Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 8 was a fantastic one for countless rookie WRs: Donte Moncrief, Allen Robinson, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin. Do I need to go on? This crop is quickly making a name for itself as one of the best rookie WR classes of all-time. Will it continue? I think it will. Week 9 will be a rough one for many teams with a whopping 6 teams on byes this week. With that in mind, there will be a few more names listed as borderline this week, so make sure to read a little deeper on those guys and see if they are a fit for your lineup this week. Every league is different, so I have to trust that you know your team better than I do. If I say a guy is a borderline starter at WR, and you have 3 top-10 WRs and him, don’t play him. Alright, let’s dive into week 9’s rookie matchups….
Rookies to Start:
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. Was.): The ‘Skins D is a tough matchup on paper, but it’s mainly because they’ve been keeping RBs out of the end zone, giving up just 2 TDs all year to them. McKinnon is still a good bet to pile up yards. DeMarco Murray did dismantle Washington a week ago, and some of his holes to run through were massive. McKinnon did put up a huge day against the very stout Bills’ run defense a couple weeks ago too. He’s still a safe RB2.
RB Branden Oliver, SD (Wk. 9: @Mia.): Oliver will get at least one more week as the Chargers’ feature back with reports that Ryan Mathews won’t return until after their week 10 bye. Oliver wasn’t great last week, but he did manage 63 yards in his worst start of the year. The matchup with the ‘Phins isn’t an easy one, but it should be easier than last week’s. The Broncos were ready for a run-focused attack, and they shut it down. Expect a bounce-back and a solid start from Oliver this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 9: vs. NO): Don’t be worried about the matchup with Saints’ corner Keenan Lewis after Lewis shut down Jordy Nelson last week. KB is a locked-in every week starter, and he just tallied nearly 100 yards against Richard Sherman last week. Expect another strong day.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 9: @Car.): On the other side of the Thursday night game, Brandin Cooks should be a safe option as well. The Saints finally started getting him the ball further downfield and it paid off big time. With the short week, there isn’t always time to install a whole new game plan, so Cooks should see similar work this week. The Panthers’ D is very burnable. Fire up Cooks as a WR3.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): With Cruz sidelined for the season, Beckham played on every offensive snap for the G-Men in week 7, and they used him all over the field. I’d expect that usage to continue, and production should continue to follow. You know the Colts can score, so the Giants should certainly be throwing enough to set up a very productive game for Odell. He has 3 TDs in 3 career games thus far.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 9: vs. Bal.): Bryant has broken out in a big way over the past 2 weeks, and he’s done it as a part-time player. The part-time thing is about to change. Bryant is exactly the kind of player the Steelers need opposite Antonio Brown to keep defenses honest. He’s a big, fast, dynamic downfield receiver, and he’s really hard to cover in the red zone. I expect the Steelers to continue to get him involved, and the matchup this week is a good one. The Ravens have allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to opposing WRs, and they just lost their top CB Jimmy Smith for the year last week. I love Bryant as a WR3 this week.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. Was.): Teddy has a primo matchup this week, but he’s still only a starting option in 2 QB leagues. He does make a solid QB 2 option this week though. Washington has allowed a 17:3 TD-INT ration so far and the 2nd most QB fantasy points per game. With that said, Teddy failed to capitalize on a plus matchup with the Bucs last week, and the Washington D looked rejuvenated against Dallas on Monday night. There’s serious upside here, but also some risk. 225 yards and 2 TDs would be a positive day.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 9: vs. Jax.): There’s a chance that Hill moves to must-start status if Gio Bernard is unable to go this week (he missed practice Wed. with a hip injury), but I’m assuming Bernard will play. The Jaguars have been better of late, but this still has serious blowout potential. Even if Bernard starts, I like the chances that Hill sees more work than usual. He’s a solid bet for a TD, and that makes him a real flex option.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): The Colts defense is not stellar against fantasy RBs, but they give up a lot of that damage in the passing game, where Williams is a non-factor. It looks like Rashad Jennings is likely to sit again, so there should be a healthy number of carries. I’d look for him to be in the neighborhood of 60-70 yards, but he’ll need to find the end zone to make you happy. He’s just a flex option.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 9: vs. TB): Crowell is a dicey flex play this week, but one with plenty of upside. Head coach Mike Pettine said that the plan is to get Crowell more touches going forward, but also said he has trouble trusting him in tight games due to ball security issues. If the game stays close, it could be all Ben Tate in this one. If Cleveland is able to get out in front, Crowell could see extensive work. If he gets 10+ carries, I’d expect him to shine. I think he should approach that number.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 9: @Pit.): Taliaferro has vanquished Bernard Pierce for the number 2 RB spot in Baltimore, and that has value since he’ll get goal line work. He should be a legitimate threat for a TD this week against a mediocre Pittsburgh run defense, but he could be light on yards with Forsett around. There is a slight chance that Forsett isn’t able to play this week, and if that happens, Taliaferro bumps up to being a solid starting option.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Evans has been remarkably consistent for a rookie. He’s caught exactly 4 passes in each of the last 5 games (he caught 5 in week 1), and he’s topped 50 yards in each of the last 4 games. He should put up similar numbers again this week. Having V-Jax around certainly limits his ceiling a bit.