Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Two weeks are in the books (and a Thursday night game), and week 2 was a quiet one for most rookies, but the trio of Matt Jones, Amari Cooper and David Johnson certainly made some noise with monster days. I was particularly impressed by Cooper. I'd like to give a quick shout out to the Reddit user who called me out for thinking Jimmy Smith could slow down the rookie. Cooper dusted him on a long TD early on. With week 2 in the past, let's move on to what to do with the rookies for week 3:
Rookies to Start:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 3: @NE): Game script might not work in Yeldon's favor with the Pats a 2 TD favorite, but volume and the defensive matchup should be in his favor. With both Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart dinged up, Yeldon should be on the field for a vast majority of the snaps, and New England has allowed a staggering 5.7 yards per carry this season and also 147 rush yards per game and 3 TDs in 2 weeks. I'm not saying Yeldon will break the century mark, but his volume will give him a high floor and make him a deent RB2 option. His upside may be limited by the game script as well.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 3: @Cle.): After last week, it's hard to doubt Cooper should pretty much be an every week start. Last week's stat line won't be the norm, but he should have a WR3 floor just about every week purely based on volume. Like Jimmy Smith last week, Joe Haden isn't a reason to be scared. The Browns play sides at CB rather than shadowing, and Oakland should move Cooper around so he doesn't only face Haden. Feel safe firing him up again.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): Mariota still posted a decent stat line in a loss to the Browns last week, and this week gets a defense that may be missing all of its top 4 CBs. Mariota has already showed that he doesn't need to use his legs to put up fantasy points, and thus far the Colts have allowed a 104.2 QB rating to Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick. They also don't generate a ton of pass rush, with just one sack so far on the season. Getting Delanie Walker back can only help Mariota, and he should be decent start in 2-QB leagues, and worth consideration in deeper 1-QB leagues.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 3: @Min.): The Vikings were gashed by Carlos Hyde in week 1, and then held Detroit to under 2.5 yards per carry in week 2. The reality likely falls somewhere in between. Gordon has been impressive in limited work so far, and should see similar volume this week. To really maximize his value, he'll have to find the end zone though. The Vikings are yet to allow a carry of 20+ yards on the year, and Gordon has zero red zone carries through 2 weeks. Gordon is more flex option than RB2 at this point.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 3: vs. SF): CJ?K is still the 'lead dog' according to head coach Bruce Arians, but David's done enough with the work he has gotten to warrant more of it coming his way. Arians has said as much, stating that David's role will increase as the season goes on. With Andre Ellington still out, Johnson is an upside Flex option this week, but he does have a low floor. He gets a boost in return yardage leagues.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 3: vs. Pit.): For the most part, I'd avoid playing Gurley. There has been a lot of talk about him being on a 'pitch count' and will likely see just 10-12 touches assuming he plays. He is a top-shelf talent, however, and that means there is a chance he gets hot and sees some additional carries. With several guys in doubt this week (Ivory, Lacy, Marshawn), Gurley has more upside as a fill-in than most of the alternatives. I've got him ready to go in the league I own him if Ivory sits.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 3: vs. Oak.): The Raiders are among the worst in the league vs. RBs in terms of fantasy points allowed, and while Isaiah Crowell has been more effective than Johnson thus far, Johnson will continue to see a decent amount of touches as the number 2 back. At some point, I would think they will have to start using him in the passing game, which is a specialty of his, but he hasn't been targeted once so far. The upside is likely limited for Duke, but he could have a solid day if they finally start throwing it to him.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 3: @NYG): I know, Jones has already played in week 3. I posted an update on Jones on twitter on Thursday afternoon (@shawn_foss). Here is what I posted: "You cant's chase last week's points vs. the Rams. Alfred Morris could see a bigger share of the work this week, especially on the short week. There is one caveat to this though: The Giants have allowed 20 RB fantasy points per game, 7th most in the NFL, and nearly half of them have come in the receiving game. Alfred Morris is essentially a zero in the pass attack, so there is definitely upside for a nice fantasy day from Jones." How did things turn out? Jones actually did continue to play ahead of Alfred Morris and saw 11 carries to Alf's 6. Unfortunately he did fumble going into the end zone, and Chris Thompson saw the receiving back work (8 rec, 57 yds, TD). There will be better weeks for Jones, and the fact that he got more early down work than Morris is a good sign.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 3: @Hou.): Game script should keep Tampa from becoming too pass-happy in this one. It projects as a low-scoring affair, with two mediocre offenses, and Houston may be the best defense Winston has faced yet. They at least aren't as bad as their numbers vs. opposing QBs have been, and I think JJ Watt and company could make life miserable for Winston. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a hard time putting up much more than 10 fantasy points in standard leagues.