career fantasy game last week against Cleveland. The Steelers certainly boast a better defense than the Browns, but they will still struggle to slow down the Cowboys’ rushing attack, which will open things up for Dak to be able to throw the ball once again. Prescott has scored at least 17 fantasy points (all point totals from ESPN standard scoring) in every game after week 1, and he should again be a top-12 option this week, especially with Stafford, Carr, Luck and Tyrod all on bye.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 10: @Pit.): As mentioned above, the Cowboys should be able to run the ball on Pittsburgh. You know what to do with Zeke. The Steelers have allowed the 4th-most RB fantasy points per game despite allowing just 3 points to the Ravens’ backs last weekend. Zeke should be a no-brainer RB1 this week.
RB Jordan Howard, CHI (Wk. 10: @TB): Howard regained his stranglehold on the Bears’ lead back role after shredding the Vikings on Monday Night Football before the bye week. Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford will probably see a little bit of work, but Howard should see the bulk of it. Tampa Bay has allowed at least 14 fantasy points to opposing RBs in every single game this season. Howard should be a locked-and-loaded RB2 in this plus matchup.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN (Wk. 10: @NO): Booker was less than impressive in a good matchup with the Raiders last weekend, and his backup Kapri Bibbs shined in a limited role. While Bibbs may have earned more work, Booker should still be the lead back and see 60%+ of the RB work. That should be plenty to do damage with against New Orleans. The Saints just got done making DuJuan Harris the RB7 last week, and for the season have allowed the 2nd-most RB fantasy points per game and rank 25th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, which measures defensive efficiency. Booker should be well worth a start as a low-end RB2 or high-end flex.
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 10: vs. Atl.): Wentz has struggled mightily of late with just 2 TDs and 5 turnovers in his past 4 starts, but the Falcons just might cure what ails him. The Falcons have allowed the most QB fantasy points per game, and have allowed 24 points or more to the opposing signal-caller in 6 of their 9 games this season. Wentz hasn’t scored more than 12 in any of the past 4 games, but he has a great shot to break out of that funk this week. He should be a high-end QB2.
RB Rob Kelley, WAS (Wk. 10: vs. Min.): Kelley has been named the Washington starting RB for week 10 against Minnesota. He stole Matt Jones’s job ahead of the team’s bye week with a strong performance against the Bengals while Jones sat with an injury. The Vikings have shown some vulnerability vs. the run lately, being shredded by Jordan Howard on Monday Night Football in week 8 and then allowing Theo Riddick to put up 70 yards on 14 carries last week. Despite those two down weeks, the Vikings still rank 9th in run defense DVOA, and I don’t expect Matt Jones to completely disappear from the rotation. I like the Minnesota run defense to get back on track, but Kelley’s expected volume in a tough matchup will make him a decent flex play option this week. I’d be less excited to run him out as my RB2.
RB Peyton Barber, TB (Wk. 10: vs. Chi.): This outlook hinges on Doug Martin’s status for week 10. Martin feels optimistic that he’ll be able to go, but it’s certainly not definitive. The team is already without Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith, so there isn’t much else there if Martin is out again. The matchup isn’t a good one this week, as the Bears surprisingly have allowed the 3rd-fewest RB fantasy points per game, and have held opposing backs to single-digit points in 4 of their past 5. Because of the tough matchup, I’d lean toward avoiding Barber, but you could do worse if you are in a tight spot this week and Martin does in fact sit again.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 10: @Bal.): Coleman’s return to action was less than stellar, but he did see 7 targets as he shook off the rust of a lengthy layoff. He stepped right back into a big role in the offense, and coach Hue Jackson talked about wanting Kessler to throw deep more often and Coleman has averaged 21.4 yards per catch so far. While the Ravens have been solid against the deep ball (they rank 2nd in pass defense DVOA on deep throws), they’ve still allowed the 3rd-most WR points per game in the league. Coleman is an upside WR3 option this week.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): Shepard finally returned to the end zone last week, and his target share has remained consistent (6-8 targets every game since week 1). The Bengals’ defense has limited WR points this year, but they rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA. Shep remains a viable WR3 option this week, and is actually a pretty good one if Victor Cruz misses this game with an ankle sprain.
