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 Seven:
Brandon Bolden, RB NE
After leaving week six after further aggravating a knee injury, Bolden missed last week’s matchup with the Jets. Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead shared backup duties, although Vareen was much more effective recording 49 yards on eight attempts. Although Bolden’s status is uncertain, it is likely he will miss at least another week of action.
Stephen Hill, WR NYJ
As expected, Hill is garnering more playing time with primary receiver Santonio Holmes out for the remainder of the season. Although he wasn’t the focal point of the passing game with Jeremy Kerley having a breakout game, Hill did have the most snaps of any receiver. He finished the game with four receptions on seven targets for 55 yards. These totals could have been more impressive, but he had a key situational drop that could have extended a late drive against the Patriots to potentially secure a victory. Each of the other receivers also had drops, however none were quite as dismantling as Hill’s. Although drops have been a consistent problem for him this season, for now it would seem unlikely it would derail his playing time given the lack of depth at the position.
Josh Gordon, WR CLE
Gordon was back at it again with another respectable fantasy week – he had 59 receiving yards and yet another touchdown. The bright point of his progression is his full integration into the offense, as he led the team in number of snaps and targets. From an experience standpoint, it is great to see he is getting a fair number of looks, however it is slightly concerning he was only able to pull in two receptions from nine total targets. Over the last three weeks, this has been the trend of his production, but he should have plenty of opportunities to work on his chemistry with quarterback Brandon Weeden. With Mohamed Massaquoi’s status continuing to be in question, the only other receiver currently demanding as much playing time is Greg Little, who seems to be trending downwards as his struggle with drops continues.
Josh Cooper, WR CLE
Despite the return of fellow rookie Travis Benjamin (hamstring), Cooper still remained on the active roster and actually received more playing time. Even with a limited number of snaps (26) he was still targeted a total of seven times and had four receptions for 53 yards. It will be interesting to see how the whole receiver situation pans out once Massaquoi returns from a hamstring injury, but for the time being it appears Cooper has somewhat of an opportunity and Weeden seems to be trying to help him make the most of it. With Cooper in the slot, it is likely Massaquoi’s return would reduce Gordon’s playing time.
Chris Rainey, RB PIT
As Jonathan Dwyer thrived in the starting role, there was little need for a change-of-pace back. Even with the injuries to key backs, Rainey received limited work, although he did break one run out for an 11 yard touchdown. With the looming return of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, it is pretty clear Rainey is a situation tool and return man for the time being.
Mohamed Sanu, WR CIN
With injuries to Armon Binns and Marvin Jones, Sanu finally got his first crack at some playing time. Although it was limited, he still hauled in all of his three targets and totaled 27 yards. It’s not much to go on since he is still competing with many others for limited time, but for anyone who invested in him in their rookie draft it was at least comforting to see him take the field.
Vick Ballard, RB IND
In his second start, Ballard got the workload owners were hoping for in week six. He totaled 20 carries for 84 yards and a single 19-yard reception. The Colts started giving him the ball early and often and he averaged a respectable 4.2 YPC. Ballard looked quick and effective in open space, but seemed to tense up when faced with a tough run up the gut – it was almost like watching two different running backs. He didn’t fight for extra yardage, which is probably why he eventually lost short yardage carries to Delone Carter. Starter Donald Brown is expected to be out another week and with the matchup against the Titans, Ballard should see another favorable workload.
Alfred Morris, RB WAS
Morris truly is getting better each week, and he proved this when he had another solid week against a top run defense in the New York Giants. He tallied 120 yards on 22 carries, which was good for a 5.5 YPC. He has portrayed all the things Shanahan looks for in a lead back, but in week seven he recorded his first fumble. The fumble came early in the third quarter, and no one replaced him or took over any significant carries at any point in the second half. In most cases, this would be immediate grounds for another back to take the reins in the following week, however, with the amount of consistent success Morris has had this year, it will take more than a single fumble to unseat him as the unquestioned starter.
Ryan Broyles, WR DET
In the second half of Monday night’s game, Nate Burleson suffered a season ending broken leg. This opened the door for rookie Ryan Broyles to have some playing time in key situations as Lions were fighting an uphill battle to come back late in the game. Broyles caught three of his four targets for 51 yards and a touchdown during considerable second half playing time. This was good action for Broyles, but his long term situation was benefitted even greater. Burleson’s injury not only opens the door for significant playing time this season, but beyond as well. Burleson’s injury will keep him out through preseason action next season, in which he is due $4.5 million and puts his future with the Lions in serious question. Broyles has been cleared to play since the beginning of the season following a major ACL injury in his senior year, but he is coming much closer to being 100%. In Week Two’s report, I recommended to make an offer for him before he gets his opportunity. While his value definitely just had a spike, it’s not too late to try to buy low. Many stars seem to be aligning for his future outlook.
Doug Martin, RB TB
Martin resumed lead back duties, totaling 85 yards on 16 carries and tallying a touchdown. As expected, in the third quarter goal line situation the Buccaneers opted to give the ball to LeGarrette Blount, who was stuffed three consecutive times. This bodes well for Martin because this was Blount’s only real job and he failed to come through. Perhaps next time the Bucs won’t take out their more productive first round rookie pick.
Note: Chris Rohrer can be found @ChrisR124 on twitter.