Hi everybody. I’m back for one last time! I was out for a couple of weeks with an injured writer’s hand.
Didn’t you read the fantasy analyst injury report? Oh right, that’s because they don’t exist. Maybe next season.
Anyway, I’m back off the injured reserve to do one last Rookie Report for you all in the 2015 NFL and Fantasy Football season.
With this seasons rookies we have seen ups and downs, break outs and busts (looking at you Melvin Gordon).
Below is my Rookie of the year balloting for your reading pleasure!
Rookie of the Year
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
And the winner is…. Jameis Winston. This season has not had the top level superstar performances of last season but the one who has come close is Mr. Winston. And the reason he wins my made up award is because of consistence.
In Weeks 1-4 he had seven interceptions compared to only six touchdowns. Since that Week four beat down by the Panthers what has he done? Throw only six interceptions to go along with 16 touchdowns.
In those last 10 games, he finished six of them without an interception. He also took a god awful team from last season and led them to seven wins so far this season. His passing ability opened up the run game and made Doug Martin a Top 5 Fantasy RB again. Yes, those first four weeks were rough on fantasy managers but A) he had to adjust to the NFL and B) the Buccaneers didn’t really know how to use him.
In a season where top QB turned out to be complete busts (looking at you Peyton) or get hurt and miss any amount of time, Winston was a savior to many teams who needed a fill in and didn’t want to start Ryan Tannehill. His stats were pretty good and the impact he had on deciding playoff races, while underrated, was very important . That’s why he is my Fantasy Rookie of the Year.
Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams
Todd Gurley comes in at No. 2 on my list.
Of all the rookies this season, at times, Gurley put up the most transcendent performances. He didn’t sustain that level of production like Odell Beckham Jr. did last season and if he did he would have been the runaway choice. In his 2nd game to his 5th game he ran for 146 yards, 159 yards, 128 yard, and 133 yards. He only scored three touchdowns in that four game stretch but it was clear he was a Top 5 RB at that point in the season.
So what happened? Why isn’t he one spot higher? Well his numbers tailed off a bit. He would only top 100 rush yards one more time the rest of the season. He did find the end zone a lot more frequently down the stretch, racking up seven touchdowns.
Did the Rams’ terrible quarterback situation help him out at all? No. Nick Foles and Case Keenum don’t particularly strike fear into opposing defenses which let teams stack the box to stop Gurley. Despite all that, he’s still third in the league in rushing. And in a season when top of the draft RBs got hurt, (Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles) or just flat out underperformed (C.J. Anderson, Eddie Lacy) Gurley provided some great stability.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
A year after we had Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans dominate the league, the 2015 class only had one elite receiver and his name is Amari Cooper. The Raiders haven’t had a go to wide receiver since Randy Moss a decade ago and Cooper is a worthy successor.
Can you be a successor if it took 10 years between the two? Doesn’t matter. Cooper did become the first Raiders receiver with 1,000 yards since the aforementioned Moss.
He racked up five 100-yard games this season and was a constant all season long. He developed a great chemistry with Derek Carr and that lead to consistent targets. The only knock on him is he only found the end zone six times.
To that I say he’s 17th in the league in yards with 1,050, which puts him ahead of stars like Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy marlin and Doug Baldwin. He has been able to get open all season long and that has turned into consistent yards and receptions for you PPR players.
He had one dud of a game versus the Broncos defense but that can be forgiven against that stellar defense. He never reached the jaw dropping, huge stat-line games we saw with last years bunch, but he was always a good play as a WR2 which is why he slots into my third slot.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota comes in No. 4 on my ballot.
He’s had some great games, he’s had some down games and he missed a few games which drops him down in my rankings. He had four games where he didn’t throw for a touchdown but he did also have two games where he threw for four touchdowns with no interceptions.
His overall numbers are pretty similar to Jameis Winston’s but while Winston put up a steady stream of numbers, Mariota was more of a feast or famine type. And this is a season long award so I’m docking him a few points for some of those down games.
What was a bit of a downer this season was Mariota rarely ran the ball himself. He was a dual-threat quarterback at Oregon. And you can’t be a dual-threat quarterback if you don’t run the ball. He only ran the ball 34 times this season and not many of those were designed runs. He did rip off a 87 yard touchdown run but the offensive system he’s in did not help him much this season. He was also missing his best receiver Kendall Wright for several games. His team had less talent at skill positions than Jameis Winston’s which didn’t help his Rookie of the Year case.
These guys are the players I’m most proud of when I profiled rookies by divison back in June. Oh my God June! Do you remember summer? What a great season. Each rookie made me look like a genus for forecasting them as worth-while draft picks.
Anyway, these two guys burst onto the scene and had a few weeks performing at the top of the charts. But they couldn’t keep it up or didn’t get their chance until late in the season.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Now this is an interesting one. Chris Johnson kept him out of the line up for most of the season. Then Johnson goes down and he busts out big time! Unfortunately he didn’t get into the starting lineup until week 13. But since then oh boy! 599 rushing and receiving yards and five TDs. Just in time for playoff season. And he single handedly turned the fates of many playoff matchups. If only he got to start all season long.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
His first four weeks of the season were Weeks 4, 6, 7, and 8. In those four games? He racked up 25 receptions, 419 yards, and two touchdowns. He was waiver wire gold and helped turn many seasons around. He couldn’t keep it up over his next eight games which is why we find him here.
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