WR Will Fuller, HOU (Wk. 10: @Jax.): Fuller has been fighting through a leg injury the past couple weeks, but seems to be on track to play in week 10. He’ll return to boom-or-bust WR3/4 status if he’s a go. The Jaguars have limited big pass plays a little bit. Only 2 teams have allowed fewer passes of 20+ yards than Jacksonville, but the Jags rank a miserable 30th in pass defense DVOA on deep throws. There is upside here, but if you own Fuller you are well aware of the risk he brings as well.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Cody Kessler, CLE (Wk. 10: @Bal.): Kessler is nothing more than a desperation QB2 option this week. He’s topped 13 points just once in 4 full games, and the Ravens have an above-average pass defense, allowing the 12th-fewest QB points per game. There are a couple reasons for optimism for Kessler…his receiving corps is back at full strength, and coach Hue Jackson has said he wants Kessler to take more shots downfield. The question is whether or not those deep shots will be successful. Kessler has connected on just 4 of 16 throws that traveled 20+ yards downfield, and as mentioned earlier, the Ravens rank 2nd in pass defense DVOA on deep throws. I don’t forsee this being the week where he gets the downfield game going.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 10: @NE): There are bright spots to mention for CJ this week. He played more than 50% of the Seahawks’ RB snaps on Monday night, and the Patriots have allowed the 3rd-most receptions to running backs in the league. Coach Pete Carroll also said he’d like to get him more work going forward. In spite of his increasing playing time, however, Prosise has topped 1 fantasy point just once all year. I would expect Christine Michael to get more work this week than he got on Monday night. You’re really just buying into coachspeak to expect a productive game out of Prosise this week.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. GB): Henry seems unlikely to play as he battles through a calf injury suffered in pre-game warmups last weekend. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Henry. He had just had his best game of the season the week before, and seemed poised to take a bigger role in the offense. If he is able to play this week, I expect him to have a very limited role, and the Packers allow the 6th fewest RB points per game in the league.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 10: vs. Den.): I will probably get some flak for this call, but I wouldn’t feel great starting Thomas this week. I know, he’s been on an absolute tear with 60+ yards and/or a TD in 6 straight games, propelling him to top-15 WR status for the season. I also know that Drew Brees is an animal at home, averaging 382 yards and 3 TDs per game in the Superdome this year. Despite those numbers, the Broncos’ defense is stifling against WRs. They allow the fewest points per game to the position, and allow a full FIVE points per game less than the next best team. Look, you might not have a better option than Thomas, and he does get the best matchup of the Saints’ WRs, expecting to match up most with Bradley Roby. There is a chance that Thomas has an ok game. I’m listing him as a player to sit just to stress how concerning the matchup is this week. If you have other decent options, I’d play them.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. GB): Even against what has been a crumbling Green Bay secondary, Sharpe just doesn’t have the ceiling to warrant a start. He’s had 2 games in the past 3 weeks with 4 catches and just under 60 yards, but they were his best 2 games since week 1. Rishard Matthews and Kendall Wright are both better options this week. Sharpe’s production has been trending in the right direction, but he’s just not to a point where he’s startable yet.
WRs Robby Anderson & Jalin Marshall, NYJ (Wk. 10: vs. LA): Marshall had a solid outing last weekend with a 3-59-1 output in week 9, but he ran just 11 routes in the entire game. Anderson has been playing far more snaps than Marshall, but he appears to be locked in at about 4-40 each week. Their roles will be clouded further with Devin Smith being activated from the PUP list this week. The matchup is actually decent in week 10, as the Rams have been significantly worse vs. WRs on the road than at home (They allow 31 fantasy points per game to the position on the road and 14 per game at home), but it would be really hard for me to rely on any Jets’ receiver not named Brandon Marshall this week.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN (Wk. 10: @NYG): Boyd has maintained a role in the offense after the return of Tyler Eifert, but he’s still a guy you shouldn’t be starting. He’s reached 5 fantasy points just twice all year, and the Giants rank 10th in pass defense DVOA.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL (Wk. 10: @Phi.): I liked Hooper last week, and he rewarded you by turning 6 targets into 3-46-1 if you gave him a shot, but I don’t have as rosy an outlook for him this week. As I mentioned last week, Jacob Tamme was leading the league in red zone targets before getting hurt, and Hooper will have a significant role if Tamme is out again. The matchup is much tougher this week though. Philly has given up just 2 TE scores all season, and hasn’t allowed 60 yards to the position in any game this year. There just isn’t a lot of upside for Hooper this week, and you can likely find a better streaming option on the wire.
