Each week throughout the season, I’ll cover at least two rookies in the Rookie Report Card and try to always include the biggest performers from that particular week. On top of reviewing my expectations for each player coming into the league and covering how he’s performed at the NFL level to this point, I’ll actually give him a grade in three categories. Those categories are performance to date, 2018 potential, and long-term upside.
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Josh Allen, QB BUF
Week Three Stats: 16/23 passing, 200 yards, one touchdown, 10 carries, 39 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns
Like many dynasty owners who enjoy watching prospects play in the months leading up the NFL draft, I had a love/hate relationship with Allen’s prospects to become a big-time asset in our game.
It became cliché throughout the off-season to read about his impressive arm strength but every time I watched him throw, I felt it was so much more than arm strength that Allen was showing. Sure, the ball comes out of his right hand with great velocity, but his ability to get the ball out in a blink when necessary was also eye-opening to me. Additionally, he showed the ability (and guts) to drill a pass between defenders on multiple occasions while at Wyoming that few quarterbacks would attempt – let alone complete. Even making a deep out or sideline go route between a corner and safety in cover two look easy, Allen appeared to have the arm talent worthy of the high praise leading up to the draft – and I was a fan.
Obviously, the accuracy issues that Allen displayed at Wyoming have also been covered thoroughly by the media as well as dynasty writers including yours truly. It was maddening to watch him uncork a beautiful throw between defenders to pick up a third and long only to miss a wide open receiver on a crossing route on the very next play. While I was a little more forgiving than most when it came to Allen’s lack of precision, it was no doubt a concern.
Once he was selected seventh overall by the Bills, the hate from dynasty owners seemed to double. There was the narrative that a gunslinger with accuracy issues couldn’t survive the winds of Buffalo. Others swore the lack of weapons on the Bills roster were too worrisome to invest in the rookie. As an owner in many super-flex leagues, this was all music to my ears, and Allen was one of the easiest second-round rookie picks to make throughout rookie draft season.
Since then, Allen has gone from a rookie not worthy of competing with likes of A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman for a starting job, to knocking off what was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the NFL in their building over just a handful of weeks. And even the biggest naysayer had to be impressed with how he went about it.
Watching Allen play in week three, he appeared calm and under control despite being badgered by the Vikings pass rush play in and play out. Showing excellent patience in the pocket and a great feel for when he should escape, he delivered the ball on time throughout the game and with few exceptions, was accurate and avoided mistakes. More impressive than his delivery and accuracy, however, was the impact he made with his legs.
Allen made a couple of impressive plays as a runner including a hurdle of Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr to pick up a first down on third-and-ten. His first touchdown came on a ten-yard scramble where he stepped up in the pocket, raced for the goal line and alertly extended the football to the pylon for the score. His scrambling ability was on display throughout the game, running the ball when necessary but mostly using it to buy time to allow receivers time to uncover.
While many will say that Allen took what was there, constantly chose to take check downs and only took shots when receivers broke wide open, it’d only be fair to point out the multiple dropped balls including one by Kelvin Benjamin that could have been a touchdown on a perfectly thrown slant.
All things told, Allen was masterful in Minnesota in week three and dynasty owners should be thrilled with his performance. While nobody should be rushing to put him in their lineup even in deep super-flex leagues, there’s certainly hope that the critics that were so loud over the last six month could have been wrong about the gunslinger.
Dallas Goedert, TE PHI
Week Three Stats: seven receptions, 73 receiving yards, one touchdown reception (seven targets)
I live in South Dakota, so it was impossible not to get caught up in the hype surrounding Goedert over the last couple years. Throughout his career, he sped past linebackers up the seam, overpowered safeties in the red zone, and made highlight-reel catches that made onlookers think he should have been playing in the Big Ten rather than the Missouri Valley Conference.
Needless to say, I’ve been a fan of Goedert for years. Capable of working the middle of the field as an in-line tight end or slot receiver, or even make plays on the perimeter by lining up outside the numbers, his size (6’-5”, 255 pounds) and athleticism make him a matchup nightmare. I was convinced his game would translate well to the NFL and there was the potential he could make a relatively quick impact.
Then when he was drafted by the Eagles, to presumably play behind starter Zach Ertz, many dynasty owners – myself included – immediately made the assumption Goedert would have to take a back seat and wait to make an impact. The more I thought about it as the off-season progressed though, it began to make sense that the former Jackrabbit could still make an impact as a rookie in two tight end sets. Then he caught nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown in the preseason and it became apparent that dynasty owners who selected him in the second round of rookie drafts may have gotten a bargain.
With the exception of narrowly missing a highlight-reel touchdown catch on opening night against the Falcons, Goedert had a less than spectacular start to his rookie season, catching just one pass for four yards in weeks one and two and being demoted to third string a week ago. All that changed in week three, however.
Goedert was a big part of the Eagles passing game against the Colts. Catching seven passes for 73 yards, he lined up throughout the formation in the same way that the Eagles have used Ertz over the last few seasons. His touchdown came when he was lineup in line to the right and ran a simple seam route against the zone. Set free by the linebacker, it was an easy first touchdown catch.
Later, he lined up flexed out to the right of the formation and found the soft spot on a corner route between the cornerback and the safety for a gain of 20-yards. He made another catch from the slot where he forced to make multiple moves to uncover while Carson Wentz scrambled. Showcasing much of what made him such an intriguing prospect, he shined throughout the game.
Whether it was Wentz returning to the lineup, his eyes being opened after being demoted a week ago, or something else, Goedert was everything fans of the big tight end thought he could be in week three and showed his potential to be a TE1 for dynasty owners. While that upside certainly won’t be consistent as a rookie, barring an injury to Ertz, it’s obvious that Goedert has the potential to be a special tight end for years to come.
Find Dan on Twitter at @dmeylor22