Rookies Watch Week One Fantasy Edition
What is up Rush Nation! Welcome to the first fantasy rookies watch of the season. Each week I will be focusing on rookies that are on various scales for fantasy purposes and help you manage your rosters throughout the season.
We at 5 Yard Rush have set four areas of focus from a rookie perspective. These are: who popped off, who is ready for more work, who performed below expectations/are in murky situations with their respective team, and finally those I am fading.
Rookies Who Popped
I will admit I am surprised just how well Hockenson performed for Detroit on Sunday. He showed high end talent in college and if anyone were to break the rookie Tight End mould you would have put money on it being Hockenson. That being said, I did not see him performing quite so emphatically in his first NFL start.
Hockenson performed Week One with six catches, 131 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. This performance is an NFL record for a Tight End in their first game. Hockenson was targeted nine times by Stafford and played 73% of snaps (Jesse James 58% snap count one target). Stafford spread the ball around Week One and I expect this to continue. It should work in favour of Hockenson as the Lions have Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones II and Danny Amendola, who all looked highly productive in the season opener.
To temper expectations, you should’nt expect record production every week from Hockenson and will likely have lower scoring fantasy football scoring games. However, with few elite options at TE, he should be regarded as a weekly starter with huge upside.
Week Two sees the Chargers roll into Detroit with a borderline elite defence that will prove a step up in comparison to the Cardinals. This should be the game that will show the fantasy community if Hockenson has the top 10 potential many experts are touting.
My Ohio State fandom said to me that this would happen for McLaurin. However, I would be lying if I said it would come Week One and with Case Keenum under centre.
It was a debut to remember for McLaurin. He played on 93% of snaps and finished the day with five receptions off seven targets, 125 yards and a touchdown. The highlight being the 69 yard TD run when McLaurin torched the Eagles secondary.
The snap count is encouraging for McLaurin and his season long outlook. Only Trey Quinn (97%) had a higher count from the wide receiver position. We cannot expect Case Keenum to throw for nearly 400 yards each week and this will limit the target opportunity. However, if he can continue to establish himself as the main threat in this Wide Receiver core, we should see him emerge as the WR1 for Washington soon enough.
From a fantasy perspective, he should be picked up on the Waiver Wire where available. His current fantasy outlook projects him as a WR3/Flex option in deeper redraft leagues. I would regard him as a top five in terms of priority on waivers this week depending on need. He should be owned in the majority of dynasty leagues but if not be certain to pick him up. He has the rapport from college with Haskins once he eventually takes over the starting job from Keenum. The two rookies will combine once again before too long and hopefully be as effective as they were in college.
Ready for More
Brown only played 18% of the Ravens snaps Week One against the Dolphins. But man did he make them count. Five targets, four receptions, 147 yards and two touchdowns with an outrageous 36.75 yards per reception.
Brown quickly put to bed the worries of his foot injury and surgery in the off-season. Coach Harbaugh also made comments earlier in pre-season that he was behind the curve. However, that is surely not the case now. This was a sample size against possibly the worst team in the league and it would be good to remember not to over commit to Brown based off just this display. We will need to see more and on a consistent basis.
Brown showed exceptional speed and appears to have developed an early trust with Lamar Jackson. His path to more targets is wide open even though Willie Snead and fellow rookie Miles Boykin were in front of him Week One. Barring any setbacks, Brown is certain to see an uptick in snaps with the potential of being the number one option in the near future.
Up next are the equally poor defence in the Cardinals. This gives Brown another positive match up to exploit. Brown is currently a boom or bust option week to week and remains at this time match-up dependant. That is until we see him more involved in the offence. We also need to see whether Lamar can continue to defy critics in regards to his passing.
He should certainly be picked up in all leagues where available and put in your flex spot for Week Two. The ceiling is exceptionally high if we continue to see Sunday’s results and should be regarded as a top two pickup off waivers.
I, for one, was slightly apprehensive for Singletary even with the McCoy cut. With Gore and Yeldon still in town, this felt like a Running Back by Committee (RBBC) and an ugly one at that.
What happened Sunday was somewhere in-between. Singletary dominated the snap count (48 out of 69) with Gore playing only 19. The most surprising stat was Yeldon only playing two snaps. I had him pencilled in as the passing down option. As it turns out Singletary has that role based on Week One with six targets and five receptions.
Singletary only had four rushing attempts as a result of his 48 snaps. However, he turned those into 70 yards. An impressive return and a positive for the future of Singletary.
Sunday’s performance should earn Singletary more trust from the Bills coaching staff. Gore will continue to be the start for at least a few weeks as Singletary learns from him. Next up are the New York Giants. We should expect to see Singletary carve out more yards against a less than impressive defence.