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 3: vs. Den.): Abdullah does his best work in space, and the Broncos don't allow much space, especially in the screen game. They have held opposing RBs to under 4 yards per catch (including 4 catches for 2 yards by Jamaal Charles), and it also doesn't help Ameer that Theo Riddick has had a bigger role than expected. I would be surprised if Abdullah finds his way to 50 yards in this one.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 3: @Mia.): At this point, Williams has a TD run in each game, but that won't be sustainable on the types of workloads he's seeing. For now, he's a handcuff for LeSean McCoy and a TD dart throw each week. He's not a stand-alone option this week.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 3: @NYJ): Until his production starts to spike, it's hard to trust Agholor in fantasy. It doesn't help that he may draw Darrelle Revis for much of the game in this one. The Jets have been content to let Buster Skrine cover the slot, where Jordan Matthews does most of his work. The tough matchup and limited production thus far make Agholor a poor option this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 3: vs. NO): I have a hunch that Funchess has his best game as a pro and scores his first career TD, but through 2 games he has just 2 catches for 24 yards. I'd be crazy to tell you to start him. I'd have to see his role increase before he's a realistic option.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 3: vs. Buf.): Parker's snaps increased a little bit in week 2, but he put up just one catch for 3 yards. Rishard Matthews has unexpectedly emerged as the number 2 WR over Parker, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, and until Parker's role increases he has to remain on the bench.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): DGB did score his first career TD in week 2, showing that the Titans do recognize what a tough matchup he can be in the red zone, but his usage still isn't where it needs to be for him to be a startable option. A bigger role is coming eventually, especially with the inefficient play of Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter ahead of him. It's just a matter of when.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 3: vs. Cin.): Crockett Gillmore made a big week 2 impact, and despite the Ravens throwing a ton, Williams still strugged to carve out a role in the passing attack, catching just 1 of the 32 Flacco completions. He's best left on the wire outside of dynasty leagues.
Deep League Sleepers & Cheap DFS Options:
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 3: vs. Chi.): Lynch is a game-time decision, and in a deeper league it would make a lot of sense to scoop Rawls just in case. The Bears defense has been bad at all levels, and Fred Jackson is unlikely to be an every down option if Lynch does sit. Remember, the Seahawks liked Rawls enough to trade away Christine Michael, and Robert Turbin is out again this week. I like Rawls a lot when you factor in that the Seahawks are a 2 TD favorite. If they get ahead big, they're more likely to run Rawls than risk an F-Jax injury in garbage time. Jackson is the one who has a role when Lynch is healthy. I think a 75-yard day is very possible if Lynch is out.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 3: vs. Chi.): I still think Lockett has a big game coming, and why not against the pathetic Bears' defense? Lockett had just 2 catches for 17 yards last week, but was on the field for 32 out of Seattle's 60 offensive snaps. As always, Lockett is worth more in leagues where return yardage matters, but I think he's got a sneaky amount of upside this week as a cheaper DFS option.
WR Ty Montgomery, GB (Wk. 3: vs. KC): Top CB Sean Smith is still out with suspension for the Chiefs, and Montgomery factored into the offense last week with 4 catches against the Seahawks on Sunday night. With Cobb lining up in the slot, there's a chance Montgomery gets to square off with Jamell Fleming on the outside, and Fleming has been burned regularly so far this season. It's sort of a shot in the dark play with Cobb, Adams and James Jones around, but he's already shown he can be a factor.
WR Devin Smith, NYJ (Wk. 3: vs. Phi.): Smith appears to be on track to play this week, and Eric Decker appears to be on track to not play. Coach Todd Bowles says it's not an injury issue at this point, it's just about getting Smith up to speed with his conditioning and the playbook. Smith's best skill is the deep ball, and Philly has allowed 7 completions of 20 or more yards and 2 of 40 or more in two weeks. Smith will likely be a boom-or-bust option this week if Decker sits. Another Jets rookie to keep an eye on though...
WR Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (Wk. 3: vs. Phi.): He's averaged 28 snaps per game in the first two and could also see an increased role if Decker sits. Enunwa would be safer and have a higher floor than Smith, but might not have the home run play upside. He's not a bad lottery ticket type of option in DFS.
That's it for this week. Hopefully it can help with some of your tougher lineup decisions or injury concerns. Feel free to hit me up on twitter with any rookie questions (handle listed above). As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 3 was full of explosive performances from some expected and some unexpected places. A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Jamaal Charles are supposed to blow up on a regular basis. Devonta Freeman, Joseph Randle and Rishard Matthews are not. Some rookies got into the act as well...Amari Cooper cleared the century mark again, as did Thomas Rawls and Karlos Williams on the ground. Williams also found the end zone for the 3rd consecutive week (the only player in the league to do so). Hopefully the big days in week 3 worked in your favor, but even if not, lets see what we can do about getting the right rookies in the lineup for week 4...
