Rookie Report: Week 3
Rookie Report: Week 3
7 rec, 175 yds, TD As a resident Vikings fan, SOMEBODY HOLD ME BACK. Holding my enthusiasm during the Vikings loss to the Titans was a very difficult task. I should have been much more upset than I was but I couldn't help myself. I’m pretty sure everyone in my dormitory could hear my yelling as I ran around my room watching Justin Jefferson Griddy into the end zone on that 71 yard touchdown. Usually a 71 yard touchdown would be a big enough total to make it into this report but before that play he already had 100 yards in just the first half. He also showed that he is more than just a slot receiver like he played in college as he went 1-on-1 on the outside all day with Malcolm Butler and made a huge contested grab putting the slot receiver myth to bed.
I’ll be honest I have zero clue how Olabisi Johnson stayed on the field this long before Jefferson leapfrogged him and if there was a negative scaled metric in this area that's where I would lie. Last week I put him in the fallers because of how bad the Vikings offense looked but that was just short sightedness on my part as Justin Jefferson was the answer. Despite a loss to the Titans, the Vikings offense looked like a different team against a very good defense and Kirk Cousins looked a little bit like Angry Kirk again. Justin Jefferson is the answer to the offensive issues because he’s not just a good rookie he’s a really good NFL caliber receiver and will be for a long time.
11 car, 46 yds, 2TD, 6 rec, 83 yds At this point what’s a Rookie Report without James Robinson? Here’s his third week in a row in the Risers after racking up 129 yards and two touchdowns on 17 touches Thursday night. What more is there to say about the guy? While everyone was fawning over the mid round running backs like A.J. Dillon, Zack Moss, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and even LaMical Perine and Eno Benjamin, James Robinson slid through the cracks. Now he’s the lead back that is catching passes and making a habit of finding the end zone. On the season he now has 210 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. While through the air he has totaled 10 catches for 129 yards. In a couple weeks, the Jaguars are going to get Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo back but this job looks like it’s James Robinson’s for the taking.
5 rec, 70 yds, 3 car, 31 yds, TD Last week Brandon Aiyuk made his debut after starting the year with an injury and in last weeks report, I said that I was hopeful that he could get unleashed this week. He was. Even with Nick Mullens in at quarterback, Aiyuk got eight touches and made the most of them. We know that Shanahan loves positional flexibility in his receivers and this guy fits that bill. His play style seems to be almost identical to Deebo Samuel. With the 49ers really hurting for offensive playmakers, Aiyuk is going to continue to be leaned on and his fantasy value is just about to hit a spike. He’s another rookie to check in on and see if you can get a buy low before he really blows up.
4 rec, 81 yds In a wild development Gabriel Davis was second among Bills receivers for snaps in Week 3 only behind Stefon Diggs. His skill set was one that the Bills did not have going into the year as a bigger body receiver. I wrote in Week 1 that he could end up forcing his way onto the field and here we are. He saw four targets, had four catches and totaled 81 yards. He even had a ball that could have been a touchdown but Josh Allen led him too much towards the sideline and he had to toe tap. Had he stayed in bounds he could have ran the rest of the 30 yards into the end zone and had over 100 yards and a touchdown. Go ahead and check in with Davis owners. He seems to be a guy that the Bills trust and can start to be relied on in fantasy.
9 tar, 5 rec, 40 yds, 2TD It’s possible that we are seeing the changing of the guard for the Bengals wide receivers. Going into the year the common perception of the Bengals receiver depth chart looked like A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd in whavever order you wanted it, and then John Ross and Auden Tate followed by the rookie Tee Higgins. We're in Week 3 and Higgins is making a habit of being number two on their receiver depth chart outsnapping everyone except Tyler Boyd. This week he garnered nine targets and hauled in five of them. We're also seeing him succeed in the red zone as he caught two short touchdowns this week. We expected him to get a good amount of red zone looks becuase of his build so it's a very good sign that he is succeeding in that area. The arrow is pointing up for Higgins as long as he can continue to improve. Higgins is a rookie that should be checked in on as it’s still possible he could be bought low on but will depend on the owner.
5 tar, 3 rec, 30 yds It’s a good sign that Hamler is getting on the field. With Sutton out, he’s having to step up and get targets even though we expected him to be a guy that would take a year to get to that point but he’s being relied on already. This week was a rough one for the Broncos passing game but when Drew Lock went down last week we couldn’t really expect anything else. Jeff Driskel struggled and eventually turned it over to Brett Rypien. Despite this Hamler managed to get five targets and bring in three for 30 yards. Hamler is getting very important experience here as his small frame was always going to take time to get acclimated.
Anthony McFarland Jr.
6 car, 42 yds, 1 rec, 7 yds Starting the year as a healthy scratch was not a lot of confidence for McFarland but in Week 3 he finally cracked the lineup. Mike Tomlin has historically been a workhorse backfield head coach but against the Texans there was somewhat of a committee forming. Conner saw 18 carries and 4 catches while Snell and McFarland both saw 7 touches. It wasn’t a huge stat line for the fourth-round pick but worth noting that he is getting the field. Seven yards a touch isn’t bad either.
