This is the second article in a weekly installment dedicated solely to the rookie class of 2012. The goal is to provide everyone with a list of rookie players who should be on your dynasty roster or radar and track their progress throughout the season. You won’t typically find weekly updates on players like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. We already know their roles in the offense and we cover many of those players in our weekly Rookie Report Card series. Rather, this weekly article will focus on the players who are working to carve out a role for themselves in the offense.
While updating the progress of certain players and highlighting the emergence of others, you can expect this article to cover players with big weeks, value rises and declines, depth chart movements, waiver suggestions and other recommendations.
Here is the rookie report from Week Two:
Lamar Miller, RB MIA
Reggie Bush has been the unquestioned starter and three down back, and quite a productive one at that. Daniel Thomas had previously been the change of pace back, but he sustained a concussion early in week one. With Thomas sidelined, Miller was on deck and inserted into his role during week two. Since the Dolphins relied so much on the running game, he was worked in intermittently for full series. He received ten carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. Since Thomas is questionable with concussion symptoms again, Miller will be able to make a case to be Miami’s number two back. However, with Bush on fire, don’t expect anything more for the moment.
Stephen Hill, WR NYJ
As DLF warned last week, Hill is not ready to be a weekly fantasy starter. He proved this after an outing with zero receptions on two targets. Although week one flashed his potential, owners must be patient while he tries to develop any type of consistency.
T.J. Graham, WR BUF
Last week we were wondering who was going to pick up the slack from the Bills wide receiving corps after losing David Nelson to a torn ACL for the year. The answer – no one, for now at least. The offense mostly leaned on C.J. Spiller’s hot hand, as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick attempted only 19 passes all afternoon. The good news is that Graham was worked into the game and even recorded a seven yard reception on his only target. It was nice to see him get some work, but he is still a long term roster stash.
Josh Gordon, WR CLE
Even with Brandon Weeden’s improved second outing, Gordon remained almost invisible. Weeden was actually able to spread the ball out nicely, connecting with eight different receivers. Gordon totaled three targets, only one of which was hauled in for a five yard reception. Despite predictions he would become an immediate contributor, Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi have been Weeden’s preferred targets.
Bernard Pierce, RB BAL
After two games, Pierce has totaled just 23 yards on seven carries. Although he remains second on the depth chart, he hasn’t been used much, but this was to be expected before selecting him in your rookie draft. We all know Ray Rice is the workhorse for the Ravens. Pierce’s value is solely based as a handcuff in the unfortunate circumstance of an injury to Rice. No surprise here.
Justin Tucker, K BAL
There is a third rookie kicker in the mix this year who has been perfect after two weeks. Tucker has started the season six-for-six on field goal attempts (two of which were over 50 yards) and added seven extra points. He is the unquestioned starter after the Ravens parted ways with veteran Billy Cundiff in the offseason. In the Ravens’ emerging high powered offense, Tucker will have plenty of opportunities.
Rod Streater, WR OAK
Streater saw four targets in week two relative to his team leading ten targets in week one – this was expected with the return of starter Denarius Moore. It is encouraging, however, that Streater was still consistently worked into the game and received a fair share of looks. After a strong preseason that has carried over through week two, he has earned the trust of both the coaching staff and Carson Palmer. With Jacoby Ford now on season-ending IR, Streater should see plenty of time in the slot going forward.
Ladarius Green, TE SD
The fourth round rookie got his first action in week two. He recorded a 31 yard reception on his only target. He received playing time only because starting tight end Antonio Gates was unable to suit up due to a rib injury. It is clear he is still behind both Dante Rosario and Randy McMichael on the depth chart. With Gates targeting a week three return, it will be hard for Green to make an argument for more playing time. Although I wouldn’t consider Rosario’s three touchdown performance as an indicator of things to come, it certainly doesn’t make it any easier for Green to climb the depth chart. Perhaps Green’s owners are already looking forward to seeing what opportunities may present themselves in 2013.
Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
After being drafted in the third round of this year’s draft, many expected Hillman to immediately start the season second on the depth chart and serve as the third down back. To dynasty owners’ dismay, he has fallen to fourth on the depth chart behind Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball. He was not on the active roster for either game this season and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy stated that he’s not yet up to speed.
Justin Blackmon, WR JAX
Blaine Gabbert reminded us of the risks of starting any receiver for the Jaguars – he completed just seven passes for 53 yards. Ouch. After the Sophomore quarterback left late in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury, Blackmon owners are surely asking for backup Chad Henne in their prayers. Unfortunately, they may go unanswered as Gabbert looks likely to start in week three.
Kendall Wright, WR TEN
The Titans first round pick led the offense with eight targets, although quarterback Jake Locker’s inaccuracies capped his performance. Despite only recording two receptions for a meager 24 yards, he did manage to find the end zone. Even with the return of Kenny Britt, don’t expect Wright to fade into the shadows.
Vick Ballard, RB IND
Ballard is still the only other Indianapolis running back to receive carries other than starter Donald Brown. Although there was little doubt about his place on the depth chart, it is worth noting that last year’s competition for snaps, Delone Carter, was a healthy scratch on Sunday.
Dwayne Allen, TE IND
The third round pick had his first and only target of the season in week two, which was good for a three yard touchdown. His big body and athleticism does make for a good red zone target, however, it would be a mistake to expect him to take too many opportunities away from Coby Fleener.
