NFL Rookie Tracker Week Nine

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Welcome to the NFL Rookie Tracker week nine here on FP. We are already at the half way point of the NFL season, and have a good idea what the 2017 NFL Draft class looks like on the field, and what they are going to give your Dynasty team in year one.

Week nine started in the worst possible manner with DeShaun Watson going down injured, but ended in a positive manner on the field with a true break out game from yet another running back….

Rookie Of The Week

Alvin Kamara – RB – Saints

Week nine was the moment that Alvin Kamara truly arrived as a superstar in the league and in the dynasty community. Kamara was selected at around the 1.06 range in rookie drafts this summer, and that always looked like tremendous value if you were willing to overlook a seemingly crowded backfield in the Big Easy.

When the Saints, and Sean Payton were in their Super Bowl winning pomp, they were always able to sustain multiple backs in Fantasy. Wether it was Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles or Pierre Thomas, backs that can catch the Football always thrived and provided value. The thing i LOVE about Kamara is that he is an excellent inside runner who could be an every down back in the David Johnson mould, given the opportunity. Kamara is everything that Christian McCaffrey was supposed to be.

In week nine against the Bucs, Kamara totalled 152 yards from scrimmage and added a couple of touchdowns. He caught six of his seven passing game targets and rushed for a robust 6.8 yards per carry. It was an eye popping performance from the Tennessee product as he showed burst, balance, and tackle breaking ability to gash the hapless Bucs again and again.

I stated last week that i would have no hesitation drafting Kamara high up the board in a dynasty start up, this performance only enforced that view. I realise that Mark Ingram is still a huge factor in this offense, but i think in time Kamara can tip the scales in his favour, as he is simply a more dynamic and explosive play maker. I genuinely believe that Kamara has David Johnson like upside in a Saints offense that is becoming more of a ball control unit than the aerial bombardment of years past. Kamara is doing RB1 type Fantasy numbers, with an RB2 type of workload. If he can become the alpha dog, the sky is the limit.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS

Zay Jones – WR – Bills

It’s great to be talking about a wide out early in the list of notable performers, as Zay Jones grabbed his first career touchdown in a losing effort against the Jets. Jones finally showed the precise route running that made him a preseason sleeper in Fantasy circles, he grabbed six of his seven targets for 54 yards, and absolutely torched Jets corner Justin Burris on his TD grab. The hype on Jones probably went a little far this off season, mainly because the Bills were bereft of talent at the position and had traded away Sammy Watkins. I like Jones well enough, and this was an encouraging showing for his owners, but he needs time to adapt to the pro game, and now has the newest member of the Bills, Kelvin Benjamin competing for targets with him. Jones also left the game inured and will miss his teams week ten tilt against the Saints.

Elijah McGuire – RB – Jets

This wasn’t an eye popping game from McGuire, he had a 15 yard catch and a couple of other nice runs against the Bills, but i thought it was worth a mention here because of the 14 touches he received. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell were both active and healthy in this game and the Jets still went to the sixth round rookie to close out the game as the Bills tried to mount a comeback. As i mentioned last week with Corey Clement and Matt Breida, McGuire is manna from heaven for Dynasty owners. He cost nothing to acquire and is getting meaningful work in the NFL. McGuire is an asset for Dynasty owners, that may turn into something down the line. These are the types of players that build the back end of a roster. Get McGuire if you still can.

Christian McCaffrey -RB – Panthers

Run CMC got in the end zone for the first rushing TD of his young career, he also had the longest rush of his career in his teams win over the Falcons. It’s great to see most of McCaffrey’s output coming in the run game for the first time, as the Panthers went to him more after Jonathan Stewart had two fumbles, and while he didn’t wow you with his inside running in this game, it is certainly a step in the right direction for the Stanford product. For the Panthers to go anywhere this season, they need to go back to playing a more Panthers style option offense than the more traditional one they have tried to transition to in the first half of this season. If they do this, and get Cam Newton more involved in the run game, McCaffrey should benefit with more touches and more opportunity to run against defenses that have to account for the running threat that his QB poses. I’m still sceptical of McCaffrey as a between the tackles runner, but 15 carries for 66 yards and a score is a nice improvement, which i hope he carries into week ten.