Singletary is a must own in shallow leagues as a low tier flex option at this stage. If his involvement in the rushing and passing game increases and continues to show the explosiveness present Week One, he has the opportunity to become a week to week low end RB1/ high end RB2.
Below Expectations/Murky Water
Doug Pederson is a man of his word. Philadelphia said they would keep the RBBC. And by all accounts on Sunday they meant it. Sanders surprisingly lead the backs in terms of carries with 11 (Jordan Howard six and Darren Sproles nine).
He may have received the most carries however, he did little to impress with these opportunities. Sanders only managed 25 yards on the ground. Howard and Sproles by comparison, finished with 44 yards and 47 yards from their carries.
Sanders was unlucky, however, not to have a 21 yard touchdown on his numbers. This was called back due to a holding penalty which was highly debatable. Had this counted, the stat line for Sanders would have looked much better.
Miles Sanders is the most talented back in this Eagles backfield and this should show throughout the season. I expect better things as the season goes on. Sproles got handed a surprising amount of work which may well be down to this being Miles Sanders’ NFL debut. I would hope the rushing attempts would decrease for Sproles and move over to Sanders and Howard over the coming weeks.
I would still view Sanders as an RB2/3 this season. The Redskins performed better than expected, which forced Wentz to throw the ball more. Next up for the Eagles are the Atlanta Falcons who allowed over 170 rushing yards in Week One. If Sanders sees the same carry percentage, or see an increase, then expect his numbers to improve starting Week Two.
What a disappointment the Bears offence was on Thursday night. They appeared to still be in Preseason mode and it showed across the board.
One bright spark from the contest was David Montgomery. He may have started as the third RB on the depth chart but was able to show his potential in limited opportunities. Matt Nagy has been open to the fact that he will be eased into the offence. That and the fact Davis and Tarik Cohen are also involved is the reason he is in the Murky Situation section of this article.
He is arguably the best Running Back in Chicago. And his talent should win out as the season progresses if he is given the opportunity by Nagy. Tarik Cohen appears to be locked in to his gadget role. So much so, that he did not take a single carry in Week One and was utilised out of the slot on numerous occasions.
At this stage, I would be hesitant to start Montgomery in Week Two versus the Broncos. Unless you are in a pinch at your RB2 spot. He is a wait and see with the view to start Week Three at the Redskins. Montgomery has the talent to be a RB1 come the end of the season, if the opportunity presents itself. It will also depend on if Nagy can straighten out the offensive issues seen in Week One versus the Green Bay Packers.
Oh how the fantasy owners who paid a sixth – eighth round pick on Henderson must have been disappointed to see Malcolm Brown barrel over the goal line for two touchdowns against Carolina week one. Darrell Henderson on the other hand only played two snaps the whole game.
As predicted Todd Gurley’s workload was reduced yet he was still involved on 70% of snaps and ended with 100 scrimmage yards on the day. The kicker will be the vulturing of touchdowns at the goal line by Brown.
One of the more surprising stats from the Rams game was the avoidance from McVay & Goff to throw to the running backs, Gurley, Brown & Henderson totalled one Target and one reception against the Panthers. This may have been the scheme to compete against an upper tier line backer Corp. Surprising none the less.
Through summer and coming into the season Henderson was viewed as the passing down option. However with the impressive displays from Gurley and Brown alongside the limited passing opportunities presented makes Henderson no more than a third string RB who is unlikely to see action unless either suffer an injury set back. It is safe to drop Henderson from shallower redraft leagues for impactful waiver wire players.
Another rookie shut out due to those in front. Thompson has the talent for a successful career in the NFL and the Chiefs. The pick up of McCoy cast doubt on Thompson involvement at least early season and pushed him behind McCoy and starter Damien Williams.
Fast forward to Sunday and the snap counts and involvement says it all for Thompson short term value. Williams finished with 13 rushing attempts and six targets and McCoy fresh off the move carried the ball 10 times. Thompson saw a mere three percent of the snaps for nine rushing attempts and one reception.
The Hill Injury may mean Mahomes puts a bit more on the RB’s but even so Williams demonstrated his pass catching with six for six from Mahomes week one. There just doesn’t appear to be any sort of clear path for a meaningful fantasy contribution in 2019.
For the redraft Darwin Thompson is a drop at this stage with the options on the waiver wire available. In Dynasty keep and hold, his time will come.
The Long & Short
Rookies are always a risk in fantasy football and surprises will always be around the corner good and bad. Hopefully this weekly article will guide you through the noise and work towards that one goal. The Championship.
Until we meet again Rush Nation, Keep on Rushing.
-Ash Goddard (Addicted2_FF)