Rookies to Start:
Amari Cooper has really impressed this year
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 4: vs. NYG): Williams finally got double-digit touches with LeSean McCoy hampered by a balky hammy, and he didn't disappoint, racking up over 100 yards with a TD on just 12 carries. He now boasts a ludicrous 7.75 ypc average for the season on 24 carries and should get the start against a defense that has allowed over 18 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. As long as McCoy sits, Karlos is a rock solid RB2 this week with RB1 upside.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 4: vs. Cle.): Gordon hasn't had a role in the red zone, but he continues to run for respectable yardage totals and has his most favorable matchup of the season-to-date. The Browns are allowing about 5 yards per carry and a league-worst 158 rush yards per game so far. Gordon should even have a reasonable chance to break a long TD. Cleveland has given up 4 rushes of 20 or more yards so far, 2 of which went for 40+. Fire him up as an RB2 this week.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 4: @Chi.): In case you need any reason from me to know you should play Cooper this week, the Bears allow the 4th-most WR fantasy points per game in the league, and have allowed averages of 12.6 receptions, 153 yards, and 2.3 TDs per game to opposing WRs. I would expect Cooper to be good for at least half of that, and he could have WR1 upside in a cake matchup.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 4: @Ind.): After last week, there's obviously reason for pause before firing up Yeldon considering that the Colts' high powered offense could have the Jags playing from behind again. With that said, Indy's defense has given us very little reason to trust their ability to stop the run, allowing 18 RB fantasy points per game and 4 RB scores in 3 games. I'd say there's a 50/50 shot that Yeldon gets his first TD this week. He's more flex play than RB2, but he could have a nicer day than expected.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 4: @SD): San Diego has been absolutely shredded by opposing run games the past 2 weeks, and Crowell was back to being inefficient last week against Oakland. The Chargers have allowed over 500 total yards and 5 TDs to opposing RBs in just 3 games, and the Browns did finally involve Duke in the passing game last week. I expect him to factor back in to the rush attempt mix a little bit this week as well. I have a feeling he comes up with a solid PPR-Flex game this week.
WR Ty Montgomery, GB (Wk. 4: @SF): The 49ers have been just as bad as the Bears in terms of WR fantasy points allowed. After Monday night, you'd expect there to be an increased focus from the defense to stop Randall Cobb, which should open things up for Montgomery and Jones. There is some risk here. Davante Adams might be able to play, which would kill Ty's value. Jeff Janis could run ahead of him due to the mental mistakes and silly penalties Montgomery committed against the Chiefs. Still, most signs point to him being the WR3 for GB this week, which should get him WR3 consideration in your lineup.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 4: vs. Car.): Last week wasn't particularly pretty for Jameis, and things don't get much easier this week. The Panthers' DBs have been a nightmare on opposing WRs, especially Josh Norman, and Jameis may struggle to get going this week. Duplicating last week's stat line is about all you can expect this week. Anything more would be a nice bonus.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 4: vs. Phi.): While it was a great sign to see Jones running ahead of Alfred Morris last week, this matchup doesn't set up particularly well for Jones, and Morris isn't exactly going to vanish either. The Eagles have allowed just 3.1 ypc, and have yet to allow a RB touchdown. The one place they've struggled is against RBs catching passes out of the backfield, but thus far, Chris Thompson has pretty much had that role to himself in the Redskins' backfield rotation. Jones is always a threat for a red zone TD, but I'd shy away this week if I have reasonable options.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 4: @Sea.): The Seahawks at home are just an opponent you don't want to play skill players against unless they are every week studs. When you have Matt Forte there, you leave him in and hope for the best. With Ameer Abdullah, a part-time player in a 3-back rotation? Not so much, even if he is the best talent of the trio. Seattle is yet to allow a TD to an opposing RB on the year. Abdullah should be avoided this week.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 4: vs. StL.): The Rams defense looks daunting on paper, but they're vulnerable on the perimeter. Yes, Chris Johnson has looked good, but David has still been a factor in this offense. Unfortunately, it looks like Andre Ellington will be back this week. If for some reason Andre sits again, David has some value as a flex option, but his floor is scary low if he's fighting both CJ and AE for touches.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 4: @Ari.): It was nice to see Gurley back on the field, even if the results weren't impressive. On the plus side, he did look healthy, but he gets a tough matchup this week. I believe he's close to being handed bellcow duties, but I don't think this is the week where it comes together. Arizona has been throttling teams so far, and if the Rams fall behind, I'd expect a fair amount of Benny Cunningham.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 4: @Was.): Agholor has been mostly invisible this season despite playing plenty of snaps. He was barely targeted at all last week, and if he were to put up even 4 catches and 50 yards this week in a plus matchup, it would be a pleasant surprise. You can do better.
WR Phillip Dorsett, IND (Wk. 4: vs. Jax.): Dorsett found the end zone last weekend, but his volume hasn't been consistent enough to trust going forward. I still feel like the Colts want to get Andre Johnson more involved at some point (If Andre is still capable), and banking on another TD from a guy who is only going to see a few targets isn't often a recipe for success.
