Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 3 was certainly an interesting one. Between all of the anthem protest drama, there were some intriguing football games. Almost nothing went according to plan, which should have been predictable with 10 road favorites (6 of them lost). The chaos started right away on Thursday night with an unexpected Rams-49ers shootout that was full of fantasy goodness. Sunday stunners included the Ravens getting housed in London with Joe Flacco throwing for 28(!) yards, the Steelers being topped in OT by a Bears team that completed just 1(!) pass to a WR the entire game, Case Keenum throwing for 369 yards in an easy Viking win, the tanking Jets demolishing the Dolphins, and the Lions losing on an incorrect call that cost them the opportunity for a final play. It was a whirlwind. If your team was one of the ones that got stunned, hopefully your fantasy team came out of week 3 in better shape than your real one. I wonder what week 4 will give us for an encore. Take note that for the players listed within the same category at the same position, they will be listed in the order I would rank them. Any point totals listed will be PPR scoring unless otherwise noted. Let’s take a look at what to expect from your rookies this week…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 4: vs. Was.): There’s a down week coming at some point for Hunt, but you obviously have to keep riding the wave right now. Washington isn’t a matchup to fear, and Hunt played a season-high 70% of the snaps last week against the Chargers. His role is getting bigger, not smaller. Andy Reid also said this week that he has no plans to scale back the rookie’s workload. Plug him in as an RB1 again.
RB Dalvin Cook, MIN (Wk. 4: vs. Det.): Cook is probably licking his chops this week as he watches film of Devonta Freeman dismantling the Lions’ defense last Sunday. He’s coming off his best game as a pro, and the Lions have been coughing up 150 scrimmage yards per week to opposing RBs. With his usage, Dalvin is a borderline RB1 this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 4: @NE): As expected, CMC’s receiving usage blew up against the New Orleans defense with Greg Olsen out and Kelvin Benjamin leaving the game early. The Saints had allowed the most receiving yards to RBs going into that game, and that hasn’t changed after McCaffrey hung 101 receiving yards on them. The team that has allowed the 2nd-most is the New England Patriots, who McCaffrey faces this week. He should have a great receiving floor and easily be an RB2 this week in PPR leagues. He’s more of a low-end RB2 in standard leagues, but one with big upside.
RB Chris Carson, SEA (Wk. 4: vs. Ind.): Any doubts about Carson’s role were put to bed last week and Thomas Rawls played just 1 snap. I’d expect Rawls to play a few more this week, but that’s mostly because C.J. Prosise has already been ruled out for the Seahawks and Carson isn’t going to play 100% of the snaps. The Colts are allowing just 3.2 yards per carry so far, but they’ve allowed the 11th-most RB points and Seattle opened as an 11.5-point favorite this week. The game script should very much in Carson’s favor, and he should be a rock solid RB2 option this week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 4: @NYJ): Even after limiting the Dolphins running backs to 21 yards on 14 carries, and just 7.8 PPR points last weekend, the Jets have still allowed more RB points per game than any other team in the league, and a 4.1 ypc average on the season. Perhaps the Jets’ week 3 improvement is a sign of things to come, but even if it is Fournette should still manage an RB2 day on volume alone. The upside is big in this one if the Jags get ahead early.
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Watson impressed last week against a Patriots D that typically feasts on rookie QBs. The Titans have allowed the 3rd-most QB points per game after being shredded by Russ Wilson last weekend, and DeAndre Hopkins should have a great shot to breakout and help out his quarterback. The Titans have allowed 22-243-2 to opposing number one WRs through 3 weeks. With the extra boost that Watson’s rushing gives him, he’s a borderline option for 2-QB leagues this week. There’s always a low floor with a rookie passer in a run-heavy scheme, but the ceiling Watson showed last week was nice.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 4: @Cle.): Week 3 was a promising one for Mixon. He may finally be breaking out of the 3-man timeshare the Bengals started with now that they have a new coordinator. Mixon played 56% of the offensive snaps and saw 62% of the running back touches in week 3. OC Bill Lazor seems to be turning the backfield over to him, and I expect him to play better with extended opportunities that will allow him to get in rhythm. The increased work is just a one week sample, and the Browns have been decent against the run so far this year, so there is some risk. If the increased usage continues this week, he should finish in the RB2 range.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 4: @GB): If you own Cohen in a non-PPR league, I’d probably lean against using him this week. This stacks up as more of a Howard game with the Packers allowing 97 RB rushing yards per game compared to 29 RB receiving yards. Then again, last week stacked up as a Cohen game and it was Howard who blew up. For PPR leagues, Cohen remains a steady flex option with big play upside. The Bears completed just 1 pass to a wide receiver last week, and Mike Glennon clearly has a connection with Cohen. I’d still expect him to be peppered with targets in a game the Bears should be trailing in as a 7.5-point road underdog.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin are both dealing with concussions this week, so Kupp should see plenty of targets if Watkins can’t play. He disappointed last week with just 2-17 on 2 targets despite the team’s gaudy passing numbers, but I’d look for a bounce back against Dallas. The Cowboys are allowing the 6th-most points per game to opposing WRs. Cooper is on the flex radar in PPR leagues.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 4: @Min.): It’s been a quiet couple weeks for the sax man (Kenny G). He’s always going to have a bit of a boom-or-bust element with the way the Lions use him, but I kind of like his chances to boom this week. The Vikings have allowed the 2nd-most WR points per game (44.3) despite strong play from top CB Xavier Rhodes. I’d expect it to be Marvin Jones who tangles with Rhodes most often (Rhodes is unlikely to go to the slot to cover Tate). Kenny still has a really low floor, as evidenced by the 3-33 totals he’s put up in the past 2 games, but I love his upside this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 4: @TB): Engram seems to have established a pretty reliable 4-40 floor so far, which should make him a borderline weekly TE1 in PPR leagues. He’s been the TE14, TE9, and TE14 in PPR in the first 3 weeks. Tampa has been solid against TEs so far, but their defense is dealing with some injuries this week and Engram has seen 7 targets in each of the past 2 games. Engram should be a safer bet than some of the other streaming options available (I’m looking at you Hunter Henry).
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 4: vs. Cin.): I’m not as confident in Kizer’s outlook this week as I was for week 3. The Bengals struggled to contain the Packers’ passing last week, but Aaron Rodgers is special. Prior to that game, Cincy held the Ravens and Texans to a combined 246 passing yards and 1 score. They did allow a 50-yard rushing score to Deshaun Watson, but those can be kind of fluky. I don’t expect a high volume passing game from Kizer, so even with his rushing upside it will be tough for him to return QB2 value this week.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 4: @Mia.): There is still a little upside here for DFS tournaments, but the matchup for Kamara this week isn’t ideal. It’s a small sample size, but through 2 games the Dolphins have allowed the 4th-fewest RB points per game. They’ve allowed just 3.25 yards per carry and 3.5 receptions per game to opposing backs. They’ll also be playing angry after an embarrassing loss in New York last weekend. It’s probably best to avoid rolling the dice on Kamara this week.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 4: vs. Ten.): Foreman made two nice plays in the passing game Sunday, putting up 65 yards on the 2 catches, and the Titans have coughed up 175 receiving yards to opposing backs so far. This doesn’t mean much for Foreman though. His receiving plays should be viewed as outliers, not the norm. For now, this is still Lamar Miller’s job. There has been a lot of talk that Foreman has been outperforming Miller so far, but Miller is averaging 3.7 yards per carry to Foreman’s 3.3, and Lamar out-snapped D’Onta 50-17 in week 3. Foreman will continue to get change of pace work, but not enough to make him a viable option this week.
