How about those Saints, huh? And it's amazing to see how much damage on the ground can be done by the tandem of Ingram and Kamara. Who needs an AP? This week we're joined by drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino, and we'll be discussing the best and worst plays for Week 11, analyzing some fantasy matchups, and taking lineup/pickup questions from Twitter and live in the chat room.
Listen to the Fantasy Finish Line Ep12: Saints Keep Marching On
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drinkfive.com contributor and college football expert Shawn Foss joins us on the show to break down the performance of 2017's rookie class. Which guys can we consider to be busts for the year, and which are only gaining steam? Most importantly, we'll go over the best and worst rookie plays during the fantasy playoffs. Get that championship! We'll also be taking lineup questions in the chat room and on social channels, and discussing the latest news and updates in the fantasy world.
Listen to the Fantasy Finish Line Ep15: The Rookie Update
Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to get notifications whenever we release a new episode. We also broadcast the shows live at http://www.mixlr.com/drinkfive on Tuesday nights at 8pm CT. Feel free to browse over and join in the discussion in the chat room!
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully the fantasy gods have smiled upon your teams for the first 5 weeks of the season. Now that we’re this deep into the season, we’re starting to get a better picture of which teams are legit, which teams are not, and which teams are the Giants. Sorry Giants fans, it’s going to be a long few months, but you should get to see a bunch of Evan Engram! As far as the rookies go, week 5 featured the debut of one heralded rookie QB, and the benching of another. Mitch-a-palooza didn’t quite go according to plan for the Bears on Monday night, but Trubisky did show some flashes that will give Bears fans hope. DeShone Kizer, on the other hand, needs a few weeks off to get his head clear. He may eventually get the starting job back from Kevin Hogan, but the turnovers were just getting to be too much. Both Kizer and Trubisky have nothing on Deshaun Watson at this point. Aside from the QBs, we also got breakout games from Aaron Jones and George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey’s first TD, and ho-hum RB1 days out of Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette. Let’s check in on what to expect from week 6:
Rookies to Start:
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 6: vs. Cle.): Watson has been throwing straight fire the past few weeks even if the Texans aren’t putting up a ton of wins as a result. In his 4 starts this year, Deshaun has been the QB7, QB15, QB1, and QB1. The Cleveland Browns allow the 4th-most QB points per game (all ranks and point totals listed are in PPR scoring), so the good times should keep rolling this week. I’m not sure there’s another 4 or 5 TD game in the offing this week, but Watson might be worth his price tag in DFS lineups. It would be hard to sit Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees for the rookie, but I would rank only Tom Brady higher than him for this week.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 6: vs. Pit.): Obviously you weren’t considering sitting Hunt this week, but this is a week you should consider paying up for him in DFS lineups. The Steelers’ run defense has been shredded by Leonard Fournette, Jordan Howard and Dalvin Cook in the past 4 weeks. They gave up over 200 rushing yards and 2 TDs to both the Jaguars and Bears RBs. Hunt has been held scoreless in each of the past 2 games, but I expect him to find the end zone at least once in this one. He is the premier running back play of the week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 6: vs. LAR): Just like Hunt, Fournette is a weekly RB1 who you wouldn’t think of sitting in season long leagues, but also someone you should be getting into your DFS lineups this week. I’d have Hunt as the top RB play this week, but Fournette isn’t far behind. The Rams had allowed a top-6 RB performance in 3 straight contests before facing the Seahawks’ mess of a backfield last weekend, and even after that game still allow the 2nd-most fantasy points per game to RBs. Fournette has seen 20+ touches in 4 of the past 5 games, so his volume is pretty much a given. Leonard could put up a monster game this week.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 6: vs. NE): The stars have aligned for McGuire this week. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte should both miss this game, and the Patriots allow the most running back fantasy points per game and rank 27th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat. There is a little hesitation from the fact that the Jets are 10-point underdogs at home, and will face a negative game script all day, but that shouldn’t be too big a worry. McGuire has shown receiving ability at the NFL level so far, and he caught 130 passes in his college career. Also, the Patriots have allowed the 3rd most receptions, most receiving yards and most receiving TDs to opposing RBs. If the Jets get blown out, McGuire’s receiving usage should still get him through to an RB2 day. He’s a great value in DFS at just $4,600 on DraftKings.