Welcome to a new season of the Rookie Report. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!? The NFL kickoff is less than an hour away as I write this, and I’m sure all us football junkies are getting jittery with anticipation (or maybe just drunk). For those of you unfamiliar with the Rookie Report, each week I’ll give a rundown of the rookies you should start for sure, borderline starting options, guys who should stay on the bench, and throw in some deep league sleepers. I’ll give my thoughts on their outlook for the week which you can hopefully use to effectively utilize your rookies. They are the hardest players in fantasy to predict.
Alright, that’s enough jibber-jabber. Let’s get to it. Since this is week 1, I’m going to start off by quickly laying out my top 10 fantasy rookies for this season. They aren’t necessarily the most talented players, just the ones who will have the best fantasy value this year.
Bishop Sankey, RB, TEN: It shouldn’t take long for Sankey to overtake Shonn Greene as lead back for the Titans. The Titans have a very good o-line and Sankey should be a low-end RB2 for most of the year. He’s also the Titans’ best pass-catching back.
Brandin Cooks, WR, NO: Cooks will be a PPR monster from the get-go. He’s basically a more polished Tavon Austin with a coach who knows how to create mismatches with his schemes. Kenny Stills injury should help Cooks hit the ground running.
Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN: For those of you who don’t know, Gio Bernard is not an every down workhorse back, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is no longer a Bengal. The Bengals are planning on running a lot more this year with Hue Jackson in charge of the offense. Hill will see plenty of work, especially at the goal-line. Should be a weekly flex option.
Mike Evans, WR, TB: Evans dominated defenses at A&M, and he has the size and skill to do so at the next level too. He’ll be a big red zone target who has a real shot at 10+ TDs. McCown proved last year he can find big receivers in the end zone.
Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI: Matthews opens the season in the slot, but he could overtake Riley Cooper for the number 2 role before long. He has elite talent in an explosive offense. Only a matter of time before he explodes.
Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF: The Bills traded up to get Watkins to be their WR #1, so he’ll undoubtedly be a big part of the offensive gameplan, but inconsistent quarterback play will limit his upside. Bills are also expected to be the one of the run-heaviest teams in the league. Watkins should be hoping Orton takes the QB job from E.J. sooner rather than later.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, CAR: Kelvin had some big red flags in his college career (drops, questions about effort & attitude), but no rookie WR will have more opportunity. Opens as Panthers’ de facto number 1, but should suffer some growing pains. He’s ikely to score at least 7 TDs.
Jace Amaro, TE, NYJ: Amaro should easily be the most productive rookie tight end. With David Nelson as the team’s #2 WR, Geno should lean on Amaro a lot. He’s essentially an oversized slot receiver, and he should be a great option in PPR leagues.
Derek Carr, QB, OAK: Carr is the only rookie QB with a starting job. I wouldn’t be shocked if Matt Cassel and Chad Henne hold off their more talented backups for half the season, and Manziel is far from a sure thing even if he beats out Hoyer in the first few weeks. Carr looks the part and had an impressive preseason. Could be a low-end QB2.
Cody Latimer, WR, DEN: Wes Welker’s suspension and concussion issues could open the door for a big rookie season for Latimer. He’s more talented than Andre Caldwell and a better fit for the outside WR spot vacated by Eric Decker than free agent signee Emmanuel Sanders. Could do big things with Peyton Manning throwing him the rock.
