NFL ROOKIE TRACKER WEEK EIGHT

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Sightly later than usual, but still packed with rookie filled goodness, we are back with the NFL Rookie Tracker week eight.

This week we reflect on a devastating injury to one of the NFL’s brightest rookie stars, and wonder if we should really worry about Kareem Hunt.

So without further ado, lets get it going….

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

DeShaun Watson – QB – Texans

So here’s the thing,DeShaun Watson has caught everyone’s eye since becoming the starting quarterback for the Texans. He’s put on virtuoso performances, with his arm and his legs to blow away even the most generous of predictions of how his elite college game would translate to the pro’s. The main question people were asking is could he do it on the road, in a tough environment, against a supposed elite defense? The answer was an emphatic yes! Watson went in to Seattle and lit up the once vaunted Seahawks defense for 469 total yards and four touchdowns. Watson did throw 3 interceptions which, make no mistake, were pretty ugly, but he just has this unconscious knack of shaking them off, and moving on to the next play which you cannot teach. Watson can make the ugliest mistake, then on the very next drive he can march his team down the field like Joe Montana. It’s amazing to see such a clutch performer at this early stage of his development. Watson truly does embody the tag of a big game player.

Now, here’s the kicker. Early on Wednesday, news came through that Watson had been added to the injury report with a knee injury, which turned out to be a torn ACL. A truly sad and awful blow to the Texans and the NFL in general, the locked in rookie of the year is done for the season. There aren’t many positives to come from this news, but lets try and glean some. The injury was not the same ACL that he tore in college, which in my opinion is good news. Watson has shown beyond any doubt that he can make plays with his arm, and is not reliant on being just a scrambler. I think Watson is the type of athlete that will use this adversity to improve and adapt his game and come back an even better passer of the ball. If Watson rushes less, but goes through his progressions quicker and cuts out the back breaking interceptions, he will return be an even better player.

So lets talk about the Dynasty implications of all this. It seems kind of crude to talk about a players value in this silly little game we all love to play after such an injury, but that’s kind of what we are here to do,so here goes. I believe Watson’s dynasty value is insulated by his age and his performances. He is still one of the hottest names in dynasty, as he has that ridiculous points upside that his skill set brings. Now is not the time to trade him, just sit him in your IR and wait for week one of 2018 when you can fire him up and enjoy the elite production again. With the benefit of hindsight, Watson should have been in the conversation with Leonard Fournette for the 1.01 in rookie drafts, but its likely you didn’t have to spend even a first round pick to get him. Watson has been a huge bonus for your dynasty roster in that respect, so fire up the guy that was your starter before Watson broke out, sit on the asset, and wish Watson a speedy recovery.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS

Marlon Mack – RB – Colts

The Colts need to turn the keys over to Marlon Mack. His rushing average wasn’t great in this contest with the Bengals, but he’s such a spark in the passing game, and this is an offense in dire need of one. The problem Mack is facing is that Frank Gore is still really good! There were rumours that Gore was available at the trade deadline but it passed without him being dealt. While Gore is on this team and productive, Mack will be a hard player to start. Mack has shown flashes (his touchdown in this game was beautiful 24 yard scamper off a screen pass) of game breaking ability, and now might be the perfect window to test a disgruntled owners resolve in the trade market. Mack could be great in 2018, with Andrew Luck back under center.

Joe Mixon – RB – Bengals

Speaking of offenses that need a spark, Mixon provided one for the Bengals in this game against the Colts. The rushing numbers were not pretty for Mixon, as he turned 11 carries into only 18 rushing yards, but the 3 receptions for 91 yards were encouraging. Most of the production came on a 64 yard scamper that ended just barely short of the end zone. The usage was up from week seven, and the play making ability was on show, so all in all a better week for Mixon and his owners.

Alvin Kamara – RB – Saints

Kamara is locked in as a part of this offense, if he wasnt before, since the Saints traded Adrian Peterson away. He had another very solid performance in this win over Chicago, totalling 76 yards and a touchdown. The Saints were run heavy in a game where they controlled the clock with Mark Ingram, and yet Kamara was still serviceable for Fantasy purposes. In tougher games where the Saints need more than 20 points to win, the sky is the limit. Kamara is a PPR RB1 right now in my opinion, and more than useful in standard leagues. I’m going to be bold here and say that i would have no hesitation in selecting him in round 3 of a start up dynasty draft. Kamara is going to be a star.