WRs Devin Smith & Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (Wk. 4: @Mia.): The matchup seems ripe for the picking after Tyrod Taylor shredded the 'Fins on Sunday, but Eric Decker is likely to return this week and severely cut down on the snaps and targets this pair will see. If you had to pick one, Smith is the choice due to the threat of a long TD against a shaky secondary. With that said, I wouldn't want to play either in a season-long league.
WR Willie Snead, NO (Wk. 4: vs. Dal.): I like Snead a lot, but I'd like him a lot more if I was confident that Drew Brees was going to go back to being Drew Brees at some point. He's not quite the matchup nightmare that 6'6" Brandon Coleman is, but I would argue he's already got a better rapport with Brees and is the option the QB trusts more of the 2. The problem is that this offense just isn't very good right now. Even if Brees plays, I wouldn't feel good about playing Snead even in really deep leagues this week.
Deep League Sleepers & Cheap DFS Options:
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 4: vs. Det.): It sounds like Marshawn Lynch should be fine and ready to roll for week 4, but keep an eye on the situation. If Lynch were to miss this one, it would be another plus matchup for a back that just put up over 100 yards in his first real action as a pro. The Lions have allowed over 130 ypg and 4 rushing TDs to RBs through 3 games. There are also some out there who feel that what we've seen so far is the beginning of the end for Beast Mode. If that's the case, Rawls would make a nice stash in case something happens, and should absolutely be owned in Dynasty formats. With Christine Michael and Robert Turbin gone, Rawls is the heir apparent in Seattle.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 4: vs. Oak.): Rumors have been rampant that the Bears are shopping Matt Forte, and if they move him, Langford would likely become the starter. He, like Rawls, is worth a speculative stash for the next few weeks in case Chicago does pull the trigger, but don't be surprised if the Bears look to get him more involved if they are actually planning a trade. The Raiders' run defense is nothing special, so Langford might surprise this week if he gets some work.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 4: @TB): Trust me, it's coming for Funchess. He still has just 4 catches through 3 games, but the Bucs are weak in the secondary. This should be another great opportunity for Funchess to make an impact if the Panthers let him. I wouldn't trust him in a season-long league, but he could be a pleasant surprise in DFS.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 4: vs. Det.): The usage in the passing game still isn't where you'd like to see it to use him in regular leagues, but he has 2 return TDs in 3 games, and will be a solid WR3 in return yardage leagues before long. Detroit has allowed 22.3 points per game to opposing WRs, and after Doug Baldwin, very little of the WR target volume is spoken for. Lockett still has plenty of upside despite limited usage so far.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 4: @Pit.): The Steelers 14 points per game allowed to opposing TEs is misleading. All 4 TDs they've given up to the tight end position occurred in week 1 against New England (3 to Gronk and 1 to Scott Chandler). They've been much better since then, but Williams will undoubtedly be a factor this week. He already set career bests last week with 3 catches on 7 targets for 44 yards. Most of that came in the second half after Crockett Gillmore went out with injury, and Gillmore isn't expected to play Thursday. Williams has sneaky TE1 upside based on volume alone.
That's it for week 4. If you have any questions or angry rants, feel free to reach out on twitter and let me know (@shawn_foss). Hopefully this info helps you this week. As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 5 was another exciting one, with a breakout game from Thomas Rawls, the first career touchdown for TJ Yeldon, and Melvin Gordon actually being targeted in the passing game. Jaelen Strong and David Johnson each scored 2 TDs and Ty Montgomery found paydirt as well. All in all, it was a solid week from the rookies, not exactly a banner week, but you can really see the emergence of some of these young guys as they get more comfortable with the NFL grind. Let’s dive into what to expect in week 6…
Rookies to Start:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 6: vs. Hou.): Yeldon has to play to be startable obviously, but he continues to see enough volume that his weekly floor is a low RB2. He’s had at least 63 yards from scrimmage in 4-of-5 games, and the Texans just got done letting Frank Gore get loose for the second time all year last Thursday. The Texans have given up 7 RB touchdowns in 5 games, and Yeldon has seen the vast majority of the Jaguars RB touches. If TJ sits, Denard Robinson might have some flex appeal as he looks about ready to return from injury.
RB Javorious Allen, BAL (Wk. 6: @SF): With Lorenzo Taliaferro on injured reserve and Justin Forsett still questionable for this week, Buck Allen might be in line for lead back work against a 49ers defense that has allowed 730 scrimmage yards and 7 TDs to RBs in just 5 games. If Forsett sits out, Allen would be a great flex option and probably a decent RB2 as well this week. He did look impressive on a couple carries last week against a bad run defense, and could do so again this week.