TE Tyler Higbee, LA (Wk. 10: @NYJ): Don’t get excited about Higbee’s season-high 7 targets or 31 yards last week. He still only caught one of those 7 targets, and has hauled in just 3-of-14 targets on the year. The Jets do allow the 9th-most TE fantasy points per game, but it’ll be Lance Kendricks who benefits from the matchup, not Higbee.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Kenneth Dixon, BAL (Wk. 10: vs. Cle.): Dixon’s increased workload didn’t go quite as planned in week 9. He definitely got more work, tallying 9 touches, but he turned them into just 13 yards against the Steelers. Luckily for him, Terrance West wasn’t much better with 27 yards on 16 touches. The matchup gets much juicier this week. The Browns have allowed 101 RB points in the past 3 games. If Dixon again approaches double-digit touches, he could be a usable flex option.
RB Paul Perkins, NYG (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): Perkins isn’t quite startable yet, but he has reached the point where he is definitely worth a stash. He finally started to see a bigger share of the work last week, and while he got off to a slow start, he played a big part in salting the game away late. He hasn’t quite overtaken Rashad Jennings yet, but the Bengals rank 22nd in run defense DVOA and have allowed 24 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs in their past 4 contests. Perkins will get an opportunity to impress in this one, and it could earn him more work going forward.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (Wk. 10: @Car.): Although he had a down game last week with Nick Foles starting, Hill has proven to have a consistent role in the Kansas City offense. It looks likely that Jeremy Maclin will miss this week’s game, and that should mean in increase in targets for Hill. The Panthers’ secondary has predictably fallen apart after losing Josh Norman, Bene Benwikere and Charles Tillman and replacing them with a bunch of rookies. Carolina is allowing the 6th-most WR points per game, and ranks just 30th in pass defense DVOA on short throws, which are in Hill’s wheelhouse. Hill ranks just 92nd amongst WRs in air yards per target. He also has been targeted on 20% of the snaps he’s played, and he should certainly play more of them with Maclin out. Hill is a great cheap DFS option this week, and could be a solid flex in deep leagues.
WR Roger Lewis Jr., NYG (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): Lewis could have some value this week if Victor Cruz does indeed sit out against Cincy. The Giants run more 3-WR sets than anyone, with 3 different WRs playing over 85% of the possible snaps this year. I would expect that to continue even if Cruz sits. Lewis has already scored 2 TDs on just 6 targets this season, and he would be thrust into a nearly every down role if Cruz is out. He’s probably a better option as a cheap DFS tournament play than for season-long leagues, but he’s got upside to have a surprising game this week.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully, it helps you with the tough lineup decisions this week. Keep an eye on the injury report and make sure you don't play anybody who's not suiting up. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything included above, feel free to reach out via 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! Hopefully the byes weren't an issue for you in week 8, but chances are if they weren't they likely are this week with another 6 teams off. There have been a lot of injuries piling up too, so you may be digging a little deep to find fill-ins to get by. Guys like Jacquizz Rodgers, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jamison Crowder, and Devontae Booker have proven useful in recent weeks, and believe me...there will be more unexpected contributors before the season is out. Let's take a look at this week's rookie matchups, and see if there might be a few of them who could fit that bill in week 9...
Rookies to Start:
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Dak's been rolling and faces one of the best matchups he'll see all year. The Jets were the first team all season to throw for fewer than 2 TDs against the Browns, and Dak has scored at least 17 points (all scores are ESPN standard scoring) every week after the opener. Dak should be a low-end QB1 at worst in a great matchup.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Zeke didn't quite extend his streak of 130-yard rushing performances to 5 in week 8, but he tallied 158 yards from scrimmage and now has 14 or more points in 5 straight. The Browns have allowed 75 fantasy points in the past 2 weeks to opposing RBs. Start-sit decisions don't get much easier than this one. Fire up Zeke as an RB1 again.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN (Wk. 9: @Oak.): Booker failed to hit his ceiling in a plus matchup with the Chargers last weekend, but he was still the RB16 on the week. The matchup is good again in week 9. The Raiders rank 25th in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA stat which measures defensive efficiency and have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Booker is likely to be at least a top-16 RB again. You should feel comfortable starting him this week.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 9: @SF): Thomas has been on a really nice roll of late. He put up his lowest fantasy output of the past 5 weeks in week 8, but that still meant a 6-63 line against the stingy Seahawks' secondary. He also led the Saints WRs in snaps played for the 2nd time this year. The 49ers aren't nearly as stingy vs WRs. San Francisco has allowed multiple WR touchdowns in each of their last 4 games, and Thomas's recent usage likely puts his floor right around that line he put up a week ago. With so many top WRs out on bye this week, that makes Thomas an upside WR3.