11 car, 43 yds It was a very interesting week for the New England backfield. With James White once again out, and Damien Harris still not available we saw J.J. Taylor lead the backfield in carries. He didn't have any catches which is a little bit odd as he was thought of as a jitter bug back out of Arizona but Rex Burkhead was the running back with pass catching duties in this game. Sony Michel also had nine carries and Burkhead six, so Taylor is just a name to keep an eye on. 11 carries is a vote of confidence but when James White and Damien Harris come back those could be diminished. This is still New England, however and we know that things can change very quickly over there.
1 rec, 19 yds Honestly I don’t know what happened to Swift this week. The Lions felt it necessary to use the 35th pick in this years draft on D’Andre Swift but now have decided to give the ball 22 times to the 35 year old running back that they signed off the street. Swift only saw the field for six snaps in an albeit surprising win over the Cardinals but the usage here was just mind boggling. Whether it be Matt Patricia coaching for his job or a lack of trust, Swift isn't touching the field and can’t be trusted in fantasy lineups until we know that Matt Patricia is going to give him a shot.
8 car, 43 yds, 2 rec, 9 yds Last week we got to watch the Chargers play with the lead almost the entire game. That game script led to a heavy dosage of Joshua Kelley and we all got excited about him taking the B role to Ekeler’s A. This week we saw them play from behind against Carolina and that meant 11 catches for Ekeler and 13 for Keenan Allen. Kelley was still the only other running back to get a touch besides Ekeler but it’s possible that Ekeler’s A role is expanding which could squeeze out Kelley just a little bit. His boom weeks are going to be game script dependent as he isn’t going to beat out Ekeler in passing down work so factor that in when considering playing him in lineups.
Keep An Eye On
Carson Wentz has looked abysmal to this point. Somehow the Monstars must have come and taken his ability because his accuracy is all of a sudden gone. You could blame it on the offensive line, or his lack of weapons but he has open receivers, he just isn’t hitting them. It took a rushing touchdown in the last minute to even the game against the Bengals and couldn’t score in overtime on three possessions and led to a tie. On top of that he had Miles Sanders on a walk in touchdown down the sideline that would have won the game, but once again overthrew him and ended up leading to a punt.
The draft capital used on Jalen Hurts tells me that should Carson Wentz continue to struggle, he’s going to get a shot. I think the Bengals are a much better team this year than last but a team like the Eagles and Wentz should be able to handle their defense easily. Wentz doesn’t have too many more misfired bullets left in the gun before Jalen Hurts gets a chance to take his job.
Mitchell Trubisky was a popular DFS play this week as the Falcons have been giving up tons of points to quarterbacks but after falling behind early the Bears turned to Nick Foles and he brought them all the way back and won the game. The change of quarterback is good news for all Bears pass catchers as Foles is a much more natural passer. Trubisky’s value came from his mobility but Foles ability to throw out of the pocket is going to help the Bears receivers in fantasy circles. Looking at the receivers there is of course Allen Robinson but after that Darnell Mooney had the second most snaps among receivers out-snapping Anthony Miller this week. Keep an eye on him as his deep threat ability could put him on the map.
Austin Hooper is turning into a big time fantasy bust. On the season he has just seven catches for 62 yards through three weeks. Meanwhile a rookie who has been an afterthought to this point has three catches, 22 yards, and a touchdown. If we look back to Keven Stefanski’s time in Minnesota as the offensive coordinator we saw Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith basically split time on the field and routes run. As Harrison Bryant becomes more acclimated to the league, it’s possible that he starts to get more routes out of the slot as he is more of a move tight end and can run more wide receiver routes. He’s merely a guy to keep an eye on at this point because David Njoku will be back soon but the Browns used a 4th round pick on Bryant this year signifying they like him and intend on using him.
In an egregious move, Trysten Hill gator rolled Chris Carson’s knee on Sunday. Thankfully, early reports are saying that it is not serious but he could have a knee sprain. Should he miss time, I expect DeeJay Dallas to be activated and probably make an appearance on the field. Carlos Hyde isn’t going to be unleashed as their lead back in a very potent offense and Dallas’ diverse skill set should get him on the field and if he impresses, he could carve out a role. My pre-draft player comparrison to Dallas was in fact Chris Carson so keep a close eye on the Carson situation and if he's not owned in your dynasty league make sure you change that. In redraft leagues you can keep him on the watchlist until he proves something but pay close attention.
This one is a mere observation. Freddie Swain is getting on the field for a very high volume offense. He out-snapped David Moore this week and has a catch every week. His special teams ability is what initially got him on the roster and the field but I seem to remember a wide receiver on this same team with the same staff and same quarterback who went from special teamer to star receiver. Now I know that Tyler Lockett is the exception not the rule but at this point Swain is free and might be stashed on a taxi squad somewhere at most. Keep an eye out if Lockett or Metcalf get dinged, he could be the next man up.