RB Semaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 4: @KC): It was a little bit surprising that Rob Kelley sat out last weekend with injury, but Perine didn’t do much with his starting opportunity. He totaled 49 yards on 19 carries, and added a 6-yard catch, but he also lost a fumble. He’s now at 2.9 yards per carry on 40 totes. Even if Kelley were to miss another game, Perine is a low-end flex play with little to no receiving upside.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 4: @NE): The Patriots have allowed at least 32.9 PPR points to the opposing WR group each week so far, and Carolina is running low on WRs at this point with KB questionable. There is a little upside for Samuel, but the Panthers have struggled to show they know how to use him and have struggled to get their passing game clicking in general. If Benjamin sits, Curtis might be worth a roll of the dice in really deep leagues, but I’m struggling to trust much in the Carolina passing game at this point aside from McCaffrey.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): It was nice to see Godwin get involved a little bit in game 2, putting up a 3-44 line on 3 targets as TB tried to play catch-up. The Giants likely won’t score enough to keep Tampa throwing all game again, and New York has allowed just 22.6 PPR points per game to opposing WRs. Most of those points are earmarked for Mike Evans and D-Jax.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 4: @Atl.): LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay each have more catches on the year than Zay has targets. Until that trend changes, there isn’t much reason to even consider Zay in your lineups.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 4: @Cle.): Ross looks unlikely to play this week. Even if he is active, I’d like to see him actually do something on the field before I put him in any lineups.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 4: @Hou.): With Corey Davis out with injury last week, Jonnu played about 65% of the Titans’ offensive snaps, and scored his second TD in as many weeks. He also has just 3 catches in those 2 weeks, and gets a tougher matchup in this one. The Texans rank 13th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA stat on throws to tight ends, and they’ve allowed just 4 catches for 60 yards to the position in the two games where they didn’t face Gronk. This is probably not the best week to use Smith as a TD dart throw.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): Howard has played about 65% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps each week, but has just 2 catches and 4 targets to show for it. He’s being used primarily as a blocker for now. Until that changes, there’s no place for him in your lineup.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 4: @Ari.): The Cardinals just held an ageless Jason Witten to one catch for 3 yards on Monday night, and Kittle has 3 catches for 21 yards in the past 2 weeks combined. It’s not a good spot to consider him.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): You would think his outlook would be better this week if the Rams are without Sammy Watkins, but he has been slowly ceding playing time to Derek Carrier. His snap count has gone from 29 to 16 to 11 in the first 3 games. He might still make a downfield play in this one, but it’s hard to rely on a player who isn’t on the field much.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 4: @TB): This is mostly just a hunch, but Gallman may get some opportunity this week if Orleans Darkwa is out and Paul Perkins gets off to a slow start. The Bucs are dealing with a myriad of maladies on their defense right now: Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Chris Baker, and Gerald McCoy are all banged up, and Tampa just allowed 33 fantasy points to the Vikings’ running backs. Gallman is only worth considering as a DFS punt play, and he’s a risky one at that. He played zero snaps last week. If Darkwa dresses, I’d take a long look at Shane Vereen for DFS lineups. He could have a strong day.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 4: @SD): Clement likely has little to no value for this week, but with Sproles done for the year he’s worth a stash in really deep leagues. He’s the primary backup to LeGarrette Blount, and he put up 22 yards and a score in just 9 snaps and 6 carries a week ago. The Eagles backfield is still very much in flux in the wake of the Sproles injury.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 4: @Bal.): The Ravens have allowed the 5th fewest WR points per game so far this year, but they’ve allowed 53.2 points to opposing tight ends in the last 2 weeks including 4 TDs. The Steelers will likely be using JJSS as a de-facto tight end if Jesse James is out with injury. He’s been playing plenty of snaps and has averaged 5 targets per game in the past 2 weeks. I like his chances for a TD in this one.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 4: @Ari.): Taylor played almost 50% of the week 3 snaps and was targeted in the red zone, scoring his first career TD. He also was the victim of a terrible OPI penalty on the 49ers final drive. The Cardinals have struggled against WRs so far, allowing the 5th-most WR points per game to them. The 49ers are a 6-point underdog, and Pierre Garcon could be shadowed by Patrick Peterson. Taylor has the chance for a really nice game.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 4: @Dal.): This is contingent on Watkins and Tavon being out with their concussions. He needs both out to see the snaps needed to produce. If both are out, I’d expect Reynolds to play in 3-wide sets with he and Robert Woods on the outside and Cooper Kupp in the slot. The Cowboys have been bleeding points to WRs the past 2 weeks (46.4/game). There is a chance that J-Rey surprises in this one.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 4: vs. Cin.): Njoku is probably a TD or bust option, but the Bengals are not as tough a matchup as their #5 rank at limiting TE points would suggest. They faced Baltimore in week 1, who only threw 17 passes all game (3 to TEs), and then played the Texans in week 2 who were missing ALL of their tight ends with concussions. In week 3 they allowed 2-52-1 to Lance Kendricks. The Bengals rank just 24th in pass defense DVOA on throws to TEs, and Njoku has hit paydirt each of the last 2 weeks. Limited snaps and splitting time with DeValve have hurt his output, but the Browns don’t have a ton of other red zone weapons.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with the tougher lineup decisions involving these guys. If you have any questions, arguments, or opinions, feel free to hit me up on twitter and let me know (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve now passed the halfway point of the regular season. Hopefully your teams are doing pretty well, because things are about to get a little dicey in the next 2 weeks. There are 6 teams off each week, the most we’ll see in any weeks this year. It’s going to create some holes in your lineups, and finding the right guys to fill those gaps will be critical. At least a few rookies may be peaking at the right time to help out. OJ Howard was the TE1 last weekend. David Njoku had the longest catch of his career so far. Aaron Jones clearly took over as the lead back in Green Bay, and Marlon Mack out-snapped Frank Gore for the first time this year. There are plenty of other rookies who are poised to play bigger roles as the season wears on like Corey Davis (pick him up this week if you have the roster spot to do it), Kenny Golladay, Austin Ekeler and John Ross among others. Let’s dive in and discuss what to expect for week 8…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 8: vs. Den.): Denver has allowed the 2nd-fewest RB points per game (all scoring stats in PPR scoring unless otherwise noted) and ranks 1st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, and Hunt hasn’t finished higher than the RB10 in the past 4 weeks despite a couple of good matchups. You still have to start him. He’s been at least an RB2 every week, and the daunting matchup isn’t enough to make me act crazy and bench him. He’s a contrarian play for DFS tournaments this week.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 8: vs. Ind.): The Colts were stingy against the run to start the year, allowing just 67 RB rush yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry in the first 3 weeks. They’ve allowed 136.5 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry since. Mixon voiced some displeasure after last week’s game about getting zero carries in the 2nd half after piling up 48 yards on 7 first half carries. Head Coach Marvin Lewis called the comments immature, but I think he got the message. Even if he didn’t, with the Bengals a 10-point favorite in this game, they might not have any choice but to run in the 2nd half. The Colts have coughed up the 2nd-most RB points per game so far, and I expect Mixon to still be the lead back despite the Lewis’s comments. Mixon has RB1 upside this week and should be a staple in DFS lineups at just $4,700 in DraftKings.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 8: vs. Chi.): While the biggest beneficiary of the Saints’ Adrian Peterson trade has been Mark Ingram, it’s also given a boost to Kamara. He’s played 42% and 49% of the snaps in the two games since Peterson was jettisoned, the highest rates since he cracked 50% in week 1. He’s put up 87 scrimmage yards on 13 touches and 107 scrimmage yards on 14 touches in those two games. Kamara has now scored double-digit points in PPR formats in 4 straight games, and what’s been most impressive is the ability he’s shown as a runner. His receiving upside could be somewhat limited by the Bears, who have allowed the 6th-fewest RB receiving yards in the league, but I don’t expect that to hold him back. The Bears rank 16th in run defense DVOA, have been banged up at linebacker (Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman on IR), and the Saints are a 9-point favorite this week. The positive game script and decent matchup should make Kamara a solid RB2 this weekend.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 8: @TB): Another NFL week, another week where McCaffrey looks to be a solid RB2, but he may have some upside for more this week. The Bucs have really been scuffling against RBs in the past 3 weeks. They’ve allowed 28.9 points per game to running backs in the past 3, which would be 3rd-most in the league if they averaged that for the year. Tampa Bay has been more vulnerable in the red zone to running backs running the ball rather than catching it out of the backfield, allowing 5 rushing TDs to backs compared to just 1 receiving score, but they’ve still allowed 6 catches and 45.5 receiving yards per game to them. Tampa ranks in the bottom half of the league in receiving points allowed to RBs per game. That’s should suit McCaffrey just fine. CMC has established himself as the lead back for the Panthers after playing 74% of the offensive snaps last week compared to 39% for J-Stew, and he may finally hit that ceiling we’ve all been waiting for. It should be a great week to fire up McCaffrey, and he’ll be could be a nice piece in DFS lineups if he makes good on his potential in this plus matchup.
