Without a doubt the star of any Week 7 rookie report has to be Ito Smith. With the surprising news that Devonta Freeman has been placed on injured reserve, Smith is one of the most picked-up players of the week.
Ever since Tevin Coleman came into the league in 2015, the Atlanta Falcons have had arguably the best 1-2 punch of a running back platoon in the league. The duo has shown versatility (148 catches, 4,591 total scrimmage yards over the past two seasons) as well as an uncanny nose for the end zone (55 total touchdowns).
Freeman has been the unquestioned lead back of the pair, but their usage rates had been progressing closer and closer to an even time share. Last season they even had the same number of scores.
#Falcons have shifted away from giving Tevin Coleman near bell-cow usage when Devonta Freeman misses time.
Freeman missed Week 4 and 6, and Coleman played on 57% of snaps, handled 28 touches, and saw 4 red-zone opportunities. Ito Smith: 44% snaps, 26 touches, 4 RZ opportunities.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) October 16, 2018
With Freeman out, Ito Smith looks to take on the role of Coleman’s running mate. The immediate thought is that Coleman takes over the lead role and Smith fills in Coleman’s spot. I think there is a solid chance that Coleman stays in the secondary-type role with Smith dominating the early down work.
Most importantly, Smith is looking like the featured goal-line option for the Falcons. The rookie has three straight games with a touchdown, one of those in which Freeman was active.
If you are in one of the few leagues in which Smith is still available, grab him now. He will be at minimum a solid Flex option weekly, and could carve out an upper-tier, RB2 role.
Week 7 Rookie Report
Other Rookies on the Rise
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
After busting out for 637 yards and three touchdowns over his first two starts, Mayfield came back down to Earth against the Chargers. He turned the ball over twice and failed to reach 250 passing yards or 15 Fantasy Points.
The rookie gets a much better matchup against Tampa Bay this week, which already fired the defensive coordinator. Tampa Bay is giving up the most Fantasy Points in the league to opposing quarterbacks, and it is a significant margin over even the second-most points allowed.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
There’s not much to be said at this point, but I am making this proclamation: Saquon Barkley will be the Number One pick in Fantasy Drafts next season.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones has been mostly disappointing this season, especially to anyone who drafted early in the pre-season. Now that he is mostly healthy, he is starting to integrate into a Buccaneers offense that has explosive potential.
Peyton Barber had the huge game, but Jones still hauled in three passes just one game after getting 10 carries. He is the future of their backfield and I think he will break out any week now.
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Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans
Coutee caught only three passes for 33 yards against the Bills, but I think that was more of a game-script issue. Buffalo mucked the game up in the way they do to try and slog out 13-12 wins. This week against a Jacksonville team that will have its stud corners focused on Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller, Coutee will get back on track with double-digit catches.
Rookies on the Downswing
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) October 17, 2018
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Allen looked like the elite prospect he was drafted as during his first few outings, but has had a rough go the past couple of weeks. Now with an elbow injury that should sideline him for at least 2-3 weeks, Allen might not be Fantasy-relevant the rest of the season.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
What is the Brownsiest way to screw up a potential explosive stud at the running back position? Don’t give him the ball apparently. Chubb has 14 carries… on the season. He has yet to receive more than three carries in a game. The rookie is averaging over 12 yards per carry but the Browns just cannot seem to integrate him into their offense.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Ridley is still highly ranked within wide receivers for total Fantasy Points on the season. This is strictly due to the highly unsustainable touchdown rate he had though. The rookie caught six touchdowns over just 15 total catches in a three game stretch. In the next two games he has 15.5 combined Fantasy Points on just seven catches and zero scores. At some point, Julio Jones will start soaking up touchdowns with his ridiculous target share and Ridley will be the one hurt by it. Toss in an ankle injury, and I am out on Ridley for the time being.
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