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 6: @Min.): Jones’s status hinges largely on whether or not Ty Montgomery is able to play this week. Updates on Thursday were that TyMo took some hits in practice and that his ribs ‘felt fine’ afterward. He’s been wearing a flak jacket in practice and has said it isn’t uncomfortable. There has been some speculation that Jones will take over as the lead back on early downs from local beat writers given the success he’s had the past couple weeks and the struggles Montgomery had running between the tackles early on. I’m not sure I buy this. I think this is still TyMo’s backfield for now. If both guys play, I’d consider each guy a flex option, but the matchup is a tough one. The Vikings have allowed the 2nd-fewest RB points per game so far. If Montgomery sits again, consider Jones a solid RB2 option. This offense has been too good to run from this matchup if there’s a clear lead back.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 6: vs. Phi.): McCaffrey has been pretty much an RB2/flex performer each week, with weekly finishes ranging anywhere from RB10 to RB36. We haven’t seen much of ceiling here yet, but the floor has been fairly steady. The matchup this week is somewhat favorable for CMC. The Eagles have allowed just the 7th-fewest RB points per game so far, but they’ve also allowed nearly as many RB receiving yards as they have RB rushing yards (239 rushing, 228 receiving). McCaffrey remains a PPR flex play.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 6: vs. Det.): I’d lean toward playing Kamara in PPR formats this week. The Adrian Peterson trade doesn’t have a huge impact on Alvin, but it may get him a small uptick in snaps and gives the backfield more clarity in general. The Lions allow the 17th-most RB points per game, but 58.5% of the PPR points they’ve allowed have come from receiving numbers. Kamara should be a solid flex play in PPR leagues.
RB Semaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 6: vs. SF): With Rob Kelley likely out this week, Perine should get the bulk of the early down work in a plus matchup. The 49ers have allowed the 3rd-most points per game to opposing backs, but I’d still only view Perine as a low-end RB2 or flex option. He’s struggled when given extended opportunities this year. In weeks 2 & 3, he totaled 116 rushing yards on 40 carries (2.9 ypc), and both of those games were against teams in the bottom half of the league in run defense DVOA. The 49ers rank 14th. Chris Thompson is the Washington running back who should benefit the most from the matchup.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 6: @Den.): Engram unexpectedly put up a goose egg last week, but he should be peppered with targets this week with Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard all sidelined. The Broncos will probably pay him some extra defensive attention this week as New York’s de-facto number 1 target in the passing game, but tight end has been where the Broncos’ defense has been most vulnerable. They have allowed the 6th-most tight end point per game, and rank 26st in pass defense DVOA on throws that target the tight end. Engram should rebound and post a low-end TE1 game, even if he doesn’t find the end zone.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 6: @Was.): Kittle played only about half as many snaps in week 5 as he did in week 4, but he still managed to post a breakout game with 7-83-1 on 9 targets. It’s hard to imagine the 49ers wouldn’t give him more looks going forward. I wouldn’t expect that kind of game every week, but he should be able to flirt with TE1 numbers in PPR formats again this week. The 49ers face off with a Washington team that allows the 3rd-most TE points per game and ranks 31st on pass defense DVOA on throws to the tight end. He’s a decent streaming option if you’re without Charles Clay, Jimmy Graham or Jason Witten this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 6: @Bal.): Trubisky looked impressive at times during his Monday Night Football debut, but ultimately he didn’t have enough weapons to finish off a win and made a bad rookie mistake on a late interception. He should clean up some of the mistakes as he gains more experience, but the weapons issue isn’t going anywhere this season. Mitch gets an awful matchup this week. The Ravens at home have been tough on QBs, allowing only 2 of the past 10 QBs they’ve faced in Baltimore to top 12 fantasy points dating back to the beginning of last season. I don’t think Mitch makes it 3 of 11.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 6: @Ten.): Mack put up a strong performance last week in his first game back from injury against the 49ers, scoring a TD and setting up the game-winning field goal. It should lead to more work going forward, but that doesn’t mean you should start plugging him into lineups this week. He should be rostered in most leagues, but I still expect Frank Gore to lead the way in snaps and touches, especially after the comments from Chuck Pagano today that Mack is still a ‘work in progress.’ The Titans are also not a great matchup for RBs, allowing the 13th-fewest RB fantasy points per game.
