Rookie Report Card: Preseason Week 2

Each week throughout the preseason I will grade rookies on a scale of A-F. I will also include their progression, being positive(+) or negative(-). If there is not enough to go on for one week, or a player comes out of nowhere the progression will end up in a neutral category. My grading system will be based off watching all 16 games each week!

 

Running Backs:

Devonta Freeman, ATL:

Stats: 6 Att for 31 yards, 1 Rec for 11.

Talks of Steven Jackson not making the team hit social media this week. I honestly don’t see this happening as it would have been done already. Although Atlanta has several young running backs that have looked good so far this preseason, Freeman is most certainly one of them. He is a player I am very excited to see get more reps in the third week. I don’t see him vaulting his way into the starting roster quite yet, but I do see the possibility later this season. Keep in mind that Antone Smith might also be worth a second look!

Grade: A   Progression: +

Bishop Sankey, TEN:

Stats: 6 Att for 31 yards.

Wow has Sankey’s stock dropped! He really has not looked bad in the preseason and yet I’m seeing him fall into the 5th round of multiple drafts. I’m sorry but if you land this kid in that spot you are going to be happy this year. I looked at his fumble this week and the play was a disaster from the start. The defense was in the backfield the moment the ball was snapped, as a result it was a bad exchange not being Sankey’s fault. Bishop did have several good runs this week showing his ability to bounce it outside. As of now, I am still confident in the first running back selected in this year’s NFL draft!

Grade: B   Progression: +

Jeremy Hill, CIN:

Stats: 3 Att for 16 yards, 2 Rec for 13.

It’s funny all we hear this off season is how much the Bengals will run the ball with new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. They have not shown that to be the case, as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton have looked in mid season form! I think this will be a very balanced offense this year, and I do expect Hill to get plenty of looks. If he does take the Green Ellis role, don’t be surprised if he racks up 200 touches and around 800 yards. Not bad for a guy going in the late rounds of current drafts!

Grade: B   Progression: +

Carlos Hyde, SF:

Stats: 4 Att for 11 yards, 1 Rec for 9.

While watching this game I have to note that Frank Gore did not look like an old man. I am starting to think that this will be more of a committee backfield, which will drop both players value. One more thing to look at is how terrible the 49ers defense has been. If this keeps up Kaepernick will be throwing a lot more than we’re use to seeing. I am looking forward to seeing a extended look at both Gore and Hyde this week to better evaluate this situation!

Grade: C   Progression: +

Andre Williams, NYG:

Stats: 8 Att for 19 yards.

We might be looking at the worst offense in the league this year in the New York Giants. They look like the perfect team to avoid all together this year in fantasy. Williams has not looked bad so far this preseason, but it is very hard to trust a running back with a surrounding this bad! Unless I see a dramatic change in week 3 I won’t be drafting Williams or any NYG!

Grade: D+   Progression: -

Lache Seastrunk, WAS:

Stats: 7 Att for 35 yards.

There’s not much to talk about when it comes to Seastrunk this week, other than the fact that he is not moving up the depth chart. Probably time we move on from him at this point :(

Grade: D   Progression: -

Terrence West, CLE:

Stats: 8 Att for 31 yards.

Well what do you know, West is receiving his second F and Ben Tate is climbing the rankings! I have said it before, I do not see what all the hype is with this kid. Let someone else grab West and be happy you have Ben Tate in the 5th round!

Grade: F   Progression: -

Our neutral category for running backs include: James White, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Juwan Thompson. I will be monitoring all of these running backs closely in the next week to see if they can repeat results or get more playing time.

Wide Receivers:

Jordan Matthews, PHI:

Stats: 9 Rec for 104 yards (on 9 targets).

Hey that’s the Jordan Matthews I was expecting! Wow what a game he had, I truly believe he is the one receiver to target in Philly this season! He lined up all over the field, kind of like DeSean Jackson use to do, and he caught one target after another. Jordan ran pristine routes and showed off his outstanding hands. I admit I was worried last week, but Matthews made up for it in a big way!

Grade: A+ Progression: +

John Brown, AZ:

Stats: 1 Rec for 22 yards.

There’s one name that continues to be called this summer, John Brown. I have not heard one bad thing about this kid, not from a single coach, commentator, or player. He has continued to impress me all off season, and this is a player I want on all my teams. He still is being undrafted in most leagues, so draft him and thank me later!

