Rookies can make a fantasy team a driving force to a championship. They can also sink a team if you believe in someone that isn’t quite there. We’ll take a look, each week, at some rookies that have made an impact that you can trust in your lineups and some that you should leave on your bench until their situation becomes clearer or they start producing.
The purpose of this article is to take a look at rookies who are ready to be locked into lineups and other rookies who we should show patience with and keep on our bench until they start trending in the right direction with snaps and/or touches. This is the first week so, yes some of the studs are listed and are obvious, but going forward we’ll focus on different players and trending stats in the upward direction focusing on snaps and touches.
Rookies Trending Up
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Well, folks, he is what we all hoped he would be. Kansas City fed him the ball, and he produced. Darrell Williams wasn’t much of a factor, nor was Darwin Thompson. Edwards-Helaire is a slam dunk starter each week unless injuries strike. I probably won’t mention him in every week’s report simply because he has arrived and doesn’t look like a bust. His goal-line work could use a boost, but that could come with time and experience.
Week 1 Stats: 25 att, 138 yds, 1 TD 2 targets, no catches 66.6% snap count
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2020
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow wasn’t perfect in his first NFL game, but was a push-off offensive pass interference penalty away from leading a 4th quarter comeback. His rushing floor could provide a solid QB2 in Superflex leagues especially if you don’t have other options at the position. He should improve as the season rolls on and take more chances downfield. I’m not starting him in 1 QB leagues unless the NFL is slammed with injuries. Burrow will occasionally make a rookie mistake as he did with his interception, but in Superflex, I will go with Burrow.
Week 1 Stats: 23-36 comp-att, 193 yds, 1 INT, 8 att 46 yds, 1 TD
J.K Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Apparently Dobbins has hurdled Mark Ingram on the depth chart. He outplayed Ingram and outscored him for fantasy purposes. He out-snapped Ingram 23-21 as well. Dobbins looks to be getting the passing work out of the backfield as well. The game was well in hand which may have led to Ingram getting less action on the field, but Dobbins got the two goal-line TDs to help prop up his fantasy day. His day wasn’t fantastic besides the touchdowns, but if he continues to get the goal-line work, and passing attack snaps then he’s the Raven I want to invest in.
Week 1 Stats: 7 att, 22 yds, 2 TDs, 39% snap count
JK DOBBINS WITH HIS FIRST CAREER TOUCHDOWN!!! 😈💪 pic.twitter.com/tjGYLHK87m
— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) September 13, 2020
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
The story with Taylor isn’t necessarily what happened in the game for Taylor, but Marlon Mack leaving the game with a season-ending injury. Taylor will be the top RB for the Colts but will need to compete with Nyhiem Hines for pass-catching work and apparently goal-line work. Hines looked like the guy to own out of this backfield on Sunday, but with Mack out of the picture Taylor’s role gets a little clearer. The breakdown at RB for Sunday was Hines – 39 snaps, Taylor – 26 snaps, and Mack – 11 snaps. A 50-50 split would be good if Taylor picks up those Mack snaps out of the backfield.
Week 1 Stats: 9 att, 22 yds, 6 targets, 6 rec, 67 yds, 35% snap count
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
I know the first few were slam dunks. This one may be obvious as well, but Robinson was the guy for the Jaguars. Robinson played 34 out of 50 snaps and tripled the snaps of Chris Thompson (11 snaps). The surprising Jags offense was able to do a lot more than I expected and Robinson didn’t break much but seems like the starter for at least a few weeks while Devine Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead are out.
Week 1 Stats: 16 att, 62 yds, 1 target, 1 rec, 28 yds
Joshua Kelley spins from three penetrators surrounding him in backfield and turns certain loss into 9 yards.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 14, 2020
Rookies That Need to Prove Something
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Pittman may take some time as many wide receivers do as they learn their offense and how to get separation and run routes at the NFL level. He only saw 2 targets on the day even though the Colts needed to pass the ball to get back into the game in the second half. He played in 39 of 74 snaps so seeing the field wasn’t much of an issue. Pittman will need to get Phillip Rivers’s attention more before I insert him into lineups.
Week 1 Stats: 2 targets, 2 rec, 10 yds, 53% snap count
Bryan Edwards, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
You could almost copy and paste what I said about Pittman here. Despite getting the nod as a starter, Edwards was only given 1 target the entire game. This despite being on the field for 47 out of 63 snaps. Depending on the severity of Ruggs’ injury Edwards may get more targets going forward, but he’s going to ride my bench until Carr starts looking his way.
Week 1 Stats: 1 target, 1 rec, 9 yards, 75% snap count
Bryan Edwards with the first catch of his #NFL career! 🤙🏽🐔🏈
— Vizor Carolina (@VizorSportsSC) September 13, 2020
A.J. Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
Despite the huge final score in the Packers-Vikings game, Dillon was barely used. He’s 4th in the pecking order behind Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and even Tyler Ervin. The breakdown of snaps for the running backs were Aaron Jones – 42, Jamaal Williams – 31, Tyler Ervin 14, and then Dillon at 5. Until he passes Williams on the depth chart he’s not startable.
Week 1 Stats: 2 att, 14 yds, 6% snap count
Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
Davis wasn’t a high draft pick, but being active is a step in the right direction. The Bills don’t project to be a high volume passing offense, but Davis could be 4th in line for snaps as only Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley out-snapped Davis in week 1. Any injury to those three could propel Davis into relevance. So, you can add him if he’s available in deep leagues, but do not start him until he’s producing consistently.
Week 1 Stats: 2 targets, 2 rec, 16 yds, 49% snap count
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The shootout of the weekend Packers-Vikings should have been great for Jefferson making his debut. He only saw 3 targets in the game. He was 2nd out of the receivers in snaps just edging Bisi Johnson by 3 snaps. He was expected to come right in and take the place of Stefon Diggs but will have to grow into that role in the offense as he did miss some time during training camp. He’s another high profile guy I’m waiting on.
Week 1 Stats: 3 targets, 2 rec, 26 yds, 69% snap count