RB Charcandrick West, KC (Wk. 6: @Min.): This is the only week West will be listed here. He’s technically not a rookie, but I wanted to touch on the opportunity in front of him. This week will tell us a lot about West’s fantasy value going forward. He’s a boom or bust RB2 this week, but he undoubtedly has a more similar skillset to the injured Jamaal Charles than does Knile Davis. If the Chiefs don’t intend to revamp their offense to be more power run-oriented, they’re going to have to treat West as the number one guy and Davis as the backup. West won’t get the same volume as Charles was seeing, but he’ll get enough touches to be playable on a weekly basis, and have big upside in the right matchups. The Vikings are a solid run defense, but not invincible.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 6: vs. Mia.): Mariota had easily his worst game as a pro last week in a loss to Buffalo, but he should have a great shot at a bounce back this week. The Dolphins are fresh off of firing their defensive coordinator during their bye week, and they weren’t exactly playing well before that. There’s always a chance that they get some extra juice from the coaching upheaval this week and play with a different attitude than we’ve seen, but there’s also a chance that they struggle even more adjusting to a new defensive scheme on the fly. If you believe the Dolphins coaching change helps them turn it around, you should probably avoid Mariota in this one. If you think the dumpster fire in Miami keeps burning, fire him up. He has low end QB1 upside against a defense that is giving up 19 QB points per game over its past 3 contests.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 6: @GB): Gordon is still ceding too much work to Danny Woodhead, and he’s still yet to score a touchdown, but there were positive signs that his role is increasing last week. He had more targets and catches (9 and 7) in week 5 than he had in the first 4 weeks combined (7 and 6). He also out-touched Woodhead 22-to-9 in week 5, and has had 2 red zone carries to Woodhead’s zero in the last 2 games. It’s not a full-fledged shift to Gordon as the bell cow, but it’s at least a start. The Packers are slightly above average vs. fantasy RBs, and SD could fall in a hole and abandon the run early, but Gordon has definite upside if the Chargers can hang around. Hopefully for his owners, his role continues to grow as the season progresses.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 6: vs. Den.): The Broncos’ defense is a fearsome unit this season, but they have been susceptible to receiving running backs, allowing the second-most RB catches (43) in the league behind only the Falcons (49). Duke had an impact against a plus defense a week ago in the Ravens, and I expect that to continue this week. Without a true number 1 WR, the Browns have had to rely on Duke and Gary Barnidge to sustain their passing attack, and I expect it to continue this week. In standard leagues, Duke is more of a dicey borderline option, but he has great upside in PPR as usual.
WR Ty Montgomery, GB (Wk. 6: vs. SD): Montgomery has been a tough guy for me to peg. I liked him two weeks ago against the 49ers, and he did next to nothing. I didn’t like his matchup with the Rams, and he puts up a 4-59-1 line. This week he draws San Diego, who has allowed the 2nd fewest WR fantasy points in the league. I don’t love the matchup, but his role in the offense seems secure with Davante Adams likely out again, which puts him right back on the WR3 cusp this week.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 6: vs. NYG): I was hopeful that Agholor was in line for more touches after his semi-breakout performance in week 4, but an injury knocked him out of a very favorable matchup with the Saints last Sunday. He’s said all week that he’ll be playing when the Giants visit, but as of Thursday he’s yet to practice this week. If he does get the start, he’ll be right back into that WR3/WR4 no man’s land where you have no idea what to do with him. For what it’s worth, when healthy, the snaps have been consistent. He just needs to start converting more targets into production.
WR Keith Mumphery, HOU (Wk. 6: @Jax.): Mumphery didn’t get the headlines after fellow rookie Jaelen Strong scored 2 TDs on just 2 catches last week, but he was targeted 8 times and caught 4 passes. If Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts can’t give it a go this week, I’d expect similar volume to the 8 targets from a week ago, which should get him on the WR3 radar, even against a Jacksonville secondary that has been better than you’d think vs. WRs.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 6: @NYJ): Crowder has emerged as a PPR monster in the absence of DeSean Jackson, and Jackson reportedly pulled himself out of practice Thursday after feeling a twinge in his injured hamstring. He appeared to be on target to play this week, but may again be sidelined. The Jets boast a fantastic secondary, but they also are likely to shut down the run as well. For Washington to move the ball, I think it will take a lot of the short passing game with Crowder and RB Chris Thompson to do it. I’d feel pretty good about firing him up as a PPR WR3 if Jackson doesn’t play.
Rookies to Sit:
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 6: vs. Chi.): The Lions simply can’t run the ball. You would think the Bears would be the perfect tonic for what ails the Detroit run game, but the Bears’ run D has been better this year than it was the past two. Abdullah scored a 24-yard TD on his first pro carry. He’s tallied just 19 points since in almost 5 full games. Is that someone you want in the lineup?