RB Matt Brieda, SF (Wk. 6: @Was.): Like Mack above, Brieda should be rostered in most leagues, but not plugged into lineups just yet. The 49ers announced they’ll be employing a ‘hot hand’ approach at RB going forward, but I would expect Hyde to still be the better option on a weekly basis. There might not be enough production to make Brieda useful this week even if he does get the hot hand. Washington allows the 12th-fewest RB points per game and ranks 8th in run defense DVOA. They are also a 10-point favorite in this game. Brieda’s got an uncertain workload, a tough matchup, and likely a negative game script. That’s not a recipe for fantasy success.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 6: @Bal.): With a fully healthy Benny Cunningham around, Cohen’s snap share has slipped to under 30% the past 2 weeks, and he hasn’t been making the most of the opportunities he’s been getting. He looked indecisive with the ball on Monday night, dancing around too much and causing negative plays for the offense. I would like to see his snap count start to go back up before considering him in lineups for season long leagues again. His game-breaking ability still gives him a ceiling as a DFS tournament play, but at $5,100 in DraftKings, that’s a lot of cost with that risk. The Ravens aren’t a great matchup for him either. They’ve allowed the 3rd-fewest RB receptions so far this season.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 6: @Den.): The Broncos’ defense has been dominant so far, and the Giants’ offense is falling apart with injuries. The Broncos allow the fewest RB fantasy points per game, and Gallman will have to split RB snaps with Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen. He’s been the most effective rusher the Giants have had so far, but that doesn’t mean much in a game where the team’s implied total is 13.5 points (and I would actually bet the Giants end up under that).
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 6: @Car.): Clement’s snap percentage has increased each week this season from 0 in week 1 to 1%, 9%, 24%, and 34% since, but his touch totals haven’t really spiked and Philly seems content with a 3-man timeshare. Even with Wendell Smallwood out in week 5, the Eagles found a new 3rd guy getting Kenjon Barner 17 offensive snaps. Until we see an increase in usage, it’s hard to trust Clement anywhere.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 6: @Jax.): Only 4 wide receivers all year have made it 50 yards in a game against Jacksonville, and only Antonio Brown last week has made it to 60. The only one who got to 50 yards as primarily a slot receiver was JuJu Smith-Schuster last weekend. Jacksonville has also allowed just 1 TD to opposing WRs. I doubt Kupp breaks those trends. The volume will likely be low enough that he needs a TD for a productive day, and the odds of that TD aren’t great.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 6: vs. Phi.): His role clearly hasn’t increased as a result of the injury to Greg Olsen. The Eagles allow the 2nd-most WR fantasy points per game, but Samuel has just 4 catches on the season, and I don’t expect that number to go up much this week.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 6: @Was.): This might have actually been a nice spot to use Taylor in DFS tournaments if Josh Norman were healthy. Taylor has seen increased usage when Garcon faces a shutdown corner. He was peppered with 10 targets a couple weeks ago when Pierre was shadowed by Patrick Peterson, but he hasn’t topped 4 in any other game. I don’t expect that to change this week, and with the short distance targets he gets, you need volume for him to be useful.
