Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 8 was a brutal one with one season-ending injury after another. Hopefully your fantasy team survived unscathed, and hopefully your waiver position will allow you to pick up D'Angelo Williams. He'll be a top 15-RB the rest of the way. This isn't a waiver wire column, but there may be a few rookies who will prove worthy of a pick up over the next few weeks. Let's dive into what to expect in week 9, and I'll throw in a few rooks in the sleeper section who may be worth a flyer (Any fantasy point totals listed are based on ESPN standard scoring)...
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 9: @Min.): With the way Gurley is running, you have to throw out the matchup in this one. The Vikings have been strong against opposing RBs since struggling against Carlos Hyde in week 1 (10 fantasy points per game for opposing RBs since), but Gurley's breakout started against the Cardinals, who have allowed just 11 RB points per game aside from the Rams game. The Vikings also allow 4.4 yards per carry, which is hardly impressive. Gurley should have success again.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 9: @SD): Matt Forte will likely be out for the next couple of weeks, and Langford should step into a major role at just the right time. He's the next best waiver add after D'Angelo this week if you can get him. He faces the Chargers, who have been awful against running backs...like worst in the league awful. The Chargers allow 5 yards per carry, 124 rushing yards per game, and have given up 8 rushing scores in 8 games. They've also given up an extra 450 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs to RBs. Langford should at least be a passable RB2 in this plum matchup.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 9: @Pit.): Cooper should find the sledding easier this week after a rough go last week against the Jets. The Steelers do allow fewer WR points than the Jets, but thanks to Darrelle Revis, the Jets limit WR1s much more effectively than the Steelers. Pittsburgh is fresh off allowing an 11-118-1 line to AJ Green last Sunday. Cooper is safe to fire up this week as a WR3. The floor this week should be higher than his final numbers against the Jets.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 9: vs. NYG): Jameis is starting to look like the number 1 pick he's supposed to be. He's put up at least 12 fantasy points in each start this season, despite struggling with turnovers early on in the year. He may have recently turned a corner. He hasn't thrown a pick in his last 3 starts, and has scored 19 points in each of the last two. This week, he gets the Giants, who allow a league-high 315 yards passing and just over 2 passing scores per game. They're also fresh off giving up 7 TDs to Drew Brees. With that said, they've also picked off 13 passes on the year. I'd expect Jameis to throw his first INT in 4 games this week, but there is also a ton of upside. He should be on the low-end QB1 radar.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 9: @NO): Mariota seems to be on track to play this week, and he gets to face the defense that allows the most fantasy points to QBs in the league. The Saints have allowed a league-high 20 TDs through the air, and an additional 2 QB rushing scores. With Ken Whisenhunt gone, things might get better for Mariota. Interim head coach Mike Mularkey has vowed to tweak the offense to better suit Mariota's strengths. That should mean more running attempts, which would bump his floor up in a matchup that already has a high ceiling. Like Jameis, he's on the QB1 radar this week. I'd prefer Winston over Mariota since Jameis has a higher floor, but both are interesting streaming options.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 9: vs. Chi.): This actually isn't a bad spot for Gordon. He's been watching Danny Woodhead light it up in garbage time, but the Bears allow 128 rushing yards per game. They haven't allowed many long runs, and just two rushing TDs, but with Keenan Allen out the Chargers are likely to try to get the run game going more. This game sets up for Gordon to have RB2 upside.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 9: @NYJ): Yeldon has been coming into his own recently, scoring 13 points per game in his last 3 outings, but he hasn't faced a defense like the Jets in that stretch. The Jets have allowed more than 6 points to opposing RBs just twice all season. Volume makes TJ an RB2/flex option this week, but not a great one.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 9: @Cin.): Duke managed a decent day yet again last week, and he did so despite just a few touches. His value isn't going anywhere. He remains a decent PPR flex play week in and week out, and coach Mike Pettine expressed this week that he knows Duke needs more touches. Isaiah Crowell and Robert Turbin have been an unimpressive tandem.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 9: vs. StL.): Diggs isn't an automatic start this week against a tough Rams' secondary, but he's not a guy to avoid either. I would ride the hot streak while it lasts. He's the clear number one receiver for Minnesota right now, and the Rams should make it tough to get the running game going. Good passing attacks have had success against the Rams. I don't know if I'd classify the Vikes' attack as good, so Diggs is more WR3 than WR2 this week.
Rookies to Sit:
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 9: @NE): I think there's a chance Jones has a nice game, and I expect him to still see more work than Alfred Morris, but he will lose passing down work to Chris Thompson and Washington is likely to be playing from behind for most of the game. Those factors make him too risky to play this week. He's averaged just 3 fantasy points per game in his past 5 games.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 9: vs. Mia.): You should hold onto Williams in deeper leagues if you have the room, but a healthy LeSean McCoy saps some of his value. There will be some decent games down the stretch. Karlos tallied 50 fantasy points in the first 4 games of the season before suffering a concussion, and he did so on limited touches. Unfortunately it will be tough to tell which weeks will be the productive ones. If anything happens to Shady, Karlos is instantly a starting caliber RB, but for now he belongs on the bench.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 9: @Dal.): Agholor should be back on the field this week, but that's not a reason for him to be in your lineup. There is upside this week, but he would have to show some production before you can consider putting him in the lineup.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 9: @NE): With D-Jax and Chris Thompson returning this week, it'll be Crowder's targets that will take the biggest hit. Even with a plus matchup against a bottom-10 WR defense, Crowder is a dicey PPR WR4 this week.
