Welcome back to the Rookie Report! For most of us, it’s the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Hopefully you were able to secure a bye into the next round, but if not, this week’s lineup decisions will be critical. With rookies being inconsistent by nature, there are only a few that I can fully recommend starting this week. That doesn’t mean those are the only rookies worth playing. Before we get into specifics, I just want to offer one piece of advice: Start your studs! You don’t want to be kicking yourself next week because you decided to sit T.Y. Hilton for a guy like Doug Baldwin or Jarvis Landry just because Hilton’s facing Joe Haden and the other guy has a plus matchup. Sure there’s a risk of a dud from T.Y., but he could also have a monster game. It’s much easier to live with the dud from T.Y. than T.Y. blowing up on your bench. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the outlook for the rookies in week 14…
Rookies to Start:
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): Sure, Crowell was awful last Sunday, but if you want to win this week you’ll look past his miserable week 13 performance and get him in there this week. Crowell is listed as questionable with a hip injury, but the Colts allow 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. I’m starting the Crow in both leagues that I own him in, and I think he’s in line for a big game.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 14: @Ten.): Beckham failed to find the end zone in a dream matchup with the Jaguars last week, but he remains a must-start option as a borderline WR1. He has 6+ catches and 90+ yards in each of his past 5 games and is a great bet to find the end zone against a Titans’ defense that just let Ryan Fitzpatrick torch them for 6 scores. Rueben Randle’s recent disciplinary issues (benched due to tardiness to meeting) should only increase Beckham’s work.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 14: @NO): The Saints managed to contain KB in the first meeting between these teams, holding him to season-lows of 2 catches and 11 yards. Don’t expect a repeat of that game. The Panthers are still force-feeding the ball to Benjamin, and the Saints’ Keenan Lewis hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee against the 49ers a few weeks ago. I expect Kelvin to put up at least 60 yards and a TD, and those numbers should be in your lineup.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 14: @Det.): Despite the tough matchup with the Lions, and the relatively weak outing last Sunday, Evans fits the idea of starting your studs. He has to be in the lineup. He’s got a pretty high floor, tallying at least 47 yards in every game except the season opener, and he’s got a ceiling that can win your week. I wouldn’t be able to sit him knowing what he is capable of.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 14: vs. NYJ): I wouldn’t necessarily say Bridgewater is turning the corner just yet, but he’s thrown just 2 INTs in his last 5 games and is coming off back-to-back 2 TD performances (his only 2 of the year). This week he’s home against the Jets, who have allowed a staggering 27:4 TD:INT ratio to opposing QBs. Given the matchup, Teddy is a passable QB2 this week, but his ceiling will be limited by what should remain a run-heavy game plan.
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN (Wk. 14: vs. NYG): Mett left last week’s game with a shoulder injury, but he seems to have avoided any serious damage and the Titans expect him to start this week. He did lose his most talented downfield target in Justin Hunter to injured reserve, but he should again be a borderline QB2 with upside. The Giants D hasn’t been the same without Prince Amukamara in the secondary and Mett was on his way to what could have been a 300-yard game before getting hurt last week.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 14: vs. Pit.): Hill was called out by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson after questioning Jackson’s game plan on Sunday. Hue said he needed to block better and break more tackles because, “that’s what running backs do.” I expect Hill to want to make a statement this week in a game that could really cement the Bengals’ claim to the AFC North crown. The timeshare with Gio limits his upside a bit, but a bit of inspired play should make Hill a borderline RB2 with upside.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 14: @Was.): Mason made good on my prediction of triple-digit yards last week, but I didn’t expect 3 TDs to go with it. You have to be kicking yourself if you didn’t start him. It was the breakout game we’ve been waiting for from Tre, but he should come back to earth a bit this week. The Redskins have been very stout vs. the run, but Mason’s volume isn’t going anywhere. He’s the engine that makes the Rams’ offense go, and he’s at least in the RB2 discussion this week, and would be a strong flex-play.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 14: @Ten.): This only applies if Jennings is out this week. He’s questionable with injury. Even though Williams is an unsexy option who runs like he’s stuck in mud, you could do worse than the lead back facing the second-most generous defense in terms of RB fantasy points. I’d much rather play Williams if he starts than a questionable option like Bishop Sankey, Chris Ivory or LeGarrette Blount.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 14: vs. NYG): Speaking of the Bishop, he faces yet another favorable matchup on the other side of the Giants-Titans game. This may be Sankey’s last chance to show that he can produce in a good matchup, but it would probably be best if that chance comes with him on your bench. He’s still got some appeal in really deep leagues, but he’s even been vulture at the goal line by Dexter McCluster. He should be good for about 50 scoreless yards. It’s worth noting that he’s been returning kicks over the past 3 weeks if your league gives points for that.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): The targets and production have been steady with Sanchez at QB, but the Seahawks’ defense allows the fewest WR points in the league and has been downright dominant as a whole over the past 2 games. Matthews should remain a big part of the offense this week, but his upside will be extremely limited in such a tough matchup. He’s more worthy of a play in PPR than standard.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 14: vs. Bal.): Landry is going to be a safe WR3 this week for PPR leagues, but he should be on the WR3 radar in standard leagues as well. The Ravens allow as many WR points as any team in the league, and Ryan Tannehill just looks lost trying to throw downfield. Landry has been fantastic in the short passing game, and he should rack up catches again this week. The yardage should remain modest, but a TD is at least a 50/50 bet this week.