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 Eight along with news from the NFL trade deadline:
Ryan Tannehill, QB MIA
Early in week eight’s loss to the Jets, Tannehill left with a bone bruise to his left knee. An MRI later revealed there was no structural damage. Although the Dolphins were optimistic about his status for week nine’s matchup earlier in the week he has been practicing on the cautious side and splitting first team reps with last year’s incumbent, Matt Moore. Last week Moore filled in very well and was able to lead the team to a victory against a division rival. While he played well in week eight he is not currently a threat to Tannehill’s starting job. The Dolphins are very impressed with the rookie so far this season and when he is fully healthy he will retain the starting role. If he is not 100% it is quite possible Moore could earn another spot start. After a serviceable performance last week, the Dolphins may feel they can win with Moore and don’t want to rush Tannehill back to soon. This situation shouldn’t effect your dynasty team. Tannehill is the quarterback to own in your league, and has a bright outlook, but hopefully you aren’t counting on him yet to lead your fantasy team to victories.
Lamar Miller, RB MIA
With Daniel Thomas back from his second head injury this season it appears Miller has found his spot back on the bench. Thomas has resumed full backup duties for Reggie Bush. This week Thomas and Bush actually split carries while Lamar Miller received zero work. If you own Miller don’t lose faith, Daniel Thomas has been unable to stay healthy in his career so far. Miller will continue to get opportunities to prove himself in the future, and up to this point has performed well whenever called upon.
Trent Richardson, RB CLE
Richardson posted his second 100 yard rushing effort of the season in week eight. It was previously believed he would continue to have a limited impact following a bruising to his ribs several weeks ago. This week he took on a full load with 24 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown and emerged unscathed. It appears he will resume a full workload going forward.
Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
Hillman continues to see his role and workload increased in this surging Peyton Manning led offense. Willis McGahee had a full workload and was very effective, but due to the large amount of rushing attempts Hillman picked up some extra work. This work didn’t come in garbage time and was actually spread out consistently throughout the game, periodically relieving McGahee. Over the course of the game he amassed 14 carries for 86 yards, which was good for 6.1 YPC. Not only does he remain the unquestioned number two back, but this kind of usage shows he is earning the trust of the Denver coaching staff and a subsequent larger role in the offense.
Vick Ballard, RB IND
In week eight Donald Brown was back in the lineup, but as expected Ballard did not disappear from the backfield. The two backs split carries, though Brown did out-produce the rookie, while Delone Carter handled the goal line work and vultured the rushing touchdown. Ballard’s starlight moment came in overtime when he took a quick reception to the house for a 16 yard touchdown. He showed some real heart sacrificing his body while diving at the goal line in what is one of my favorite images this year. After scoring the game winning touchdown and otherwise contributing well, he is certainly making a case to take some more touches from Brown. Brown is still not fully recovered from an injury and his status is in question for week nine.
Justin Blackmon, WR JAX
Following the Jaguars’ decision to send wide receiver Mike Thomas to Detroit the immediate reaction may be that a window could open for another receiver. The reality is Thomas never consistently received many targets from week to week. There isn’t really a role left to be filled. Furthermore, Blackmon entered the season top on the depth chart and his inability to immediately develop into a playmaker has not been because of Thomas’s presence. In the first half of the season Cecil Shorts has established himself as the primary target for sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has failed to produce at the NFL level and leads a stagnant offense, which is not able to produce two consistent fantasy receiving options. Blackmon owners must be patient with their high draft pick.
Nick Foles, QB PHI
It’s been more of the same in Philadelphia. Not any ground breaking news, but if Foles is still available in your league now may be your last chance to get him cheaply or possibly off waivers in thinner leagues. By the time Foles is given a start in Philadelphia it will be too late to grab him, so if you have an extra roster spot now is the time to take a chance.
Ryan Broyles, WR DET
In week eight Broyles had three receptions on five targets. While he only recorded 37 yards receiving, he did have another touchdown. It’s another step in the right direction as he is on his way to earning the trust of Matthew Stafford despite his midseason integration into the offense.
Another potential effect on his usage is the Detroit Lions’ trade for Mike Thomas from the Jaguars. It is an interesting move after losing veteran receiver Nate Burleson for the remainder of the season due to injury.
It seems primarily a roster move for depth. The idea is to replace the lost veteran presence for down the stretch, though Thomas has failed to produce even when given ample opportunities. It’s hard to see Thomas having large impact, especially since Titus Young and Broyles have already begun to step up, but I doubt the Lions would have sacrificed a mid-round pick if they didn’t plan on using him. Thomas has seen time in the slot so it is definitely possible it could limit Broyles’ snaps for the remainder of the season. I don’t think this means the Lions lack confidence in Broyles, but rather that they don’t want to rush him back from injury too fast. He is still recovering from his ACL tear and they don’t want to put too much pressure on him and his body if he isn’t quite ready to handle a full workload. It is unclear how Thomas will be used and is worth monitoring in the upcoming weeks, though I don’t see it hurting Broyles’ long term value.
Daryl Richardson, RB STL
In week eight the run game wasn’t a major part of the Rams’ offense as they were getting stomped on by the Patriots, but Richardson has continued to split carries with Steven Jackson. Richardson by far out-produced Jackson and boasted a 7.6 YPC. He did fumble, though it did not result in a turnover and is unlikely to result in his work being limited. Though there were many rumors revolving around sending Jackson to another suitor, the deadline passed without any moves. This isn’t the first news signaling the Rams are ready to move on from Jackson and hand the reigns to their younger talent.
Chris Givens, WR STL
With Danny Amendola out due to injury, Givens has continued to see an increase in targets. In the first quarter of week eight, he beat the Patriots secondary with a double move for a deep touchdown. Unfortunately, not long after, he left the game early with an injury of his own. Givens was diagnosed with a bruised toe and significantly limited for the remainder of the game. So far this season he has 13 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns, which is good for over 25 yards per reception. In Amendola’s absence he has been the team leader in snaps on a weekly basis and become a low reception candidate with big play potential.
Following a bye he is expected to be back in action for week ten, but the Rams are very optimistic about the return of Amendola as well. This may decrease Givens’s playing time a bit, but shouldn’t change the role he has developed. He has engraved himself as a deep threat in this offense and the Rams will continue to use him to open up the field. His long term outlook remains bright and he deserves to be rostered.
Doug Martin, RB TB
In the rookie performance of the week, Martin officially broke out with the most impressive outing of his young career. He had his first 100 yard rushing game, but contributed to the passing game as well, finishing with 214 total yards and two touchdowns. It was quite a fantasy week for him, but he was likely caught on many teams’ benches as LeGarrette Blount had been eating into his workload and vulturing the goal line carries. This week Martin was the back who received the goal line carry and punched one in from a yard out. Unfortunately the Buccaneers also had some bad news this week as their left guard Carl Nicks will be out for the season. He is a premier option at his position, and will definitely affect the running game, but it will be tough to sit Martin going forward. He has revealed his fantasy upside by showing can do with a full workload.