WR Ty Montgomery, GB (Wk. 9: @Car.): Pretty simple here. Davante Adams is back, Montgomery is banged up, and the Panthers are a really tough matchup for any WR. Steer clear this week.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 9: @Pit.): Nothing to see here this week. The Steelers may allow the 4th most points to opposing TEs, but the majority of the points they allowed were to Gronk and Antonio Gates. If you throw out the games against New England and San Diego, the Steelers have allowed just 4 points per game to opposing TEs, which would be good for 3rd fewest in the NFL. Walford will eventually get more involved, but it likely won't be this week.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Bryce Petty, NYJ (Wk. 9: vs. Jax.): Ryan Fitzpatrick has torn ligaments in his non-throwing hand, and Geno Smith got banged up in relief of Fitz. It's a long shot, but there's a chance that they are forced to go to Petty this week. He played in a spread passing attack in college, so he may be okay in Chan Gailey's scheme. He does have a decent matchup. The Jaguars allow the 8th most fantasy points per game to QBs. If you're in a pickle in a 2 QB league and Petty gets tabbed to start...he might be worth a shot.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 9: @SF): This is just a hunch...This game could get ugly. The 49ers are a dumpster fire right now. Why would the Falcons want to risk getting Freeman injured if they get comfortably ahead early? There is a strong chance for plenty of Coleman garbage time in this one. He could be a fun cheap option in DFS tournaments.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 9: @NO): Cobb may be poised to be activated from short-term IR this week, and his timing likely couldn't be better. You can't confidently start him this week, but there is hardly a clear lead back on the Titans at this point. Antonio Andrews had his best game of the season last week, but with the coaching change there should be an opportunity for Cobb to carve out a role. He's an intriguing deep league pickup who could provide solid value in the 2nd half of the season.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 9: @NO): I'm sure DGB isn't unhappy to see Whisenhunt go. Just a week ago, the former coach said he was in no hurry to make Green-Beckham a bigger part of the offense. That should change with Mularkey in charge. If he has any designs on shedding the interim tag, he should be getting the most talented players on the field more. I've mentioned Green-Beckham before, and he has struggled to break through, but this is as good a spot as any. The Saints have allowed 13 WR TDs on the season.
WR Justin Hardy, ATL (Wk. 9: @SF): Much like Tevin Coleman, Hardy could benefit from the mess that is the 49ers. It sounds like there is a real chance Leonard Hankerson is out again, and Hardy caught two passes in his pro debut last week. If Hank is out again, I think Hardy could be in line for 5+ catches in a game with plenty of playing time for the backups.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you overcome some byes and injuries, and helps you make some of those tougher lineup decisions. Feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have any questions or want to yell at me (@shawn_foss). As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! As the fantasy regular season winds down, hopefully you've got yourself well positioned for a playoff spot. It was a big week for some rookies, with Devin Funchess tallying his first TD and Dorial Green-Beckham finally getting a starter's share of the snaps (even if it took an injury to Kendall Wright to get them). Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley continued their usual excellence, and Karlos Williams returned to action in a big way. Let's talk about what week 10 should have in store...
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 10: vs. Chi.): If you own him, you know you're starting him, but he should be worth his price tag in daily fantasy games as well. The Bears allow 121 rushing yards a game and 4.6 yards per carry. They do a good job limiting TDs (just 2 rushing scores allowed all year), but Gurley is a good bet to top the century mark this week and I think he finds the end zone as well despite how few the Bears have allowed.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 10: @Oak.): Diggs didn't do a lot last week against the Rams, but he should be much better this week. The matchup is much softer. The Raiders don't allow a ton of WR touchdowns (just 4 on the year), but they do allow 16.7 catches and 221 yards per game to them. Diggs gets easily the most volume of the Vikings WRs, and he likely will get around 10 targets and should be safe to fire up as a WR2 this week.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 10: vs. Dal.): The Cowboys have been pretty solid against quarterbacks all year, allowing just 9 passing scores in 8 games and about 240 yards per game, but Jameis has shown a really safe floor. With at least 12 points scored each week, he should be a safe QB2 this week in 2 quarterback leagues, albeit one with limited upside.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 10: @StL.): If Matt Forte is out again, volume should keep Langford on the RB2 radar despite a tough matchup. If you have strong options to play over Langford, go for it. The Rams have allowed just 2 offensive TDs in 4 home games this year. While Langford should get a bunch of work, he'll be a long shot to find the end zone. If Forte is a go, Langford shouldn't be near your lineup.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 10: @Bal.): Yeldon was having a rough game in week 9, but broke a long 4th quarter run that bailed his day out. With that said, his volume remains consistent. The Ravens have been tough on opposing rushers, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry and just 4 RB touchdowns on the season, but that volume keeps Yeldon in the RB2 discussion. I'd expect him to tally somewhere around 8 points in standard leagues this week.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 10: vs. NO): Jones hasn't produced much lately, but he's definitely running ahead of Alfred Morris right now. Jones had 11 carries in week 9, Alf has 10 total in the last 2 games, and he's turned them into just 15 yards. This is a plus matchup for RBs. The Saints allow 105 rush yards per game to opposing backs, and even with Chris Thompson back this week, Jones should get 12-15 carries. That makes him a realistic flex option this week with byes and all of the RB injuries around the league right now.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 10: @Pit.): Duke has a similar outlook this week to what he has every other week. He remains firmly on the PPR flex radar. He's a better option if Josh McCown starts at QB. The Steelers allow the 3rd fewest RB fantasy points, but they also allow almost 5 catches and 42 receiving yards per game to RBs.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 10: vs. Min.): Cooper is pretty close to a must-start at this point based on volume and upside, but there are some red flags this week. He's a little dinged up with a quad injury. He's alternated games with a TD and without, and he's due for no TD this week. The matchup isn't ideal, as the Vikings are in the top 10 teams in the league at limiting WR fantasy points. Also, Cooper and Crabtree almost never go off in the same week, and Cooper is the one who usually gets the defense's focus. Week 9 was the second time all year that both receivers finished in the top-24 at the position in fantasy points. It all adds up to Cooper being a little dicier this week than most, and certainly not someone to target in DFS.