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 14: @Den.): I’d actually lean towards sitting Watkins this week. Kyle Orton has been pretty bad lately, and Watkins’s production has suffered as a result. I’m not really confident that he rebounds this week against Aqib Talib and the Broncos, even if there is ample garbage time. At best he’s a WR3 this week.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. KC): It’s somewhat frustrating that Brown didn’t take advantage of his plus matchup last week with the Falcons, but he’s averaged 61 yards per game over the past 4 games, and 64 yards per game in 6 home contests (just 31 ypg on the road in 6 games). He should be an okay WR3 in deeper leagues even if Fitz plays this week, and okay for standard leagues if Fitz sits.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 14: vs. Atl.): Despite his monster game against the Patriots last Sunday, Adams is a risky play this week. He benefitted from the Pats’ focus on slowing down Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and he still managed to leave 2 TDs on the field. This week he’s back to being a boom or bust option, and is a major roll of the dice this week.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Johnny Manziel, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): If you saw the news on Tuesday, then you probably know not to play Manziel, but even if something were to change between now and Sunday, I’d still keep him benched. There’s no way to really know what to expect. Crowell would get a boost if Manziel starts though.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Hou.): His numbers have been very poor this year, putting up far more turnovers than the Jags can be comfortable, and the Texans have 15 interceptions in 12 games. Multiple turnovers are likely again , and it’s not a good sign that he’s averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt over the past 2 games without Allen Robinson. Keep him benched this week.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 14: vs. SF): Not much analysis needed here. The 49ers allow the 4th fewest pass yards in the league and Carr has failed to break 200 yards passing in 9 of his 12 starts. There is no reason to expect him to get to 200 this week.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 14: vs. NYJ): Jerick was out last week, but I wouldn’t trust him even if he plays this week. He should slide back into his usual role after Joe Banyard badly blew a blitz pickup last week, but zero touchdowns all year? You can’t make just make the argument that he’s due. There’s no reason to expect TD #1 this week.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): West was clearly played 2nd fiddle to Crowell last week, and was blasted publicly Monday by head coach Pettine this week for his fumbling woes. As long as Crowell is good to go, West should be on the bench. He gets a bump up to an intriguing flex option if the Crow is out.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 14: @Jax.): As expected, Blue has been a non-factor with Arian Foster back, and that should continue to be the case this week. There’s no reason to consider him despite a plus matchup.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 14: @Mia.): There were reports this week that John Harbaugh insists that Taliaferro isn’t in the doghouse. The fact that the question would even be brought up shows just how little Taliaferro has factored in the Ravens’ offense. He has just 3 carries in the last 3 games since a fumble in week 10 put him on the bench. He should stay on your bench as well.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 14: @Cin.): It’s hard to say to avoid Bryant altogether after the way he exploded onto the scene, but the bottom has fallen out over the past 2 weeks. He had just 2 catches for 11 yards in week 12 and dropped a sure touchdown in the process. The really troubling number is the 4 targets he received last week. It’s troubling because the Steelers threw the ball 58 times. The Bengals’ defense is really good against WRs, and you’d be better off not relying on Bryant to bounce back.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Hou.): Despite a really good matchup, I wouldn’t have the stones to trust Hurns with my season on the line. He could certainly blow up and have a big game against the defense that allows the most fantasy WR points in the league, but he’s much more likely not to. Hurns has done nothing to warrant a spot in the lineup, tallying less than 5 points (standard leagues) in 7 of his last 8 games. Why would you expect that to change this week?
TE Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 14: vs. TB): Ebron has been a total disappointment this season. Lions’ fans have lamented the decision to draft Ebron over a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. for much of the season, and I can’t bank on the athletic rookie to pick it up this week. He’s been seeing a handful of targets each week, but has exactly 22 or 23 yards in each of his past 4 games. If you’re happy with 2 points out of your tight end, be my guest and start him.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 14: @Min.): Even if Amaro returns from the concussion that kept him sidelined in week 13, there’s no reason to expect a solid showing. The Vikings have allowed less than 5 points per game to opposing tight ends, and it looks like Rex Ryan and the Jets refuse to throw the ball as long as John Idzik forces him to play Geno Smith. Smith attempted just 13 passes on Monday night, with 5 coming on the final drive. The limited upside in the passing game means Amaro isn’t a realistic streaming option.
TE Richard Rodgers, GB (Wk. 14: vs. Atl.): Don’t overthink this. Despite scoring a TD in each of the last 2 games, Rodgers isn’t a real option for your lineup this week. He hasn’t caught more than 2 passes in any game this year, and the Packers’ stars should have no trouble piling up stats against the Falcons’ porous D. Pinning your tight end hopes to Rodgers on the chance he gets a 3rd TD in as many weeks isn’t a smart choice.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Marion Grice, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. KC): Andre Ellington is dinged up, and Grice is in line to get the start if AE can’t go. Grice doesn’t have overwhelming talent, but he’s a versatile player who could thrive in an offense that involves the running back in the passing game a bunch. Michael Bush and Stepfan Taylor should mix in a bit, but Grice will get the first carries against a defense that can be run on. Grice should be a solid flex option in PPR and deeper leagues if he gets the start.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 14: @Oak.): Teams rarely lose by 50 in the NFL and then proceed to lay another egg the following week, but I still expect the 49ers to be playing from ahead of the Raiders all day. Hyde hasn’t gotten a ton of carries over the past few weeks, but game flow should work in his advantage this week. I’d expect 12+ carries from Hyde, and against the Raiders’ league-worst RB defense, that makes him worthy of flex consideration in deep leagues.
