NFL Rookie Tracker Week Five

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NFL ROOKIE TRACKER WEEK FIVE

Time for my weekly look at the rookie landscape in the National Football League. Week five was another fun week for the first year players, and as in previous weeks it seems to be the same guys that are the studs, and unfortunately it’s also the same guys that seem to be raising concerns. So enough prefacing, let’s get into the film and the box scores.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Leonard Fournette – RB – Jaguars

Big Leonard is an absolute stud, let’s just face it. He’s aggressive, decisive, explosive and tough as old boot leather into the bargain. Three or four years ago, before Todd Gurley was selected tenth overall in the 2015 draft, analysts were pronouncing the running back position dead. You didn’t have to pay them, you didn’t have to draft them highly, they were a dime a dozen! Gurley, Zeke Elliott and now Fournette have proved that dead wrong! If you want an every down stud that can carry your team on his back, you pay the price and you watch them go.

Fournette was sensational in this win against the Steelers, he rushed for 181 yards and two scores, including a 90 yard scamper to ice the game and upset the home crowd. The Jags just kept going back to the run, and though going into the fourth quarter, Fournette was under three yards per carry, eventually the Steelers wore down and the chunk plays began to come.

Fournette is one of the most valuable players in Dynasty, even at this early stage. He has an all you can eat work load and the talent to make good on it. He’s a top ten Dynasty asset, possibly higher, fire him up and enjoy the ride.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS

DeShaun Watson – QB – Texans

Watson has made this column pretty much from the jump. As soon as he got the job, dynasty owners have been treated to a high floor, high ceiling starter, that can be inserted into line ups on a weekly basis. It’s likely that you acquired him fairly cheaply and now you have a huge asset on your hands. In this prime time game against the Chiefs it wasn’t all plain sailing, and a lot of his production came in garbage time, but he accounted for another five touchdowns and gave you another stellar fantasy day. The most encouraging thing about Watson’s week five performance was that he did it against a top tier defense for the first time. Watson is also a good bet to keep it rolling in week six against the hapless Browns.

Jonnu Smith – TE – Titans

I know this one seems like a stretch as a “notable” performance, but Smith caught all five of his targets in this ugly loss against the Dolphins. The tight end position is a mess, and five targets can’t really be sniffed at in deeper leagues. Smith is showing something in this offense, and demanding to be a bigger part of it. Corey Davis remains sidelined, and the Titans refuse to use Taywan Taylor properly. Check the waiver wire in deep dynasty leagues, you might be surprised to find a player like Smith who I think can become a fixture in this offense sooner than you think.

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Panthers

A first trip to the end zone was encouraging for McCaffrey owners, but having watched most of his NFL carries, I think we need to realign expectations for the eight overall pick. McCaffrey looks to me to be struggling between the tackles, and I think that part of his game is a work in progress for now. He is talented enough to figure it out, and maybe add some bulk in this coming off season. The encouraging thing is that he’s involved and doing work as a pass catcher, and still a solid PPR start with huge upside.

George Kittle – TE – 49ers

Kittle surprised by winning the starting tight end job coming out of Niners training camp, and the ex Iowa Hawkeye had his best game to date in week five. He caught seven balls for 83 yards and a touchdown, including snagging five passes on the teams game tying drive. I think Kittle is a hold in Dynasty. He’s a big, fast athlete in an offense that can move the ball, and doesn’t have a great deal of competition for targets. As is said earlier on, the tight end position is a mess in 2017, and production like this is definitely worth monitoring.

Matt Breida – RB – 49ers

Breida came into the season as a UDFA and the clear back up to Carlos Hyde in this Niners offense, but it’s interesting that he has set back to back career highs in carries and this week he out snapped Hyde. Coach Kyle Shanahan stated this week that the carries and snaps Breida received weren’t based off any kind of injury to Hyde, more that they were trying to ride the hot hand. I think Breida is interesting, because Hyde is a threat to be injured or benched in any given week, and Breida has a skill set that fits this offense who will probably be chasing games most weeks. He is a steady receiver with some twitch when he gets the ball in hand, and could certainly fill the third down role going forward, with upside for more should Hyde get hurt. Breida might be a player you can move for an asset if he blows up down the line, in the meantime you may get some PPR starts out of him, especially in the bye week gauntlet.

Wayne Gallman – RB – Giants

There isn’t much to say about Gallman, other than the fact he had 16 touches for 83 yards in this game against the Chargers, and looks to be the best option in a back field that is completely bereft of talent. Gallman is startable in PPR leagues, especially with every Giants wide out with a pulse seemingly hurt or on IR. Considering you probably picked him up off waivers, or drafted him really late in the summer, it’s notable that you can plug him into your line ups in a pinch, and their is a chance he can become an asset going forward.

Aaron Jones – RB – Packers

Aaron Jones might just be the running back the Packers have needed since forever! I’m not willing to call him an every down RB1 at this stage, as I think Ty Montgomery will be a big part of this offense when healthy, but I at least think Jones has earned the between the tackles role and Montgomery will probably more of a 3rd down or change of pace going forward. Jones looked great in this game against the Cowboys, turning 19 carries into 125 yards and a score. Jones was a late third round pick in rookie drafts this summer, and is now a part of a true committee in one of the leagues most explosive offenses, with one of the greatest signal callers to ever play the game at the helm. Rookie drafters we’re higher on Jonathan Williams as the true back up or alternative to Montgomery this summer, but Jones always looked the more talented prospect. A good example of trusting talent over skill set and perceived situation.

Kareem Hunt – RB – Chiefs

Hunt steps on the field and runs for 100 yards. We should all just accept it now. This was his second game in a row without a score though. Come on, Kareem! You have spoiled us!

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

I have a few concerns this week, so let’s go with some bullet points.

Evan Engram had zero targets, and zero receptions after being the most targeted player in the NFL through four games. This after I’d said his usage was set in stone and you could start him every week. Come on Giants!!!

OJ Howard had no receptions in another game where Cameron Brate was highly involved and got in the end zone. The Bucs have failed to meet pre season expectations, but I did not except Howard to be a ghost!

McCaffery can’t run inside. I know he made the notable performers this week, but he was advertised as a do it all back coming out, and you probably left some pretty good players on the board when you drafted him this summer. I’m not concerned at all about CMcC as a good NFL player, I am concerned that he might never be an every down back. Don’t be shocked if the Panthers go back to the well for an inside runner in next years draft.

DeShone Kizer was benched in favour of Kevin Hogan. I get that Hue Jackon is trying to save his job here, and get some wins on the board before the season is out, but come on! They went out on a limb and started Kizer knowing he was a really raw prospect at the beginning of the season, then they bench the guy when he’s taking his lumps. His turnovers in the end zone have been the back breaker, but I wouldn’t have given up on him so early.

Finally the first round wide receivers are all still injured and don’t appear close to playing any time soon. That sucks. That’s disappointing. Be patient.

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