WR Travis Rudolph, NYG (Wk. 6: @Den.): The Giants just signed this Florida State product off the street this week and may already be inserting him into 3-WR sets as soon as this Sunday assuming Sterling Shepard can’t go. He’s worth keeping an eye on over the next couple weeks with the Giants’ pass catching group decimated by injuries, but there is no New York WR who should be anywhere near your lineups this week with a daunting matchup with the Broncos on tap.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 6: @Hou.): The switch from DeShone Kizer to Kevin Hogan may lead to better results for Njoku, but I would take a wait & see approach here. He’s still splitting snaps fairly evenly with Seth DeValve, and is yet to top 3 catches in a game. You’re basically counting on a TD for him to be useful to you. This week’s matchup isn’t great for that. The Texans have allowed just 1 tight end score this season, and have been tough on the TEs they’ve faced that aren’t Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 6: vs. Ind.): Jonnu had a season-high 5 targets come his way last Sunday and he caught all of them, but he totaled just 21 yards. Marcus Mariota is expected to return this week and that should help the Titans’ offense, but I doubt it helps Jonnu all that much. The Colts have been a good matchup for opposing TEs, but it should be Delanie Walker who benefits from that this week. Jonnu is still a name to know in dynasty formats.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 6: vs. Ari.): If Howard can put up a goose egg against the Patriots, I’m not sure there is any matchup you can use him in as long as Brate is healthy. It was nice to see OJ get targeted in the end zone on the game’s final play last Thursday, but it was his only target of the night. This is essentially a redshirt year for Howard in dynasty leagues, but no reason to own him anywhere else right now.
Rookies on Byes: RB Joe Mixon, CIN, WR Zay Jones, BUF, WR John Ross, CIN
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 6: vs. Cle.): Foreman has some upside as a DFS tournament punt option. Houston is a 10-point favorite, and if Deshaun Watson goes supernova again, Foreman should see some extra work in a blowout. The Browns don’t have the offensive firepower to keep pace the way the Chiefs do. Foreman saw 13 carries in the blowout win over Tennessee a couple weeks ago, and something similar could be in the offing this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 6: @KC): JJSS is a screaming value in DFS formats this week in my opinion. He’ll cost just $3,600 on DraftKings. The Chiefs have been roasted by WRs this year, allowing the 5th-most WR points per game, and the Steelers were talking about giving Martavis Bryant ‘a break’ this week. I doubt they would sit him completely, but even if they scale him back it should mean more work for JuJu. Smith-Schuster has averaged nearly 6 targets a game in the past 3 weeks, and his yardage has increased each week. I like JuJu a lot as a cheap DFS tournament option.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 6: @NO): Golladay has missed the last 2 games, but if he’s able to suit up this week, this is a matchup where he can come up big. The Lions have desperately needed a vertical receiver the past couple weeks to open up the offense, and the Saints have allowed the 3rd-most pass plays of 20+ yards. I wouldn’t thrust Kenny G back into lineups in season long leagues just yet, but he’s an intriguing DFS tournament option.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 6: @Oak.): Mike should finally get on the field this week, but he likely won’t see a ton of targets in his first go-round after missing all of the preseason and the first 5 weeks. He’s still worth a stash in deeper leagues to see how his role develops. Chargers may wind up with the two Williamses on the outside (Mike and Tyrell), and Keenan Allen in the slot in 3-wide sets. Mike projects as a matchup nightmare in the red zone at 6’4”, 218.