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 14: @Det.): Doug Martin came back from the dead last week to take over as the lead back for the Bucs, but Sims could have some really sneaky upside as a PPR flex play in deep leagues. The Lions’ defensive front is stout against the run, but they’ve allowed a league-high 75 receptions to opposing RBs. Sims’s role in the passing game gives him value in what looks like a brutal matchup on paper.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 14: @Cle.): Moncrief was mentioned here last week, and he went off for 130+ yards and 2 TDs. He’s been great every time he’s been given a chance, and his snaps have increased each of the last 2 weeks. With Joe Haden likely shadowing T.Y. Hilton all day, there should be opportunities for Moncrief to make an impact again as he squares off with burnable Buster Skrine and K’Waun Williams. There’s some risk since Moncrief is just a part-time player, but you saw what he’s capable of last week.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Hou.): I mentioned that Hurns should be benched, but someone has to catch Blake Bortles’s passes, right? The polished rookie has been productive when given opportunities, and he should have plenty of them against a Houston defense that allows 27.4 points to opposing WRs per game. Lee should get the biggest piece of the Jags WR pie and makes for an intriguing WR3 in deep leagues, especially PPR.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 14: @Det.): If ASJ suits up this week, he’s the best option among the rookie TEs. Tight end is the one position the Lions have been vulnerable against, and when he plays, Austin is in on almost every play. He’s done little to suggest he’s more than a TD dart throw, but he’s got a slightly higher floor that Richard Rodgers or Amaro.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully some of this info helps you into the next round. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully you were luckier than I was last week and weren't saddled with both Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas's soul crushing fantasy let downs. Hopefully you survived another week. The rookies played a huge role last week, especially guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans. Martavis Bryant wasn't too shabby either, recording the longest play from scrimmage of the season. So which rookies are worth trusting with everything on the line again this week? Let's dive in and find out...
Rookies to Start:
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 15: vs. Cin.): Crowell had a passable fantasy day in week 14, finding the end zone for the 8th time in his rookie campaign, but again he split the workload fairly evenly with Terrance West. There's some risk to starting Crowell as long as West is around, but he's still the better option of the duo, and the threat of Johnny Manziel running should open up all kinds of running lanes for the Crow. I'd feel comfortable firing him up as an RB2 against a Bengals' defense that allows the 4th most points to opposing RBs.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Was.): This one isn't rocket science. He's got 90+ yards in 6 straight games and 3 TDs in his last 3 games. The Redskins' defense has been burned repeatedly this year, and Beckham will likely burn them multiple times this week. He's got WR1 upside.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 15: @Car.): Evans continued to show off his considerable talents in week 14, catching 2 TDs against the stingy Lions' secondary. Carolina's defense is not nearly as stingy, and Evans has 8 TDs over the last 6 games. I expect he finds the end zone again this week, and there is no reason he should be on your bench.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 15: vs. TB): Although KB has been thoroughly inconsistent, he remains a solid WR2. There's a lot of boom or bust potential, but Benjamin scores touchdowns so often you'd have to have elite options to play instead in order to sit Kelvin this week. He burned Tampa for a 6-92-1 line the first time these teams faced off.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT (Wk. 15: @Atl.): Bryant is a boom or bust play as usual, but the arrow is pointing way up this week. The Falcons just got shredded by the Packers' pass attack on Monday night, and they are one of the five worst defenses in the league against fantasy wideouts. Bryant only needs one big play to be worth a lineup spot, and there's a good chance he gets that this week.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk. 15: vs. Dal.): Matthews didn't do much last week against the Seahawks, but that's because Mark Sanchez threw for less than 100 yards against an incredible defense. Things should be better this week. He caught 4 balls for 51 yards and a TD when the Eagles went to Dallas on Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't be surprised if he exceeds that stat line this week. The Dallas defense will look like a college team in comparison to the defense the Eagles just faced.
QB Johnny Manziel, CLE (WK. 15: @Cin.): Johnny Football has finally gotten the nod to start at QB for the Browns. The Manziel era has arrived! Should we be excited for his first start? The jury's still out on that. He will face a tough passing defense, but his running ability will give him the chance to put together an okay fantasy day. It's almost impossible to predict how Manziel is going to do, but if you feel like rolling the dice as a low end QB2, there's certainly upside.
