Rookie Progress Report: Check In #1
*ALL STATS AND RANKINGS ARE CORRESPONDING TO 0.5PPR LEAGUES* We are now 5 weeks into the 2020 season, and the injuries still haven't stopped. That means it's time to check back in with our rookie players. As a reminder, after Week 2 we were sitting with a whopping 12 rookies inside the Top 36 at their respective positions. At the conclusion of Week 5, that number now comes to 11. A total of 3 players have dropped out of the ranks for their position (all RBs), and we have 2 new WRs added to the list that are here to stay. Overall my predictions have been pretty in step with the rookies' production for the first third of the season, and I am excited to dive into the new comers to the list below. As a reminder these takes are for rookie production over the 2020 season so dynasty outlook is not taken into consideration here. I REPEAT THIS IS FOR 2020 SEASON LONG FANTASY PRODUCTION NOT DYNASTY. Quarterbacks: Joe Burrow
Week 2 Rank: QB 12
Week 5 Rank: QB 18
Through 5 weeks Burrow has been a steady force for fantasy owners. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the QB2 tier, he is exactly where I thought he'd be this year. He has shown the traits he was drafted #1 overall for, but as I predicted his offensive line has been an ISSUE thus far into the campaign. The team is attempting to shift the focus away from the heavy passing volume of the first few weeks of the season by feeding Mixon on the ground. This is both to utilize his talents, as well as protect their QB from the bevy of hits he has taken thus far on the season. Burrow is currently the second most sacked QB in the league and I don't see that changing. Luckily his skills, as well as the emergence of his teammate and newcomer to this, list Tee Higgins, give Burrow a solid QB2 floor. I had Burrow as QB 16-18 on the year so my prediction thus far is on point.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL Justin Herbert
Week 2 Rank: QB 31
Week 5 Rank: QB 16
Herbert has secured the starting QB job for the Chargers going forward. After Week 2 we were unsure of his future with his head coach preaching Tyrod's laurels as the starting QB if healthy. Herbert has silenced all doubters through his 4 starts. Throwing for no less than 290 yards passing in a game, and 11 total TDs over that span. He has had one of the most consistent start to a career that I can remember at the QB position and although his on field performances haven't led to wins for the Chargers there is no denying that the kid can spin it. With a solid OL, and an offense that recently lost Eckler for the foreseeable future, I see the Oregon product increasing his passing volume to make up for the loss of consistent production on the ground. I had Herbert as QB 23-25 on the year, if he kept the job so my prediction thus far is on point. I actually see him with a stronger and more consistent fantasy performance over the remainder of the year when compared to Joe Exotic.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL Running Backs: Jonathan Taylor Week 2 Rank: RB 11
Week 5 Rank: RB 13
Through Week 2, JT was balling out in the passing and running game. Since then he has had a consistent yet unimpressive span of outings. He has been consistently reaching the end-zone but has not been as involved in the passing game as we saw through the first two weeks. Most of Indianapolis' struggles can be directly attributed to Phillip Rivers and the anemic passing offense. I don't see that aspect of the offense changing but as long as Taylor continues his stranglehold on the lead back role, I don't see it affecting his end of year ranking. Through 5 weeks he is averaging 4.0 ypc and has 3 TDs so with his current touch load he is projected to crack 1000 yards and double digit TD's on the season. I had JT as RB 6-9 on the year, so although still in the realm of possibilities, a high end RB2 is a more realistic finish through Week 5.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL Clyde Edwards-Helair Week 2 Rank: RB 12
Week 5 Rank: RB 12
Through the first 2 weeks I was concerned about Clyde's inconsistency and size affecting his season long output. 5 weeks in my opinion has still not changed. He has not logged a TD since Week 1 on the ground or through the air and his goal line inefficiencies have been put on display every week. He still isn't able to break tackles and the offensive line has seen its share of injuries at this point so I don't see that changing. We are hitting prime "Andy Reid realizes he isn't running the ball enough" time in the season so I would expect his overall usage to increase and for his TD production to regress back towards the mean in a positive way. His receiving production has been what has kept his fantasy points buoyed so as long as that continues, CEH can be seen as a steady RB2 floor with upside. I had CEH as RB 13-15 on the year, so my prediction thus far is on point.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL James Robinson Week 2 Rank: RB 15
Week 5 Rank: RB 8
My boy!!! If you don't know me you would probably think that I am a huge Jag's fan based on my articles. But in reality they just have a young core that has me extremely optimistic for the future of the organization. Robinson has been nothing short of amazing for fantasy owners through 5 weeks. He is an all purpose threat, and short of what Mike Davis has been able to do in McCaffrey's absence, has been the best RB in football over the last month. Although the Jags at the moment have been without wins, and a defense capable of keeping games extremely close, Robinson's role in the pass game will keep him relevant in all game scripts going forward. I had Robinson as RB 16-18 on the year, so he is actually outperforming my expectations for him which I'm ecstatic about.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL Antonio Gibson Week 2 Rank: RB 34
Week 5 Rank: RB 23
My prediction for Gibson was an increase in consistent workload in a sub par offense. Through 5 weeks that is EXACTLY what has happened. Gibson has been the lead back seeing the lion's share of the carries and a consistent amount of targets. He is extremely opponent dependent on his upside but his floor is undeniable. He is a consistent flex play each and every week and I don't see that changing. With Haskin's being benched for most likely the remainder of the season, I believe that Alex Smith's consistency will bring stability to the offense and in turn stability to Gibson's week in week out totals. I had Gibson as RB 24-26 on the year, so thus far my prediction is on point.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL Wide Receivers: CeeDee Lamb Week 2 Rank: WR 25
Week 5 Rank: WR 11
Lamb was a ticking time bomb. We knew he would flourish in Dallas the question was just when. We were waiting for the TD's to come and for Dak to make up his mind between Gallup and Lamb on a weekly basis. Through 5 weeks it seems as though it has been decided, and CeeDee has come out victorious. I had Lamb as WR 18-20 on the year so thus far he has actually exceeded expectations. He got his first TD of the year this last week however with Dak's season ending injury, the insane volume of the Dallas passing game can't continue. Lamb has cemented himself in the offense but expect some regression with Dalton now at the helm. Don't be surprised if Lamb regresses closer to a high end WR3 going forward.
