NFL Rookie Tracker Week 7

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NFL ROOKIE TRACKER WEEK 7

Welcome once again to the rookie tracker, where I take a look at the movers and shakers from week 7 of the NFL season. This was an up and down week for our 2017 rookies. Leonard Fournette was absent with an ankle injury, Kareem Hunt was kept out of the end zone again, Corey Davis and John Ross didn’t play, and the third overall pick in the draft won a game despite only attempting seven passes. Without further ado, let’s get to the rookie of the week…..

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

O.J. Howard – TE – Buccaneers

I’ll start by saying that you can’t start Howard with any confidence, even after this performance against the Bills where he caught six balls for 98 yards and a touchdown. Through the first weeks of the season he’s been primarily a blocker, and outplayed from a Fantasy stand point by Cameron Brate, but this past week he was finally involved in the passing game and it was glorious! The targets were still low, but the way the Bucs schemed him open on both his touchdown grabs was beautiful to watch, and he had the speed to take advantage and reach pay dirt. The Bucs as a team are sort of in no mans land at 2-4 but in a wide open division. Surely it would be sensible for them to finally involve one of their best offensive weapons? Howard gives Jameis Winston a huge target to aim at, both in the red zone and over the middle of the field, and with DeSean Jackson being largely ineffective so far, extra involvement for Howard would be a big boost for a team that needs points and wins.

As much as I loved Howard as a prospect coming out, I thought he was over priced in rookie drafts this summer. He’s a supreme athlete, with freakish ability, but he was under utilised as a pass catcher at Alabama, and at the range of 1.07/1.10 where he was drafted you were banking on his athleticism and speed carrying over into a pass catching role in the NFL. Performances like this one in week seven give me hope that that can come to fruition, but at this point I’d still prefer to own Evan Engram who came at a much cheaper price last summer and is an every week starter in Fantasy already. I’ll be very interested to see how the Bucs use Howard going forward.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS

Kareem Hunt – Running Back – Chiefs

Hunt continues to play well, and this game against the Raiders was his seventh game with over 100 scrimmage yards. The chunk plays, and touchdowns have regressed over the past few games, but as I said last week, he will be back in the end zone soon, and is an every week RB1 and one of the most valuable assets in dynasty.

Alvin Kamara – Running Back – Saints

Kamara went over 100 yards from scrimmage himself in the Saints win over Green Bay, and has become a key part of this offense since Adrian Peterson was traded to the Cardinals. Kamara is such fun to watch. He’s shifty, elusive and no slouch between the tackles, when the touchdowns start to become a regular occurrence, Kamara has RB1 upside in both PPR and standard leagues. I think Kamara can have a big second half to the season as this white hot running back class continues to shift the dynasty landscape.

Aaron Jones – Running Back – Packers

Another stellar performance from Jones, as he was the lone bright spot in the Packers Rodgers-less offense. Jones averaged 7.7 yards per carry on his way to 131 yards and a score, and he looks to be cementing himself as the back to own in Green Bay. Jones was a steal in rookie drafts this summer, and smart drafters who chose him over the more highly touted Jonathan Williams are now being rewarded with an RB1 workload, in an offense that will have to lean on its run game if they are to win games without their mercurial leader. The most encouraging thing for Jones this week was that opening day starter, Ty Montgomery was back on the field and did not eat into his workload.

Marlon Mack – RB – Colts

Awful day for the Colts as they got whacked 27-0 by the Jaguars. Marlon Mack turned 9 touches into 67 yards, and broke off a lovely 34 yard catch and scamper as the Colts played catch up late in the game. You can’t guess Mack and his usage, and you can’t trust him as any more than a desperation bye week flex play, but I think he could be the running back of the future in Indy. At times he looks so dynamic with ball in hand, and i think he is a really nice fit for the more up tempo attack that Andrew Luck will run when he returns to the field. Investing in Mack might be something I’d explore in dynasty, especially if you are in a losing hole and have an eye on next season. This might be your cheapest opportunity to acquire some shares.

Joe Mixon – RB – Bengals

The Mixon break out game is coming, it’s a little delayed, but it’s coming. He turned just seven carries into 48 yards In this game against the Steelers. Mixon also caught all of his three targets for another 20 yards through the air. This situation is very frustrating for Mixon owners, as the Bengals don’t really have a working run game at the moment, but with the scraps Mixon is feeding off he looks so smooth and assured. The Bengals are in a hole in a potentially close division, it’s about time they cut Mixon loose and try to give their offense a spark. It seems that Marvin Lewis thinks that Mixon is best served watching Jeremy Hill struggle mightily from the sidelines.

Evan Engram – TE – Giants

In a blow out loss against the Seahawks, Engram still grabbed six balls for 60 yards and a score. He is locked in as a TE1 and arguably the Giants top target even when Sterling Shepherd returns from injury after the Giants bye. The rest of the way this season there are maybe only 3/4 players at the position that I would rather own, and in dynasty that number is lower. Engram is a stud and one of the top receiving tight ends in the game, even at this young stage in his career.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Titans Offense

For purposes of the rookie tracker, we need to talk about the Titans offense. There are three potentially exciting rookies on this unit, and the general funk that Marcus Mariota and his team mates find themselves in offensively is hurting them all.

Corey Davis remains sidelined with that troublesome hamstring, but even if he was healthy the way the Titans staff are calling these games, his skill set would be wasted. The Titans seem to be masters at two short runs, then throwing short of the first down marker on third down. It’s so frustrating to watch, especially when they have a trigger man as talented as Mariota.

Taywan Taylor broke the game open with a long TD grab last time out against the Colts, but was a ghost again in this week’s game against the lowly Browns, only drawing three targets in a game that badly needed breaking open.

The third rookie in this offense is tight end Jonnu Smith, who also appears to be invisible, but seems to always make plays when the ball is in his hands.

I don’t know if Mariota is still hurt, but I do know the play calling is bad, and the line play is not at the level of last season. Something is off. Keep an eye on the Titans after their bye. If their offense gets back to the level they were at in 2016, then they have plenty of exciting rookie pieces to keep an eye on.

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Panthers

Bad day at the office for the Panthers, but again McCaffrey can not run between the tackles. He had 7 carries inside for a measly 10 yards. He again got it done in PPR leagues with 7 dink and dunk catches for 36 yards but we are still no closer to defining what he is in fantasy, and to keep beating the point home, this was a guy that you likely had to spend the 1.03 to acquire. I’m rooting for McCaffrey, and I do think he can figure it out, but he will never return that value, while he starts turning carries into yards inside.

Mitchell Trubisky – QB -Bears

A great win for the third overall pick in the draft against the Panthers, but he only attempted 7 passes all game, a record low in the history of the NFL. John Fox just doesn’t trust the rookie to get it done, and puts games in the hands of his defense and run game. Now, I know you likely aren’t starting Trubisky in any leagues, but as a dynasty owner you’d like to see him be more than just the guy that hands off 30 times a game. I don’t think Trubisky will flash true Fantasy QB1 numbers while John Fox is his head coach.

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