ROOKIE WATCH – WEEK 14
By Steve Uetz
Week 14 was the start of the fantasy football playoffs for many leagues! It was a week where most of our favorite rookies disappointed but also contained a few major breakout games! RB D’Andre Swift returned to action but we were without WR Denzel Mims, RB Antonio Gibson, and RB Salvon Ahmed. Let’s take a look to see how the rookies performed…
Rookie Stud of the week: RB Jonathon Taylor
RB Jonathon Taylor: Two weeks in a row now Jonathon Taylor has reminded us of why we were so deeply in love with him. In Week 14 he really stepped his game up! Taylor handled 20 carries for 150 yards and 2 TDS, one of which went for 62 yards! He also caught both of his targets for 15 yards. 22 touches is an elite workload and he delivered elite results. He is back to being a low end RB1-high end RB2 moving forward!
Unexpected Stud of the week: WR KJ Hamler
WR KJ Hamler: WHOA BABY! Hamler was a surprise breakout player as he caught 2 of 3 targets for a total of 86 yards and both catches went for TDs!! It is great to see his ability flash at the pro level as it often in college. You can’t expect this kind of performance often but it will lead to defenses having to keep an extra eye on him which will open things up for everybody else.
Rookie Stud of the week Honorable Mentions: RB Cam Akers and WR Brandon Aiyuk
RB Cam Akers: I was all set to make Cam Akers my stud of the week before Jonathon Taylor did his damage against Las Vegas. Akers was dominant in the Thursday night contest that started the 2020 fantasy playoffs. I recommended Akers as a FLEX level play last week and oh my he delivered as an RB1! He handled 29 (!!) carries and gained 171 with a long of 35. That was good enough for 5.9 yards per carry in this contest. He also caught 2 of 3 targets for 23 yards. I think it is safe to say that he now holds the keys to the car of this backfield and I seriously love it! The Rams are riding the hot hand and so should you for the next round of the playoffs!
WR Brandon Aiyuk: Week 14 Brandon Aiyuk had 16 targets! 16!! He finished with 10 catches for 119 yards! This performance especially stood up as some of his elite WR class peers were mostly underwhelming in week 14. Unfortunately for Aiyuk’s teammate Deebo Samuel, Samuel got hurt again in this contest which helped Aiyuk achieve the target share that he did. With it being likely that Samuel will be Out for week 15, Aiyuk is a must start for your fantasy playoff matchup!
Rookie dud of the week: WR Chase Claypool
WR Chase Claypool: Most of our favorite and impressive rookie WRs underwhelmed in week 14, but the worst of the group for this week was Claypool. Claypool caught 3 of his 6 targets but for only 15 yards. This was even with teammate Diontae Johnson getting benched for drops as he leads the league in that unfortunate statistical category. If D. Johnson continues to get legs snaps that could be a major boost for Claypool, but unless you play in a very deep league I think Claypool may be too difficult to trust for the next round of the playoffs.
Minor Rookie Notes…
TE Cole Kmet: Kmet was 2nd on the team in targets as he earned 7 targets; he caught 4 of 7 targets for 41 yards. We will take it, but what was a little aggravating was that Jimmy Graham was the TE who caught a TD in the juicy matchup against Houston. No TD was disappointing, but the target increase is very encouraging.
TE Harrison Bryant: Bryant caught 3 of 6 targets for 18 yards in TE Austin Hooper’s absence…
RB Zack Moss: Moss went back to out-working his RB teammate Devin Singletary but wasn’t very efficient. He handled 13 carries and gained 43 and didn’t catch his only target…this backfield has become quite irritating and difficult to trust for fantasy purposes.
WR Lynn Bowden Jr: Bowden continues to get more opportunity as the Dolphins main skill position players get banged up. Bowden was tied for the team lead in targets with 9 and caught 7 of them for 82 yards! He also handled 1 carry for 2 yards. Expect his usage to remain trending up as Miami is becoming brutalized by injuries.
WR Quintez Cephus: Cephus caught both of his targets for 16 yards…He continues to get more offensive looks as rising star Kenny Golladay remains out of the lineup…
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: DPJ continues to get offensive looks in OBJ’s extended absence. No TD this week but as Baker remains hot DPJ caught 3 of 5 targets for 74 yards!
WR Henry Ruggs: Ruggs cooled down against the Colts as he caught all 3 of his targets for 18 yards…He was then placed on the COVID/Reserve list for week 15…perhaps that will give some opportunity to fellow beloved Rookie Bryan Edwards. We shall see; the Bryan Edwards hive/stan are a unique breed, hopefully they can get some validation by seasons’ end. I certainly would love to see what Bryan Edwards is capable of.
WR Gabriel Davis: Davis unfortunately only caught 3 of his 8 targets for 19 yards but what was good is that he landed in the TD column once again in veteran John Brown’s continued absence.
WR Darnell Mooney: Mooney only received 2 targets but caught both for 22 and 1 TD! He also handled 1 rushing attempt for 5 yards…
WR Collin Johnson: John caught 2 of 3 targets for 33 yards but only got going once QB Mike Glennon got benched for fan favorite Gardner Minshew…
Major Rookies Notes…
QB Justin Herbert: Herbert and Chargers got a win in week 14 and that is honestly what matters the most. Herbert somewhat delivered on the juicy matchup against Atlanta as he completed 36 of 44 passes for 243 yards and 2 TDS, he did throw 1 INT and took 1 sack. It was a close win for the young signal caller, but a win is a win! Herbert remains a massive dynasty riser, especially in the SuperFlex realm.