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 10: vs. NO): I was worried Crowder's role would be reduced with the return of DeSean Jackson, but he caught 6 passes for 50 yards in week 9. Hopefully it's a sign that things won't change with D-Jax back. He's got 8+ targets in 4 of his last 5 games, and at least 4 catches in each of the last 6 (6 rec./gm on average). He's got a plus matchup this week and should be a WR3 option in PPR leagues. His floor this week should be 5 catches and 50 yards.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. Car.): Mariota is coming off one of his best days as a pro in week 9 against the Saints, but the Saints are the worst QB defense in the league and he gets a much stiffer test this week. Don't read much into Aaron Rodgers fantasy bonanza in week 9 against these Panthers. That was an outlier game. If you throw out week 9, Carolina is allowing just 12.3 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, which would be good for 3rd lowest in the league behind Denver and St. Louis. Don't chase last week's points here. He's nothing more than a desperation 2QB league play.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 10: @NYJ): Earlier in the week I was planning on listing Karlos as a guy to start, but as the week has gone on it's become clear that Shady McCoy will play Thursday night. Karlos was tremendous in his return to action last week (9 carries for 110 yards and 2 TDs), and he now has a TD in every game he's played in and is the overall RB21 for the season despite missing 3 games, but I think the TD streak ends this week. The Jets allow just 10.6 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs, and most of the work should go to McCoy. Keep Karlos under wraps this week.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 10: @GB): The Packers have been good against RBs, and Abdullah's role shrunk in the first game with Jim Bob Cooter in as offensive coordinator. Joique Bell is getting the early down work and Theo Riddick the passing down work. The game script doesn't set up well in this game either. The Packers are an 11-point favorite and haven't lost to the Lions at home in the last 20 meetings. Keep Abdullah benched.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 10: @Sea.): Nothing new to report on Johnson. He remains the 3rd banana in this run game behind CJ2K and Ellington. Even though he's seeing some red zone work, the Seahawks allow the fewest RB fantasy points in the league. This isn't the spot to pick to use a guy with very limited volume.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. Car.): Cobb will be activated from the short-term IR this week and should see at least a couple carries, but the bulk of th work this week should go to Antonio Andrews. Andrews has been good in the past 2 games and earned more work. Cobb will eventually factor in, and could be worth a stash in deeper leagues, but you aren't considering him this week.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 10: vs. Car.): Big surprise here...another Titan rookie I'm telling you to sit. This is the worst possible week for DGB to draw Josh Norman. The Panthers should deploy their top cover man on Green-Beckham. Dorial had a breakthrough in week 9 with Kendall Wright sidelined, seeing double-digit targets and pulling in 5 of them for 77 yards (both career highs). Wright is likely to be out again, but I don't like the chances of DGB continuing his breakout this week. He has the talent to start producing in tough matchups, but for now I'm giving Norman the benefit of the doubt.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 10: vs. Mia.): Agholor should finally return from a high ankle sprain, and the matchup is a good one, but Nelson hasn't done anything yet this year. It would be a pretty big leap of faith to think that this is the week he starts producing, even though the Eagles' offense is playing much better than it was when he got hurt. There is a chance that things click for Agholor at some point in the second half and the fantasy points start coming, but it hasn't happened yet. At most he's a deep league flyer right now.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 10: vs. Ari.): Lockett is still in play for leagues that count return yardage. His passing game involvement was increasing before the bye last week (8 catches for 115 yards and a TD in the last 2 games), but the Cardinals are a tough matchup. I hope his role continues to grow, but this isn's a good spot to fire him up.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (Wk. 10: @Phi.): I wouldn't get Ajayi into the lineup this week, but I wanted to mention him as a deep league flyer to scoop off the waiver wire. He debuted last week and was impressive, gaining 41 yards on just 5 carries. Lamar Miller isn't going away, but the coaching staff admitted that Ajayi earned more work with his performance. If anything were to happen to Miller, Ajayi would get a huge boost in value. He's definitely surpassed Damien Williams and Jonas Gray on the depth chart, and will see change of pace work for now.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 10: @Ten.): Funchess finally broke through last week with a 3-71-1 line, and he gets a favorable matchup again this week. Don't go too crazy here. He's still running behind Ginn, Cotchery and Corey Brown in terms of snap count, so the floor is really low, but he could be a decent punt play in DFS tournaments.
WR Adam Humphries, TB (Wk. 10: vs. Dal.): Humpries is taking advantage of the absence of Vincent Jackson. He posted a 5-55 line in week 9, and it seems likely that Jackson is out again in week 10. The matchup isn't great, but Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (if he returns) would draw a lot of the defensive attention. There is some upside for a nice PPR day out of Humphries.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 10: vs. Min.): Walford is a TD dart throw in this game, with the upside for a little bit more. His quarterback likes him, he has 2 scores in the past 3 games, and the Vikings have given up at least 30 TE receiving yards in all but one game this year. If you're desperate for a TE streamer, you could do worse than Walford this week.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps with some of your lineup decisions. If you have any questions or complaints, you can reach out and let me know on twitter (@shawn_foss). As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! As usual, we're coming off a week with plenty of surprises, plenty of injuries, and plenty of storylines. We may have seen the end of Peyton Manning's legendary career. We may have seen the beginning of the end of the Matt Forte era in Chicago. We also saw the Lions miraculously hold on to upset the Packers when GB's own holder blocked Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal try. In terms of the rookie crop, Jeremy Langford and Matt Jones were the heroes, while several others had respectable days as well. Let's take a look at what week 11 should have in store...