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 9: @NYG): The Giants have been solid against quarterbacks, allowing the 7th-fewest QB points per game, and Wentz is coming off of 3 straight down games. With all that said, Wentz's short passing game might pay off this week and help him to a bounce-back game. Wentz has the fewest average air yards per pass attempt in the league according to Football Outsiders, and the Giants are allowing 132.4 yards after catch per game, the 8th-most in the NFL. It's still not a great matchup, but not as bleak as it might appear. With just 26 active QBs this week, Wentz should be a low-end QB2.
RB Peyton Barber, TB (Wk. 9: vs. Atl.): Jacquizz Rodgers is questionable this week, and with the game being on Thursday, he seems more and more unlikely to play. Head coach Dirk Koetter has already said he sees the team using a committee approach against the Falcons, and that means Barber and Antone Smith are likely to split the work. There is some risk here with Barber since he was out-snapped and out-touched by Smith last week, but I'd expect Barber to get a good chunk of the early down work. Atlanta has been vulnerable against the run, ranking 21st in run defense DVOA and allowing 23 points per game to opposing backs if you throw out their 2 outlier games (One vs GB where FB Aaron Ripkowski led the team in backfield snaps, and one vs Carolina where they dominated the game and time of possession). As I mentioned, there's risk here without knowing the work split with Smith, but there is RB2 upside.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): With a lot of top WRs on bye this week, Shep is at least in consideration as a deep-league WR3. His production was less than stellar in the few weeks before the Giants' bye, but he's seen 7 or 8 targets in each of the past 7 games and the Giants had the bye week to get their passing game straightened out. This is more of a hunch than anything, but I like the Giants to get it together this week and for Shepard to have his best game since week 3. I still wouldn't recommend him as anything more than a WR3 in deeper leagues.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL (Wk. 9: @TB): I'd probably prefer to start Hooper over fellow borderline rookie TE Hunter Henry this week despite having a tougher matchup. The Bucs have been stingy to the position, allowing fewer than 7 fantasy points to the position in 5 of their 7 games and ranking 5th in pass defense DVOA on throws to opposing TEs. They are coming off allowing 6-67-1 to the Oakland Raiders' TEs, however, and Hooper is likely to see more targets than Henry as the Falcons’ clear lead TE with Jacob Tamme out. It also helps Hooper that Tamme was leading all tight ends in red zone targets. Hooper should have a decent shot at finding the end zone. He's a low-end TE1 in 12- or 14-team leagues this week.
TE Hunter Henry, SD (Wk. 9: vs. Ten.): Henry is a streaming option this week rather than a locked-in TE1. Antonio Gates seems to be back to full strength, running nearly twice as many routes as Henry in week 8. Henry has just 3 catches in the past 2 weeks, but there is a little upside with a soft matchup against the Titans on tap. Travis Benjamin is likely to miss the game, which could get the Chargers into more 2-TE sets and get Henry more snaps. Tennessee has allowed the 9th-most points per game to opposing TEs, so any increase in snaps and routes should give Henry some upside. Like Hooper, he's on the radar as a low-end streamer in 12- and 14-team leagues or deeper.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Cody Kessler, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. Dal.): As I mentioned earlier with Wentz, there are only 26 QBs playing this week, so pretty much all of them should be considered in 2QB leagues, but the matchup isn't great for Kessler and he's coming off an injury. The Cowboys have allowed just 11 or 12 fantasy points to 3 of the past 4 QBs they've faced. Cody may get a boost from the return of Corey Coleman, but I would avoid rolling with him unless you are desperate in a 2-QB league. There is still an outside shot Josh McCown gets the start.