WR Kasen Williams, CLE (Wk. 6: @Hou.): Ok, so Williams isn’t technically a rookie, but I wanted to mention her here as a guy to potentially stash in really deep leagues and dynasty formats. The Browns want nothing to do with Kenny Britt at this point, Ricardo Louis is one of Pro Football Focus’s lowest graded WRs (ranks 100th in the league), and Kevin Hogan showed the ability to move the team down the field last week. Williams has a little bit of appeal as a DFS punt play since the Texans’ secondary has been pretty burnable. Kasen flashed in training camp with the Seahawks before becoming a casualty of roster limits. He played 45% of the offensive snaps last week for Cleveland, and posted 4-33 on 5 targets. I expect him to get more involved going forward, and he has a chance to develop into the Browns’ number 1 target until Corey Coleman returns.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with some of your tougher lineup decisions this week. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury reports throughout the week. Plenty of situations are still fluid: Mariota, TyMo, Derek Carr, etc, that can have huge impacts on fantasy, and you don’t want to get stuck with a goose egg because you weren’t paying attention. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 6 was another wild one in the NFL. One of the most exciting things about the league is how unpredictable it can be. 7 underdogs came away victorious, including two that were double-digit underdogs in the Giants and Dolphins. Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending broken collarbone and opened up the NFC North race in the process. The Bears managed to top the Ravens by running the ball an astounding 54 times, and the Jets took a 14-0 lead on the defending champs before falling by 10. It was another week of top rookie performances, as Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette turned in top-10 running back weeks. Deshaun Watson maintained his spot as fantasy’s top scoring QB with a 3-touchdown day, and Evan Engram made the most of the lack of other receiving options for the Giants and finished as the TE3 for the week. There were let downs too, like Aaron Jones and Elijah McGuire, but all in all it was a decent week for the rookies. We also got to see another rookie QB take over as Brian Hoyer was benched in favor CJ Beathard in the bay. There’s plenty more on tap for week 7, so let’s dive in and discuss what to expect…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 7: @Oak.): Last week didn’t go quite according to plan for Hunt or the Chiefs, but the matchup is strong again this week. Hunt is still an obvious start in season-long leagues. He topped 100 scrimmage yards again last week and finished as the RB15 even in a down week. He should be a solid DFS option this week as well. The Raiders have allowed 85.9 PPR points to opposing backs in the past 3 weeks. That’s 28.7 per game, which would be the 4th-most in the league. Hunt is safe as usual.
RB Leonard Fournette, Jax. (Wk. 7: @Ind.): As long as the twisted ankle Leonard suffered last week doesn’t keep him sidelined, you have to play him. He came up big for you again last week, and the Colts allow the 4th-most RB fantasy points per game in the league. The volume for Leonard is unlikely to change despite him tweaking the ankle. He should be worth the price tag in DFS lineups this week as well.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 7: @GB): If their week 1 matchup with the Seahawks were removed from the equation, the Packers would go from allowing the 14th-most RB points per game all the way up to 4th-most. Kamara is still taking a back seat to Mark Ingram in the wake of the Adrian Peterson trade. He was out-snapped by Ingram 47-30 last week, but in the past 2 games Kamara has seen at least 14 touches and 85 yards in each, and I’d expect that usage to continue again this week. He’s got a high volume role in a plus matchup. He should return RB2 value in PPR leagues with no problem.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 7: vs. Sea.): The matchup with the Seahawks isn’t as daunting as you might expect this week. Seattle is in the middle of the pack when it comes to limiting tight end points. They have allowed the 15th-most TE points per game, and have given up 11+ PPR points to the position in 4 of their 5 games. Engram became the focal point of the Giants’ passing attack last weekend with their decimated WR group, so his target share should be strong again this week even if Sterling Shepard is able to play. The Seahawks are good enough to shut the Giants down as a whole, so I would probably fade Engram in DFS lineups, but he should be a low-end top-10 TE in PPR leagues this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 7: @Chi.): McCaffrey is a guy you should be starting every week in PPR leagues, but he’s much less of a sure thing in standard formats. He’s been held under 50 scrimmage yards in 3 out of the 6 games he’s played this season, but he’s kept up his PPR floor with at least 4 catches each week. It would be nice to see CMC’s rushing usage go up, but there’s no way to bank on it this week. The Bears are a middling run defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs, but they’ve given up a rushing score in 5 of 6 games and 90+ rushing yards to opposing backs in 4 of 6. If McCaffrey gets an increased rushing load, he might finally start to hit that ceiling we’ve been waiting on. In the meantime, the floor is working out just fine. He’s the overall RB10 in PPR leagues despite just 2 top-10 weekly finishes.