QB Tua Tagovailoa: Tua once again looked very impressive in this shockingly close contest against the juggernaut KC Chiefs. He unfortunately took 4 sacks and threw 1 INT but made up for it by filling up the stat sheet. He completed 28 of 48 passes for 316 yards and 2 TDs and gained 2 yards on 6 carries with 1 TD! He continues to trend up in dynasty but maybe hard to get into playoff lineups unless it is a SuperFlex league.
QB Jalen Hurts: Jalen Hurts had his starting debut against the tough New Orleans Saints defense and he was really impressive! He did most of his damage on the ground as he had 18 (!!) rushing attempts and gained 106 yards and completed 17 of 30 pass attempts for 167 yards and 1 TD! He didn’t commit a single turnover, didn’t take any sacks, and most importantly got a win! He will get his 2nd start against the Arizona Cardinals in week 15! The potential for his rushing ability gives him strong starting lineup consideration for the next round of the fantasy playoffs.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire: CEH had the elite workload, earning 21 touches but left a little to be desired here. He got his day made with his pass-catching which is supremely encouraging. He caught 5 of 6 targets for 59 yards! But what was a little disappointing was his inefficient rushing effort gaining 32 yards on 16 carries. He remains an RB2 caliber player for your fantasy playoffs.
RB James Robinson: Robinson disappointed a little bit with his RB1 evaluation. This was due to how the game went as the Jags couldn’t hang with the Titans. Even with game flow being wildly out of Robinson’s favor, he still earned 16 touches. He was efficient rushing the ball while gaining 67 yards on 12 carries and caught all 4 of his targets for 16 yards. To say it was a disappointment is really just commenting on how amazing and special this season has been for him. He is still the clear cut 2020 fantasy MVP.
RB J.K. Dobbins: During the Game of the Year candidate Monday Night Football clash between the Browns and the Ravens, Dobbins led the Ravens in rushing attempts. He handled 13 carries for 53 yards a TD. Fantasy GMs were hoping for a little bit more here as Baltimore put on a rushing game clinic with 5 total rushing TDs. Veteran RB Mark Ingram is all but completely phased out of the offense which is very encouraging for Dobbins moving forward this year and especially going into next year! The backfield split is becoming more solidified in the way that we all wanted to see; Dobbins getting the largest share of the workload since he is clearly the most talented RB in the group. He is an RB2 for week 15 fantasy playoff matchup!
RB D’Andre Swift: In Swift’s return to action, he totaled 11 touches. He handled 7 carries for 24 yards and 1 TD and caught 4 of 5 targets for 26 yards. The TD saved his day as he slightly disappointed as a risky-ish FLEX option but ultimately, we are glad he is back!
WR Justin Jefferson: Jefferson and Vikings as a whole disappointed in this contest. Jefferson did lead the team in targets with 8, but only caught 4 of them gaining 39 yards. He remains a lineup fixture for the fantasy playoffs and hope he is able to bounce back in a big way!
WR CeeDee Lamb: As we continue to wait for Dak’s return, Lamb is still producing but not a level that we want for fantasy purposes. He caught both of his targets for 46 yards and gained 15 yards on one rushing attempt. He simply can’t be used for our playoff lineups unless we are desperate for a floor play in a deep league.
WR Jerry Jeudy: In a game where QB Drew Lock has a 4 TD game, you would think that the likelihood of Jeudy snagging one would be high. Well, unfortunately he didn’t. Jeudy caught 2 of 4 targets for 42 yards including one reception for 31 yards. He remains a bench stash in redraft leagues as the season comes to close but I would find it difficult to get him into a lineup with so much on the line.
WR Michael Pittman Jr.: The TY Hilton show continued as Pittman takes a back seat for the third week in a row. Pittman was still 2nd on the team in targets but only caught 2 of his 5 targets for 42 yards. He also gained 3 yards on 1 rushing attempt. I would still feel comfortable with Pittman in my lineup in deep leagues for the fantasy playoffs, but hope that TY Hilton can let Pittman get some more work in the passing game.
WR Lavishka Shenault: Shenault was 2nd on the Jags in targets with 11, as he caught 6 of them for 49 yards and handled 1 rushing attempt for 2 yards. He gets a major value boost with QB Minshew returning to the lineup. He is worth a hold or a bench stash in redraft leagues but it may be difficult to get him into our playoffs lineups.
WR Jalen Reagor: In Jalen Hurts’ starting debut Reagor wasn’t tremendously involved but this had more to do with game flow as the Eagles were in control of the game and ended with more rushing attempts than passes. Reagor caught 2 of his 4 targets for 46 yards, including one for 39, and handled one rushing attempt where he gained 19 yards. I’ll be curious to see how Reagor gets implemented with Hurts in charge of the offense moving forward.
WR Tee Higgins: Higgins and the Bengals were once again underwhelming. Higgins has been fine since Burrow got hurt but his upside has been majorly hit with the QB change. Higgins caught 5 of 8 targets for 49 yards in this losing effort. We are looking to next season when Burrow will be back, but he is still a borderline FLEX play in your playoffs but keeping the floor in mind.
Steve Uetz has over 15 years of experience in fantasy football. He enjoys writing fantasy football content and articles. He is very passionate about Auction Leagues. Other than his own fantasy football teams, Steve is a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles & Penn State! Steve (@FantasyLadder on Twitter) is very accessible and involved in the Fantasy Football Twitter community! Reach out to him anytime for questions or advice! His primary goal is to help you win your leagues.