D’Onta Foreman – RB – Texans

Foreman was back involved with the Texans offense after not being used in their wild week eight loss in Seattle. He had 11 carries for 37 yards against the Colts, as the Texans committed more to the run game with Tom Savage at QB. Nothing really spectacular from Foreman, but just monitor him going forward as i expect his usage to stay around the same, and i think he can also be a nice safety valve for Savage in the pass game also. It would behove the Texans to see what they have in Foreman in what is increasingly looking like a lost season. Lamar Miller is not playing up to the big contract that the Texans gave him a couple of off seasons ago. Once the Texans settle into the rest of the season without DeShaun Watson, i think that Foreman can increase his role and be a trendy sleeper going into the 2018 off season and beyond.

Evan Engram – TE – Giants

The list of tight ends in Dynasty that i would rather own than Evan Engram is really, really short right now. The Giants got white washed by the Rams in this game, but Engram was a lone shining light grabbing four balls for 70 yards and another touchdown. Engram has 5 red zone targets all season, and has caught four of them for touchdowns. He is a locked in TE1 and he isn’t even being properly utilised in an awful Giants offense. One of the best players at his position in the NFL already, Engram is a superstar.

Corey Clement – RB – Eagles

I mentioned Corey Clement in this column last week, sort of as a heads up to readers that a player was involved in the best offensive unit in the NFL that cost nothing to acquire, and boy did he make me look good in this game against the Broncos. Clement turned 13 touches into 66 yards and three scores in a wonderful performance that almost demands that the Eagles keep him involved in the backfield mix, even when Jay Ajayi gets up to speed. You could legitimately trade Clement for a late second round rookie pick, or add him to a bigger deal as a nice piece, and he cost nothing to acquire. It’s so important as a dynasty owner to keep an eye on pre season box scores and usage to see where these undrafted guys can make an impact for your dynasty squads. Clement is testament to that.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Corey Davis – WR – Titans

Davis made his return in week nine in the Titans win over the Ravens, and had a couple of catches for 28 yards on five targets. Not so much a cause for concern, but more a call to be patient. I didn’t expect him to be peppered with targets in his first game back from injury, and it may take another week or two for the Titans to get him in stride and fully firing. Davis is coming, just be patient and leave him on your bench if you can, for now.

John Ross – WR – Bengals

Ross was a healthy scratch in week nine against the Jaguars, in what was a truly baffling decision from a team desperate for a spark to ignite a weary fan base. I just don’t see any good reason, in a lost season, for the Bengals to have their first round pick on the sidelines. It beggars belief. For dynasty purposes, just stand pat, don’t take low ball offers, and pray Marvin Lewis is not in town for 2018.

Leonard Fournette – RB – Jaguars

No cause for concern on the field with Fournette, he’s a monster, but he was suspended for this game by his team after missing treatment for his ankle injury and also missing a team photograph. The photograph debacle was nothing, but missing treatment for an injury is pretty alarming. It is all there for Fournette to be a superstar in this league, lets just hope he can put this week behind him, and continue his stellar rookie campaign in week ten.

Joe Mixon – RB – Bengals

Mixon had pretty much a full work load in this game against the Jaguars and was pretty average to be honest. He did find the end zone, but you would have hoped for more than 46 scrimmage yards with his 16 touches. I’m still pretty high on Mixon, i think his struggles are emblematic of the Bengals struggles as a team, and the offense as a whole seems broken. This may be a perfect opportunity to buy low on Mixon, who i think could explode in 2018 if the Bengals retool and make changes to the coaching staff.

Kareem Hunt – RB – Chiefs

Another week without a TD for Hunt, and i feel this was his first truly bad game as a pro. Hunt only had nine carries and four receptions in this game against Dallas, which he turned into 61 total yards. I don’t quite know why the Chiefs are limiting his usage, as they are a far better team when Hunt is involved in the offense more. It’s as if they are paranoid about him hitting the Rookie wall, so they are simply not allowing him to. Hunt has set his own expectations with the hot start to his career, but i’m not going to let this slump deter me from starting him as an RB1 when the Chiefs come out of their week ten bye. Expect a bounce back from Hunt as the Chiefs regroup.

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