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 7: @Pit.): I’m not quite sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s run defense so far this year. On the surface, they’re pretty bad. They’re in the bottom-10 in the league in terms of yards per carry, yards per game, and rushing TDs allowed, and they’ve allowed the 6th-most RB fantasy points per game, but they also rank a respectable 12th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat and just held all-world rookie Kareem Hunt to 21 yards on 9 carries. Hunt did save his day with receiving yardage, but it was the first time all year he was held under 80 rushing yards. The Bengals had the bye week to gameplan for this one, and the Steelers would qualify as a plus matchup for running backs, but I see Mixon as no more than an RB2 this week. He’s cracked the top-20 PPR backs just once in 5 games on the season.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 7: vs. NO): Splitting reps with Ty Montgomery likely saps the value for both backs going forward. Green Bay may try to run a bit more this week with Aaron Rodgers sidelined with a broken collarbone and Brett Hundley under center, but the Saints have been improved against running backs in their last 2 games. There is still upside to be had here, as the Saints’ defense still ranks just 24th in run defense DVOA and has allowed the 3rd-most running back receiving yards despite their recent improved play. Jones may still wind up being a fine flex play in a pinch this week, but I’d lean on more reliable options if I have them.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 7: vs. Car.): Cohen’s usage had taken a nosedive recently, but it should rebound with Benny Cunningham back on the shelf with another hamstring injury. Assuming Benny doesn’t play, Cohen should see significant snaps as he did in week 6. Cohen handled 15 touches in week 6 after seeing just 17 of them in weeks 4 & 5 combined. He also threw a TD pass, but that was a fluke trick play. Don’t expect it again. There is some warranted concern that only one of Cohen’s 15 touches was a reception, but I’d expect the game script to be a bit more negative this week, and only 2 teams have allowed more running back receptions than the Panthers. Cohen is back in play as a PPR flex option this week despite the Panthers allowing the 11th-fewest RB points per game.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 7: vs. Ari.): Any WR that doesn’t draw Patrick Peterson has a chance to burn the Arizona defense, but slot wide receivers have been especially effective. Golden Tate lit them up for 10-107 in week 1, and in the past 3 weeks they’ve allowed 5-47 to Trent Taylor, 4-93-1 to Nelson Agholor, and 6-51 to Adam Humphries. Kupp is as good a bet as any Ram to lead the team in catches this week, and the best bet to catch a TD pass. Despite Patrick Peterson being one of the premiere corners in the game, allowing just 7-82-1 total in 6 games on throws into his coverage, the Cardinals still allow the 5th-most WR fantasy points per game. Pat Pete should be on Watkins in this one, making Kupp a sneaky DFS play and decent flex/WR3 option.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 7: vs. Dal.): Kittle has seen his target share take off in a big way in the past 2 weeks, and the installation of his college QB CJ Beathard as the 49ers new starter should only help. The Cowboys have allowed 50+ receiving yards to the opposing tights end in 4 of 5 games this year, and gave up a TD in the other. While they usually split that yardage allowed between multiple opposing TEs, the 49ers don’t really have much else at the position. The 49ers have targeted the tight end position 38 times on the year, and 31 of those targets went to Kittle, including 17 of 20 in the last 2 weeks. As long as that target volume continues this week, Kittle should be a solid streaming option in PPR leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 7: vs. Car.): The Panthers’ pass defense has shown some holes this season. They rank 15th in pass defense DVOA, they allow the 7th-highest QB rating to opposing QBs, and they’ve allowed multiple passing scores in 4 straight contests. With that said, they also rank 2nd in the league in quarterback sacks and allow the 7th-fewest passing yards per game. The Bears showed us what their gameplan is with Trubisky last week. Run, run, and run some more. They piled up a ridiculous 54 rushing attempts against Baltimore, compared with 16 pass attempts for Mitchell. If the Panthers don’t run out to a big lead, the Bears will lean on the run again. If Carolina does get out in front, Mitch lacks the weapons to put up a big game in garbage time. He’s a lackluster QB2 option against the Panthers on Sunday.