RB Tre Mason, STL (Wk. 15 vs. Ari.): Mason runs into a brutal matchup with the Cardinals, at least on paper, but the Cards' D has softened against the run over the past 2 weeks. Jamaal Charles and washed up Steven Jackson both had strong days against them. Mason should be a strong bet for 60+ yards and should be on the RB2 radar.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 15: vs. Cle.): This week is a must win game for the Bengals, and if they're smart, they'll force feed the ball to Hill. The Browns' biggest weakness is their run defense, and Joe Haden has consistently gotten the better of A.J. Green. Hill saw a near even split of the carries with Gio Bernard just a week after questioning OC Hue Jackson's play calling. He still averaged over 5 yards per carry on his touches while Bernard had just 17 yards on 6 carries. Hill is at least a reasonable flex-play, but if the Bengals run the ball as much as they should, Hill could end up a high end RB2.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 15: @Cin.): He doesn't have nearly the upside that Crowell does this week, but as long as West is seeing close to half the carries, he still has flex appeal. The threat of Manziel's running will open up lanes for West the same as it will for Crowell.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Was.): Williams is coming off his best game as a pro, but that was against the awful Titans. The Redskins are awful as well, but they are stout against the run. If Jennings is expected to be out or extremely limited again, Williams will have some low-end flex appeal, but I wouldn't expect nearly the output he managed in week 14. I'd expect 60-70 yards and a TD to be his ceiling this week if he gets the start, but it's sounding like Jennings might be close to full strength for this one. Pay attention to the updates throughout the week.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 15: vs. GB): Watkins finally got back on track last week, even if a lot of the damage came in garbage time as the Bills scrambled to make it close. The Bills' offense had little to no downfield passing game for the few weeks before the Broncos game, but they should again have ample garbage time against the Packers' juggernaut offense. Watkins has shown himself to be a risky play of late, but he has a ton of upside as a WR3 this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 15: @NE): It's a tough matchup this week with the Pats' formidable corners, but he's had 5+ catches and 40+ yards in each of his past 6 games. I'd expect that to be the floor again this week, which makes him a high floor, low upside WR3 in PPR this week.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND (Wk. 15: vs. Hou.): Moncrief has a chance to blow up over the next few games. Reggie Wayne may have a torn tricep, and he might be shut down for the rest of the season before long. Moncrief is already ahead of Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart, playing 50 snaps to Nicks's 18. Even if Wayne plays this week, Moncrief has killer upside against the worst defense in the league against WRs. If Reggie sits, Donte has WR2 upside the rest of the way this season.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (Wk. 15: @Bal.): Lee has settled in as a PPR WR3 in each of the past 2 weeks, and now gets to face a battered Ravens' secondary that has allowed 26.5 points per game to opposing WRs, tied with the Texans for most in the NFL. Lee should again be a solid WR3 option in PPR leagues, and should be in standard leagues with 12+ teams as well.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 15: @Det.): Bridgewater has finally showed the ability to produce in plus matchups, putting up 2 TDs in 4 straight games and just eclipsed 300 yards passing against the Jets in week 14. Unfortunately for Teddy, he gets to face the Lions this week. The first time around, he threw for just 188 yards, no TDs and 3 picks, and that was at home. This one's in Detroit. I wouldn't expect a much improved performance.
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 15: @KC): Carr put up his second game of the season with 3+ TDs last week, and it was something no one saw coming. I don't expect a repeat this week. The Chiefs will be itching to get their hands on Carr in Arrowhead after what happened when the teams met in Oakland. Carr will struggle to get going in this one. There's no reason to trust Carr at Arrowhead.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 15: vs. NYJ): To put it simply, you can do better. Sankey's role has actually been shrinking of late, and I don't expect the trend to reverse this week against the stout Jets' defense. Sankey hasn't made himself much of a part of the passing game, and he'd be hard pressed to approach 50 yards on the ground.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 15: @Ind.): Blue vultured a TD from Arian Foster last week, but there's no reason to get excited. He gained just 15 yards on 9 carries against a bad defense. At this point he's nothing more than a Foster handcuff.
RB Charles Sims, TB (Wk. 15: @Car.): There just aren't enough touches coming his way to trust him with your season on the line this week. He got a season-low 6 touches against the Lions, and I'm not sure he'll see much more than that this week. He's topped 50 yards just once, and there is no reason to expect that to change this week.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 15: @Det.): McKinnon hasn't played in a couple weeks, but I'd expect him to suit up this week [Editor's Note: McKinnon has since been placed on IR]. It doesn't mean there's a place for him in your lineup. The Lions are the 3rd best defense in the league at limiting RB fantasy production, and there's no reason to think McKinnon will suddenly go off in his return from injury. He still hasn't scored a TD all year.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN (Wk. 15: @SD): Don't chase last week's stats with Thompson. Sure he had more rushing yards than C.J. Anderson, but he touched the ball just 5 times all game, and Anderson scored all 3 touchdowns. Expect Thompson's numbers to fall off a cliff this week.
RB Carlos Hyde, SF (Wk. 15: @Sea.): I was wrong when I thought Hyde would have a surprisingly good game when the 49ers hosted the Seahawks at Levis Stadium. I won't make the same mistake as the 49ers head to Seattle. The 'Hawks are a different animal at home, and have been dominant of late on the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn't risk playing Hyde in any format.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 15: @Buf.): Adams predictably came back to earth after a huge game in prime time against New England. As long as Jordy and Cobb are able to get open, Davante is left fighting for scraps. The Bills are a slight upgrade at corner from what Atlanta offered. but they aren't in the same league as the Pats. Expect another quiet day for Adams unless he finds paydirt.
WR John Brown, ARI (Wk. 15: @StL.): Brown was held catchless on 4 targets last week, and I'm not optimistic about his outlook this week either. He does his best work on the deep ball, but Stanton will need time to throw deep, and I doubt he gets it against the Rams' ferocious pass rush. St. Louis has the 7th most sacks in the NFL (35), and all but one of them have come since week 7. The odds of Brown getting loose for a deep one are really not good.