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 11: @Bal.): The Ravens have been pretty good against opposing running backs, so this may be a week to fade Gurley in DFS games, but you certainly can't sit him in your year-long leagues. The Ravens have given up more than 81 rush yards to RBs in a game exactly twice this year. In those two games, they were absolutely gashed by Le'Veon Bell and Chris Johnson. Each gained over 120 yards and found the end zone. In their other 7 games, they've given up an average of 69 rushing yards per game and just one rushing score total. Don't be scared off by those numbers. Gurley has been a top-12 fantasy back in each of the past two games in poor on-paper matchups. He is the entire offense, especially with Case Keenum starting now, and he's still an RB1 until further notice.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 11: vs. Den.): The biggest concern for Langford isn't the dangerous Denver defense, it's whether or not Matt Forte plays. If Forte is a go, that likely moves Langford to your bench. He's earned an increased workload when Forte returns, but with the Bears still clinging to their slim playoff hopes, I'd expect Forte to see the majority of touches if active. If Forte is out, however, I'd be willing to trust Langford again. The Broncos have been incredible against the pass, but there have been cracks in that defense against the run. Charcandrick West just put up a monster game against Denver on Sunday, and the Colts' RBs put up 21 fantasy points (ESPN standard scoring) on Denver the week before. Langford has been on an absolute roll, and he should be the focal point of the offense with Alshon doing battle with Aqib Talib on the outside. Langford should easily return RB2 value.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 11: @Det.): Amari's upside is impossible to sit this week. He also should be due for a TD this week if you buy into the whole 'he alternates games with and without a TD' thing. The Lions' pass defense has looked a little bit improved the past 2 weeks, allowing 27 total fantasy points to the Packers' and Chiefs' WRs in those weeks. They had allowed 26.2/per game in the previous 5 games. The Lions have had a better pass DVOA (Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average statistic, which measures defensive efficiency) against number 1 receivers than against number 2 guys, but they've been really burnable at home under the Ford Field roof. They've allowed at least 25 WR fantasy points in all 4 of their games there. Cooper should be fine this week, and is a safe WR2/3 in MoTown.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 11: vs. GB): Diggs has shown his floor over the past two weeks, putting up lines of 3-42 and 2-46 with 10 rush yards. That is still a usable floor in deeper leagues, but you're typically looking for more from a starter. I expect the Vikings to have to throw a bit more this week, and Diggs should be noticeably more productive as a result. The Packers are one of the bottom-5 defenses in the league in pass DVOA against number 1 WRs. The floor remains 4-5 points in standard leagues, but I expect him to come in a bit closer to his ceiling this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): Mariota goes from a dream matchup to a nightmare matchup, then back into the dream. The Jaguars have allowed 10 TD passes in their last 4 games to Hoyer, Tyrod, FitzMagic and Flacco after allowing 7 TDs in the first 5 games. Mariota's weapons will be limited with Justin Hunter done for the year and Kendall Wright likely out again, but Mariota will have QB1 upside with a pretty decent floor. The Jaguars have allowed 8 straight QBs to put up 15 or more fantasy points on them. It also appears that interim coach Mularkey is willing to let Mariota use his legs a bit, scheming in a few designed runs in week 10. That development only increases Mariota's value. He's a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 this week with upside for more.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 11: @Phi.): The Eagles are 5th in the NFL with 12 interceptions, and Jameis has thrown 9 INTs 9 games and hasn't thrown a TD pass in the past 2 weeks. He has, however, kept his floor reasonable by scoring on the ground in 3 straight games. That floor should hold steady this week as Mike Evans should have his way with the Eagles' secondary. Philadelphia is the 3rd best team in the league in overall pass DVOA, but they are 31st in that stat against WR1s. They allow 100 yards per game to the top opposing WRs, and Evans has topped 125 in 3 of his last 4 games. Another big day from Evans should keep Jameis in the mid-to-high QB2 range even if he throws a pick or 2.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 11: @NE): Williams continues to defy the odds. His TD streak rolled on last week in a brutal matchup, and it's getting hard to bet against him doing it again. The Patriots run defense has allowed just 133 rushing yards total to RBs over the past 3 games, and Karlos will likely see about 6-10 touches in this game making him unlikely to find the end zone again this week. With that said, his results each week have defied logic. I mean, he has exactly 1 carry on the season from inside the opponent's 5-yard line, yet he's scored 7 TDs (5 rushing) in 6 games. He's sustaining the unsustainable. Feel free to trot him out there again if you want to roll the dice on him finding the end zone for a 7th straight game. Just know there's plenty of risk built in.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): Justin Hunter has a fractured ankle and Kendall Wright is looks to be out again this week as well. That forces DGB into a starting role this week. His targets and production have been inconsistent so far, but his upside and the volume he's likely to see this week make him a WR3 option. Jacksonville has allowed 7 WR TDs in the past 4 games, and the only recievers who have logged a snap this year the Titans have healthy are Green-Beckham and Harry Douglas. I like DGB's chances of finding paydirt in a decent matchup.