Week 2 Verdict: REAL DEAL Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL Chase Claypool Week 2 Rank: WR 27
Week 5 Rank: WR 15
I'll warn you now, I'm still not impressed. Through 5 weeks Claypool has been a roller coaster just as he was through the first two. 93% of his production has now come through 2 games, and his usage in the offense is extremely sporadic. Juju was being shadowed by Slay for most of the afternoon, Dionte went down with a gnarly injury, and this last week was Chase's first week out snapping Washington in the offense. He has the prototypical size and speed but he is still a gimmicky play for fantasy managers. He is crushing my predictions for the year but I will once again caution you on putting him in your lineup. If he is still performing week 8 when I re-assess you can tell me to shut up but until them: "ITS A TRAPPPPPP" I had Claypool as WR 50-52 on the year soooooo ya I was off thus far, I get it.
Week 2 Verdict: ILLUSION Week 5 Verdict: ILLUSION Laviska Shenault Week 2 Rank: WR 31
Week 5 Rank: WR 27
Honestly, you guys know what's up at this point. Viska till I die. He's getting the volume, he's catching everything, and Minshew is starting to look his way on 3rd down. I had Shenault as WR 32-34 on the year so the fact that he is higher just makes my love get even more out of hand.
Verdict: REAL DEAL (REGARDLESS OF WEEK)
Week 2 Rank: Unranked
Week 5 Rank: WR 25
Jefferson is one of 2 new members to crack the Top 36 of the WR position as a rookie coming into Week 5. Before the season started Jefferson was my #3 WR. His tenacity from the slot reminded me of Hines Ward and his college production last year in the LSU offense was absolute dynamite. Coming into the season there was some uncertainty of just how much work the rookie would get. Missing all of training camp with a lower body injury, Jefferson missed out on vital snaps with Cousins and came in as 4th on the depth chart to start the year. It took an injury and some time but in the last three weeks he has put up 14 rec for 301 yards a TD. He has become Cousins second favorite target and has shown his propensity for ripping off long plays and shedding tackles like a snake molting. I see nothing but a continued rise for Jefferson going forward however with Dalvin Cook injured and the instability of the Vikings offense on the year thus far I don't see as high of a finish as some going forward. I have Jefferson as WR 33-34 on the year in lock step with my man Shenault.
Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL
Week 2 Rank: Unranked
Week 5 Rank: WR 36
Something is wrong with A.J. Green. I don't know what it is but it is VERY evident. Coming out of Clemson Higgins was an enigma for most fantasy analysts. He had questions about his athleticism, but his college production was promising. Identical to his predecessor Mr. Green. In fact coming in many thought Higgins would be the perfect replacement for A.J. Green, his size is nearly identical and his 50/50 catch rate mirrored the savvy vet. The issue was opportunity in the offense. Higgins was coming in as WR 5 behind Green, emergent slot receiver Tyler Boyd, speedster John Ross, and second year big man Auden Tate. It took a while for him to climb the depth chart but after 3 weeks of peppering Green with non caught targets it seems that Burrow has had enough. Those targets have been directly transplanted to Higgins himself. Over the last 3 weeks he has seen 24 targets and 1 carry, and turned them into 14 receptions for 192 yards and 2 TDs. With the offensive limitation of Cincy, and the increased touches going the way of Mixon I don't see Higgins climbing much higher than what he is right now, but in certain situations he can be a viable WR3 option for your team. I have Higgins as WR 36-38 on the year.
Week 5 Verdict: REAL DEAL
Joshua Kelley Week 2 Rank: RB 21
Week 5 Rank: RB 39 Kelley's main issue to me was his game script reliance and the presence of Eckler in the offense. Through 5 weeks that seems to be exactly the case. I had Kelley as RB 33-35 on the year. He is actually even lower than that right now, but with Eckler expected to miss 5-7 weeks, I'd expect a resurgence in production for the UCLA product, before an inevitable fall again upon Eckler's return.
Week 2 Verdict: ILLUSION Week 5 Verdict: ILLUSION D'Andre Swift Week 2 Rank: RB 29
Week 5 Rank: RB 40
My problem with swift was his usage exclusively in the pass game and his potential to be relegated to only satellite duties under Patricia. Through 5 weeks that is exactly what has happened. I predicted a November fall into irrelevancy but it looks like it hit before Halloween. I had Swift as RB 40-42 on the year, so thus far my prediction is on point.
Week 2 Verdict: ILLUSION Week 5 Verdict: ILLUSION J.K. Dobbins Week 2 Rank: RB 26
Week 5 Rank: RB 38
I have no idea what is going on with the Baltimore offense at the moment or Lamar Jackson for that sake, but my prediction on the Baltimore backfield dilemma has rung true. No one knows who is getting the work, no one is getting goaline carries at all, and Mark Andrews is the only usable piece at the moment. I had Dobbins as RB 35-37 on the year and I am starting to think even that was too high.
Week 2 Verdict: ILLUSION Week 5 Verdict: ILLUSION