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Rookie Focus: Week Fourteen

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 Fourteen:

AFC East

Brandon Bolden, RB NE

Week fourteen marked Bolden’s return from a four game suspension for his use of a performance enhancing substance.  He was active and did play, but was extremely limited as expected, finishing with just two carries for 11 yards.  He is now on the back end of the depth chart in New England behind three other effective backs.  He has flashed his abilities and shown some promise, however he is just flier in deep leagues.

AFC North

Josh Gordon, WR CLE

There has been so much focus on the rookie quarterbacks this year that many improving players have gone unnoticed.  One of these players is the supplemental pick out of Baylor, Josh Gordon.  Over the course of thirteen games so far this season, he has quietly amassed 732 receiving yards.  The beginning of his season was relatively quiet, but as of late he has really been starting to heat up.  Over the past four games he has averaged just under nine targets, six receptions and 80 receiving yards per game.  If he keeps up this recent pace, which is by no means unrealistic, he will be flirting with a 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie season.

AFC West

Rod Streater, WR OAK

In recent weeks Streater has gained an uptick in looks and production.  Right now he sits as the third wide receiver in Oakland, however you could argue neither Denarius Moore nor Darrius Heyward-Bey has truly been a number one wide receiver.  Over the last two weeks, Streater has boasted a very high yards per reception, which I don’t usually find enticing, but it does show his big play potential.  We know how Carson Palmer doesn’t shy from taking shots downfield, so if Streater is emerging as a reliable downfield threat he could be valuable in the future.  While he is not yet a consistent threat for even the Raiders, it is a situation worth monitoring, especially in the 2013 preseason.

NFC East

Bryce Brown, RB PHI

After Bryce Brown took the fantasy world by storm just weeks ago, he was held to six rushing yards on 12 carries in week fourteen (and just 34 yards on 16 carries last night).  This could very well have been enough to keep teams from advancing from the first round of playoffs after it was assumed he would be a safe play down the stretch.  The situation, however, remains unchanged for the time being.  Bryce Brown will undoubtedly continue to be the lead back as long as LeSean McCoy is out.  I would be surprised to see the Eagles have another pass heavy game with rookie quarterback Nick Foles under center.

Nick Foles, QB PHI

Foles finally had a game worthy of the stat book.  In weeks thirteen and fourteen, he had 632 passing yards, four total touchdowns, and zero turnovers.  If he wants to continue to make a case for him to stay entrenched as the Eagles starting quarterback, he will need more games like this.  Even more importantly, he would like to end the season with a couple of wins. Last night was up and down, but he’s developing on the fly.

Kirk Cousins, QB WAS

Following the injury to Robert Griffin III late in the fourth quarter, Cousins came in to throw the game winning touchdown.  The injury could potentially have some serious consequences to Griffin owners who rode him to the playoffs.  Although Cousins stepped in admirably for the Redskins, he would be an unfavorable substitute for Griffin in the fantasy playoffs.  Hopefully you have a better option if Griffin is not able to start.

David Wilson, RB NYG

It has been a frustrating season for Wilson owners to see every near opportunity for extra work to be passed over by coach Tom Coughlin.  With Andre Brown already done for the season, the first half injury to Ahmad Bradshaw left Coughlin no choice but to hand an expanded role to the high selection rookie back – and boy, did he take advantage.  Wilson only had 13 carries on the day, but he didn’t let it hold him back from reaching the century mark and adding two rushing touchdowns.  In addition, he had a stellar return game, in which he added 227 yards and another score.  Although it seems possible for Wilson to get a heavier workload going forward, it would be unreasonable to expect it.  Even if Bradshaw can’t go, Coughlin seems determined to keep Wilson’s workload limited.  This may be the way things are down the stretch, but Wilson has the chance to earn Coughlin’s trust for next year.  The Giants can’t count on Bradshaw’s fragile body forever.

NFC West

LaMichael James, RB SF

James finally made his NFL debut in week fourteen.  He was used as Frank Gore’s primary backup on Sunday after Brandon Jacobs looked awful in week thirteen.  James totalled 45 yards on nine touches, though Anthony Dixon did get the goal line carry.  It appears James will be used in this role for the remainder of the season.  Taking over Kendall Hunter’s role has some value, but it will go a long way in proving himself for an expanded role next season.  It should be noted Frank Gore has looked solid and clearly still has gas left in the tank.  It should not be assumed San Francisco is looking to replace him in the immediate future.

Robert Turbin, RB SEA

Week fourteen was our first extended look at Robert Turbin.  Marshawn Lynch’s back tightened up, and with Seattle up huge they had the luxury of letting him rest and Turbin taking the reins.  He had a full workload, totaling 20 carries for 108 yards.  Seattle’s coaching staff has few worries about Lynch down the stretch, but it was nice to see they do in fact view Turbin as the type of back who can handle this kind of workload. Turbin, likewise, showed them he could be successful given the opportunity.

You can follow me on Twitter @ChrisR124.

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