Reuben Randle, WR NYG
The dynasty owners of Reuben Randle had to wait patiently for week two for his NFL debut. Dominik Hixon was named as the Giants third wide receiver to start the season and Randle never got to see the field in week one. Following Hixon’s concussion early in game two, Ramses Barden slid in as the third receiver while Randle took over punt return duties. The Giants evidently trust the veterans more at this time than the rookie. Many expect Randle to eventually fill that third receiver role for the Giants, but this situation will need time to develop. With Hixon and Hakeem Nicks officially ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Panthers, this could be an opportunity for Randle to prove his abilities. However, week two certainly emphasizes who the top receivers are for the G-Men. Even if Randle were to take over as the third receiver in the near future, it’s hard to imagine that role being a consistent fantasy play right now.
David Wilson, RB NYG
Week two represented a second consecutive disappointment for fantasy owners of the Giants first round pick. After Ahmad Bradshaw left the game in the second quarter with a neck injury, it was third year pro Andre Brown who stepped up as the lead back. Brown recorded 71 yards on 13 carries, while adding both a touchdown and a two point conversion. He also showed exceptional situational awareness by sacrificing his first shot at the touchdown in order to run out more of the game clock. It was previously believed that Wilson was second on the depth chart, so it was a surprise he didn’t shoulder any of the workload once Bradshaw was forced to exit the game early. If Bradshaw is ruled out, monitoring the backfield situation in week three will be an important indicator in judging Wilson’s potential contribution this season. It would be quite a blow if the Giants do not get him more involved despite Bradshaw’s potential absence from the lineup.
Alfred Morris, RB WAS
OK, another full workload and another solid outing. Are you sold yet that he will be the lead back for the remainder of this year? Neither am I. However, if I learned anything from my work as a day trader at a New York City firm, it is the principal of “following the herd.” When dealing with stocks, the basic idea of this concept is that people continue to doubt the equity’s performance as it continues to rise. As soon as these doubters jump on the bandwagon and are finally convinced the returns will be endless, it is no coincidence this is precisely when the stock reverses direction. I won’t continue to lecture you on the behavioral concepts of investing, but I will recommend you use this opportunity to sell high. After a couple more weeks of solid fantasy production, you may be lucky and able to find a couple of believers. Perhaps you can unload him for some real contributors who could help you down the stretch or some high future picks. On the other hand, I have already noticed people dropping Washington’s other running backs. Grab them if by chance people have already lost hope in any of your leagues. You never know who’s going to be starting in this backfield which constantly has values rising and falling. Remember: Buy low, sell high.
Bryce Brown, RB PHI
Bryce Brown’s value solely comes from handcuffing LeSean McCoy in case of injury, similarly to that of Bernard Pierce’s in Baltimore. Brown’s workload has been very limited, as expected. He is worth a roster spot, especially if you own McCoy, due to the large role of the running game. For now, McCoy will be the only focus of the running game and no running back in the NFL has looked more electric or shown more lateral quickness than him this season. However, Brown has supplanted Dion Lewis as the backup in Philadelphia.
Ryan Broyles, WR DET
It is worth noting he was active in week two’s matchup against San Francisco, even though he did not contribute. Watch for the Lions to slowly ease him in and use caution. Broyles conceded he likely won’t be at full strength until at least November. In the future, he could fill a big role in Detroit’s offense and they don’t want to jeopardize that by trying to force him along. Buy low while he is still recovering.
Daryl Richardson, RB STL
If I was bullish on Richardson last week, consider this the “.com” era of the 2000’s (minus the bubble, hopefully). Following up on suspicions from last week, it was Richardson (and not Isaiah Pead) who took over as the featured back once Steven Jackson exited the game with a groin injury. Richardson made the most of his opportunity, amassing 83 yards on 13 carries while adding 19 yards on two receptions. Meanwhile, even in Jackson’s absence, Pead received no work at all. Jackson’s injury was said to be minor and he is expected to return for week three, but the Rams will most certainly be working Richardson in more frequently following his electrifying performance.
Michael Floyd, WR ARI
After two weeks, Floyd has just one target and zero receptions. When Larry Fitzgerald has just a single reception for four yards in any given week, you know there’s a serious problem – that problem is quarterback Kevin Kolb. Yes, he delivered a win against the Patriots, which is an accomplishment. He by no means played well, though. He rather played to limit errors rather than impress, and this is the same scared behavior that has consistently drowned the Cardinals in the past. With Kolb at the wheel, it’s hard to imagine Floyd emerging if Fitzgerald can only muster four total yards. I stand by my analysis last week that has everyone calling for rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley in the near future should John Skelton not be able to return shortly.
Robert Turbin, RB SEA
Marshawn Lynch is clearly the lead back in Seattle, which has focused heavy on the run early in the season. Turbin appears to remain second on the depth chart, but in week two he shared backup duties about equally with Leon Washington, as each received a handful of carries.
Joe Adams, WR CAR
Right now, Adams is solely being used as a kick and punt return man. He is actually the only one who was getting this work for the Panthers this past week. It could be worse than showing he can contribute with elite agility and quickness in the return game. It may just take a little longer for him to get worked into the offense. For now, it’s fine to leave him on waivers and monitor his progress from a distance.
We’ll see you next week as we break down more rookie performances from week three.