RB Dwayne Washington, DET (Wk. 9: @Min.): Washington should return this week after seeming to be due back last week, but Minnesota probably isn't the best matchup to try him out in. The Vikings had their worst game of the season vs. running backs last Monday against the Bears and Jordan Howard, but I don't expect a repeat this weekend. Washington's role still isn't fully defined after Theo Riddick operated as the clear lead back in week 8. It's best to take a wait-and-see approach with Washington in this one.
RB Don Jackson, GB (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): Even with surprise RB fill-ins Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb both out with injury last week, Jackson couldn't manage to play ahead of FB Aaron Ripkowski. Knile Davis was cut this week, but Jackson is best left on the wire despite a plus matchup with the Colts. Look for Montgomery to operate as the lead RB again this week.
RBs DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard, OAK (Wk. 9: vs. Den.): The split between the two of the backup role continues to sap the usefulness of both backs. With Latavius back on the field, neither one is seeing enough work to be startable. Steer clear of both.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 9: vs. Buf.): Prosise made good on my 'Sleeper' prediction last week, cashing in for 103 scrimmage yards on just 8 touches. I wouldn't expect him to duplicate that production this week against the Bills if the workload stays the same. The Bills are a little stingier than New Orleans. It'll be interesting to see if his passing down role continues once Thomas Rawls finally returns.
RB Paul Perkins, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): Much like their passing game, the Giants need to get their run game fixed as well. While giving Paul Perkins more work could help, there's no evidence that they'll do it anytime soon. It's worth watching to see if there is any change to the work split, but not worth putting Perkins in any lineups.
WR Ricardo Louis, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. Dal.): Louis is only worth consideration if Corey Coleman is still out this week, or if Pryor surprisingly sits with his hamstring issue, and only as a desperation WR4 even in that case. He's averaging 5.6 targets per game over his past 6 games, but he's failed to catch even 50% of them and has topped 40 yards just once. His volume will drop if Coleman returns and Pryor plays.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 9: @SD): Sharpe just can't seem to put any production together despite a prominent role in the offense. He's seen 5.8 targets per game for the season but is putting up just 5.7 yards per target. Until one or both of those numbers come up, there is no reason to consider starting Sharpe.
Rookies on Byes: RB Jordan Howard, CHI, RB Rob Kelley, WAS, RB Tyler Ervin, HOU, WR Will Fuller, HOU, WR Tyler Boyd, CIN, WR Malcolm Mitchell, NE
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 9: @SD): Henry finally got some extended run last week due to an injury to DeMarco Murray, and he produced in a big way. Henry finished as the RB7 for the week. Murry is still dealing with the toe injury he suffered, but he seems likely to play. Still, he may cede some extra work to Henry as he plays through it against a Chargers team allowing the 6th-most RB fantasy points per game. I'd have a hard time starting Derrick in any season long leagues, but he'd be an interesting cheaper option in DFS tournaments. His price has spiked a little this week with the thin slate and his strong game last week, but there is upside if the Titans give him an extended role again.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. Dal.): Coleman looks likely to finally return this week. It’ll be hard to trust him in season-long leagues coming off such a long layoff. The Cowboys allow the 20th-most WR points per game and don’t give up the deep ball, allowing just 2 passes of 40+ yards on the year. With that said, it’s a hand injury that has kept Corey out, so his conditioning should be fine. Terrelle Pryor has been dealing with a hamstring tweak in practice this week as well. Coleman should be close to an every down player, and he’d be a great cheap DFS option and a desperation WR3 option in deeper leagues.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (Wk. 9: vs. Jax.): It’s hard to call a guy coming off a 5-98-1 line last week and 2 straight double-digit point games a sleeper, but Hill fits that bill this week. He’s more of a gadget player than a regular starter, but he should factor into the short passing game more heavily if Spencer Ware is unable to play. Nick Foles is getting the start Sunday, so there is also the 2nd-string connection between Hill and Foles that can help him as well. We’ve already seen that be a factor for Cameron Meredith and Brian Hoyer as well as Geno Smith and Charone Peake to a lesser extent. 2nd string QBs tend to have a better rapport with 2nd string WRs who they throw to in practice. 4 of Hill’s week 8 catches, 88 of his yards, and the one TD were thrown by Foles. Add in that the Jaguars rank 28th in pass defense DVOA on throws to WRs that aren’t the opposing #1 or #2, and Hill could have another nice game this week.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (Wk. 9: @Mia.): The Dolphins have allowed 22 or more WR points in 6 of their 7 games so far, and Anderson has been playing more snaps than Quincy Enunwa of late. He’s seen 6 targets twice in the past 3 weeks. I think he’s due for a breakout game, and I have a hunch it comes this week. He’s only an option in the deepest of leagues since he’s shown a floor of about 3-30, but I like him to have possibly his best game of the season.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully, it helps you navigate some of the tougher lineup decisions this week. Keep a close eye on the injury report throughout the week and make sure all of your guys are active on game day. If you want to yell at me about this info or have any specific questions, 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're officially past the halfway point of the fantasy regular season. Hopefully you're in good playoff position, but if you aren't, there is still a little time to turn it around. Week 8 won't be an easy one for many of you. There are 6 teams on a bye this week, including several prominent running backs and wide receivers whose absences will have to be survived to get a W. It's possible there might be a rookie who can help you get through, so let's jump right in and talk about the matchups for the rookies this week...
