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Where have all our rookie stars gone? This was going to be the year the rookies took over! And I was to document it all in the Rookie Report.

Back in October we had guys tearing up the NFL all over the place. And now what’s going on? The rookies are slowing down.

If you think about it, this time last year their college teams were gearing up for one of their last games. Fatigue may be setting in.

We have to factor in the defenses these guys have faced. There were the Broncos, the surprisingly frisky Jaguars, and the Ravens. It’s hard to score points on those teams. Also, some of these teams just aren’t very good. It’s hard to rack up rushing yards when your starting quarterback is Nick Foles.

We saw some bright spots this week, and the underlying talent is still there. It just wasn’t displayed fully this week.

Week 12 Rookie Report

Quarterback

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winston just said anything you can do I can do better to Marcus Mariota. Mariota set a high rookie bar this season throwing for four TDs in a single game twice. That’s some pretty impressive stuff. Apparently Winston was not a fan of being second fiddle so he simply went out and threw five TDs.

And you know what the best part is? I think Lovie Smith reads my column! What did I say last week? If you keep Winston under 30 pass attempts, he plays better and the Buccaneers usually win. And this week he had a mere 29 attempts. His final line was 19/29 for 246 yards and five TDs. The running game is a big factor in how well Winston plays and this week Doug Martin chipped in 235 yards, which definitely made the game easier. While Martin nearly out-gained Winston by himself, he didn’t find the end zone. It looks like the Bucs have faith in Winston to make the right decision at the goal line which bodes well for Fantasy managers.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

While Winston lead a charmed life this week, Mariota had a bit more trouble with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed 22 of his 35 passes for 231 yards and zero touchdowns or interceptions. The Jaguars also sacked him four times this week which made things more difficult for Mariota than I’m sure Fantasy managers would have liked. The silver lining of the night was he scampered for a 23 yard TD.

This was Mariota’s second subpar week in a row, and besides that one stand out game against New Orleans, he hasn’t had a great game since September. This last game was on a Thursday night which might explain why the team was less than sharp, but like I said, he hasn’t been a great starting Fantasy option in over a month. If he was running like he did at Oregon, that would offer some added value but the Titans seem very content to just keep him in the pocket. At this point I’m not starting him until he proves me wrong.

 

Running Back

Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams

And then we have the rookie running back position. Four games ago Gurley was having a streak of Marshall Faulk-esque dominance. Now? He’s down to 66 yards on 25 carries. He has scored a touchdown in five straight games but he hasn’t been the same game breaker we all fell in love with.

Now I still believe he’s as talented as ever, but when your team is turning to Case Keenum to solve their QB problems, you’re going to have a hard time running the ball. If the defense has no fear of being beat through the air, then they can stack the box as heavy as they’d like. Gurley doesn’t stand a chance on some of these plays. He still has that game breaking talent so I’ll still be starting him, just don’t expect those monster games every week.

Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears

Last week’s breakout rookie sensation was Jeremy Langford. This week, things didn’t go nearly as well. And a lot of that can be attributed to the defense he faced; the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are currently the seventh best run defense and a rookie like Langford was going to have a tough day against that stacked team. He finished with 25 rush yards and a touchdown. You can’t get a good picture of Langford in a game like this, but he has shown that he deserves to be inserted in Fantasy lineups.

 

Wide Receiver

J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals

You know who this week’s breakout star was? His name is… JOHN CENA!

Sorry, I am still using that joke, it’s just really funny to me. This week’s breakout star was actually J.J. Nelson. In a huge game against the 8-1 Bengals the unheralded rookie broke out. Cincy’s defense definitely had it’s hands full with all of the Cardinals’ receivers and the one receiver they probably thought they didn’t need to cover burned them.

He ended his day with four catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. Now do I think many people started him this week? No. Do I think many people even have him on their roster? No. But 12 weeks in you KNOW I love my rookies, so I am going to highlight them every chance I get! He does have sneaky Fantasy value with Michael Floyd banged up. He got more targets than anyone not named Larry Fitzgerald and if Floyd is out a long time, Nelson looks like he’ll be sliding into that spot.

I’ll see you next week for the next installment of the Rookie Report.

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Travis Pastore

Travis is a fantasy sports addict, runs a 4.4 forty yard dash and writes for So-Called Fantasy Experts. He enjoys advanced stats, puns, and witty, pop culture laden humor. In the past he wrote for SKYLLZONE.com, and worked for Rotoworld.com. Also one of those first three traits may have been a lie...
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