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The NFL doesn’t really make sense to me right now. And it seems I’m not the only one.

We’ve got injuries all over the place and consensus first round picks like C.J. Anderson playing their way onto your bench.

Thank God I have my rookies. I came into this expecting a lot of the first year guys to have up and down seasons, so I’m ready for the unexpected. But Calvin Johnson’s struggles? I did not see that coming.

Here’s one thing I actually said on Sunday afternoon, “I wish I started Andy Dalton against Seattle instead of starting Peyton Manning against Oakland.” After saying it out loud I got light headed and had to lay down.

Before you all faint too, let’s move to one of the only things that makes sense this season – the rookies!

Week 6 Rookie Report

 

Quarterback

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday was a good day for Mr. Winston. His team won, he didn’t have any turnovers and he was only sacked twice. How did all this happen? Well it’s because Doug Martin dominated the Jaguars on Sunday. The Buccaneers gained 183 yards on the ground, which meant they didn’t need to rely solely on Winston’s ability to throw the ball into the endzone.

It was a very efficient day for him, going 13-of-19 for 201 yards and one touchdown. He was smart with the ball and found his open receivers. And with a running game that freed him from having to score all of the teams’ points, he looked the most comfortable I’ve seen him all season. And why shouldn’t he? This is the standard recipe for success with a rookie quarterback. Have a strong running game to lean on, force the defense closer to the line of scrimmage and then make the easy throws into a thinner secondary. While it wasn’t a huge day in terms of Fantasy points, if the Buccaneers keep using him like this, we’ll see less bad plays and eventually those big plays will come more frequently.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

I finally got to see Marcus Mariota play an entire game of football. Well I should say most of a game, the Titans vs. Bills game was on at the same time as Cincinnati vs. Seattle so there was a lot of channel flipping. Regardless, I got to watch a lot of Mariota and see how he ran the Titans offense against an aggressive Bills defense.

And I got to say I really liked what I saw. He was quick in his decision making and made some great throws on short and intermediate routes. What I didn’t like was he left a few deep balls short. One in particular, he had Kendall Wright who beat everyone down field and if Mariota puts the ball out in front, Wright goes in for an easy touchdown. Instead, Mariota left it short and the corner recovered in time to knock the ball away. He put up solid numbers (187 yards and an INT), but without the deep ball he wasn’t able to get those big chunks of yards you hope to see. The biggest takeaway from this game for me was his willingness to run. He had five carriers for 47 yards, which is more than in his first three game combined. He didn’t try and run too early, but he also realized when he should take off.

 

Running Back

Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams

For the second week in a row, we got to witness Todd Gurley dominate like those fabled featured backs of legend. Word is they existed in the 80s and 90s, but no one is really sure.

Hurley carried the ball 30 times for 159 yards, making it two weeks in a row with 140-plus yards on the ground. He didn’t match last week’s 7.7 yards per carry, but he did manage a measly 5.3 yards per carry. In two weeks, he’s already taken over as the featured back and has become the top option on the Rams offense. My biggest question with Gurley? How high would he have been drafted if he didn’t tear his ACL in college. He is an absolute beast and you should be starting him without hesitation. The Rams seem like they’re going to give him the ball as often as possible and Gurley will definitely bring in some Fantasy points.

Yes, he’s failed to score a touchdown so far, but nobody’s perfect.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns

Another week and another sneaky good day of production from Duke Johnson. He only got nine carries, which turned into an underwhelming 22 yards, but as we established last week a lot of his value comes in the passing game. There he got six catches for 55 yards on eight targets. It obvious the Browns like utilizing him out of the backfield.

And speaking of running the ball, Johnson only got three less carries than starter Isaiah Crowell. It seems to me the Browns are giving Duke Johnson the opportunity to take over that starting job if he can produce a few more yards on the ground to go with his great receiving ability. And I’m sure Fantasy managers would love to see him get starting reps.

T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars

Welcome to the Rookie Report T.J. Yeldon! This summer he was the third rookie running back being drafted as the Jaguars starting job seemed to be all his. He has a stranglehold on the starting job, but the problem is that Blake Bortles has turned the Jags into a great passing team, which means less ground & pound for Yeldon.

And while he hasn’t put up Todd Gurley numbers, he put together a very solid all around game on Sunday. He had 11 carries for 32 yards and five catches for 31 yards and a touchdown. He hasn’t been too flashy nor has he racked up huge amounts of points, but he has been a solid, productive player. He’s been a little up and down through the first five games but that’s to be expected of rookies. But after his Week 4 110 yard effort on the ground and this past Sunday’s performance, he may be close to becoming a really solid RB2. And if Bortles keeps throwing the ball like he has, Yeldon should find a lot less guys in the box.

 

Wide Receiver

Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints

This is the part when we talk about receivers. And for once we aren’t going to talk about how great Amari Cooper is! He’s still great, don’t worry. It’s just we’ve got a new rookie receiver making waves. And his name is Willie Snead.

Technically, Snead isn’t a rookie as he was signed to the practice squad last season, but since this is his first year on an NFL roster, he’s a rookie in my book. The Saints moved Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills out of town in the offseason leaving a big hole to be filled. And Snead has stepped in to get some of those targets. His season started off slow but each week he’s got more and more involved, building to his best performance in Week 5. This past Sunday? He got 11 targets and caught six of them for 141 yards. He’s averaging more than 17 yards a catch and looks to be filling that void left by Kenny Stills.

The Saints don’t have a ton of weapons at receiver and Snead looks to be turning into their next deep threat. He has only scored one touchdown so far this season, so there’s a chance he’s still on the waiver wire. If he is and you’re in need of a receiver, he’s worth an add in deep leagues.

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