Honorable Mention:Johnny Manziel, QB, CLE, Eric Ebron, TE, DET, Allen Robinson, WR, JAX, Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL, Andre Williams, RB, NYG
Alright, with that laid out, let’s move on to week number one…
Rookies to Start:
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 1: @Atl): Cooks is the one rookie that I would certainly recommend starting this week. It seems like Kenny Stills is unlikely to play, and the game could be a shootout. I think Cooks is ready to go off. In PPR leagues, he should be a solid WR3 or flex play. He might not score a TD, but I’d be shocked by anything less than 5 catches, and he has the wheels to take it to the house at any given time.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 1: @KC): Am I in love with Sankey in week one against a typically stout Chiefs’ front? No. Do I think he’s capable of a productive week? Absolutely. I’d probably lean against playing Sankey this week, but I think he’ll get a bigger share of the work than the preseason usage would suggest. I think Sankey sees 15+ touches in the opener, with 70-80 total yards.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (WK 1: @Chi.): Watkins has been banged up for much of the preseason, but he’ll be good to go on Sunday. The Bears’ boasted one of the worst defenses in the NFL a year ago, and they haven’t looked that much better in the preseason. I wouldn’t expect a breakout with E.J. Manuel throwing him the ball, but Watkins could have a nice debut. I’d expect somewhere in the range of 4-5 catches for around 60 yards, but wouldn’t be surprised if he does more.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 1: vs. Car.): The Panthers’ strength on defense is their front 7. Evans’s size is going to create problems for the secondary, especially if they double-team Vincent Jackson like most teams did last year. Evans is as good a bet as any Buccaneer to find the end zone in week one, but I wouldn’t expect a huge catch tally. The Bucs will be a run-first team.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 1: @TB): Benjamin’s value for week one really hinges on Cam Newton. Newton is listed as a game-time decision right now, but even if he plays I’d imagine the ribs will limit his effectiveness. If Cam doesn’t go, there’s no way you start Kelvin. If he does play, you’re pretty much hoping for a TD. Benjamin likely won’t go much over 50 yards against a pretty solid Tampa defense.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (Wk 1: vs. Jax.): Matthews was a standout all August for the Eagles after a shaky preseason debut. There will be a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, and this game looks like an easy Philly victory, but Matthews has been so efficient with his targets that it may only take 5 or 6 looks in his direction to have a productive week. He may be worth a shot in some deeper leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 1: @NYJ): Carr may be starting for Oakland, but he shouldn’t be starting on your fantasy team. Rex Ryan loves to blitz, and Carr will be in a hostile environment. Carr played in a college offense that featured a lot of short passes and easy reads. The Jets defense will be anything but easy to read. I’d expect Carr to be rattled by the pressure and have a shaky first outing. Surely you can find 2 quarterbacks (If in a 2-QB league) that you should play ahead of him.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 1: @Bal.): Although I’m very bullish on Hill for the season, I think week one is not the best place to utilize him. The Ravens’ defense is always pretty good, and at we still aren’t completely sure how the work will be split between Hill and Gio. Gio got the 1st team reps in goal line situations in the preseason, but averaged barely over 2.5 yards a carry for the preseason tilts. Hill will certainly see work in week one, but I want to be sure the touchdowns are coming his way before I start trotting him out there in the weekly lineup.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 1: @Det.): After the Hall of Fame game, Williams looked like he would share work with Rashad Jennings and be a really nice player this year, but that sentiment faded over the last few games of the preseason. He’ll still get some carries, maybe even a red zone tote or 2, but merely as a change of pace back for now. Jennings will be a 3-down back in the early going. Until that starts to shift, Williams should stay benched.
Deep League Sleepers:
RB Jonathan Grimes, HOU (Wk. 1: vs. Was.): I list Grimes here because we haven’t seen Arian Foster play a single down of preseason football due to injury. Foster insists he feels “wonderful,” but I bet the Texans still intend to spell him more than the average bell cow running back and Grimes has been the most impressive of the backups. The Redskins defense was sieve –like last year, so Grimes could have a nice game with just a handful of carries.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL (Wk. 1: vs. Cin.): Ray Rice is suspended for the first 2 games of the season, and Bernard Pierce has spent the majority of the preseason banged up. Taliaferro is a perfect fit for OC Gary Kubiak’s one-cut zone running scheme, so if he gets a chance to spell Pierce and looks good, they may ride the hot hand. Kubiak was the OC in Denver as they had a different RB break 1,000 yards every year back in the late ‘90’s-early ‘00’s. Remember Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Rueben Droughns? There are a couple of obstacles for the rook though. The Bengals’ defense should be stout up front with Geno Atkins back, and Justin Forsett is listed as the number 2 back headed into the weekend. Don’t be shocked if the rook does find some work however.
WR Cody Latimer, DEN (Wk. 1: vs. Ind.): ESPN’s Broncos beat writer Jeff Legwold reported that the two primary players the Broncos will use to fill Wes Welker’s production are Emmanuel Sanders and Latimer. There was no mention of Andre Caldwell, who is currently listed above Latimer on the depth chart. I think that means we’ll see Latimer lined up outside in 3-WR sets with Sanders in the slot. It’s a huge boon for Latimer’s week one outlook in what should be a shootout with the Colts. There are always plenty of targets to go around with Peyton under center, and I think a line of 5-75-1 is very possible for Latimer in week one. There won’t be any questions after this week about whether or not he’s ahead of Caldwell in the pecking order.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (Wk. 1: vs. Oak.): Amaro gets a plus matchup in week one in an offense where he should be the second-best receiver on the team. I don’t expect the Jets to be explosive or for Amaro to pile up touchdowns, but he should see plenty of targets all year. In deep PPR leagues (14 or more teams), I think Amaro could be a nice play this week. He should see 6+ targets.