Rookies to Sit:
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 11: vs. Ten.): Yeldon was in a walking boot on Monday and was listed as questionable for this week. He shed the walking boot on Tuesday and said he expects to play despite the short week. Even if he does play Thursday, he's at best a low-upside flex option. The Titans' defense has really been coming together lately, and has allowed just 1 total RB touchdown in the past 4 games to go with just 71 rush yards per game in the past 3. The volume is still likely to be there for TJ, but I wouldn't expect more than 50-60 scoreless yards. Anything extra would be gravy.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 11: vs. KC): Hopefully you aren't forced to play Gordon this week. The Chiefs have been strong against opposing RBs and Woodhead has consistently been the better fantasy back. If you throw out the one outlier game for the Chiefs' defense where the Bengals rushed for 4 TDs against them, KC has allowed just 10.4 RB points per game, which would be the best in the NFL. Considering Gordon hasn't topped 9 points all year or 5 points in the past 4 games, it's hard to expect much from Melvin this week.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 11: vs. Oak.): The Raiders' once stout RB defense has been crumbling lately. They've allowed 373 rushing yards and 3 TDs to opposing RBs in the past 2 games (mostly to Adrian Peterson and D'Angelo Williams), and they just lost Aldon Smith to suspension. The Smith news hurts their pass rush more than the run D, but it's a blow to the overall defense. None of that will matter against the Lions' rushing "attack." Detroit runs for just 67 yards a game, and Ameer Abdullah has just 6 carries in 2 games under new OC Jim Bob Cooter. There's no reason to play him this week.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 11: @Car.): Jones exploded last week, but don't chase last week's points here. There were actually some negative signs on Sunday as Alfred Morris out-touched Jones 18-14 and Jones played his lowest share of snaps in several weeks. There could be more strong weeks for Jones down the stretch, but this one probably won't be one of them. The Carolina RB defense has been much better since the return of inside linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Panthers allowed 67 fantasy points to RBs in the 3 games he missed, and just 83 in the 6 games he's played (a 9 points per game improvement). Add in that Washington figures to be playing from behind as a 7-point underdog, and it likely sets up for more Chris Thompson snaps. I'd avoid playing Jones this week.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): Cobb was a healthy scratch in his first game after being activated from the IR, but Antonio Andrews might have done as much to help Cobb's playing time hopes as he could have done himself. Andrews rushed 11 times for 8 yards, reminding us that 'workhorse' is a title that likely shouldn't be associated with him. Cobb isn't a startable option this week, but if Andrews continues to struggle going forward, it will help Cobb see some touches sooner than later. He remains a deep league and dynasty stash.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 11: vs. Cin.): Johnson is nearing the point where I almost don't have to mention him. He scored in double-digits in 4 of his first 5 games, but he's been a non-factor of late. He's scored just 5 points total in the past 4 games, and this week's big game with the Bengals isn't a spot where I'd expect that to change. He's firmly planted behind CJ2K and Ellington.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 11: @Car.): Crowder's decent PPR floor has remained in tact with DeSean Jackson back in action, and he even scored a TD in week 10, but this week could be a struggle. Panthers' slot corner Bene Benwikere has been struggling a bit lately, but seemed to get back on track against the Titans last week, and the Panthers are in the top-5 in the league in pass DVOA against non WR1 & 2's. Crowder has put up at least 4 catches and 40 yards in 7 straight games, and he might get to those numbers again, but I don't see upside for much more this week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 11: vs. SF): Feel free to consider Lockett if return yardage is counted in your league, but if they aren't, Lockett showed a scary low floor Sunday with just one catch for 7 yards. He did post his best game of the season against these 49ers (5-79-1), and he could be a DFS tournament punt play, but he shouldn't be in your regular fantasy lineups this week.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 11: vs. StL.): Don't chase last week's 4-40-1 line from Maxx. The Rams are a much stiffer defense than Jacksonville. The Rams have been beaten up by Jimmy Graham, Gary Barnidge, and the suddenly red hot Zach Miller, but in their other 6 games they allowed just 21 total TE points and zero touchdowns. Maxx is still running behind Crockett Gillmore. He's just a dynasty stash at this point.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 11: vs. SF): Lynch has been battling through injuries all season, and the Seahawks are a 12-point favorite in this matchup. There is blowout potential here with the Seahawks desperate for a win. This could be a prime spot to get Lynch some rest if Seattle is able to get up by a couple scores early. They're going to need a healthy Marshawn down the stretch if they really want to mount a playoff push. With that in mind, there is a good chance for some extra Rawls work. In the first go-round, Lynch put up 122 yards on the 49ers and Rawls tallied 32 on 6 carries, and that game was closer than some expected (20-3 final). It's always risky to play someone in the hopes of a blowout, but this game sets up to be a decent spot for Rawls at least on paper.
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (Wk. 11: vs. Dal.): Ajayi has been really solid in his first two pro games, putting up 89 yards on just 11 carries. He's become a great handcuff option for Lamar Miller owners, and could have his best game yet this week if he gets even a minor bump in touches. The Cowboys are in the bottom-6 in the NFL in run DVOA. The biggest hurdle to seeing increased work for Ajayi is the return of Tony Romo. If Romo is able to sustain drives more effectively than Matt Cassel was, Dallas can get back to the formula they used last year and control time of possession. That would limit the Dolphins' offensive opportunities, and Ajayi's as well. I'd expect there to be a little rust for Romo in his first game back though.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 11: vs. TB): Mark Sanchez showed the ability to produce in this offense during an 8-game stretch as starter last season, and the Bucs haven't been good against opposing WRs. They've allowed over 200 yards to opposing WRs 5 times in 9 games. Agholor finally returned last week and matched his season high with 3 catches on 4 targets. He did that while running behind Josh Huff on the depth chart. I'd expect him to get back into the starting lineup before long. He did only catch one pass from Sanchez in week 10, but he was targeted on a downfield throw by him as well. Helping Nelson's outlook even more is the fact that the Bucs have struggled more with true outside WRs (Julio, Hurns, A-Rob, Odell, Rueben Randle, DeAndre Hopkins) than with slot guys, and Jordan Matthews spends most of his time in the slot. I expect Agholor to set a new career high in catches and possibly get loose for a deep catch.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 11: vs. Was.): Funchess is in pretty much the same boat he was in heading into week 10. His play has been improving over the past couple weeks, but his snaps and target volume are very limited. He made 2 nice catches for 41 yards in week 10 after a 3-71-1 line in week 9, and he gets another plus matchup this week. If the improved play continues, his role should continue to grow. He'll be a TD dart throw this week and a DFS tournament punt play. He'd be a better option for FanDuel than DraftKings since DK is a full PPR scoring system, and his catch number will likely be low.