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 8: @Sea.): Watson has been a tremendous fantasy QB so far, but this week he gets his toughest test to-date. If you are in a 1-QB league, I would certainly be considering other options if decent ones are available. No quarterback has scored 20 points against the Seahawks this year, and only Aaron Rodgers and Marcus Mariota have topped 10. Seattle allows the 4th-fewest QB points per game, ranks 5th in pass defense DVOA, and has allowed the 2nd-lowest QB rating against. Watson’s rushing ability adds a little bit of a boost to his floor, but this isn’t a great spot to trot him out there. Watson is averaging nearly 23 fantasy points per game, so it isn’t like he’s going to suddenly be held to 5 points. He’s still a fine play in 2-QB formats. I’m just pointing out that he’s far from an automatic start in 1-QB formats thanks to the difficult matchup.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 8: @NO): With so many running backs on bye this week, Cohen is worth considering, especially if Benny Cunningham sits again. Cohen only played 18% of the snaps last weekend and handled just 1 touch (a 70-yard reception), but the game script worked against him. The Bears were ahead for much of that game. I’d expect a reversal of fortunes this week against the red-hot Saints. New Orleans has allowed the most RB catches per game and most RB receiving yards per game, and that’s where Cohen’s bread is buttered. The Bears will still likely try and limit Trubisky’s passing volume, but there might not be any way to avoid throwing when they fall behind. Cohen is back in play as a PPR flex option.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 8: @Cin.): It was exciting for Mack owners to see him out-snap Frank Gore for the first time last weekend, but much of that had to do with game script. The Colts trailed 14-0 in the first quarter, and never got themselves into the game. The good news for Mack: This week’s game script is likely to set up the same way. The Bengals haven’t played great so far, but even they are a 10-point favorite this week. Gore will still factor in here and the Bengals have allowed the 12th-fewest RB points per game, so it isn’t all roses for Mack, but Cincy also allows 6.5 receptions per game to running backs. With the limited slate of games, Mack is certainly in play as a flex option, and an enticing DFS tournament play at just $4,000 in DraftKings.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 8: @Det.): I can’t imagine all of the Martavis drama results in more playing time from Bryant, and at least for week 8 it’s got him benched completely. JuJu was already an intriguing option this week before the announcement came about Martavis. There was some worry about JuJu being in the concussion protocol, but he practiced in full Wednesday. With Bryant out, JJSS may get to move to the outside a bit and will likely avoid both Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay, who have been Detroit’s two best corners. The Lions allow the 11th-most WR points per game. Smith-Schuster has a great opportunity to post a WR3 game this week.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 8: vs. Pit.): Golladay is back at practice this week and should be good to go for Sunday night. Golden Tate is expected to miss this game (monitor the situation, Tate got in a limited practice Wed.), and the Lions are going to need someone to pick up the slack of the 8 targets per game that he averages. The Steelers have allowed the fewest WR points per game, but among the teams they’ve played, only Cleveland throws the ball nearly as much as Detroit does, and the Browns don’t really have a QB or WRs. The Browns throw it on 63.97% of their offensive plays, while the Lions throw on 63.43%. No other Pittsburgh opponent throws even 59% of the time. If Tate does sit, the volume should be there for Golladay to be an upside flex option in a week with so many byes. He’s worth grabbing as a fallback if you’re waiting on the status of another WR who’s questionable to suit up.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Kittle was targeted just twice in a 30-point loss to the Cowboys last week in which CJ Beathard threw 38 times. I believed in the Iowa connection, but those results weren’t promising. I still might be willing to go back to the well this week. The Eagles aren’t exactly a great matchup for TEs, or at least they weren’t. With the injury to Jordan Hicks, that may change. Hicks had a 90.0 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus last year and was at 71.5 so far this season. The Eagles were shredded by Jordan Reed after the injury occurred on Monday. Of course Kittle isn’t Reed, but I like his chances at a bounce back in another game where the 49ers should be throwing a ton. He’s a decent streamer option or bye week filler for deeper leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 8: @NO): The Bears have been running the ball on 68.9% of their offensive snaps with Trubisky as starter (per PFF’s Scott Barrett), and he’s attempted 23 passes in the past 2 weeks combined. They’re likely to have to throw a bit more to keep pace with New Orleans, but the Saints have actually been pretty stingy to opposing QBs during their 4-game win streak. They’ve allowed just 10.2 fantasy points per game and 187 passing yards per game to opposing QBs in that 4-game span. Couple that with the fact the Bears will still try to limit his volume, and it’s easy to see Trubisky should be avoided this week.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. Min.): The Browns have decided to go back to Kizer once again this week, but the in-game benchings can’t be good for this kid’s development. He gets a brutal matchup this week across the pond against a Viking defense that has allowed the 5th-fewest QB points per game. I’d expect more of the same from Kizer in this one – turnovers. He’s failed to reach 4 fantasy points in each of his last 3 starts, and I wouldn’t be stunned if that happens again Sunday.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 8: @Sea.): Foreman has 3 games this season with 12 or more carries, but all 3 were wins, and 2 were blowouts. He has 13 carries combined in the Texans’ 3 losses. Seattle is a 6-point favorite and allows the 4th-fewest running back points per game. You have to pick your spots with a lower volume player like Foreman, and this isn’t a good spot to use him.