Rookies to Start:
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Wk. 8: vs. Phi.): You're not sitting him. Zeke has run for over 130 yards in each of the past 4 games and has had a bye week to rest up and get ready for this one. The Eagles have had a decent run defense on the year, but they rank a middling 13th in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA statistic which measures efficiency, and they've allowed opposing running backs to put up 324 rushing yards in the past 2 games. He's definitely a high-end RB1 again this week, especially with Le'Veon, Gurley, Hyde, and the suddenly incredible Jay Ajayi on bye.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN (Wk. 8: vs. SD): It appeared that Booker had worked his way in to a full timeshare with CJ Anderson last week, but it doesn’t look like that will continue to be the case in week 8. That’s because CJ has suffered an ankle injury that may keep him out a several weeks, leaving all of the work to Booker. If he’s available in your league still, run to your waiver wire to claim him. It’s a ripe matchup for Devontae this week. The Chargers allow the 7th-most RB fantasy points per game, rank 18th in run defense DVOA, and rank 22nd in pass defense DVOA on throws to opposing RBs. With so many top backs out on byes this week, Booker has RB1 upside and should be started with confidence.
WR Will Fuller, HOU (Wk. vs. Det.): Suggesting that you start Fuller requires a bit of leap of faith given his lack of production over the past few weeks, but I'm willing to take that leap. The Lions have allowed a league-worst 117.3 QB rating to opposing passers, and have also allowed 18 TD passes, which is tied for the most in the league. The Lions have allowed 20+ fantasy points (all point totals from ESPN standard scoring) to 5 of the 7 QBs they've faced and 16 each to the other 2. To make matters worse, the Lions are likely going to be missing their top corner Darius Slay. They'll manage to even make Brock Osweiler look good. Fuller should have plenty of opportunity for his best day in weeks. He should be a WR3 this week with upside for more.
QB Dak Prescott, DAL (Wk. 8: vs. Phi.): The Eagles’ pass defense has been fairly stingy so far this year, but they’ve allowed 6 TD passes in their past 3 games. They’ve also allowed 13.3 QB points per game on the road. I know, that isn’t a big number, but it’s much bigger than the 6.7 they’ve allowed at home. Meanwhile, Prescott has been rock steady piloting this balanced offense, tallying at least 17 points in each of the past 5 games. With so many byes this week, Dak is right on borderline of QB1 and QB2 despite a tough paper matchup.
QB Carson Wentz, PHI (Wk. 8: @Dal.): Wentz has been struggling in his past 2 contests, but with 6 byes this week it’s hard to make a case that he’s not usable in 2-QB leagues. The Cowboys have allowed at least 11 QB points and at least 1 TD pass in all 6 games they’ve played this year. They also rank just 22nd in pass defense DVOA. Wentz should be a low-end QB2 with a fairly safe floor but limited upside.
RB Rob Kelley, WAS (Wk. 8: vs. Cin. in London): Kelley salvaged a light workload in week 7 with a short receiving TD, but he should see more volume this week with Matt Jones looking less and less likely to play in London. The matchup isn’t as daunting as the Bengals would have been in past seasons. They rank just 22nd in run defense DVOA and have allowed 78 RB fantasy points in the past 3 weeks to Dallas, New England and Cleveland (26.7 points per game). I would expect Chris Thompson to handle some of the carries as well if Jones is out, and he already handles all of the passing down work, so it won’t quite be a full workload for Kelley. As long as Jones is out, Kelley should still get enough volume to be a borderline RB2 this week.