WR Tre McBride, TEN (Wk. 11: @Jax.): McBride will be active for the first time in his career this week, and he'll step right into the number 3 WR spot in a game against a bad pass defense. Harry Douglas has been wildly inefficient with his targets this year except for week 9, when he went 5-73 against the worst pass defense in the NFL (New Orleans). If Douglas struggles with his efficiency again early on Sunday, it could lead to increased looks for McBride.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 11: @Det.): Walford is a better than average TD dart throw again this week. He's scored in 3 of his last 4 games, and the Lions have allowed a TE touchdown in 7 of their 9 games this year (8 total TDs). No other Oakland tight end has scored a touchdown this season, so if one of them is going to score this week, it's very likely that it's Walford.
That's all I've got this week. Hopefully it helps with some tough lineup decisions this week involving rookies. Make sure and fit the suggestions to your roster and your league format, and feel free to hit me up on twitter if you have any questions or just want to yell at me about something (@shawn_foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week 11 was a coming out party for some less heralded rookies. Buck Allen showed he can carry the load in Baltimore with Justin Forsett down to a broken arm. Tyler Lockett continued to produce against the 49ers, scoring his 2nd and 3rd TDs against SF of the season. JJ Nelson put on a late night show on Sunday, torching the Bengals for over 140 yards and a TD. Devin Funchess also put up the best game of his career, and Jameis Winston put up an incredible FIVE touchdown passes. Those 5 guys were all great, but the king of week 11 was Thomas Rawls. When Marshawn Lynch showed up as a late scratch on Sunday, Rawls stepped in and didn't miss a beat. He piled up 209 rushing yards and over 250 yards from scrimmage while tacking on 2 TDs as well. I had Rawls pegged as a sleeper a week ago, expecting him to get some additional run in garbage time, but I certainly didn't anticipate a 37-point outburst. With Marshawn questionable going forward, Rawls may continue to be a stud while BeastMode sits. Let's dive into what we can expect in week 12...
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 12: @Cin.): Even as the offense implodes around him, Gurley has found the end zone and/or topped 100 yards in each of his 7 starts this season. He's shown that he's a locked-in RB1 even in less than ideal matchups like the one he has this week. I'd expect him in the 12-15 point range this week in standard leagues, and a couple points higher in PPR, but he's good enough that there is upside for more.
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 12: vs. Pit.): Don't expect another near 40-point outing from Rawls, but Lynch is going to miss 4-5 weeks after having sports hernia surgery, and Rawls will continue to start in his stead. In his 4 starts this season, Rawls has 86 carries for 530 yards and 2 TDs (6.16 ypc) and he's chipped in another score through the air. He is facing the defense that allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs, so he's more of a contrarian play in DFS tournaments, but the Seahawks aren't getting away from their run-first approach. Rawls should be a top-10 RB this week.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 12: vs. SD): Yeldon gets the best matchup possible this week. The Chargers allow the most RB points in the league. They also have allowed the 2nd most RB scrimmage yards (Saints are number 1), they're tied with the Falcons for the most total RB touchdowns allowed, and they are the worst in the league in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA stat. Yeldon's volume has remained steady with at least 16 touches in every game he's played since week 3, and this is an ideal spot to do damage with those touches. The Chargers are fresh off getting shredded by unknown backup Spencer Ware. Yeldon should be close to being an RB1 this week.