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 7: vs. Ten.): The Browns have made the decision to go back to Kizer this week at QB, and he may even have a decent game, but I’d be hard pressed to use him in any lineups. The Titans have allowed the 6th-most QB fantasy points per game, but they allowed 33+ points each to Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, which has skewed their overall average. In their other 4 games, facing Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Jay Cutler and Jacoby Brissett, they’ve allowed just 12.25 points per game which would rank 7th fewest in the league. I’d argue Kizer seems to fit better into that second group of signal-callers than the first in terms of where you’d rank them as a fantasy QB. I hope he plays better in his second stint as the starter, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
RB Matt Brieda, SF (Wk. 7: vs. Dal.): It pains me to say you should bench Brieda against a Cowboys’ team that ranks dead last in run defense DVOA, but I’d expect the 49ers to be showcasing Carlos Hyde for any potential trade suitors in this plus matchup. Brieda’s playing time is already on the decline of late. The 17 snaps he played in week 6 were the fewest he’s seen in the past 3 contests. I’d expect similar usage for Brieda this week, and that kind of snap count doesn’t bode well for his fantasy prospects. You should still hold on to him on your bench if you can.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 7: vs. Sea.): Gallman’s run as New York’s lead back was shorter than expected. Orleans Darkwa appears to have stolen the job from him after racking up 117 rushing yards against a Denver defense that had allowed just 165 rushing yards to RBs in the previous 4 games combined. Gallman saw just 11 touches in that game, and that kind of usage isn’t going to get it done against Seattle. The Seahawks allow the 4th-fewest RB fantasy points per game.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 7: @Mia.): It was a disappointing week for McGuire as Matt Forte returned from injury and took away his opportunity to play as the Jets’ lead back. I expected the Jets to ease Forte back in, but they didn’t hold him back much. Forte didn’t exactly dazzle as a runner with just 22 yards on 9 carries (McGuire had 22 on 10), but Forte received 8 passing game targets compared to zero for Eli. What was even more disappointing was seeing Travaris Cadet get 3 targets. The Dolphins aren’t nearly as giving to RBs as the Patriots, and the lack of receiving usage makes McGuire basically unstartable this week regardless of whether or not Bilal Powell returns.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 7: @Phi.): It seems very likely that Rob Kelley will be able to play this week, which would send Perine back to a bench role. He scored a TD last weekend, but he still hasn’t really capitalized on the opportunities he’s been given. Even with the TD, Perine was outscored by receiving back Chris Thompson in non-PPR scoring. The Eagles allow the 6th-fewest RB points per game and have allowed just 40 rushing yards to opposing backs per week. There’s no way Perine posts a usable week with Kelley back.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 7: vs. Cin.): JuJu continues to see more usage than Martavis Bryant in this offense, but the matchup isn’t a great one this week. The Bengals allow the 3rd-fewest WR PPR points per game, allowing only Green Bay’s receiver group to eclipse 20 total points against them. As I mentioned, JJSS is still playing more snaps than Martavis Bryant, but he hasn’t had quite enough volume to be a trustworthy flex play. His matchup is tougher than it was last week, and yet his DraftKings price is $200 higher. I’d avoid him in all formats this week.
WR Taywan Taylor, TEN (Wk. 7: @Cle.): Jon Gruden referred to Taylor as a ‘gadget receiver’ during Monday Night Football this week, but I think Taywan had the last laugh after catching a 53-yard TD in the 4th quarter of the game. He’s shown some serious ability when given the chance with two 40+-yard catches on the season, but even with Corey Davis sidelined the volume just hasn’t been there. He has just 7 receptions in total. Here’s a weird stat for the Browns that will work against Taylor this week: The Browns have allowed 2 wide receivers to reach 40 yards in the same game just once this season (TY Hilton & Donte Moncrief). With Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker around, it’s hard to believe the guy to get to 40 yards will be Taylor if the Titans only get one.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 7: vs. Ari.): Everett scored his first career TD last week, but has hauled in just 3 catches for 20 yards on 9 targets in the past 4 games. The Cardinals were shredded by Brate & Ertz in the past 2 weeks, but there’s no reason to expect that from Everett. Tyler Higbee is the play if you want to attack the Cardinals’ TE defense.