RB Jordan Howard, CHI (Wk. 8: vs. Min.): Howard’s role is in doubt after an apparent benching last week in the second half of a close game against Green Bay (it was close at halftime). He was out-touched by Ka’Deem Carey 11-7 for the game, but I would expect things to swing back in his favor this week. Howard should lead the backfield in touches on Monday, and he’s playable despite a tough matchup with the Vikings. While Minnesota allows just 67 rushing yards per game to opposing backs, they also allow 53 RB receiving yards per game. Ka’Deem Carey has just 11 career receptions over 3 seasons. Jordan Howard has 14 so far this season. Howard should see the bulk of the receiving work, and thanks to that receiving volume he should be on the RB2/RB3 borderline in a thin week.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (Wk. 8: vs. Sea.): Thomas has been the most productive Saints WR over the past 4 weeks, averaging 6.5 catches for 81 yards per week with 3 TDs in that span. The Seahawks ‘Legion of Boom’ has always been a defense to avoid with fantasy receivers, but they’ve shown some vulnerability of late and the Saints’ passing attack is always deadly at home. Seattle has allowed 28 WR points per game over the past 3 games and Brees has thrown for at least 376 yards in all 3 home games this year. The sledding won’t be easy for Thomas, as Seattle’s best corners play on the perimeter, but there is definitely a chance for success this week. Thomas is should be right on the WR3 borderline.
TE Hunter Henry, SD (Wk. 8: @Den.): I’d probably lean towards sitting Henry this week if he plays, but he certainly had success in this matchup 2 weeks ago (6-83-1). He did enter into the concussion protocol after the game last Sunday, but seems to be trending in the right direction to play in Denver. His playing time will continue to be cut into as Antonio Gates gets healthier, but you have to attack the Broncos with tight ends since their corners are so good. I’d expect the Broncos to make stopping Henry a bigger priority this time around, but he’s still likely a top-15 TE play for the week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Kevin Hogan, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. NYJ): At this point all signs are indicating that Josh McCown will be the man under center for the Browns this weekend, but I would avoid Hogan if he winds up getting the nod. The matchup is a good one, but Hogan was just 12-for-24 passing last week, tallying 100 yards. That equates to a pathetic 4.16 yards per attempt. I wouldn’t expect the Jets to allow him to beat them with his legs the way the Bengals did either. I wouldn’t be able to trust Hogan even in a 2-QB league this week. Luckily, it’s unlikely to matter with McCown due back.
RBs DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard, OAK (Wk. 8: @TB): Washington has clearly established himself as the number 2 back ahead of Richard after being in a pretty even timeshare previously, but he still only saw 6 touches himself in week 7. Latavius Murray seems to be back in the lead back role after missing a game with injury. Murray dominated the rushing attempts and scored 2 TDs last weekend as Oakland played from comfortably ahead of Jacksonville. The Vegas odds project a closer game this week, so there may be some additional passing work for Washington in a plus matchup, but he'll be tough to trust coming off last week's workload. I'd steer clear.
RB Wendell Smallwood, PHI (Wk. 8: @Dal.): Keep an eye on Smallwood's workload this week. You can't play him this week since he's seen just 4 carries in each of the past 2 games and faces a tough matchup Sunday, but he might start to see a bigger share of the work thanks to some recent fumbling issues for Ryan Mathews. If there is an uptick in usage, Smallwood may be worth a stash going forward.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN (Wk. 8: vs. Jax.): If you need an explanation for why you shouldn't play Derrick Henry, you don't own him on any teams. There's no reason to consider him. If you need a bye fill-in in a deep league, and were considering picking up Henry, think better of it and leave him on the wire.
RB Don Jackson, GB (Wk. 8: @Atl.): It looks like this backfield will belong to Ty Montgomery until James Starks gets healthy enough to take over again. Jackson saw just 2 carries in his debut last Thursday, and left the game with an ankle injury. If the Packers need someone other than Montgomery to handle the between-the-tackles work, my money would be on Knile Davis to see the bulk of those carries, not Jackson.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (Wk. 8: vs. Jax.): Sharpe had his best performance since week one last Sunday, and he totaled just 4 catches and 59 yards. There's nothing to see here. Delanie Walker remains the only pass-catcher to own in Tennessee.