That’s all I’ve got for week one. Hopefully it helps you out. Now you can go ahead, kick back and enjoy the first weekend of NFL games that count since the Super Bowl. I’ll end the column with the same advice I always do: Trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Week two was a fun one for some of the rookie crop, most notably Jeremy Hill, Sammy Watkins and Terrance West. It wasn’t nearly as much fun for the NFL, which is still scrambling to stop the PR maelstrom they’re up against in the wake of the Ray Rice video, several other domestic violence cases and the new accusations against Adrian Peterson. It’s getting to be a mess, but that’s not the sort of thing we dive into here at the Rookie Report. Let’s let others deal with those issues, and talk about what to do with the rookies for week 3.
Rookies to Start:
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN (Wk. 3: vs. Ten.): Week 2 more closely resembled how the Bengals intend to use Hill than week one did. The bruiser ran for 70+ yards and a score and caught for 22 more yards. The Titans, meanwhile, were busy getting steamrolled by DeMarco Murray and the Dallas running game. With A.J. Green still dinged up, expect the Bengals to hammer Tennessee on the ground, and I think Hill is a very good bet to score another TD. He’s a great flex play this weekend.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (Wk. 3: vs. SD): It’s hard to envision Watkins duplicating his stat line from last week, but he’s clearly the focal point of the Bills’ passing game right now. I would expect that to continue in week 3 and San Diego’s secondary hasn’t been great thus far. Michael Floyd and the Cardinals torched them in week 1. I’d roll with Watkins as my WR3.
RB Terrance West, CLE (Wk. 3: vs. Bal.): West got it done in a surprising week 2 victory over the Saints. The Ravens boast a tougher run defense than New Orleans. West is still going to see a high volume of carries and could be a decent flex option, but I doubt he puts up the kind of points he did a week ago.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (Wk. 3: vs. Min.): Cooks was disappointing last week vs. Cleveland, but he still makes a reasonable WR3 in PPR leagues going forward. The Mark Ingram injury could actually get him more work as a runner and in the short passing game. Expect a minor bounce back this week.
WR Mike Evans, TB (Wk. 3: @Atl.): Evans is sort of a roll of the dice this week. He has been a big part of the Tampa passing game, but his fantasy numbers haven’t been fantastic. Atlanta is likely to be playing from ahead, and their secondary isn’t very good. It’s a decent week to take a shot on Evans, but know there’s some bust risk.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Wk. 3: vs. Pit.): Kelvin didn’t do much damage in week 2, but he’s too big a part of the Panthers’ offense to not be considered in fantasy. It isn’t exactly a tasty matchup, but I’d expect Benjamin’s numbers to fall somewhere in between his lines from week 1 and week 2.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): Banged up for much of the preseason, Robinson finally looked healthy in week two, coming up with 4 catches for 75 yards. He has the size to physically dominate DBs, and I think he will be the best Jaguars receiver going forward. I think another 70 yards is likely in a game that will be played from behind again.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Derek Carr, OAK (Wk. 3: @NE): This is going to be a weekly tradition before long. The Patriots just forced 4 interceptions from Matt Cassel, and I think their defense has a chance to be scary. Carr seems just cocky enough to test Darelle Revis. I doubt he wins that matchup. It could be another long day for Carr and the Raiders.
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN (Wk. 3: @Cin.): Even if Sankey didn’t have some climbing to do up the depth chart, Cincy is a brutal matchup. Don’t expect much even if he sees extended work and keep him benched.
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Wk. 3: vs. Bal.): This is one call I think might backfire on me. Crowell is touchdown dependent right now as long as West sees the majority of the carries. He has some value, but against a better defense this week, I don’t think he matches his rushing yards from a week ago. I do think he could overtake West for the starting gig eventually.
RB Andre Williams, NYG (Wk. 3: vs. Hou.): Williams still isn’t seeing enough action to warrant a fantasy start. It’s still mostly Rashad Jennings. Until his role increases, you have to leave Williams benched, especially with the offense looking anemic so far.
WR Marquise Lee, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): The Jaguars quarterback play has been pretty bad so far, and Lee has been inconsistent. He hasn’t done much damage outside of garbage time in week 1. He’s going to have some solid PPR weeks, but I wouldn’t count on this being one of them. His value should rise once Blake Bortles takes over.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (Wk. 3: vs. KC): Landry gets mention this week because it looks like he’s worked his way into the WR3 role in Miami, a role that has made Rishard Matthews and Brandon Gibson playable at times. It’s worth noting he had the lowest drop rate in college last year of any rookie wide receiver. He will become a trusted target before long.