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 7: vs. Ten.): With Kevin Hogan under center last Sunday, Njoku saw a season-high 5 targets, but he caught just 2 of them for zero yards. Njoku has scored 3 TDs in 6 games, but he’s no more than a low-volume TD dart throw this week. The Titans allow the 12th-fewest TE points per game.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 7: @Buf.): Howard has been almost a non-factor in the passing game. He’s averaged just 2.4 targets per game, and the Bills have allowed the 8th-fewest TE points per game. It’s an easy call to avoid OJ this week.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB CJ Beathard, SF (Wk. 7: vs. Dal.): It’ll be Beathard’s first NFL start, but he acquitted himself well in mop-up duty against Washington last week and he gets a nice matchup in week 7. The Cowboys have allowed multiple passing TDs and at least 18 fantasy points to each QB they’ve faced in the past 4 games. The bye might have helped them get their heads on straight, but it’s hard to know. This will be Dallas’s first game since Jerry Jones issued his anthem ultimatum, and Ezekiel Elliott was only legally cleared to play on Tuesday. There could be some distractions affecting the team. Even if the Cowboys play well, Beathard should be playing from behind and have increased passing volume. He’s an interesting 2QB streamer option and upside DFS tournament play.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 7: vs. Jax.): Marlon Mack has a chance to explode this week. Robert Turbin has played at least 28% of the offensive snaps in every single game Mack has been active for. Turbin was lost for the season with an elbow injury at the end of the MNF game this week. The Jaguars have allowed an NFL-worst 5.2 yards per carry and 2nd-worst 145.7 rushing yards per game. Both Gore and Mack have brighter outlooks with Turbin out of the picture, but Mack is the more explosive back. Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus noted this week that the Jaguars have allowed 21 carries of 10 or more yards this season, 4th-most in the league, and Marlon Mack has 5 such carries in just 27 attempts. As long as Mack picks up some of the slack left behind by Turbin, he should be a great cheap DFS option and a fun sleeper for deeper leagues.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 7: vs. TB): Jordan Matthews’s status is still up in the air for this week, and Charles Clay is definitely out. If there was ever a spot for Zay Jones to get his rookie year on track, this is it. The Buccaneers allow the most WR PPR points per game by an incredible 8.7-point margin over the 2nd-worst unit (Eagles). That point gap is the same as the one between the Eagles and the Dolphins. The Dolphins allow the 17th-most WR points. Tampa has been absolutely shredded by wide receivers. I know Zay has just 5 catches on 23 targets for the year, but if Matthews sits out again he could see 8+ targets in this game against that Buccaneer defense. You can’t trust him in season-long leagues, but he could be a great value in DFS tournaments at just $3,600 on DraftKings.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 7: vs. Den.): The Broncos are never an ideal matchup to play a wide receiver, so this is about reminding you that Williams is still a solid stash for deeper leagues. He had just 1 catch in his debut, and will likely be eased in slowly, but the Chargers could use some wide receiver help. Only 16 of Philip Rivers’s 46 completions in the past 2 weeks went to wide receivers, and only 7 to receivers who weren’t Keenan Allen. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin aren’t getting it done. Among waiver wire WRs, I like Corey Davis’s upside more in terms of the rest of the season, but Davis has already been ruled out for this week. You can wait a week in most places to pick him up. You might not have that luxury with Williams.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 7: @Pit.): Ross is just a stash at this point. You can’t put him in the lineup this week, but with Tyler Boyd out, Ross might actually make an impact against Pittsburgh. You could beat the rush and pick him up this week in really deep leagues. Monitor Ross’s usage this week. Cincinnati gets the Colts, Browns and Titans in three of their next 5 games. There could be a couple big games for him if he manages to carve out a role.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps with some of your tough lineup decisions. I always try to include every fantasy relevant rookie, and if you see two guys at the same position under the same header, I try to rank them in the order I would play them this week. Keep an eye on the injury report throughout the week, and always check for any surprise inactives on game day. If you have any questions, or want to yell at me about anything 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.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!
Peterman completed 6-of-14 passes for 66 yards with five interceptions. Wow, Buffalo. Nice work. In this episode, we'll be touching on the Bills' and NFL fantasy players going forward as well as the other highs and lows of Week 11 and what they mean to your fantasy squad.