TEs Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk.15: @Ten.), Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (Wk. 15: @Car.), and Eric Ebron, DET (Wk. 15: vs. Min.): Not one rookie TE is worth playing this week. Amaro still hasn't been cleared from his concussion and ASJ is uncertain with injury this week as well. I wouldn't have any faith that they'll even play, and even less that they produce if the do. Ebron, meanwhile, has been putting up between 20 and 30 scoreless yards each week. This week he faces off with the Vikings, who allow less than 5 TE fantasy points per week. There's no reason to expect a breakout.
Deep League Sleepers:
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 15: @Bal.): Bortles has quietly cut down on his interceptions, throwing just 4 picks in his last 5 games after averaging 2 per game over the first 6 contests, and he's also continued to give his numbers a boost with his legs, averaging 28 yards per game on the ground. This week he gets a really brutal Ravens' secondary, and is a solid bet to throw multiple TDs for just the 3rd time all year. He's certainly risky, but if you're desperate this week for a QB2, you could certainly do worse.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. vs. Jax.): ZoBot finally got back into the mix in the Ravens' running game last week, and there's a decent chance they play from ahead in this one. It would have to be a really deep league to give Taliaferro a try this week, but there is upside for 50+ yards and a TD if things break right.
WR Allen Hurns, JAX (Wk. 14: @Bal.): Hurns makes it a trio of sleepers in the Jags-Ravens game. I mentioned that the Ravens' secondary is really bad, and Hurns has shown the ability to get deep for scores (at least in a couple games). There is a ton of risk in playing Hurns, but he's got great upside if you're really desperate. He could be a really fun option in daily leagues or if your out of the playoffs and your league still does a high score pool each week.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps secure you a spot in the championship. Be extra dilligent in staying on top of injury updates this week and double check the lineup before the games get started. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! A new season is almost upon us. You may have already drafted a fantasy team, but if you haven't, the rookies are always the hardest to predict. There's no track record to go off of, so it all becomes a guessing game based on role and perceived talent. With that in mind...I'm here to help. Each week throughout the season I'll breakdown which rookies you should start, which are borderline options, and which rookies you should sit. I'll also throw in a few deep league/cheap DFS sleepers each week as well. Since it's not quite week 1, today is about breaking down which rookies you want to own this season and why. I'll give you my quick top 10 redraft rookies, followed by a position-by-position preview. So, without further ado...
Top 10 Re-draft Rookies
1. WR Nelson Agholor, PHI: Melvin Gordon will lose touches to Danny Woodhead, Yeldon and Amari are on bad offenses. Nelson is ticketed for a big role in a high-volume attack. He's the safest rookie option.
2. RB TJ Yeldon, JAX: More on the reasoning later, but let's leave it at this - Yeldon should be a 3-down back while Gordon projects to be a 2-down back this year.
3. RB Melvin Gordon, SD: See above for reasoning
4. WR Amari Cooper, OAK: Clear-cut WR1 in an offense that will play from behind a bit.
5. RB Todd Gurley, STL: Would be number one on the list if we knew he would be ready to go at full strength week 1.
6. WR Devin Funchess, CAR: Injury to Kelvin Benjamin makes him the Panthers' WR1. His ceiling likely resembles what KB did last season.
7. RB Ameer Abdullah, DET: The longer it takes Joique to get onto the field, the larger the portion of his workload Abdullah will steal.
8. RB Tevin Coleman, ATL: Still unclear who will be the lead back in Atlanta, but Coleman was hand-picked by Kyle Shanahan in the draft. Expect a 50-50 split with Freeman at a minimum.
9. WR DeVante Parker, MIA: Parker's role is unclear with a crowded group of receivers, but the Dolphins' offense might break out in a big way, and Parker might be the most talented guy in the group. I wouldn't bet against him carving out a nice role this year.
10. WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN: Monster talent with a clear path the the #1 WR job in Tennessee's offense. It might not be a great offense, but if DGB's off-field troubles are behind him he could be a star soon.
Alright, there's the top 10, now onto the positional breakdowns...
Let's be honest, in re-draft there are only two QBs that are even worth considering. The rest of the crop may have some upside down the road...Sean Mannion is basically Mike Glennon part deux, Garrett Grayson could develop into a Joe Flacco-type at best (albeit with a weaker arm), Bryce Petty is the closest to a starting gig with only old man Fitz and inept Geno in front of him, but the rookie QB not in the top 2 with the most upside is Brett Hundley. He's just stuck behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
I know, I didn't rank any in the top 10 rookies, and there's a good reason for that. It isn't that I don't like the top 2, I just don't see either guy being more than a low-end QB2, which means you really aren't playing either guy unless you're in a 2 quarterback league or as a bye filler. While both are borderline top-20 options at QB this year (I have Jameis at 19 and Mariota at 22), I'd give the edge to Winston because of the TD potential he has with the red zone giants he has to throw to. Both guys have illicited positive reviews in camp, but I just expect the Bucs to have a better offense than the Titans. I think the TD count for Jameis will be enough to offset the damage Mariota does on the ground, and I'm more likely to take a shot on Winston than Mariota in a 2QB league.
In dynasty leagues, I really like both guys, but I still give the edge to Jameis. Again, it mostly boils down to weapons. Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins give Winston two excellent targets who will be around a long time. Mariota gets Kendall Wright, who is a great possession WR, but the only physical freak target he has, Dorial Green-Beckham, is a huge question mark long-term due to off the field and maturity issues. Some would argue that Winston has some of those issues himself, and he probably does, but crab legs and public vulgarity and the sexual assault case are only part of the story with Winston. He's also a player who's been breaking down coverages since he was a kid watching NFL games on TV. Reading defenses and anticipating what they're doing is 2nd nature to Winston, and that is the single most important attribute to be a good NFL QB. While Mariota is a great leader with a high footbal IQ and electric running ability, I don't see that as enough to overcome his below-average situation and make him a better dynasty option than Jameis. The Titans have been one of the worst run franchises in the NFL.