RB Buck Allen, BAL (Wk. 12: @Cle.): With the injury to Justin Forsett, Allen has virtually no competition for the number one RB job in Baltimore. He hasn't been overly impressive or efficient, averaging 3.9 yards per carry with no TDs on the season, but he's going to see a ton of volume, and gets a great matchup in his first start. The Browns are ranked 30th in the league in run defense DVOA, and allow opposing RBs 122 rush yards per game. WIth Flacco out, I would expect the Ravens to lean on the run and short passing game even more than usual. Allen carried 22 times last week and was targeted 6 times in the passing game. With Marc Trestman as OC, you know the targets will continue. He should be a solid RB2 this week thanks to the ample volume he should continue to receive.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 12: @Ten.): Amari is coming off his worst game as a pro, with just 1 catch for 4 yards and 2 bad drops with Darius Slay shadowing him. The Titans are a better matchup for him, although they are 13th in pass defense DVOA on throws to WR1s. The Raiders should look to pepper Cooper with targets to get him and the whole offense back on track, and he should be able to return to WR2 status this week as a result.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 12: @Ind.): After he put up 5 TDs last week, it's almost impossible to sit Winston this week I'm sure. He does have a solid matchup again, and I'm sure the Colts won't be sleeping on Doug Martin after he ran for over 200 yards last week. I expect the defensive focus to be on stopping the Dougernaut, so Winston should have to throw a few more times this week. Indy has allowed 280+ passing yards in 7 of their last 8 games, multiple TD passes in 6 of those 8, and 13+ QB points in all 10 of their games this year. Don't expect a repeat of the 5-TD ouburst, but Jameis should be right on the cusp of the top-10 QBs this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 12: vs. Oak.): The Raiders have allowed 20+ QB points in 4 of their last 5 games, and in the one game they didn't Adrian Peterson ran for 200 yards on them. The loss of Aldon Smith is a big blow to their pass defense. I don't expect Antonio Andrews to run for 200 yards, so Mariota will be thowing some. Mariota was actually the QB10 in week 11 against Jacksonville despite just 1 TD (rushing), and the return of Kendall Wright should be a big help. The increased emphasis on Mariota rushing should give him a higher floor going forward, and his ceiling this week is a mid-level QB1 due to the matchup. I'd be willing to fire him up as a high-QB2, or as a low-end QB1 in a 12 or 14 team league.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 12: @GB): The Packers' run defense has been improving of late, and Langford's role for this week is in doubt with the potential return of Matt Forte. Forte has as much as said he's playing for his next contract, so expect Langford to remain involved, but the Pack have allowed just 22 RB points total in the past 3 games. Sure, one of those games was against the hapless Lions' rush attack, but they also held the Panthers' RBs to 86 scoreless yards and held Adrian Peterson to 45 and a TD. They've also allowed the 5th fewest RB receiving yards on the season. If Forte is out, Langford should be fired up as an RB2 despite the matchup, but it sounds like Forte will play, which makes Langford a low floor flex option.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 12: vs. NYG): After the roller coaster Jones has put his owners through the last 2 weeks, people are likely off using him. He put up 187 scrimmage yards and a TD on just 14 touches in week 10, then followed it up with 12 yards on 7 touches the following week and also lost a fumble. The ball security issues are concerning, and he has a basement-level floor each week, but the Giants can be run on. The G-Men gave up over 100 rush yards to RBs every game from week 5 to week 9 as well as 3 rush TDs in that stretch. If Jones gets going early, he could be an upside flex play in deeper leagues.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 12: vs. Bal.): The benching of Johnny Manziel should help out Duke quite a bit. Johnson makes his living in the receiving game, and he caught 6 passes for 56 yards in Manziel's 2 starts, and 33 for 331 yards in the previous 6 games with McCown starting. The Ravens do a good job limiting RB fantasy points, but they rank just 15th in run defense DVOA, and 18th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs. Johnson did catch 6 passes for 55 yards and ran for an additional 22 the last time the Browns faced the Ravens. He's back to being a PPR flex play as long as McCown is under center. He might even start to see more carries after Isaiah Crowell put up 5 rushes for -4 yards in the Browns' last game.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 12: @Atl.): Diggs has 6 receptions or more in 5 of his last 7 games, but he gets a stiff test this week. The Falcons have a solid pass defense DVOA against all WRs and TEs (only struggling vs. RBs), and allow the 3rd fewest WR fantasy points in the league. Diggs should see a fair amount of Desmond Trufant, who is one of the better CBs in the NFL. I'd also expect the Vikings to have more success running the ball than throwing it this week, which will limit the overall passing volume. All this adds up to Diggs being a questionable WR3 play this week. If he topped 60 yards and scored a TD it would probably be his most impressive game of the year despite better numbers in other weeks.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 12: @Dal.): Funchess has continued to emerge over the past few weeks, posting a 9-172-2 line over his last 3 games, benefitting from a Corey Brown injury on Sunday. Brown is doubtful to play in Dallas on the short week, so there will be opportunities for Funchess to make some big plays again. It looks like he may draw rookie Byron Jones in coverage, and Jones has been impressive this year, but Funchess has 4 inches and 38 lbs on Jones. He's a decent bet to find the end zone for the 3rd time in 4 weeks.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 12: vs. NYG): After a brutal week 11 performance against the Panthers, Crowder should return to 5-50 land this week. His snap share hasn't dropped over the past 2 weeks, so I'm not scared off by DeSean Jackson being back at full strength. He should be a low-ceiling PPR WR3 this week against the Giants. New York has allowed stat lines of 5-55 (Adam Humphries) and 10-79 (Danny Amendola) to slot-type WRs in the last 2 games. I think Jamison gets back to the kind of production we were seeing before last week.
