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Rookie Focus: Week Six

This is 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 significance in the offense.  Rather, this weekly article will focus on the players who are working to carve out a role for themselves.

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 wire suggestions and other recommendations.

Here is the rookie report from week six:

AFC East

Jonathan Grimes, RB NYJ

Three weeks ago the Jets signed the undrafted rookie out of William & Mary off the Houston practice squad.  He had a solid preseason showing for the Texans, and now he gets his opportunity in New York following injuries to backups Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (ankle).  While Powell is targeting a week eight return, McKnight sustained a high ankle sprain which should keep him out of the lineup for some time.  For the time being, Grimes is listed as the only backup for starting running back Shonn Greene.  There will likely be another addition to the backfield this week, but signs look good for Grimes to be the change-of-pace back.  The Jets are pretty dedicated to sticking with Greene as the starter and he did have an outstanding game in week six, but Grimes could be worth a shot for your team. Greene always seems to be showing up with just enough to keep his starting job and everybody but the Jets seem ready for him to pass the baton.

Hopefully you listened to us weeks ago and added Grimes to your roster.

AFC North

Josh Cooper, WR CLE

Yet another Browns rookie wide receiver makes it onto this list.  Cooper was undrafted out of Oklahoma State where he played with rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.  Just prior to week six he was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad after injuries had decimated the already inexperience wide receiver corps in Cleveland.  Jordan Norwood was the most recent victim, and he was just placed on the “Designated for Return IR” after recently breaking out.  Josh Cooper was third in team snaps but just targeted three times totaling two receptions for 39 yards.  We’ll see if he can reignite some of the college chemistry with Weeden.  Meanwhile, there will be a bit more pressure on Josh Gordon to pick up the slack following his second consecutive solid outing.

Bobby Rainey, RB BAL

Rainey was re-signed from the Ravens’ practice squad this week.  This confirms John Harbaugh’s previous statements that he is a big part of the future plans for the organization.  Previously, Anthony Allen was kept on the active roster solely in favor of his special teams contributions.  Now it will be interesting to see how he is implemented after an impressive off-season.  Bernard Pierce remains the favorite to handcuff Ray Rice.

Marvin Jones, WR CIN

Jones varies between being a healthy scratch and playing a small number of snaps.  When he does play he consistently receives a couple of targets.  He is primarily only on the radar only in deeper leagues, but he has definitely been favored above higher draft pick Mohamed Sanu.  While there is still a long way to go this season, it is quite possible that these two will wait for next off-season to battle for relevance.  There are plenty of more experienced players on the Bengals getting snaps right now.

AFC West

Rod Streater, WR OAK

After an impressive start to the season, Streater’s presence has slowly been dwindling.  Following the return of Darrius Heyward-Bey, his opportunities are likely to decrease further.  Although Streater is still listed as the third wide receiver, in recent weeks he has been splitting snaps with others such as Juron Criner and Derek Hagan.  In week six, Hagan played fewer snaps, but he helped the offense convert some big plays when the game was still in the balance.  The wide receivers tend to change from week to week, but it goes to show that Streater has yet to lock down the third wide receiver role and lately has just been targeted a consistent few times each game.

Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN

In week six, Hillman’s workload was limited and far from notable.  The big news for him was that he passed Lance Ball on the depth chart and is now listed second only to starter Willis McGahee.  He has also seemingly taken over third down duties.  During the early weeks, he was a healthy scratch and severely limited primarily due to his lack of effectiveness in pass protection.  The fact that he has since been given the third down role to protect Peyton Manning says quite a bit about how much he has improved since the season started.  He isn’t currently a threat in cutting into McGahee’s workhorse role, but his long term value is quickly ascending.  If you were looking to buy low it is quite possible this window has already passed.

AFC South

Vick Ballard, RB IND

In Ballard’s first start he was largely unimpressive, totaling just 25 yards on eight carries, and 17 yards through the air on a pair of receptions.  He didn’t have much of an opportunity because the Colts turned to the passing game due to yet another early deficit.  Fellow running back Mewelde Moore had just as many snaps as Ballard, yet only had three carries.  Although Ballard failed to impress, Donald Brown is most likely out for another couple of weeks, so Ballard should have another chance to prove himself in a starting role.