The rookie running back crop should have one clear-cut number 1 fantasy asset (and in dynasty leagues it does), and that guy is Todd Gurley. Unfortunately, due to a torn ACL last year at Georgia, his early season status is up in the air, opening the door for TJ Yeldon and Melvin Gordon to move ahead of him in re-draft formats. All three fall in the range from mid-RB2 to high RB3. There's still a very real chance that Gurley becomes a league-winner if he's back sooner than expected, but all signs point to him being eased back in to begin with. For me, Yeldon is #1 amongst the running backs in re-draft leagues. What separates him from Melvin Gordon is his 3-down role. Gordon is not good in the receiving game or in pass protection, two areas where Danny Woodhead excels, so he will likely lose touches in 3rd down situations while Yeldon will not. Yes, Gordon is in a better offense, but I still like Yeldon better. In dynasty leagues, I like Gurley at number one, but I still like Yeldon better than Gordon as I feel the Jaguars' offense will be ascending over the next couple seasons.
Beyond that trio, the next two rookie backs worth consideration in re-draft leagues are Ameer Abdullah and Tevin Coleman. For me, I much prefer Abdullah. His athleticism is off the charts, and the offensive coordinator in Detroit is the same guy who oversaw the Saints' offense that made dangerous multi-purpose weapons out of Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. The Falcons' defense still isn't very good, so game flow might lead to less carries for Coleman. In dynasty leagues, if your league counts points for receptions, I'd even consider Abdullah ahead of Melvin Gordon despite Gordon's clear year one advantage.
As for the rest of th group, I would rank them in this order in re-draft: Matt Jones, David Cobb, Duke Johnson, David Johnson, and Jay Ajayi. Anyone who has watched the Redskins in the preseason has seen that they won't be very good. Alfred Morris gives them nothing in the passing game. Jones has been exceptional this preseason, and is likely to eventually replace Morris in the long-term. He'll have a nice role this year that should only increase going forward. Cobb is still looking at splitting work with Bishop Sankey in Tennessee, and while Sankey has looked improved thus far in the preseason, I still expect Cobb to be a factor. Duke and David Johnson both look tabbed for change-of-pace and some passing down work. I like Duke's situation better because his team looks more likely to play from behind. With Ajayi, although the Dolphins have refused to give Lamar Miller a full workload over the past couple years, Ajayi may have to work his way past Damien WIlliams to even get backup work.
Top dynasty RB options after the top 5 in order: Matt Jones, Duke Johnson, David Johnson, Josh Robinson, Zach Zenner
While the dynasty rankings at WR are bit up in the air, the re-draft ranks have a very clear top two guys: Amari Cooper and Nelson Agholor, and I prefer Agholor. The Eagles' offense is a juggernaut, and Agholor is ticketed for the role vacated by Jeremy Maclin's departure. The Raiders, meanwhile, are still trying to fight their way back to respectability. Both guys are legitimate borderline 2/3 WRs for this year, but I just like Agholor better because of the situation. Cooper could catch 90 balls this year, but Agholor won't be far behind and has much better TD potential. In dynasty leagues, it's a coin flip for me. I'd still prefer Agholor, but I think Cooper is slightly more talented.
The 2nd tier of rookie WRs in re-draft leagues consists of Devin Funchess, DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Breshad Perriman, and I would draft them in that order. Funchess should be a legitimate WR3 with the upside for more in Kelvin Benjamin's role. Parker could be a WR3 if he's able to get himself healthy and carve out a role. It might take a few weeks for him to start making an impact as he battles back from a foot injury however. Green-Beckham might have the highest ceiling of any receiver in this class, but he has several red flags that make him a long-term risk. There's a clear path to DGB earning a big role in the Titans' passing game, but it's far from a certainty. As a result, Green-Beckham is a WR4 for this season, although he's being typically drafted lower than that. Breshad Perriman is also a WR4 this year, but due to his injury issues this preseason, he's a boom or bust option for this year. If healthy, he should be the number 2 WR on the Ravens after Steve Smith.
As for the rest of the WR class, the only other guys I'd strongly think about rostering in re-draft leagues are Tyler Lockett in Seattle and Ty Montgomery in Green Bay. There isn't much on the Seattle depth chart to overcome, and Lockett has been fantastic this preseason. He's a good WR5/6 option in PPR leagues who could really surprise. Montgomery is worthy of WR 4/5 status just on the potential that he wins the WR3 job in an Aaron Rodgers offense. His dynasy outlook is hurt by the impending return of Jordy Nelson next season. Phillip Dorsett could make an impact in Indy, but he has to beat out Donte Moncrief for the third WR role to do so. Kevin White may miss the whole season in Chicago, and Devin Smith will open the season dinged up for the Jets. Neither is worth a draft pick in re-draft leagues. Jaelen Strong has a shot to earn a role with the Texans, but he's yet to make much of an impact in the preseason.