Rookies to Sit:
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 12: @Jax): The San DIego offense has been crumbling with their top receiving threats all out with injury, and Gordon gets a less than favorable matchup anyway this week. The Jaguars have given up just 244 rush yards to RBs in their past 4 games (61 yds/gm), and Gordon isn't likely to get his yardage in the receiving game either (just 9 catches for 45 yards in his past 3 games). The upside just isn't there for Gordon this week even if he gets decent volume. I'd avoid Melvin if you can.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 12: @KC): The touchdown streak finally ended for Karlos last week, and it resulted in a brutal fantasy week if you played him. The Chiefs' defense is coming together of late and, outside of their game against Cincinnati, KC has only allowed 1 rushing TD all year. I expect this to be the 2nd week in a row Karlos fails to find pay dirt, and I would keep him benched in this one.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 12: vs. Min.): Coleman wasted a golden opportunity last Sunday to take back a share of the workload he lost to Devonta Freeman early in the year. Freeman went down early with a concussion, but Coleman managed just 48 yards on 17 carries (2.8 ypc) and also lost a fumble in a loss that could end up being the difference between making and missing the playoffs. The Colts aren't exactly an elite run defense. Freeman looks on track to return this week, and if he does, Coleman goes back to his role as no more than a handcuff. If Freeman misses, Coleman would be a low upside flex option against a decent Viking defense.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 12: vs. Oak.): I really wish Cobb had looked better last week. He carried 4 times for -3 yards in his season debut while Antonio Andrews bounced back from a terrible game against the Panthers to post 78 yards on 15 carries last Thursday. The Raiders are a great matchup for running backs lately. They've coughed up an average of 22 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs even though they allowed just 4 points to the Jets in that stretch. Even the Lions put up 15 on Oakland. Coach Mularkey talked up getting Cobb more work this week, but with how effective Antonio Andrews was last week, I'll believe it when I see it. I expect Cobb will still see single-digit touches.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 12: vs. Pit.): Apparently Tyler Lockett owns the 49ers. He's scored 3 receiving TDs in 2 games against SF, and has 0 in his other 8 games, and his target volume just hasn't been consistent enough to trust him. If you could count on 5 targets each week, Lockett would be a reasonable desperation WR3, but you can't. He's had 4 or 5 targets in 5 of his last 7 games, but just 1 total in the other 2. Until the consistency is there, you can't use him in your season-long lineups or in DFS cash games.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 12: @Det.): The Lions' pass defense has been rapidly improving since they started using Darius Slay in shadow coverage on the opposing team's top outside WR (24.2 WR points per game allowed before, 12.3 in 3 games since vs. KC, GB & OAK). Since Slay doesn’t often venture into the slot (he shadowed James Jones in GB rather than Cobb), Agholor should be the one who sees Slay the most. It doesn’t help that Mark Sanchez showed no ability to throw the ball outside the numbers last week, instead focusing the pass attack on the RBs and TEs. Agholor wasn't producing before Sanchez took over, and I don't expect him to now in a tough matchup.
TE Maxx Williams, BAL (Wk. 12: @Cle.): Maxx's role seems like it's stabilizing and maybe even expanding a bit since Steve Smith Sr. went down, but it should still be safe to keep him benched this week. He has put up 7-60-1 in the last 2 games on 8 targets (4 in each game), but Crockett Gillmore is still the one looked to most often in the red zone. Maxx has just 1 TD to Gillmore's 4, and Gillmore has almost as many yards in the past 2 weeks (143) as Maxx has for the whole season (168).
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 12: vs. Phi.): Abdullah finally got double-digit carries again in week 11, and may have worked himself out of the doghouse that his fumbles got him into earlier in the season. He definitely should give the Lions more in the lead back role than they're getting from Joique Bell. This could actually be a great spot for Abdullah to get on track. The Eagles' once solid run defense has been crumbling the last 4 weeks. Philly allowed a rushing line of 77-349-1 (4.5 ypc) to opposing RBs before allowing 38 rushes for 283 to the Buccaneers. I wouldn't be surprised in Abdullah has his best game since his NFL debut.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 12: @SF): If there was ever a week for Johnson to get extended work, this is it. This one has all the makings of a blowout. The Cardinals' offense has been locked in of late, and Arizona is a 7-point favorite at SF. If the rout is on early, DJ should see more touches than we're used to him seeing. He does have 7 TDs in 10 games with the limited work he's been seeing. He's an intriguing DFS punt option.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 12: vs. Oak.): While Kendall Wright's return could take a couple of snaps and targets away from DGB, I would expect it to take some of the defensive attention off him and be a good thing for this offense as a whole. The Raiders have been bleeding pass yards all year (only 1 game with under 260 yards allowed, 4 with over 330), and I think DGB bounces back from his underwhelming game last week and approaches the 5-77 line he put up on the Saints.
WR JJ Nelson, ARI (Wk. 12: @SF): What a show Nelson put on last week. He made the most of his opportunity with Michael Floyd out to show off his blazing 4.28 deep speed. The Cardinals have said they're going to be cautious with Floyd and his hamstring injury, so Nelson should be the WR3 again this week in a good matchup. Only 2 teams have connected for more pass plays of 40+ yards than Arizona, and only 3 have allowed more of those passes than the 49ers. Bruce Arians likes to have 6 'shot plays' in every gameplan, and I'd expect the majority of those to target Nelson or Smokey John Brown. JJ might get loose for another long TD and would be a great punt play in DFS.
WR Chris Humphries, TB (Wk. 12: @Ind.): The Colts will have to choose whether they want to put Vontae Davis on Mike Evans or on V-Jax, but one person I can say for sure he won't be on is Adam Humphries, which could free him up for another solid week. He's tallied 11 catches for 130 yards on 14 targets over the past 3 weeks, and Indy is 30th in the league in pass defense DVOA on passes thrown to WRs other than number 1 or 2. With the defensive focus on Doug Martin and the twin towers outside, Humphries may pull in 5 or 6 catches this week.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 12: @Ten.): Walford is a TD dart throw and DFS punt play yet again this week. The Titans have allowed 8 TE touchdowns in 11 games, and have been especially bad over the past 3 games, giving up a 26-228-4 line to TEs in that span. Clive has scored 3 TDs in the past 5 games. 20-30 yards and a TD are very much a possiblity for the Oakland rookie.
TE Will Tye, NYG (Wk. 12: @Was.): Tye is more of a dynasty stash than a sleeper for this week. Larry Donnell was uninspiring before going down with an injury, with just 2 TDs in 8 games and a season-high of 38 yards in a game. Will Tye got the start in week 10 and put up 5 catches for 56 yards and looked noticeably more athletic than Donnell. Larry will return this week and likely slot right back in as the starter, but if his poor season continues, Tye will undoubtedly start to eat into his snaps.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps with your tougher lineup decisions involving rookies. If you have any sit/start questions or want to reach out just to yell at me about the article, you can hit me up on twitter (@shawn_foss). Make sure to fit the suggestions to your league rules and your roster. 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!