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 6: @NO): It looks like Coleman’s injury has cost him his role in the offense. Devonta Freeman is running like a man possessed, easily tallying the most RB fantasy points in the league over the last 3 weeks, and I see no reason why the Falcons should suddenly give Coleman a big share of the workload. This is Devonta’s job for now. Coleman is fighting for leftovers.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 6: vs. Cin.): It’s looking like Williams will be out again this week, but even if he plays, it looks like LeSean McCoy will play as well. The Bills will want to lean on the run game if Tyrod Taylor misses this game, but the Bengals boast an above average run defense and trotting ‘Los out there in your lineup is a desperate move.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 6: @NYJ): Jones is dealing with a toe injury, and more than that he’s dealing with a muddy backfield situation. The Jets’ defensive front gets offseason knucklehead Sheldon Richardson back this week, so the sledding will be brutal for both Jones and Alfred Morris. The Jets were already 3rd in the league at limiting RB fantasy points without Richardson. This shapes up as more of a Chris Thompson week for the Washington backfield.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 6: @Pit.): His production is simply not sustainable on the touches that he’s getting. It’s ridiculous really. He has offensive touch totals of 1, 6, 10, 7, and 3, and point totals of 11, 16, 3, 11 and 12. Odd that the only game that he touched the ball 10 times was the only one he didn’t score 10 fantasy points. Like I said…ridiculous. To play him means you’re banking on him finding the end-zone again on 5 or fewer touches. Good luck!
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 6: vs. Mia.): There was optimism that the Titans would get Green-Beckham more involved after the bye week, but those hopes were dashed last week. He played a season high snap total, but wasn’t targeted even once. Ken Whisenhunt has complained to the media that his receivers aren’t doing a good enough job of winning contested catches, meanwhile he keeps a weapon who specializes in this standing on the sideline. It’s time for coach Whiz to understand what’s wrong with this picture.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 6: @Sea.): Same as Green-Beckham. He’s just not getting the snaps and targets needed to be a worthwhile option right now. The Titans didn’t use their bye week to get DGB more involved…let’s see if the Panthers did with Funchess.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 6: vs. Car.): Lockett remains a return yardage league-only option for the moment. He even posted his lowest return yardage total of the year in week 5 to go along with just 2 catches. The passing offense volume just isn’t consistent enough to trust Lockett in season-long leagues right now.
WR Jaelen Strong, HOU (Wk. 6: @Jax.): Don’t be fooled by the 2 TDs last week for Strong. He was on the field for just a handful of plays and was targeted just those two times. I’m not sure what the FIVE Colts DBs standing next to Strong were doing on the hail mary to end the first half, and another blown coverage opened him up for the second TD. He’s got a lot of talent, but until his playing time increases it’s hard to trust him to continue to produce even if Shorts and Nate Washington are out again. This isn’t going to be a repeat of Martavis Bryant in 2014, who broke out after not being active for the first 6 weeks.
WR Phillip Dorsett, IND (Wk. 6: vs. NE): Dorsett is always a big play threat, but it’s obvious at this point that he’s the number 4 receiver, and they like to use 2 TEs a bit as well. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Colts use Dorsett in some gadget plays this week trying to catch the Pats off guard, but he’s unlikely to see much volume at all. He’s just too buried on the depth chart.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 6: @SF): He’s still not producing enough in the opportunities he’s getting to warrant getting more of them. Crockett Gillmore looks likely to play this week, further hurting Maxx’s value.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 6: vs. KC): Most people are excited about Mike Wallace’s week 6 outlook as he had his best game of the season right before the team’s week 5 bye, and this week gets to face the league’s worst defense against WRs by far. The Chiefs allow almost 6 full points more to WRs than the next team (Baltimore) per game. While Wallace was good in week 4, Diggs was equally impressive with 6 catches for 87 yards. Charles Johnson is still battling a rib injury, and if he’s unable to go, Diggs would make a nice WR3 this week in 12-team leagues and deeper. If Johnson does play, I like CJ to have his best game of the season.
WR Devin Smith, NYJ (Wk. 6: vs. Was.): Smith hasn’t been particularly efficient since getting on the field for the first time two weeks ago, catching just 5 of his 16 targets, but the fact he’s been targeted so much is promising. The Redskins are stout up front against the run, but can be beaten on the back end. I like Smith’s chances of getting behind the defense at least once in this game.
WR Cameron Meredith, CHI (Wk. 6: @Det.): Converted Illinois State QB Meredith flashed in the preseason, and he made the most of his opportunities in week 5, catching all 4 of his targets for 52 yards. The Lions haven’t exactly been bleeding points to WRs like the Chiefs have, but they haven’t been good either. Both Eddie Royal and Alshon Jeffery practiced on Thursday, so it looks like both have a solid shot to play, but we’ve said this for a couple weeks about Alshon, and we all remember how coy they played it with Kevin White’s injury in training camp. If Royal and Alshon are out, I like Meredith to exceed his output from week 5.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 6: @Ten.): Parker is one of the most talented WRs on the Dolphins, and with Joe Philbin out, interim HC Dan Campbell might try something different to jumpstart the offense. Getting Parker involved would be something different. It’s likely not enough for you to want to play him in your lineup, but he’s worth some consideration as a punt option in DFS tournaments.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some of the tougher lineup decisions. Feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have a complaint or question (@shawn_foss). As always… good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! This season seems to get stranger by the week. What’s wrong with the Seahawks? What exactly constitutes a catch? Can the Saints get back in the NFC playoff picture? Is someone going to go undefeated?...I’m not going to talk about any of these things. Instead, I’ll dive into the breakout week of Stefon Diggs, the continued disappearing act of Melvin Gordon, and the health status of Matt Jones, TJ Yeldon, and Marcus Mariota, and also what you should do with your rookies for week 7. Let’s dig in….