Deep League Sleepers:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (Wk. 3: @NO): I only mention Teddy because Matt Cassel threw 4 picks last week. Adrian Peterson is out for the foreseeable future, so this offense will need a QB that isn’t just a game manager. That isn’t Cassel. He’s still yet to complete a pass more than 15 yards downfield through 2 weeks. Another bad performance could be enough to get Teddy on the field. He should be squarely on the 2QB league radar.
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (Wk. 3: vs. Ind.): Speaking of starting QBs on the hot seat, Chad Henne’s should be scalding before long. The Jags haven’t had any semblance of an offense so far, and I’m sure the fans in Jacksonville are already clamoring for Bortles to take over. The Jaguars want to hold Bortles off as long as possible, but if things continue the way they’re going, they won’t be able to wait much longer. Blake could have mid-level QB2 upside if he gets the starting job.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN (Wk. 3: @NO): Like I mentioned above under Bridgewater, Peterson isn’t coming back any time soon. Matt Asiata isn’t exactly a stud. McKinnon is worth a stash in deeper leagues. He’s a raw prospect, but one with great athleticism (more than Asiata at least).
RB Damien Williams, MIA (Wk. 3: vs. KC): The Dolphins took some big hits last week losing Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller during the course of the game. They went out and signed Daniel Thomas back to the roster this week, but Williams was impressive in the preseason and beat out Thomas for a roster spot. Miller is likely to play this week, but Williams is likely to see the change of pace work. If Miller doesn’t play, treat Williams as a deep league flex option this week.
RB Alfred Blue, HOU (Wk. 3: @NYG): In the preseason, it looked like Jonathan Grimes was the number 2 back behind Arian Foster, even when the depth chart came out with Alfred Blue listed as number 2. By now, it’s become clear that it’s Blue’s job. He isn’t fantasy relevant yet, but it’s hard to imagine Foster stays healthy all year with his current workload. Blue could be a great speculative add in deep leagues.
WR Davante Adams, GB (Wk. 3: @Det.): It’s become pretty clear that Adams is pushing Jarrett Boykin for the WR3 spot in Green Bay, and might completely surpass him. This is a pass heavy offense with no tight end to speak of. The GB number 3 is a fantasy relevant role, and Adams is worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues.
WR Ryan Grant, WAS (Wk. 3: @Phi.): After DeSean Jackson went down in week 2, Grant shined in the blowout win over Jacksonville. He clearly has a great rapport with Kirk Cousins, but he will need DeSean out again to be fantasy relevant this week. He’s an interesting WR3 option in 12-team leagues if D-Jax doesn’t play. As of now though, Jackson is expected to suit up.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully it helps you come away victorious. I’ll end this the same way I end every week: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
The injury carousel continues to spin round and round in the NFL, flinging people off without care for their superstar status. This week wasn’t quite as bad as week two, but let’s take a quick look at the newest injuries to hit the NFL.
Ben Roethlisberger(Replacement: Michael Vick) – Roethlisberger went down and you could hear a pin drop in downtown Pittsburg for a few moments. I know the majority Steelers crowd in St. Louis fell silent when Ben was grabbing his knee in the third quarter. Mike Vick will take over the team in the meantime, and just needs to find safe ways to get the ball to the many superstars that make up the supporting cast of the Steelers. Ben has an MCL sprain and bone bruise and the current, not at all official timeline, is looking like it will be 6 weeks before he can return. Hold on to him in redraft leagues if you can afford the bench spot.
Marshawn Lynch(Replacement: Thomas Rawls) – Lynch left the game after only 5 carries, but let’s be honest. The Seahawks practice squad might have been able to beat the Bears this past Sunday. Lynch’s status for Monday night’s game with the Lions will be updated later in the week (they have an extra day to tell us). If he doesn’t go, it looks like undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls will handle the bulk of the work. Rawls had 18 carries for 109 yards against the Bears, and the Lions aren’t much better. This is a situation to monitor, as the extent of Lynch’s injury is still unclear.
LeSean McCoy(Replacement: Karlos Williams) – McCoy still managed to score a touchdown, but reports out of Buffalo all continue to state that McCoy is not fully healthy. With their offense rolling, this is shaping up to be the week that they sit down McCoy so he can finally get as close to 100% as possible. Karlos Williams has been great in his place, averaging a whopping 7.8 yards per rush attempt over the first three games and scoring a TD in each of the three games so far this year. Williams is the clear replacement and can be slotted in as a starter on your team right away, as long as McCoy is out.