Top 12 Dynasty WRs in order: Nelson Agholor, Amari Cooper, Dorial Green-Beckham, DeVante Parker, Breshad Perriman, Kevin White, Devin Funchess, Tyler Lockett, Phillip Dorsett, Jaelen Strong,Ty Montgomery, Darren Waller
Other names to know: DeAndre Smelter, Chris Conley, Sammie Coates, Tre McBride, Kenny Bell
The tight end position is typically useless in terms of rookie fantasy production, and this year looks to be about the same. The one rookie TE to be aware of is Maxx Williams in Baltimore. WIth Dennis Pitta still out and Owen Daniels gone to Denver, Williams will be expected to step in and play right away. I'd peg him as a low end TE2. I can't endorse banking on him to play a big role on your fantasy team. Outside of him, there isn't much. MyCole Pruitt might have a couple nice games in an H-Back role in Minnesota, but he isn't worth a draft pick, and Clive Walford could earn some meaningful playing time in Oakland, but that makes him maybe top-25 at the position.
Top 5 Dynasty TEs in order: Maxx Williams, MyCole Pruitt, Clive Walford, Tyler Kroft, Jesse James
That's it for the rookie preview. Hopefully it gives you a better grasp on who some of the guys are out there that you might not know much about if you don't watch much college football. Good luck with your fantasy drafts, and make sure to check back in each week for the Rookie Report to know what to do with your rookies on a weekly basis. And remember, have fun. Fantasy football is just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week one was full of surprises...the Bills topped the Colts, Peyton Manning's poor finish to 2014 seemed to carry over to 2015 despite the Broncos' win, and Dez Bryant suffered a broken foot. The surprises weren't limited to the veterans, however. Marcus Mariota and Ameer Abdullah both put up epic debuts, Jameis Winston had a premeire to forget, Nelson Agholor was almost invisible, and Rashad Greene was targeted a whopping 13 times. What does it mean for week 2? Let's take a look at what to expect...
Rookies to Start:
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 2: @Cle.): What a first impression, right? The former Duck was on fire in week 1, piling up 4 TD passes in his first pro game. The Titans were up so comfortably he threw just 4 passes the entire second half. That won't be the case every week. Most importantly, he was decisive with the ball, he didn't turn it over, and he was throwing downfield. He was fantastic in week one and he didn't even unleash his running ability. The Browns struggled mightily to slow down the Jets' offense, and I'd expect another decent outing out of Marcus. He should be a solid QB2 this week, and is worth consideration in deep 1 QB leagues. I am starting him in a 2QB league over Joe Flacco.'
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 2: @Min.): Ameer wasn't as impressive as Mariota, but he made a pretty big impact in his own right, piling up 94 total yards and an impressive 24-yard TD run on his first career carry, all while out-touching Joique Bell 11-8. It was a pretty harrowing week for Bell owners. If Abdullah keeps this up, his role should stay similar as the season rolls along. Bell will still get goal line work and a healthy share of the carries, but Abdullah is a great flex option in PPR leagues, and more of a borderline proposition in standard this week against the Vikings, who struggled mightily to contain the run game on Monday night. The short week won't help them get ready for Detroit.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 2: @NO): I know, this sounds crazy after week 1, but this is just for 2QB leagues. If there is a defense that could give the Bucs a run for worst in the league, it resides in New Orleans. Jameis isn't as bad as he looked last week, and he'll undoubtedly be better if he has Mike Evans back on the field. I think 2 more TDs are very much in play this week, and the yardage number has a chance to go up as I expect the Saints offense to bounce back in a big way this week and keep Tampa throwing.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 2: @NYG): Coleman was very involved in week one, toting the rock 20 times for 80 yards, but I think the Falcons will realize they need to get him involved in the passing game. He has big-time speed and operates well in space, and the Giants just gave up 12 catches and 131 receiving yards to the Cowboys' RBs last Sunday. Devonta Freeman will undoubtedly get a fair share of the passing down work, but if Coleman can steal a little bit of it, he could be a strong flex option against a sub-par defense. He's my favorite rookie RB this week not named Ameer Abdullah.