Matt Breida – RB – Niners

I like Matt Breida, and i’ve given him some love in this column before, so on a day when he lead the Niners in receiving and scored his first career TD, i had to drop him a mention here. The main reason i like Breida is that he was basically free this past off season, and he has flashed ability in limited usage behind a back in Carlos Hyde that has had injuries, and been benched for mediocre play. Breida cost you nothing in dynasty, and he’s currently a useful flex play with RB2 upside if Hyde gets benched/injured. If you consider someone like Tarik Cohen a solid start, and are sleeping on Matt Breida, at this point you aren’t looking close enough.

Corey Clement – RB – Eagles

Another player that is on my radar simply because he was likely free this past offseason. Clement turned ten carries into 54 yards in this win over the Niners, as he looks to leapfrog Wendell Smallwood in the Eagles backfield shake up. Clement fits the profile, like Breida, of a player that you look for on a dynasty waiver wire that can out play their price point and become an asset. The caveat here is that the Eagles just traded for Jay Ajayi,so Clement is likely back to the bench, but he is still a nice player to own that has flashed in the pro game,and for a rock bottom price.

JuJu Smith Schuster – WR – Eagles

If Deshaun Watson wasn’t so damned sensational in Seattle, JuJu would have been locked in as my rookie of the week. He had a monster game in this Sunday night tilt against Detroit, piling up 193 yards on seven catches with a 97 yard touchdown run that truly announced his arrival as a real player in the pro game. Everything is pointing upwards for Smith-Schuster, as Martavis Bryant remains in the dog house. He’s locked in as a starter, drawing softer coverage across from Antonio Brown, in an offense that can be explosive when they get on a role. JuJu has been the best rookie wideout to this point, and i see no reason why it can’t continue.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

I always try to not be overly negative in this section, and that’s mainly because we have to reset expectations of how we judge a rookie in the league. Over the past few seasons there has been rookies come out, the likes of Mike Evans, Todd Gurley, Odell Beckham and Zeke Elliott that have blown the doors off in Fantasy and become a top asset from day one of stepping on an NFL field. Sometimes i think the Fantasy community holds rookies to these standards way too much. Talent is not given time to breath and flourish before we are talking about depreciating assets and how we wish we had less shares of players, and so on. When i list a player as a cause for concern, it’s mainly due to their week to week performance and not because i think they are a bad player to own only eight games into their pro career. Every player you spent a high pick on this offseason is an age insulated dynasty asset with scope to improve and contribute to your dynasty squads, and that wont change for quite a while. Just as high draft picks get a long leash in the nfl they should get a long leash on your dynasty squads. With that in mind, lets take a short look at the players that showed cause for concern in week eight.

Tarik Cohen – RB – Bears

Cohen is doing very little in a low volume offense at this moment in time. He’s been ineffective on the ground, and his passing game targets have got lower by the week. He did vulture a goal line TD in this game against the Saints, but for now he is unusable in all formats.

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Panthers

Again McCaffrey was pitiful between the tackles in this game against the Bucs, he did have nearly 50 receiving yards, but they were mostly dink and dunk passes where he never looked like breaking off a big gain. McCaffrey could trend up in the coming weeks, with the Panthers trading away Kelvin Benjamin possibly signalling a shift in offensive philosophy, and the coaches intimating that they want to get their speedier players more involved. Keep an eye on the box score, because McCaffrey is no more than a flex play at this stage.

OJ Howard – TE – Bucs

A week after his break out performance, Howard was anonymous in a day to forget for the Bucs offense. The presence of Cameron Brate and the poor play of Jameis Winston make Howard unusable for now.

John Ross – WR – Bengals

Ross was finally active and had one target. ONE TARGET! You draft a guy in the first round to add another dimension to your offense, and when he finally gets on the field you throw the ball to Brandon LaFell instead? The Bengals skill players need to get out from under Marvin Lewis, its as simple as that really.

Mike Williams – WR – Chargers

I don’t know how healthy Mike Williams truly is, but this was another once catch performance. I feel like Williams could be one to watch the rest of the way. The Chargers are playing for their lives every week, and Tyrell Williams and Antonio Gates are giving them nothing at this point. I hope Williams becomes more involved after their week 9 bye.

Kareem Hunt – RB – Chiefs

Kareem has set his own expectations this season, so any cause for concern we have with him is purely down to his excellent start as an NFL player. This was the first time that Hunt was held under 100 yards from scrimmage, granted it was against Denver, and he wont be the last back to toil against their excellent defensive front. The reason i included him here is because he hasn’t been in the end zone since week three. It’s a long time for a locked in RB1 to go without finding pay dirt, and will be even more of a concern if he doesn’t make good on an enticing match up against Dallas in week nine. Hunt has such a high floor, that you can’t possibly bench him in Fantasy, but for the truly elite, match up altering numbers to return, he needs to start finding the end zone again soon.

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