Chris Ivory(Replacement: Bilal Powell) – Ivory suited up for Sunday’s game, but didn’t see any action. His groin injury is not supposed to keep him out of the Week 4 matchup with the Dolphins, but him being a no-show in week 3 has me skeptical about starting him in week 4. Bilal Powell is a plodding replacement who hasn’t seen the end-zone yet, so leave him towards the bottom of your waiver list if you need to pick up a replacement RB this week. Ivory will probably be a game time decision – just remember that his game time is 3.5 hours earlier than normal!
Demarco Murray(Replacement: Ryan Mathews) – Murray surprised a lot of people by being inactive for Sunday’s game, and it almost seems like it helped the Eagles. Ryan Mathews finally got their running game going, and is clearly a better fit in their system, compared to the workload dependent Murray. It’s hard to say where this situation is headed. If Chip Kelly is smart, he will probably wind up splitting the carries between Murray and Mathews in an attempt to take some of the pressure away from Murray. If Murray is out again, Mathews is a high-end RB2. If they both play, they are probably both more like a higher end RB3.
Davante Adams(Replacements: James Jones, Ty Montgomery) – Adams gave it a go on Monday night and only lasted for two targets on the first drive before exiting the game. Ty Montgomery and James Jones both caught a TD in the game, and it doesn’t look like there is a reason to keep pushing Davante Adams if he is injured. The Packers would be making a mistake if they kept forcing Adams out there with two other players having so much success. Do not start Adams this week, even if he’s a go!
Sammy Watkins(Replacement: Percy Harvin) – Watkins has been hobbled with injury, but it hasn’t slowed the Bills down one bit. Watkins suffered a calf strain, and Coach Ryan has stated he might miss week 4’s game. Harvin has been productive and startable every week, and is still only owned in 55% of Yahoo leagues! Watkins owners shouldn’t panic yet, he’s had a history of injuries leaving him a bit banged up, but he should be back to himself in a week or two. Watkins is a dynamic receiver and will return to form later this year, but for now, look to Percy Harvin for your production from the Bills WR’s.
Andrew Quarless(Replacement: Richard Rodgers) – Quarless got his first two catches of the season on Monday night, and then promptly exited the game with a sprained MCL. Quarless will be out 4-6 weeks and was never a fantasy option in the first place, and neither is Rodgers. Go look elsewhere for tight end help.
Vernon Davis(Replacement: Vance McDonald) – Davis didn’t play much in the blowout loss against the Cardinals, but suffered a knee injury all the same. This isn’t likely a long-term injury, but it’s also not likely that he’ll be fantasy relevant any time soon. The 49ers are receiving favorable comparisons to dumpster fires and toxic waste dumps. This injury shouldn’t affect your team unless you’re in the deepest possible league.
Welcome back to the article geared to strike it big in the Fanduel Sunday Millions. I was on hiatus last week, but back now and ready to help you make some cash. This week we are going full upside on a boom or bust QB/WR stack, grab some great value plays at the RB position and rolling with a single team’s defense and kicker. Good luck this week!
QB - Tyrod Taylor, BUF - $7,500 at PHI: After topping at least 26 fantasy points the past two weeks Taylor looks to be a great value play against an Eagles team allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season.
RB - Doug Martin, TB - $8,000 vs. NO: Anyone playing against the Saints defense should be a considered play, but especially Martin since he will be a lock for 20 plus touches in this game.
RB - Lamar Miller, MIA - $6,600 vs. NYG: The Dolphins new offensive coordinator in Miami appears to be committed to a running game as Miller had his first game over 20 touches of the season.
WR - Alshon Jeffery, CHI - $7,500 vs. WAS: The Bears are extremely thin at the receiver position which means Jeffery should be in line for double digit targets this week against the Redskins.
WR - Sammy Watkins, BUF - $7,200 at PHI: Stacking Watkins with Taylor this week to increase the point upside. Watkins has 267 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks.
WR - Brandin Cooks, WAS - $7,100 at TB: The loss of Mark Ingram for the season should provide more opportunities for other play makers on the Saints.
TE - Greg Olsen, CAR - $6,600 vs. ATL: Expecting Olsen to find the end zone at least once it what could be a high scoring divisional grudge match.
K - Cairo Santos, KC - $4,700 vs. SD : Santos has been high risk high reward all season but his point floor should get a boost against the Chargers susceptible defense.
DEF - Chiefs, KC - $4,800 vs. SD: The Chiefs defense has been on fire lately scoring more fantasy points than any other team the past four weeks. The depleted Chargers shouldn't slow them down.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!
Peterman completed 6-of-14 passes for 66 yards with five interceptions. Wow, Buffalo. Nice work. In this episode, we'll be touching on the Bills' and NFL fantasy players going forward as well as the other highs and lows of Week 11 and what they mean to your fantasy squad.