RB T.J. Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 2: vs. Mia.): I was very impressed by what Yeldon was able to do in the first half last week against the Panthers...I just wish he would have carried it over to the 2nd half. Despite adding Ndamukong Suh in the off-season, the Miami run D did not look impressive in week one, allowing 160 yards and a 4.7 ypc average to the Redskins' backs. Game flow may work against him, but I'd set the expectation at around 65-70 yards with the hope for a TD (less than 50/50 bet). That makes him more of a low-end flex option.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 2: vs. Ten.): Johnson got 7 carries a week ago shortly after being cleared from a concussion. While his 3.1 ypc weren't impressive, they were much better than the 1.7 average that Isaiah Crowell put up. I wouldn't expect Duke to overtake Crowell this week, but the Titans' D isn't nearly as imposing as the Jets', and I expect Johnson to be more involved in the passing game this week. He's an low-end PPR flex option, and I'd expect double-digit touches this week.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 2: vs. Bal.): The Ravens' corners are fantastic, and there's a chance that the Raiders don't have Derek Carr this week. Cooper was able to put up just a 5-47 line on 9 targets a week ago, and the Ravens have just as good a secondary as the Bengals. Amari will continue to be peppered with targets, so there is upside, but I wouldn't expect a lot more than he did last week.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 2: vs. Dal.): Agholor was a big let down last week, with just 2 targets, resulting in one catch for 5 yards. The good news? He was on the field a ton, and ran the second-most routes on the team (42), behind only Jordan Matthews (47). Eventually the targets and stats will come. This week's game with the 'Boys could be a shootout, and a 5-60-1 type of line from Nelson wouldn't be crazy. I could see trying him as a flex in deeper leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 2: @Cin.): The Bengals allowed a ridiculous 14 catches and 2 receiving scores to Oakland's RBs last week, and while Gordon had 3 catches in week one to Danny Woodhead's 4, the real issue for Gordon comes from last week's red zone usage. Danny Woodhead got all 8 of the Chargers' rush attempts inside the 20, cashing in 2 of them for TDs. I'd expect that to continue this week. It doesn't help that the Bengals are formidable up front against the run with th return of a healthy Geno Atkins. They allowed just 55 yards rushing on 15 carries to the Raiders' RBs on Sunday.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 2: @Was.): I know it's exciting that Gurley may see the field week 2. He was a full participant at practice Tuesday and looks like he should be active Sunday, but pump the brakes a bit. Jeff Fisher did just hold out Brian Quick as a 'healthy scratch' as he rehabs from a shoulder injury, so they might hold off just a bit longer. If Gurley does play, he'll almost certainly be on some sort of pitch count and faces a better than you think 'Skins run defense. They were among the best in the league last year vs. the run and allowed just 53 RB rush yards to the Dolphins in week 1. The coming out party is coming, just not in week 2.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 2: vs. NE): The Pats looked vulnerable against the run in the opener against D'Angelo Williams, and Karlos looked great in his limited touches behind Shady McCoy in week 1, but I doubt he does as much damage this week. He was able to get some of his work with the Bills up comfortably on the Colts and able to pound the ball. I don't expect them to be up more than one score all game against New England, which should keep McCoy dominating touches. Williams would have to break another long TD run to be worth a play. He was out-touched in week 1 20-6 by Shady, and McCoy had 3 red zone carries to Williams's one.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 2: vs. StL.): Alfred Morris, who many (myself included) were ready to write off as done in Washington, proved reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Jones did a decent job with the touches he did get, but Alf should be the clear number 1 until his performance slips. The Rams did do a nice job of limiting Marshawn Lynch last weekend as well.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 2: @Jax.): He was a non-factor in week one with Rishard Matthews starting and the passing game revolving around Jarvis Landry. I expect him to work his way in to the scheme eventually, but for now he's best left on the pine.
WR Rashad Greene, JAX (Wk. 2: vs. Mia.): Greene did see a ridiculous 13 targets in a surprisingly conservative Jags' passing attack in week 1, but he averaged just FOUR yards per catch on 7 grabs. I wouldn't expect that target volume to continue, but even if it does, that efficiency just isn't going to get it done. Greene was very productive at FSU over the past 2 years, so he could work his way into reasonable PPR value, but he's still 3rd in the pecking order after A-Rob and Hurns. Don't bet on a repeat this week.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 2: @Cle.): Pretty simple here, DGB was on the field for just 3 snaps in week one despite the team only carrying 4 WRs. You have to leave him benched for now until his playing time starts to increase. I would have no problem dropping him for now in shallower leagues. He will eventually find his way onto the field more, though, so monitor his playing time as the season progresses.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 2: @Oak.): The Ravens' pass attack looked to be desperately in need of more play-makers in week one with Torrey Smith gone and Breshad Perriman on the shelf, and Maxx Williams could eventually be that. I don't think it'll be this week. The Broncos' defense deserves much of the credit for shutting the Ravens down, and the Raiders won't be as stiff a test. Williams was targeted twice a week ago, and even if he doubles that this week he won't be worth a start. There are better options out there.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 2: @Chi.): Johnson got just one touch in week one, and it went for a 55-yard TD. Andre Ellington will be out a couple weeks, and although Bruce Arians called Chris Johnson their lead dog, I'd expect a decent chunk of work to go to David. 10+ touches are a real possibility, and he's already showed he's explosive and gets a poor Chicago defense this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 2: vs. Hou.): The Panthers' pass attack struggled mightily against the Jaguars a week ago, and Funchess could help that situation improve sooner rather than later. His role will increase dramatically soon. Part of his limited role week one could have had to do with his limited preseason reps due to injury. He's the type of playmaker the Panthers could have desperately used Sunday, and he should be the best bet for a Carolina WR to score a TD this week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 2: @GB): For leagues that count return yards, Lockett is a must own. He's one of the few return men who will also have a role in the offense. He should quickly ascend the pedestrian WR depth chart and become a weekly PPR WR3 option. For now he's still under the radar, but I'm not sure how long that will last. The Packers' defense was solid in coverage versus the Bears' banged up WR group, but with the focus likely on Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham, Lockett will have a chance to make plays.
WR Phillip Dorsett, IND (Wk. 2: vs. NYJ): This projection only holds up if Hilton is out this week. Donte Moncrief would move into a starting spot opposite Andre Johnson (who underwhelmed in week one), and Dorsett would man the slot in 3-WR sets. The Jets' slot corner Buster Skrine might move outside if Antonio Cromartie is out, which could open up the middle of the field for Dorsett big time. Keep an eye on the Jets' cornerback plans for the week. Dorsett is the type of player who could break one for a TD at any time, and it would certainly help if he gets a burnable corner to face off with in the slot. He's likely not worth a start in most leagues, but he could be a sneaky DFS play.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you a bit with your tough rookie lineup decisions this week. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
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!