RB Matt Brieda, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Brieda has played just 32 offensive snaps and handled 9 touches total in the past 2 weeks after Kyle Shanahan proclaimed that he is on equal footing with Carlos Hyde. They may be showcasing Hyde for a trade, but as long as Carlos is on the roster it’ll be hard to trust Brieda. His limited role certainly isn’t a recipe for fantasy success against an Eagles team that allows the 8th-fewest running back points per game.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 8: vs. Atl.): With Bilal Powell and Matt Forte both healthy last weekend, McGuire played just 7 offensive snaps and saw just 3 touches. He’ll go back into obscurity for now until one of those top 2 backs comes down with another ailment or the Jets nosedive out of playoff contention. We know they aren’t going to the playoffs, but at the moment they are just a game and a half out of the last wild card spot.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 8: vs. Dal.): Perine played zero offensive snaps last week, yet somehow has a higher price tag in DraftKings than teammate Rob Kelley, who starts. That is absurd to me. Avoid Perine in all formats.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Taylor showed a connection with QB CJ Beathard last week with 5 catches, and the Eagles have been torched by slot WRs Sterling Shepard and Keenan Allen (runs about 55% of snaps from slot), but those guys were outliers. Outside of those two weeks, the Eagles have actually defended the slot pretty well, and Taylor is nowhere near as good as Shep or Allen. Taylor probably shouldn’t be a consideration for your lineup.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 8: @NE): Williams draws a great matchup with the Pats allowing the 3rd-most WR points per game, but Williams played just 24% of the snaps last week and was targeted only twice. He’s essentially splitting WR3 reps with Travis Benjamin, which puts a pretty big damper on his upside. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks, but I can’t make a compelling argument for why you should expect it to change this week. There’s upside here, but also a floor of zero points that seems more likely than him making good on that upside.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 8: vs. Oak.): Zay was targeted a season-high 9 times last Sunday, and he caught just 2 of them for 17 yards. He now had 7 catches for 83 yards on the season on 32 targets. His inefficiency and 22% catch rate are quickly becoming the stuff of legend. I wonder how much longer the Bills can keep forcing that kind of volume his way. There’s no reason to expect a positive change this week.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 8: vs. Ind.): It’s really disappointing that Ross didn’t manage to get healthy for last week’s game and get some reps in. You can’t throw him into lineups without seeing what his usage is going to look like first, but this would’ve been a great spot for him. Ross has exceptional deep speed and the Colts have allowed 40 passes of 20 or more yards this season. While it’s a bummer for Ross that he won’t be up to speed for this one, AJ Green may be the premiere WR play of the week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. Min.): I would actually like Njoku as a sleeper this week if Cody Kessler had gotten the starting nod. Njoku’s snap rates are still troubling, as he played under 40% of the offensive snaps last week, but Kessler seemed to seek him out. 4 of Kessler’s 19 pass attempts went in Njoku’s direction, and he hauled in 2 of them for 31- and 27-yard gains. They were the two longest catches of his young career. Minnesota is right square in the middle of the pack when it comes to defending tight ends (16th-most points allowed per game), but they rank just 26th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the position. There would be a case to be made for Njoku in deep enough leagues if Kessler were back under center.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 8: vs. Car.): Don’t chase last week’s points with Howard. Hopefully the increased targets are a sign of things to come for him, but Cameron Brate still ran more pass routes and was targeted more often last Sunday. 47% of Howard’s PPR production has come on 2 TDs against broken coverages where the defense let him get wide open. It’s hard to bank on that happening again this week, especially with the Panthers allowing the 7th-fewest tight end points per game.
Rookies on Byes: RB Leonard Fournette, JAX, RB Aaron Jones, GB, RB Wayne Gallman, NYG, WR Corey Davis, TEN, WR Taywan Taylor, TEN, WR Cooper Kupp, LAR, TE Evan Engram, NYG, TE Jonnu Smith, TEN
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB CJ Beathard, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Beathard didn’t exactly set the world on fire in a favorable matchup last week, but he did manage to tally 14.4 fantasy points thanks to a garbage time rushing TD, and he gets a favorable draw again this week. Philly has been allowing a lot of garbage time passing stats this year. They’ve been ahead entering the 4th quarter in all 6 games they’ve won, and had a 2-score advantage in 3 of them. I’d expect them to be up double-digits entering the 4th this week. There should be plenty of time for Beathard to pad stats. Philly allows the 4th-most passing yards and 9th-most QB fantasy points per game. CJ is an intriguing streamer in 2-QB formats thanks to the byes.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 8: @NE): Ekeler found his way to a surprising 11 touches last week and was pretty effective with them, finishing as the PPR RB13 for the week. This may be point chasing, but he might be in play for you if you’re scrambling for a running back in deep PPR leagues. The Patriots have allowed the 5th-most RB points per game and the 2nd-most receptions and receiving yards to backs. The bulk of that will go to Melvin Gordon, but Ekeler clearly has established a role.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 8: vs. SF): Clement may get a chance to pile up garbage time carries in a game where the Iggles are 13-point favorites. The 49ers allow the most running back points per game in the league, and they just let Rod Smith find his way to be the RB35 last week without even finding the end zone. That was with just 2 teams on bye. There are 6 this week. Clement’s usage makes him no more than a DFS tournament punt play this week. He was on the field for just 12 offensive snaps on Monday night.
WR Mack Hollins, PHI (Wk. 8: vs. SF): Hollins is a guy worth stashing in dynasty leagues. The Eagles have been raving about him since training camp, and for the season he’s been targeted 6 times, and has a 6-134-1 line to show for it. It’s only a matter of time before he overtakes Torrey Smith and starts to get more playing time. Smith signed a 3-year contract with Philly last offseason, but the last 2 years are both club options. Also worth noting: Alshon Jeffrey signed just a 1-year deal with Philadelphia. Hollins should be a prominent part of the passing game next year, one way or another.