WR Ricardo Louis, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. NYJ): Louis saw just 3 targets last week with Cody Kessler knocked out by a concussion. He saw 9 the previous week. The entire passing attack suffered with Kevin Hogan under center. It looks like it will be Josh McCown at QB this week, but the only pass catcher we know that’s a plus for is Gary Barnidge. Louis has deep speed, and the Jets have proven to be burnable on the deep ball several times this year, but it’ll be hard to count on Louis this week. His production and target share have been inconsistent, and he’s never caught a pass from McCown. With Terrelle Pryor getting healthier and a possible return for Corey Coleman this week, Louis will likely be pushed further down in the pecking order.
WR Chester Rogers, IND (Wk. 8: vs. KC): Rogers fell flat last week in a spot where it looked like he would get plenty of opportunity. With Phillip Dorsett and Dwayne Allen out, he tallied just 2 catches and 30 yards despite Andrew Luck throwing for 353 yards. Dorsett returns this week, and Donte Moncrief is expected back as well. That would drop Rogers to the WR4 role and render him useless for fantasy purposes.
WR Malcolm Mitchell, NE (Wk. 8: @Buf.): Mitchell isn’t quite stash-worthy yet, but it’s worth noting that he played almost as many snaps as Chris Hogan in week 7. He wasn’t targeted on any of them, but it’s only a matter of time before he sees more work. He’s a guy to keep an eye on over the next couple weeks.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Dwayne Washington, DET (Wk. 8: @Hou.): Washington looks set to return this week, and he will likely push Zach Zenner to the bench. This situation is still a bit of a mess with 4 backs (3 if Riddick sits again this week), but I buy into Washington’s talent as the early down back. Zenner and Forsett were thoroughly uninspiring last week with Washington and Riddick both sidelined, so I would expect Dwayne to have a role immediately. The Texans have allowed 8 RB rushing scores in 7 games and rank 26th in run defense DVOA. It would be hard to pull the trigger in season long leagues, but Washington should cost the minimum in DFS and could be a decent punt play in tournaments.
RB CJ Prosise, SEA (Wk. 8: @NO): CJ is a potential stash now that the other CJ has been sent packing. Spiller was released, and Prosise should assume the passing down role. There hasn’t been a ton of volume with Christine Michael hogging most of the RB touches, but Prosise did play 16 snaps last week. He only saw 3 touches, but the matchup this week is one that could have a lot more action for the former college WR. The Saints have allowed more RB fantasy points per game than any other team in the league. Obviously it would be hard to trust a guy in your lineup who’s had just 5 touches all year. Like I said, I view him more as a stash than a guy to play this week, but don’t be surprised if he has a decent game out of nowhere.
WR Corey Coleman, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. NYJ): Coleman may finally return this week from a broken hand that has sidelined him for more than a month. His status is still up in the air, but he returns to a plum matchup if he’s able to go. There’s always risk when you play a guy coming off a long layoff (especially when the QB is coming off a layoff as well), but the Jets rank 31st in pass defense DVOA, allow the 4th-most WR fantasy points, and have allowed 9 passes of 40 or more yards (tied for most in the league). One deep ball would make Coleman worthwhile. He could be a usable WR3 if you are in a pinch. Just make sure he’s playing before pulling the trigger.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (Wk. 8: @Cle.): Anderson appears to have moved back ahead of Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall in the pecking order in New York. Peake had really started to gain traction with 10 targets in week 6, but that number plummeted to 2 in week 7. Anderson didn’t see many more, with 3 targets, but he made the most of his opportunities by catching all 3 for 41 yards and gaining 30 yards on a rushing attempt. I expect Anderson to be the third WR moving forward. While Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa will see the bulk of the passing targets, Anderson might be worth a desperation play in the deepest of deep leagues this week. The Browns allow the 5th-most WR points, and Enunwa’s target share has been slowly dipping over the past few weeks (11,7,7,5 and 4 targets over past 5 games). There’s a chance Anderson picks up some of that slack if the trend continues.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you survive the many byes that you may be dealing with this weekend and pull out a win. Keep a close eye on the injury reports to make sure everyone in your lineup is active on game day. Feel free to reach out via twitter if you have any specific questions or just want to yell at me about the things written above (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.