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Robinson gets listed as borderline because he faces the best defense in the league at limiting WR fantasy points, but the arrow is pointing way up for Robinson. He’s led the Jags’ WRs in snaps for each of the last 3 weeks and he has 4+ receptions in every game since week 2, 60+ yards in 5 of the last 7 games, and a TD in each of the last 2. He’s certainly worthy of WR3/flex consideration despite the matchup.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 9: @NYG): If you haven’t heard of Moncrief yet, you’re not paying attention. He’s a freak athlete who is quickly climbing past Hakeem Nicks on the Colts’ depth chart, and should start opposite T.Y. Hilton in Indy for a long time (after Reggie Wayne leaves). With Wayne out last week, Moncrief had a line of 7-112-1 on just 40 snaps. If Wayne sits again this week, Moncrief should be in your lineup. If Reggie plays, view him as more of a volatile WR3 option.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Brown surprised in a big way in week 8 at the expense of teammate Michael Floyd, but a repeat is unlikely this week. Brown is still a boom-or-bust WR3 option this week, but I’d expect the Cards to try to do more to get the ball to Michael Floyd this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 9: vs. SD): The matchup isn’t great this week and Landry had a weak game against Jacksonville, but I expect this game to stay competitive a bit longer than last week’s affair. As a result, Landry should have a better performance than last week, but it would be tough to bank on much more than 5 grabs and 50 yards.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 9: @Hou.): Matthews continues to see a healthy number of targets and catches, but it isn’t equating to big yards or TDs. He has 4+ catches in each of his last 5 games, but needs to start seeing more downfield targets. Maclin dominates this passing game too much to rely on Jordan. The matchup is a good one this week with the Texans allowing 24.6 WR points per game, so you could do worse that Matthews at WR3 in PPR leagues, but he’s a low-end option.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 9: @KC): Jace has a higher floor most weeks than the other rookie TEs simply because he is more heavily targeted. He has 26 catches over his past 5 games, and Mike Vick has a history of leaning on his tight ends. I would expect Amaro’s numbers to see a slight uptick with Vick in there. He should be a reasonable streaming TE option.
TE Crockett Gillmore, BAL (Wk. 9: @Pit.): With a weak TE pool this year made weaker by 6 bye weeks, Gillmore has some streamer appeal with a decent matchup. Pittsburgh allows 9 points per game to opposing TEs, and Gillmore should see just about all of the TE targets. He needs a TD to be productive, but he could get one.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): The Bengals have allowed a 9:8 TD-INT ratio so far this season, and Bortles has been hemorrhaging turnovers so far this year. The team has set a goal of less than 8 picks over the final 8 games, and I think he starts off behind the pace he needs to hit that goal. He will likely be throwing a lot, so there is upside, but I would have a hard time starting him even in a 2QB league.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 9: @Sea.): Don’t get cute here. This is a brutal matchup. Carr is one of the worst QB plays of the week. If he were starting, I’d have rather played Colt McCoy vs. Minnesota that Carr here.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 9: @SF): Mason had a strong game in St. Louis the first time they met the 49ers, but I’d expect they’ll be more prepared for him this time around. He’ll see some work since obviously Fisher likes him in this matchup, but I would expect about 40 or 50 scoreless yards. There are better options available.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 9: vs. Phi.): Despite a pretty strong week 8 showing, Blue should still be firmly on the bench unless something happens to Arian Foster. He’s an important handcuff, but not much more right now.
RB Storm Johnson, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Denard Robinson was great again last week, cementing himself as the lead back in Jacksonville. Storm will do battle with Toby Gerhart for the change of pace work and has no place in your lineup or even on your roster in standard leagues.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Hurns got a little bit more involved last week than he had been in the few weeks prior, but the Bengals allow the fewest WR fantasy points and Hurns hasn’t topped 50 yards or scored a TD in any of his last 4 games.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Wk. 9: @Cle.): Jenkins has been playing plenty of snaps, and has been getting better with 5.8 and 6.6 points in his last 2 games, but the Browns’ D is better against TEs than you’d think. Jenkins is still a raw player and isn’t really reliable yet. I’d rather play Gillmore this week.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 9: @Cle.): The Bucs brass have been very high on Sims, and it looks like he should be active for the first time this week, a week that Doug Martin might not be able to play. I’d expect Tampa to ease Sims in, but he should work in a committee with Bobby Rainey this week if Martin is out. Sims will be a factor in the passing game right away. He should be owned in all leagues, and could have a surprising debut this week in a plus matchup.
RB Marion Grice, ARI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Grice is worth a stash in deeper leagues with Stepfan Taylor out with injury. Grice will see the change of pace work behind Andre Ellington and has the skills to be dangerous in the passing game. He could have big value if anything happens to Andre.
WR Paul Richardson, SEA (Wk. 9: vs. Oak.): Richardson hasn’t exactly made an impact on the stat sheet yet, but he did break a 47-yard kick return in last week’s win for the Seahawks, and I have a hunch he breaks a big play against a poor Raiders’ D. He’s not a guy you’re going to play, but could be a really cheap daily league option.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some tough bye week lineup decisions. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.