WR Tanner Gentry, CHI (Wk. 8: @NO): The Bears passing volume has been a bit of a joke the past couple weeks, but Gentry has been on the field for 109 out of a possible 118 offensive snaps in the past 2 weeks. He only has one catch to show for all of that playing time, but that’s due to there being just 12 passing completions in those games. I’d expect quite a bit more volume against the high-powered Saints. New Orleans allows the 9th-most WR points per game. Gentry has displayed big play ability (had a 45-yard TD catch in preseason), and the Saints have allowed the 4th-most pass plays of 20 or more yards. Gentry could surprise this week as a DFS punt option. The Bears did just acquire Dontrelle Inman on Wednesday, so the snap share could be a bit in jeopardy for Tanner, but I don’t expect Dontrelle to be fully up to speed by Sunday.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps with your tough lineup decisions. If you see two players at the same position with the same designation, the one listed first is the one I like better this week. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury reports throughout the week and always do a final check before kickoff to make sure your guys are active. If you want to yell at me about anything above or have any 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! Hopefully, the bye weeks didn’t hit you too hard last week. If you’re lucky you had Deshaun Watson or one of his two WRs to help you get through. The Texans may have come up short against Seattle, but Watson shredded one of the league’s better defenses. He just might be matchup-proof going forward. A few other rookies had stellar performances as well. JuJu Smith-Schuster has cemented himself as the #1 rookie WR for 2017 after posting 32.3 PPR points in prime time Sunday night with Martavis Bryant sitting. Josh Malone grabbed his first career catches and scored his first TD on Sunday for Cincinnati. I wouldn’t expect him to have a big role moving forward though. It was a lower scoring week for RBs, but Alvin Kamara, Matt Breida, and Marlon Mack all turned in quality performances. Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon and Kareem Hunt were less impressive this week but still posted respectable days as well. There are another 6 teams on bye in week 9, so this could be another one where your lineup is a patchwork that could be pieced together by a couple rookies. With that in mind, let’s dive in and see what’s in store for the rookie crop this week…
(A couple notes: All point totals or points per game stats are based on PPR scoring, and players within the same position and same header are listed in order that I would play them):
Rookies to Start:
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): The matchup is a juicy one for Watson this week. The Colts have allowed 300+ passing yards in 5 of their 8 games (and 295 in one of the other 3), and they’ve allowed at least one passing TD each week as well. Watson has been the QB1 or QB2 overall in each of his past 4 starts. Indy has allowed 10 more passes of 20+ yards than any other team in the league, and the Texans are tied for the 5th-most 20+ yard pass plays on offense. Watson is an easy top-5 option this week (probably higher). He’s really pricey in DFS this week, checking in at $800 more than any other QB in DraftKings and $1,100 more than any other in FanDuel. At those prices, I might look at other options in GPP tournaments, but if he hits his ceiling once again you’ll regret not having him in there. He should be chalk in cash games.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Hunt is a great bet to get back on track this week. The Denver defense was a daunting matchup on Monday night, and it resulted in Hunt’s worst game to-date. The Cowboys aren’t nearly as daunting. Dallas allows the 13th-most RB points per game and ranked 31st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat before facing Washington’s hapless rushing attack in week 8. It’ll be hard to trust Hunt at his price tag in DFS tournaments after he failed to return value in plus matchups with Pittsburgh & Oakland, but he should be a great option in cash games and locked in as your RB1 in regular lineups. He’s overdue for a big game.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 9: vs. Cin.): He’s had two weeks off with the bye to recover from his ankle injury, so he should be ready to roll this week. The Bengals have allowed 24+ PPR points to opposing RBs in 3 of their last 4 games, and when healthy Fournette handles the vast majority of the backfield touches. He should return to RB1 status this week. He might even have less competition for goal-line work if the Jaguars decide to make TJ Yeldon active instead of Chris Ivory this week. Yeldon flashed in a big way during Fournette’s week 7 absence. Prior to week 7, Fournette had handled 16 red zone carries, and Ivory had handled 4. Regardless of who suits up as LF’s number 2, he should be in your lineup this week.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 9: vs. TB): Tampa Bay has allowed the 10th-most RB points per game this season, and Kamara has been the RB22, RB12, and RB9 in the 3 games since Adrian Peterson was traded to Arizona. He’s been outscored by Mark Ingram each week, but he’s closed the gap in the snap count in each of the last 3 weeks and topped 50% of the snaps in week 8 for the first time since week 1. He actually played the same number of offensive snaps as Ingram against the Bears. We’ve seen there’s clearly enough volume in this offense to support two starting fantasy backs, but Kamara’s role continues to grow. The matchup this week isn’t a scary one, so Kamara should be fired up once again as a solid RB2 with upside for more.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 9: @Jax.): Mixon’s game was salvaged by a long screen pass last week but was otherwise a lackluster showing. He put up just 18 yards on 11 carries on the ground. I’d still go back to the well with Mixon this week. The Jaguars rank 32nd in run defense DVOA, and still allow the most rushing yards per game (138.6) and highest yards per carry average in the league (5.2). Things may get better up front for Jacksonville with the acquisition on Marcell Dareus, but I doubt he has that big of an impact this week. Mixon hasn’t really shown the ceiling yet, but I’m in on him as an RB2 for week 9. He’s still underpriced on DraftKings at $5,100 this week.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 9: vs. Atl.): With the surprising trade of Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills there are more passing targets to go around for Carolina. Atlanta has allowed the most RB receptions per game through the first 8 weeks, and McCaffrey has 6 more catches than any other RB thus far. Even without much rushing production, McCaffrey should be a safe RB2 in PPR formats, and a dicey flex in standard leagues. The Falcons don’t give up a ton of yards on all of those RB catches, so I’d probably shy away in DFS lineups.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 9: vs. Det.): The matchup doesn’t really qualify as good or bad this week for Jones. The Lions have allowed the 7th-fewest rushing yards per game, but also the 12th-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Jones seems to have a firm grasp on the lead back role after playing 80% of the snaps against the Saints before the week 8 bye, and the game plan figures to be run-heavy with Brett Hundley at the helm. Volume alone should get Jones into RB2 range, but you always worry about Ty Montgomery lurking over his shoulder.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. LAR): The Rams have been tough on tight ends so far this season, allowing the 4th-fewest TE points per game, but Engram has been the focal point of the Giants’ passing attack since the receiver group was decimated by injuries. He’s seen at least 7 targets in 5 of 7 games, and has seen 19 total in the past 2 games since Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard were all injured against the Chargers. He’s made good on that volume, finishing as the TE3 and TE4 in those contests. He’s a top-5 option again this week despite a tougher draw and the likely return of Shepard.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 9: @Hou.): Mack out-snapped and outscored Frank Gore for the 2nd time in as many weeks last Sunday. The Colts are huge underdogs again this weekend, and Mack has been targeted 11 times in the past 2 games. I’d expect more of the same usage this week. The Texans have been stingy to opposing backs, allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy points per game to the position, but they have given up 3 receiving TDs to RBs. Mack is a sneaky flex play in PPR and half-PPR leagues, and a better option than Gore again this week.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 9: @NYG): The suspension of Janoris Jenkins could be a good thing for Kupp this week. While on the surface, it seems to be a plus for Sammy Watkins, who Jenkins would likely be covering all day, the suspension also gets Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of the slot where Kupp lines up most often. DRC has allowed an average of just 2.5 catches and 29.5 yards per game into his coverage, and has coughed up just one TD. It will benefit Kupp to not have to face him. I wouldn’t expect a huge bump in targets for Kupp, but he should be fairly efficient with them, and he’s the best bet to score a TD among the Rams WRs. Goff trusts him in the red zone. That keeps him in play as a PPR flex or WR3 option.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 9: vs. Bal.): Obviously, Jonnu shouldn’t be in your lineup if Delanie Walker plays, but it sounds like Walker’s status is in doubt as he deals with a bone bruise on his ankle. He may very well play, but he was spotted in a walking boot just last week and isn’t practicing as of Wednesday. The Ravens have allowed 6 TDs to opposing tight ends in 8 games, and Walker is averaging 7 targets per game. If Delanie is held out, Jonnu is a fine streaming option for deeper leagues. He wouldn’t automatically see the same target share Delanie has been seeing, but 4-6 targets would be a reasonable expectation.
