You Can Start Your Rookie RB, But Not Your Rookie WR.
At the beginning of the season everything looked great for the rookie wide receivers. Yet another great year for fantasy! Or so we thought. With such a good start it’s tempting to keep them in your starting lineup, but should we?
Saints rookie Chris Olave came into the week at WR 24. He’s still a good start, as we saw on Thursday Night. Alec Pierce may be finding a solid role in Indianapolis, posting at least 12 PPR points over the last three weeks. All other rookie WRs are a bad bet for the time being. George Pickens placed as WR 19 and 21 in Weeks 4 and 5, respectively, but then scored just 5.8 PPR points last week. He is in a Pittsburgh offense with a rookie QB and is facing Miami and Philadelphia in the next two weeks, making starting him there a risky option. Drake London is at WR 29, but that was built off of early season performances. From Week 3 on, he hasn’t caught more than 4 passes, and from Week 4 on he hasn’t scored more than 7.5 PPR points. With the way the Falcons are running their offense, you can’t start him with anything more than a hope at a touchdown. The NY Jets Garrett Wilson had a great start to the season through 3 weeks, but since QB Zach Wilson has returned he has not posted more than 6 PPR points. Romeo Doubs at WR 39 has had a few good weeks early on, but has also struggled along with the rest of the Packers. Doubs may be a decent spot start this week against the Washington Commanders, but outside of that you should avoid putting him in your lineup if possible. Treylon Burks, Jahan Dotson, Christian Watson are all battling injuries.
Over the next few weeks we can check back in on these guys, but for now I’d put them on the shelf.
RBs, on the other hand, have been somewhat the opposite — at least for the guys we believed could take over their backfields at the beginning of the year. It took a little while for Breece Hall and Damien Pierce to really get going, and Kenneth Walker needed an injury to Rashaad Penny in order to get the start, but since then points have been tremendous.
You probably didn’t need me to tell you to start Breece Hall. Even with the slow start, he’s currently RB 6 on the season. Coming into the year I was skeptical how quickly he would take over the backfield and what upside he would truly have. I was wrong. Even in his first three weeks, with a total of only 21 carries, he was scoring at least 10 PPR points. This is because Joe Flacco was targeting him an insane average of 7 times a game. Now with Zach Wilson back, the targets have mostly dried up, but you have seen the Jets immediately lean on their run game with Hall’s carries skyrocketing up to 17, 18, and 20, in weeks 4 to 6. Hall is extremely consistent in his yardage gains and will have a guaranteed workload headed forward. He faces New England 2 times in the upcoming weeks, but you have to start him, regardless.
Damien Pierce was just a 4th round RB, but he is paying off big time for the Texans. They haven’t won many games, but he has produced consistently and is now at RB 15. This week he plays the Raiders, and you can expect him to smash that defense to pieces. From week 3, Pierce has scored no less than 18 points and has scored in three straight games. The Texans don’t have that much going for them, and it’s pretty clear that they are going to use Pierce to get what good they can out of this season.
Kenneth Walker had a lot of offseason hype. Unfortunately, he began the season injured, and when he came back didn’t get a whole lot of action. He was very clearly behind Rashaad Penny. Penny, however, is now out for the season. In his first start, Walker carried the rock 21 times, put up 97 rushing yards, and scored. The next 3 weeks provide very favorable rushing defensive matchups, and while playing on a Pete Carrol offense that’s 8th highest in scoring, fantasy points are going to rain down from heaven like a flood.
There are still two guys in James Cook and Brian Robinson that I would stay away from. Cook is on a great offense, but has yet to receive any sort of consistent carries or targets. Robinson is who it seems Washington wants to go with, but you can’t rely on that offense. He scored last week, but the team is seemingly cursed with utter dysfunction and the coaching staff has said they need to remember to use Antonio Gibson more. I have zero confidence without seeing it play out for a few more weeks.
Between the Lions, Play D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Both RB D’Andre Swift and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown are both coming back from injuries and a bye week and now play the Cowboys. The Cowboys are a very good defense, and I do expect them to win the game, particularly with Dak back. In fact, my prop bet of the week is Jared Goff under 250 passing yards. So how can I possibly tell you to start these guys with confidence? Bottom line, they are amazing players. In games where Goff has passed for less than 250 yards this season (Weeks 1 & 3), ARSB has scored 20.4 and 13.30 points, while Swift scored 26.6 and 7.6 in those weeks. Keep in mind that Swift got very banged up in week 3, and at the time of the injury only had four carries and two receptions, being largely unused for the rest of the game. ARSB is a stud and is a solid start any week against any defense. Swift is the same. Don’t worry about if they win or lose, as these guys are always heavily involved when healthy. You can still start both with confidence.
Play These RB Pairs This Week.
Heading into the year there were several duo backfields that we were excited about. Most of them haven’t shaken out that great so far. This week there are 3 duo backfields that I believe you can get at least an RB 24 performance from both backs.
Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon
You should play both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon this week. The Washington Commanders are giving up 4.6 yards a carry and are ranked 9th in total yards given up on the ground. Last week against the Chicago Bears they gave up 237 yards on the ground in prime time. While a good amount of that (88yds) was due to Justin Fields scrambling, that still leaves 150 yards on the table. There was also a long run from Khalil Herbert that was taken back due to penalty, so even more was left on the table. Aaron Jones has been largely kept out of the endzone and has only had 1 real blow-up week, but he is averaging almost 6 yards a carry. Jones is an extremely efficient runner and should see some major work this week as Randall Cobb is off the field with an injury and there are very few other options to go to in GB. Similarly, while AJ Dillon has been disappointing, he actually has 3 more carries on the year than Aaron Jones, and has similar target numbers as well. While his average per carry isn’t as high as Jones (4.1) it’s still worth playing him with the equivalent volume and considering the opponent.
Rhamondre Stevenson/Damien Harris
The New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears are facing off on Monday Night Football. The Bears have given up almost 1,000 rushing yards on the season and have allowed 9 scores on the ground. The last two weeks, Rhamondre Stevenson has rushed for 237 yards. No more commentary needed. With Harris practicing in full this week, start them both and sit back to watch them smash the Bears to bits on MNF.
Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard play the Detroit Lions. This summary is almost as easy as the Pats RBs, mainly because the last time we saw the Lions they gave up an unholy amount of yards to them. While Elliott is the model of inefficiency and over-use (4.1 YPC on 94 Attempts), and Pollard is the model of efficiency and under-use (5.1 YPC on 55 Attempts), we don’t have to know much else other than that they are playing Detroit this week. Dak should be back, which should enable the offense to be in better scoring position, and while I do expect him to be mostly healthy, they will likely lean on the run game to help ease Dak back in.