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 7: vs. Cle.): Gurley is the only rookie I can confidently recommend starting this week. He was a terror on opposing defenses for the last 2 games before the bye, and now he gets to face a Browns team that has allowed an NFL-high 789 rush yards to opposing RBs and the 4th most fantasy points per game to the position. Gurley will get the rock a ton, and has easy RB1 upside in a plus-plus matchup. Get him in there this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 7: vs. Atl.): Mariota is confident that he will play this week, but I’m not. If he does suit up, I think he’s due for a bit of a turnaround game. The Falcons have allowed just a 7:6 TD:INT ratio for the season, but they’ve also allowed over a 65% completion percentage and over 295 passing yards per game on the season. I think he’ll find some success throwing against a Falcons’ team that hasn’t been quite as good as their 5-1 record would make you think. He should be a decent QB2 option if he plays, and a sleeper QB1 in really deep leagues. Several starting QBs have tough matchups or byes this week (Rodgers, Bradford, Dalton, Bortles, McCown, Kaep). I know they aren’t all big names, but all have been productive at points this year.
RB Melvin Gordon, OAK (Wk. 7: vs. Oak.): I'd lean toward sitting Gordon this week after he was benched for fumbling last week. He failed to break out against two bad run defenses in Cleveland and Green Bay this year, and this week he gets a decent one. The Raiders have allowed just 3 RB TDs all year, and 14.2 fantasy points per game. I'd expect the Chargers to go back to Gordon this week despite the benching, but there might not be much upside.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 7: @StL.): Duke remains an intriguing PPR option. The Rams have a strong defensive front vs. the run, but they've averaged giving up 6 catches and 55 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs. Johnson will remain very involved in the game plan and could be a really solid PPR flex play once again.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 7: vs. TB): Keep an eye on Jones's health this week. This could be the most positive game script Jones has seen in weeks. Washington is a 3-point favorite, and Tampa is allowing 105 RB rush yards per game and have give up 4 rushing TDs. I think Washington will actually be able to establish the ground game this week, and I like Jones better than Alfred Morris as long as he's able to play.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 7: @SD): You are likely playing Cooper if you have him, but this is not a week to run him out there in DFS. He saw just 4 targets in a tough matchup with the Broncos before the bye, and this week he gets to tangle with Jason Verrett, who has yet to allow more than 2 completions in any game on passes thrown into his coverage. Number one receivers Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Randall Cobb, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown have all failed to record 50 rec. yards and none had more than 3 catches against San Diego. That isn’t a fluke. I wouldn’t be optimistic for Amari in week 7.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 7: @Det.): Diggs has done enough to warrant more work over the past 2 games. He may have surpassed Charles Johnson on the depth chart while CJ's been out with a rib injury. The Vikings' offense centers around AP running it, so the volume won't be consistent for Diggs, but the matchup this week is juicy. The Lions allow 15 catches and over 200 yards per week to WRs, and Diggs has been the most effective Viking WR this season. He's a better play if Johnson is out again, but still in the WR3 discussion even if Johnson plays.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 7: vs. TB): DeSean Jackson is unlikely to play again this week, and Crowder has seen at least 6 targets in 4 straight games, and at least 8 in 3 straight. Jordan Reed seems likely to play this week, which could cut into Crowder's targets, but I'd still expect him to be good for at least 5 catches and is a decent PPR WR3 option. The Bucs allow the 5th most WR fantasy points per gm.
Rookies to Sit:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 7: vs. Buf.): You might not have any better options with how thin the RB position has been this year, but this week doesn't set up well for TJ. He might not even play due to injury, and if he does play, he might be competing for touches with the now healthy Denard Robinson. Yeldon hasn't been very efficient with a lot of volume, and this week's matchup is tougher than it looks on paper. The Bills are middle of the road vs. opposing RBs, but they've held the opposition under 50 RB rush yards 3 times in 6 games. The Jaguars might make it 4 of 7. I'd steer clear of Yeldon if you can.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 7: vs. Bal.): Johnson finally showed what should happen when you only get 4 touches in a game. He had been scoring touchdowns weekly with very few touches, and this week it finally caught up with him as he turned his 4 touches into 17 scoreless yards. The Ravens have been stingy to opposing RBs, allowing just 14 ppg to them each week, and DJ still is fighting with CJ2K and Ellington for touches.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 7: @Ten.): The matchup is better for Coleman than it looks on paper, but unless something happens to Devonta Freeman, the workload won’t be large enough for Coleman to be worth playing him. He did manage 40 yards on 4 carries last week, and he’s got home run potential, but to bank on him producing with single-digit touches would be a desperation play. Leave him benched.