NFC East

David Wilson, RB NYG

After Ahmad Bradshaw’s strong return, there is no doubt that he is the workhorse going forward.  Wilson, however, finally looks like he has the chance to move into that change-of-pace role with Andre Brown already ruled out following a concussion.  Without a current timetable for Brown’s return, perhaps Wilson can take advantage of this opportunity and get into the good graces with Coach Tom Coughlin following his early season fumbling setback.  In limited playing time this season, he has been quite productive.  The sample size is small (15 carries), but he has maintained a 5.8 YPC.  If he protects the ball he could potentially earn some more playing time even with the return of Brown, but he has been in this situation before and disappointed.  Expectations should probably be tempered, especially with Bradshaw’s recent success in handling a heavy workload.

Nick Foles, QB PHI

There is no doubt there is escalating pressure on Eagles’ Coach Andy Reid.  His job is currently riding on this season, and with high expectations, frustration is mounting in Philadelphia.  This can be seen with his most recent move to fire defensive coordinator Juan Castillo after Reid commented that he is going to “tear things apart.”  There has been a lot of talk that he might not stop there following Michael Vick’s low level of play and insanely high number of turnovers.  While I don’t think it would happen immediately, there is the looming possibility that rookie quarterback Nick Foles is eventually inserted into the starting role.  If the Eagles’ season begins to get away from them the move could come out of desperation.  Following Foles’ exceptional preseason, it is definitely not out of the question.  He has high upside potential and is still available in the majority of leagues.

Lance Dunbar, RB DAL

A week ago Dunbar was signed off of the practice squad.  The undrafted running back was brought in specifically for special teams purposes, however, following the injury to DeMarco Murray it will be interesting to see how the backfield snaps are assigned.  Last week Felix Jones had the vast majority of work once Murray went down, but in the past the Cowboys have made it abundantly clear they don’t view Jones as a three down back.  However, it’s hard to expect much from Dunbar because Phillip Tanner is still ahead of him on the depth chart and Murray is targeting a week eight return.

NFC West

Daryl Richardson, RB STL

It was noteworthy that Richardson split carries with and out-produced starter Steven Jackson.  Richardson finished with 76 yards on 11 carries, which was good for a 6.9 YPC.

Chris Givens, WR STL

Last week I had a question regarding rookie wide receiver Chris Givens.  It was noted he was boasting a ridiculous 51.5 yards per catch over the last two weeks.  The main thing to take away from this statistic was it was accumulated from just two total receptions, which completely exemplifies his sole use as a deep threat at this point.  On a positive note, however, he has been getting a lot of playing time.  As a point of reference, going into week six he had a total of 142 snaps relative to Danny Amendola’s 227 and Brian Quick’s 32.  Quarterback Sam Bradford was forced to find other targets with Amendola sidelined, and Givens was the primary beneficiary.  Givens led the team in snaps and finished with personal highs of seven targets, three receptions and 85 yards.  I wouldn’t want to count on him in my lineup yet, but I would expect this trend to continue.  If he is still available in your league, he could be worth scooping up.

NFC South

Doug Martin, RB TB

Doug Martin is certainly the lead back in this offense, but LeGarrette Blount has crept his way back into the mix in the last two matchups.  In both weeks four and six, the ground game has been put on the backburner, and over this time period Blount has had 13 carries relative to Martin’s 21 – he has also vultured a touchdown in each of these matchups.  Martin is clearly the more talented back, but with Blount’s size it’s quite plausible he may vulture touchdowns regularly in goal line situations.

Note: Chris Rohrer can be found @ChrisR124 on twitter. 

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jeff hemlick
10 years ago

Great list to follow. Good mix of top tier rooks along with some deep guys.

stolenmeat
10 years ago

should I drop Kevin Smith for Rainey? thoughts anyone? My other RB’s are Foster, Tate, Mathews, Turbin, Richardson, LeShoure and Grimes 16 team league.

jeff hemlick
10 years ago

While I have a pretty good guess what is going to happen to Smith going forward (not good), it is hard to say how they are going to use Rainey. He may be just there as a back up KR or they have bigger plans for getting him into space out of the backfield. Hard saying, but I like Rainey though.

With what you have already I think it is an acceptable risk to pick him up and drop Smith, but that is just my opinion.

stolenmeat
Reply to  jeff hemlick
10 years ago

Thank you, I agree, and I’ve never been shy about getting rid of guys who are known quantities for a possible lotto ticket. That’s how I ended up with Richardson.

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