Rookies to Sit:
QB CJ Beathard, SF (Wk. 9: vs. Ari.): Despite the Cardinals allowing the 3rd-most QB points per game, Beathard has shown that you shouldn’t really trust him even in great matchups. It’s a messy week in 2-QB leagues this week with the 6 byes, so you might be forced to go with Beathard. There is some solace to be had in the fact that he’s topped 10 points each week, but not much. He’s no more than a desperation QB2 if you have just about no other options. I wouldn’t go near him in DFS lineups.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 9: vs. Ari.): The Cardinals are allowing the 10th-fewest RB points per game, and despite his TD last week, Breida has still averaged just 6 touches per game in the past 3 weeks. The 32% of the snaps he played last week was the highest he saw in those 3 games, but the matchup this week is too tough to expect Breida to make hay on that limited of a snap count.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 9: vs. Den.): Although the Eagles are again a comfortable favorite, I don’t see Clement piling up 10 garbage time carries again this week. Even if he does, I’d be stunned if he manages to top 50 yards again. He goes from facing the defense that allows the most RB points per game last week to the one that allows the fewest this week. It’s not a recipe for success for a part-time player like Clement.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 9: vs. Bal.): Davis should return this week from the ankle injury that’s sidelined him since week 2, but I’m not quite ready to throw him into the fire in fantasy lineups. He may be eased back in, and he gets a gauntlet the first few weeks back. The Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers all rank in the top-5 in the league at limiting WR fantasy points. If you have the space to stash him, his schedule opens up a ton after that. The following 4 opponents after the AFC North stretch all rank in the bottom 13, including the dumpster fires that are the Colts and 49ers. There are better days ahead for Davis, but you should exercise caution with him for now.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 9: @GB): Golladay does return to a good matchup if he’s able to get back on the field this week, but he’ll be little more than a TD dart throw. He may struggle to keep up with the Joneses (Marvin and TJ), who have both played well while Kenny was sidelined. TJ has likely earned a split of the WR3 reps with Golladay, so it would be best to take a wait-and-see approach before putting Babytron back into lineups.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 9: @NYJ): Zay finally had a reasonably efficient game last weekend with 3 catches on 5 targets for 32 yards. It’s not a week you can use for fantasy purposes, as he was just the WR46 for the week in PPR scoring, but it’s something for him to build on. At least, it would have been if the Bills didn’t go out and trade for Kelvin Benjamin. He may get one more chance to showcase what he can do this week since KB was acquired 2 days before this week’s tilt with the Jets, but there’s no reason to try him in your lineup. He’s droppable even in deep redraft leagues since his targets will likely be cut in half the rest of the way.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 9: vs. Cin.): Dede might be worth stashing in deeper leagues, and should certainly be owned in dynasty formats, but this is probably not the best week to use him. The Bengals allow the 5th-fewest WR points per game, and the Jaguars attempt the 3rd-fewest passes per game. Since Jacksonville is a 4-point favorite this week, I don’t see them having to deviate much from their run-heavy game plan in this one. Keep an eye on Westbrook’s usage, but keep him out of the lineup.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 9: vs. Ari.): Kittle has shown pretty clearly in the past 2 weeks that the Iowa connection hasn’t carried over to the NFL level. Arizona is a tougher matchup on tight ends than the Eagles were, and Philly held Kittle to 2-22 on 4 targets. Kittle has seen just 6 targets in 2 games with Beathard as the starter after getting 7 targets from him in week 6 when CJ relieved Hoyer. I don’t expect a spike in targets this week. There are likely better streaming options available.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 9: @NO): After posting a career game in week 7, Howard came back down to Earth last Sunday with 2-16 on 2 targets. He remains behind Cameron Brate as a pass-catching TE for Tampa. Howard’s athleticism will allow him to post a big game here or there if the defense doesn’t account for him, but it’s hard to predict when those games will come. You could use Howard in DFS tournaments as a shoot-the-moon option, but he’s a volatile play.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 9: vs. LAR): The Rams allow the 2nd-most RB points per game, and Gallman hasn’t totally disappeared from the offense despite Orleans Darkwa’s breakout 100-yard game. Gallman actually played 1 more snap than Darkwa the week after that game. His production has been minimal, but if he manages to play 35% or more of the snaps again in this plus matchup, he could be in play as a DFS tournament punt option, or as a desperation flex in the deepest of leagues with so many byes on tap.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 9: vs. Ind.): Foreman’s usage pattern has been pretty easy to get a read on in hindsight, and this week, it may be pretty easy to guess how he’ll be used beforehand. In the Texans’ 4 losses, Foreman has averaged 4 touches and 33 scrimmage yards per game. He’s averaged 12 touches and 48 yards in their wins. The Texans are 13-point favorites this week. I’d expect there to be ample garbage time against a Colts’ team that has allowed the 3rd-most RB points per game. If he gets his typical usage for wins and manages to find the end zone, he likely winds up a top-30 RB for the week. You could do worse if looking for a fill in for deeper leagues. He’s a better option in standard formats rather than PPR.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 9: vs. Ari.): Pierre Garcon is likely to be shadowed by Patrick Peterson once again this week, and the last time the 49ers faced the Cardinals that resulted in 10 targets for Trent. He posted 5 catches and 47 yards in that game, out-producing Garcon in the process. The Cardinals have proven to be vulnerable to all wide receivers that Peterson doesn’t shadow, They’ve allowed the 4th-most WR points per game despite Pat Pete allowing just 5 catches and 60 yards on balls thrown into his coverage all year according to RotoWorld’s Targets & Touches. Even with Beathard at QB, Taylor is an intriguing punt option for GPP tournaments and costs the minimum on DraftKings.
WR Ryan Switzer, DAL (Wk. 9: vs. KC): Cole Beasley suffered a concussion and is likely to miss this game. It appears it’ll be Switzer who gets the nod in the slot in a nice matchup against the Chiefs. KC allows the 2nd-most WR points per game. Beasley hasn’t been a consistent option with just under 4.5 targets per game, but the looming Ezekiel Elliott suspension could change the calculus of the Cowboys’ short passing game. Dallas is likely to be less effective running the ball without him, and they also lose the best receiver they have out of the backfield. Switzer may soak up several more targets than expected this week. With a minimum DFS price tag, he could surprise as a DFS punt play. I would disregard this if Zeke manages to avoid a suspension this week.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 9: vs. Atl.): After the Kelvin Benjamin trade, Samuel is likely to be elevated to the WR2 in Carolina behind Devin Funchess. He offers a much different skill set than Funch & KB, and should be a better complement to Funchess. Russell Shepard will likely man the slot in the new-look passing attack. I don’t think this is the best opportunity to use Samuel, but I do believe he’s worth a stash in deeper leagues. Atlanta doesn’t allow many big plays in the passing game (just 1 completion against them for 40+ yards), and Samuel’s speed is his best asset. He’s only been targeted 14 times on the season, but KB’s departure frees up 6.5 targets per game and the Panthers have found ways to use Samuel in the running game as well. Keep an eye on what the rookie does this week.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 9: @NYG): If you’re really desperate at tight end, the Giants have allowed at least 45 receiving yards and a touchdown to the tight end position in every game this year. Tyler Higbee is the starter and probably seems like the better play, but Everett has the only TD between the two and averages more than 5 more yards per target than Higbee. Of course, Higbee has more targets, but Everett has been the better downfield threat.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully, it helps you with some of those more difficult lineup decisions and helps you get through another week that’s heavy with byes. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week. A lot can change as the week goes on with guys like Delanie Walker, Jordan Reed, Sterling Shepard, Emmanuel Sanders and anyone else that might affect your lineups. Make sure to check before kickoff on Sunday (or Thursday) to see who’s active. Feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss) if you have any questions or want to yell at me about anything included above. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 9 was a tough one for us here. A lot of outlooks changed after the report posted. Most notably, Deshaun Watson suffered a season-ending leg injury. That threw a wrench into the expectations for Marlon Mack and D’Onta Foreman along with Watson’s. Leonard Fournette was suspended for breaking team rules right before their game with the Bengals, likely sending people scrambling for a running back. Hopefully you were able to find an adequate replacement. Hopefully things go a little more according to plan this week. The number of byes in week 10 drops to 4 (KC, PHI, OAK, BAL), so you shouldn’t be quite as hard pressed to fill gaps as the last two weeks. With the Chiefs and Eagles on bye, we won’t get to dive into what’s wrong with Kareem Hunt or talk up Corey Clement’s garbage time bonanza, but we will talk about all of the fantasy relevant rookies who are playing this week. Let’s jump in and take a look at the week 10 slate…