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 7: @SF): Rawls got just one carry last week with Marshawn back at full strength. He’d be a threat to get more work if the Seahawks blow this game open, but the 49ers have been playing well in primetime games (win over MIN and last minute loss to NYG) and the Seahawks haven’t looked like themselves, blowing 4th quarter leads in all 4 of their losses this year. Don’t look for much work for Rawls in this one.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 7: @Jax.): It's unlikely that Williams plays yet again as he battles back from a concussion, and Shady McCoy re-established himself in week 6 with a big game. If Karlos is able to go, he'll likely see just a few change of pace carries unless it's a blowout, making him a TD dice roll. It's not a gamble I'd want to take.Editor's Note: Karlos Williams was removed from this list, since he didn't make the trip to London with his team.
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (Wk. 7: @Ari.): This is a tough matchup, and Forsett has emerged as the workhorse in the Ravens’ backfield again since Taliaferro went on the IR. Forsett has had 24 or more touches in each of the last 3 games while Allen has totaled 18 touches. Allen needs a Forsett injury to be relevant in most leagues.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 7: @Car.): Agholor should be back from injury this week, but he gets a brutal matchup in the return. If he plays, he will likely see a bunch of Carolina’s top CB Josh Norman, who has been one of the league’s top cover guys thus far in 2015. Agholor hasn’t been lighting up the stat sheet in plus matchups. Why play him in a really bad one?
WR Devin Smith, NYJ (Wk. 7: @NE): After his inefficient performances in his first two games, Smith ran behind fellow rookie Quincy Enunwa in week 6 and saw zero targets. He’ll have to work his way back up to be an option in any leagues. Enunwa is also not worth starting this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 7: vs. Phi.): His volume increased in week 6, seeing a season-high 6 targets last week, but he did drop a couple of them and tallied just 2 catches. Until he develops some consistency, his targets won't increase much. Keep him sidelined again this week.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 7: vs. Hou.): Parker had zero targets in the Dolphins’ first game under interim coach Dan Campbell. I wouldn’t expect much to change for him this week in a tougher matchup.
WRs Keith Mumphery and Jaelen Strong, HOU (Wk. 7: @Mia.): With Cecil Shorts back last week, Mumph and Strong combined for just 5 targets against the Jaguars. They had twice that many with Shorts and Nate Washington both out the week before. Shorts will be out again this week, but Washington is expected back. With DeAndre Hopkins soaking up all the targets he can handle, there isn’t enough to go around to the 3rd and 4th WRs in the pecking order, even in a plus matchup.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 7: @Ari.): With Crockett Gillmore back from injury, Williams is an afterthought in the pass game. He has just 5 catches for 24 yards in the past 2 weeks. Leave him sitting.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 7: @Was.): Jameis's transition to the NFL hasn't exactly been smooth, but he may have some sneaky upside this week against a Washington defense that has allowed a 9:3 TD:INT ratio in 6 games. They've allowed less than 240 pass yards per game, but they haven't played with a ton of leads and teams aren't throwing on them late very often. There won't be many DBs in this matchup that can cover V-Jax or Mike Evans, and ASJ may return as well. This could be a good week to take a chance on Winston in a 2 QB league or as a DFS punt option.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 7: vs. Min.): I think this is the week that the Lions get the run game going. It might be Joique Bell, it might be Abdullah. Ameer has had issues with fumbles this season, but the Lions did put him back in the game late vs. the Bears. For the season, the Vikings have allowed the 7th fewest points to opposing RBs, but that doesn't tell the whole story. At home, Minnesota has given up just 153 rush yards and zero TDs to RBS, but on the road they've allowed 335 yards and 3 TDs in 2 games, as well as 4.5 yards per rush on the season. I have a hunch that either Abdullah or Bell has a nice game, I'm just not sure which one.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 7: @SF): San Francisco gives up heaps of fantasy points to opposing WRs, and the Seahawks don't have a WR who stands out as the obvious guy who will score them. That makes Lockett an interesting really cheap DFS option. He's always a threat to score a return TD, and someone on this team will score some points. Why not Lockett? Don't read much into the 2 targets he had last week. No Seahawk WR had more than 4 in that game, and Lockett had 5 in each of the two games before that. Is that a lot of volume? No, but if he gets 5 targets and takes a kick or punt to the house? DFS Gold.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some tough lineup decisions with some big bye weeks upon us. Feel free to hit me up on twitter if you want to say nice things or call me an idiot (@shawn_foss). 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!