Rookies to Start:
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 10: vs. LAC): The Chargers have allowed 8 running backs to finish as a weekly top-20 back, and Fournette has landed in the top 14 backs in all 6 weeks he’s played (top-10 4 times). As long as he doesn’t suddenly get benched on Sunday again, he should be a safe RB1 again. The Chargers allow the 2nd-most rushing yards per game. Fournette will cost a bundle in DFS games, but he may be worth the price. He should be a chalk play in cash games.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 10: vs. Mia.): McCaffrey finally saw a spike in his rushing usage last week. It only took two early Jonathan Stewart fumbles to get us here, but McCaffrey handled a season-high 15 rushing attempts, and he actually had success, picking up 66 yards and a score (the score probably should’ve been ruled a pass play, but I digress). The Panthers said they traded Kelvin Benjamin to open things up for the running game, and for at least one week, it worked. McCaffrey’s receiving floor has already proven solid this year with at least 4 catches and 28 receiving yards in every single game so far. The rushing usage could be the key to unlocking his ceiling if it continues. The Dolphins aren’t a great matchup for him, but CMC has been at least a flex play every week. I’d look for him to be a safe RB2 in all formats this week, with higher upside in PPR.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 10: @Buf.): Kamara put on a show last weekend with 31.2 PPR points, good enough to be the overall RB1 for the week. His point total has gone up each week since the Saints traded away Adrian Peterson. The matchup gets a little tougher this week, but the Bills have had some struggles vs. RBs lately. They allowed only one team’s RBs to top 20 PPR points in the first 6 games of the year, but have allowed 35 or more to the position in each of the last 2. Kamara should be an easy RB2 again this week. His price tag in DFS has finally caught up with his production a bit, but he should still be a strong option there as well.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 10: @SF): Engram has 29 targets in the 3 games since Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall were hurt, and he’s posted 15-212-3 with at least 60 yards and a score in each game. The return of Sterling Shepard last week didn’t cut into his volume at all, as he was targeted 10 times in week 9. The 49ers do limit TE production, allowing the 6th-fewest points per game to the position, but Engram is a featured part of this offense. The buckets of volume he should continue to see make him a top-3 TE option this week with Ertz & Kelce on byes.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 10: @Ten.): Mixon should continue to return much the same value we’ve seen over the past several weeks. He’s scored between 8 and 14 points in PPR scoring each and every week since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator. That range is uninspiring, but it can be usable. The Bengals’ shoddy o-line play has severely limited Mixon’s upside. The Titans do have a decent run defense, ranking 12th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, but Mixon should still get his typical volume. That’ll keep him in play as a floor RB2/flex option as usual.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 10: @Chi.): I actually like Jones this week, but it’s hard to have a ton of confidence in him after Monday night. Ty Montgomery has re-appeared and Head Coach Mike McCarthy has said TyMo will handle passing downs going forward. Against the Bears, I do like the Packers’ chances of being able to run on early downs, which would work in Jones’s favor. The Bears are actually a 5.5-point favorite in this game, which is incredible. That would make you think game script will favor Montgomery, but I’m not convinced. The Bears do allow the 11th-most RB points per game. If Green Bay is able to keep the game tight or play with a lead, Jones should be able to return solid value as a flex option. If they play from behind, I’d be less optimistic. Go with your gut on how you think this game will go. If I had to guess, I like Jones to outscore Montgomery.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 10: vs. Pit.): Mack is in play again this week with the Colts a 10-point underdog at home. They lucked into facing Tom Savage last week, and were able to play in a positive game script for once, which undoubtedly hurt Mack’s output. I’d expect him to get a healthier dose of passing game work in this one. I’m not bullish on Mack’s prospects of finding the end zone though. The Steelers haven’t allowed a running back receiving score all year, and the Colts have run the ball from inside the 5-yard line just 4 times all year, and 3 of them were Robert Turbin carries. If you’re desperate for a fill-in back with some upside this week, Mack fits the bill, but it’s likely there are better plays available.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 10: @Ind.): JuJu gets a great matchup this week and is coming off his best game of the year before last week’s bye, but I’m not ready to go all-in on JJSS this week. As mentioned above, the Steelers are a 10-point road favorite and may not need to throw a lot as the game goes on. They also will have Martavis Bryant back, and he could get some squeaky wheel treatment after complaining about his role in the offense (I know he got suspended for those complaints, but they still may try to get him more involved). The Colts will also be without Vontae Davis, which means Antonio Brown should be able to do anything he wants to against this secondary. The Colts allow the 7th-most WR points per game and have allowed the most 20+ yard completions in the league. The matchup is ripe for JuJu to have a big day, but there are plenty of concerns as to just how much volume he’s going to see. He’s a WR3 option this week with some boom-or-bust to him.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 10: vs. Hou.): The Texans have really struggled to slow down opposing WRs in the two games since their bye, coughing up an absurd 105 PPR points to the position total in those games. The Rams’ passing attack looked great against the Giants last week, and it may be Kupp’s turn to score a TD this week after Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins combined for 3 TDs last Sunday. Per Rich Hribar of Rotoworld, 27.7% of Kupp’s targets have come in the red zone, the highest percentage of any WR in the league. Volume could be a problem with the Rams a 12-point favorite, but if Kupp finds the end zone he should return decent value as a flex or WR3.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 10: vs. GB): As I mentioned above for Aaron Jones, the Bears are stunningly favored to beat the Packers. If the game goes the way Vegas expects it to, the Bears should go back to the run-heavy game plan they’d been employing prior to the Saints game. Trubisky threw 32 pass attempts against New Orleans in that game. It was the most he’s thrown in a game. 24 teams average more attempts than that per game. The Pack can be thrown on, but I don’t expect Trubisky to throw enough to be even a usable QB2.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 10: @Det.): As long as the Browns continue to let Kizer start, there will be some sneaky spots to use him once Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon are into the lineup. This week is not one of them. The Lions have allowed just one top-12 QB all year, and have kept 5 QBs out of the top-20. That list includes Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. The Lions are currently tied for 3rd in the NFL in takeaways, and no QB has turned the ball over more than Kizer. This is a great spot to play the Detroit defense.
RB RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 10: @TB): The Bucs have given up 7 running back scores in the past 4 games, and McGuire did just handle 14 touches last Thursday, but he’s still stuck behind Forte and Powell. As bad as the Bucs have been, it’s still hard to imagine the Jets blowing them out in Tampa by enough that McGuire gets extended run. Forte was held out of practice Wednesday, so monitor the situation as the week goes on. It’s likely just a precautionary measure, but McGuire would have pretty decent upside this week if Forte is out.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 10: vs. NYG): Despite the 49ers having limited options on offense thanks to a litany of injuries (Kittle, Garcon, Trent Taylor), I wouldn’t expect big things from Breida this week. He’s been the clear second fiddle to Hyde for several weeks now, and I’d expect SF to lean on Hyde again this week. He was targeted an absurd 11 times in the loss to Arizona last weekend. Breida will continue to handle the scraps, but that isn’t enough to make him an intriguing option this week.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 10: @LAR): The Texans’ offense with Tom Savage at the helm just doesn’t generate enough production to consider playing the number 2 running back, even in a plus matchup like this one.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 10: vs. NO): Zay Jones was written off earlier this year (by me and others) due to historic inefficiency, but he appears to have gotten his rookie season back on track in the last 2 weeks. He had his best game as a pro last Thursday with a 6-53-1 line. Unfortunately he got dinged up in that game. Jones was able to play much of the 2nd half last week after being injured, so there is a real chance he plays this week, but he’s not practicing as of Wednesday. If he does play, his volume will likely take a big hit with Kelvin Benjamin getting up to speed and Charles Clay likely returning. I’d shy away even if Zay is a go.
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR (Wk. 10: vs. Mia.): It was nice to see Samuel get more involved in the passing game with Kelvin Benjamin gone. The 3 catches, 23 yards and 5 targets were all season-highs (5 targets tied his season-high), and he tacked on a 14-yard rush as well. I’d expect his role to continue to grow moving forward, but I don’t like his prospects for this week. Both the Panthers and Dolphins like to slow the game down, and that will limit the total number of plays and overall passing volume. The Dolphins have allowed the 10th-fewest WR points per game, and have faced the 2nd-fewest overall pass attempts against. That limited volume curtails the upside that Samuel has this week. He’s still just the 3rd option in the passing game at best. I’d expect somewhere around 25 passing attempts for Cam, and Funchess and CMC are averaging a combined 16 targets per game
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 10: vs. LAC): Westbrook’s return from IR was delayed last week, and may be again. The Jaguars have said they aren’t sure if he’ll be activated this week. If he is, he should push Keelan Cole to the bench in 3WR sets. Even if Westbrook suits up, I’d be hard-pressed to trot him out there in any formats this week. Jacksonville should have their way with the Chargers on the ground, and the team has averaged just 178 passing yards per game when Fournette is in the lineup. Westbrook could be an interesting punt option in DFS tournaments if Marqise Lee sits, but there won’t be a ton of passing volume for the Jaguars in this one.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 10: @Jax): The Jaguars erase wide receivers. They allow the fewest points per game to the position in the league, and the Chargers have averaged 8 completions per game to WRs in their past 4 contests. I’m not even sure I trust Keenan Allen this week, let alone Williams.
WR Josh Malone, CIN (Wk. 10: @Ten.): I mention Malone because he now has 7 targets in the last two weeks, and Cincy does face a weak pass defense on Sunday. You still should avoid him. The Bengals have been a low-volume attack and I’d look for them to try and spark AJ Green in this one.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 10: vs. Cle.): Even if Golladay finally returns to the lineup for Detroit, Stafford seems to have found a great rhythm with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, and Kenny would still split snaps with TJ Jones for the WR3 spot. The Lions are also a 12-point favorite, so they should stray a little from their typically pass-heavy play calling. There is more risk than upside for Golladay this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 10: @Det.): The Lions have allowed a league-low 26 catches to opposing TEs on the year, and Njoku continues to split time with Seth DeValve. Until that changes, he’ll continue to be a low-upside TD dart throw. You typically don’t want to play a TD dart throw option in a game where the team’s implied total is only about 15 and a half points.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 10: vs. NYJ): With Jameis sidelined, OJ’s already limited fantasy prospects get even more limited. You could argue Howard could get more usage as a receiver with Mike Evans out, but there’s a different guy I expect to pick up that slack that I’ll get to in a moment. I’d avoid Howard this week.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 10: vs. Hou.): Everett is always capable of putting up a long catch and the Texans are allowing the 6th-most TE points per game, but you’d have to be pretty desperate to trot out Everett. He played just 15 offensive snaps last week compared to 50 for teammate Tyler Higbee.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB CJ Beathard, SF (Wk. 10: vs. NYG): As long as he gets the start, Beathard is in play as a streamer in 2QB leagues. Kyle Shanahan left the door open for Jimmy Garoppolo to start with comments to the media on Wednesday, but I’d expect it to be CJ. There’s no reason to rush Jimmy with the season already lost and a bye following this game. There are some concerns for Beathard, as the Niners are without George Kittle, Pierre Garcon, and Trent Taylor. Instead, his targets will be Hyde, Garrett Celek, Marquise Goodwin, and Aldrick Robinson. The matchup is still a pretty good one. The Giants have allowed 3 passing scores in 4 of their past 5 games, and allowed over 250 passing yards in all 5. Beathard is likely to put up less than the 23.7 points per game the Giants have allowed to QBs in that stretch, but there is still some upside to be had.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 10: vs. GB): It’ll be tough to trust Cohen in season-long lineups after he handled just 6 touches in the past 2 games combined, but the Bears know they need to get him more involved. The Packers rank 25th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs, and Cohen is their most explosive pass catcher out of the backfield. He should be an intriguing punt options for DFS tournaments, but is probably a little too volatile to use anywhere else.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 10: @SF): While it appears Orleans Darkwa has taken over the lead back role for the G-Men, Gallman hasn’t completely disappeared. He handled 9 carries last week, and this week the Giants face a 49ers team that has allowed the most rushing yards per game and 2nd-most rushing TDs in the league. Darkwa is a huge upside play this week, but I think some of the benefits spill over to Gallman. He did out-snap Darkwa in week 7 before the bye.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. Cin.): The Bengals have been excellent at limiting WRs (they allow the 4th-fewest points per game to the position), but they struggled badly to contain Marqise Lee last Sunday. Davis looked healthy and played 75% of the offensive snaps. Head Coach Mike Mularkey said that his snap count is going to increase moving forward. With DeMarco Murray ailing, the Titans could lean on the pass a bit more this week, and Davis should be basically a full-time player. There are worse options you could go to if you need a fill-in WR. Davis was targeted 5 times last Sunday, and I’d expect at least that number again.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 10: vs. NYJ): With Mike Evans suspended for this game, Godwin should move into a starting role. He’ll have Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball, which doesn’t seem ideal, but Godwin likely catches a lot of balls from Fitz in practice since both are on the 2nd team. I’d also expect the Jets’ top corner Mo Claiborne to be contending more with DeSean Jackson than Godwin. The Jets allow the 9th-most points per game to WRs, and Godwin has been impressive whenever he’s been given a chance. He’s in a great spot and costs the minimum in DraftKings.
WR ArDarius Stewart, NYJ (Wk. 10: @TB): Stewart has been irrelevant so far this year, but his role is worth monitoring this week with Jeremy Kerley suspended for the next 4 games. Stewart looked poised to be the starting slot WR before Kerley was cut by the 49ers. Stewart is probably unlikely to make a fantasy impact in these 4 weeks with the Jets favoring Kearse, ASJ and Robby Anderson, but the Bucs do allow the 2nd-most WR points per game. Don’t be shocked if Stewart has a decent game out of nowhere.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you with some lineup decisions wherever you have rookies. Keep an eye on the injury report throughout the week and make sure to check before kickoff that there aren’t any surprise inactives like Fournette last week. If you have any questions or want to rant at me about anything written above, feel free to hit me up on twitter and let me know (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
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.