Grade: A   Progression: +

Bradin Cooks, NO:

Stats: 1 Rec for 16 yards.

When you look at this week’s stats you might think a small regression? I don’t see that being the case with Cooks. He was still the second most targeted receiver for the Saints. Although his ADP has crept into the un-draftable range, I see huge upside for him playing in one of most explosive offenses. I’m willing to risk a 8th maybe 7th round pick on his massive potential!

Grade: A   Progression: +

Cody Latimer, DEN:

Stats: 1 Rec for 33 yards and a TD.

Well we’re finally adding one of my favorite deep sleepers to this report card! Cody Latimer showed off his skills this week as he made a defender look silly and made a spectacular diving catch for his first NFL touchdown! I think it’s time we start looking at him as a late round flier.

Grade: B+   Progression: +

Mike Evans, TB:

Stats: 2 Rec for 52 yards with 1 fumble.

If Evans could have just held onto the football for one more yard he would have had his first NFL touchdown. He looked much better this week, showing a better understanding of the offense. Although his ADP is not too bad, I could see Evans being a boom or bust play and a major headache this season.

Grade: B   Progression: +

Kelvin Benjamin, CAR:

Stats: 2 Rec for 41 yards.

I’m watching the Panther game and can’t help but think Newton does not look good. The time missed by Cam really showed on the field this week, and it could hurt Benjamin’s production this season. They do not have a rapport built, and although I like Kelvin I must see improvements this week.

Grade: C+   Progression: +

Sammy Watkins, BUF:

Stats: Zero due to rib injury.

The moment Watkins was drafted I hated where he was going. Then I watched E.J. Manuel in the preseason and can’t get over his regression as a NFL QB. Watkins this week had a rib injury which to me is just one more reason to stay away from him this year! No way will he be worth a 8th round pick, and he won’t be on any team of mine this year. The Bills could be shaping up to be another team to simply avoid this season.

Grade: F   Progression: -

Our neutral category for wide receivers is closed. I will update this if anyone breaks out this week!

Rookie Report Card: Preseason Week 1

Each week throughout the preseason I will grade rookies on a scale of A-F. I will also include their progression, being positive(+) or negative(-). If there is not enough to go on for one week, or a player comes out of nowhere the progression will end up in a neutral category. My grading system will be based off watching all 16 games each week!

Running Backs:

Bishop Sankey, TEN:

Stats: 13 Att for 37 yards, 3 Rec for 38 with 1 TD.

Sankey entered the game in the second quarter, as Eddie George started raving about him throughout the game. He managed a few solid runs despite the weather being disastrous. I also saw him pick up a blitz real nicely, giving me comfort that he can be a three down back the Titans wanted him to be. For his first NFL game, totaling 75 yards on 16 touches with a TD it’s hard not to be impressed.

Grade: A   Progression: +

Carlos Hyde, SF:

Stats: 5 Att for 39 yards.

Hyde was not in the game for too long, however he made his presence felt immediately. He looked like a running back ready to take over for a aging Frank Gore. He showed excellent vision and the ability to run between the tackles. If he keeps this up throughout the preseason Gores job is in jeopardy.

Grade: A   Progression: +

Andre Williams, NYG:

Stats: 7 Att for 35 yards.

Williams looks like a Tom Coughlin running back. Big strong bruising type, the guy you don’t want to tackle. There’s already talk of a committee backfield with him and Rashad Jennings, and I agree. Although Williams may have more value in standard leagues, a single injury could vault him into must start territory.

Grade: A   Progression:+

Lache Seastrunk, WAS:

Stats: 12 Att for 63 yards.

Although Seastrunk was not in the game until the 4th quarter, he made his coaching staff take another look at him this week. His first run went for 19 yards and showed great burst, with excellent lateral movement. He is low on the depth chart as of now, but if he can continue to impress he will push Roy Helu for the 3rd down back.

Grade: B+   Progression: +

Jeremy Hill, CIN:

Stats: 6 Att for 36 yards.

It’s important to note that Green Ellis looked good in this game too, so Hill’s role might not be what everyone is thinking. Outside of Giovani Bernard, I won’t be looking to draft another Bengal running back. However Hill did look good hitting holes in the short amount of time he was in.

Grade: B   Progression: +

Devonta Freeman, ATL:

Stats: 10 Att for 50 yards & 1 Rec for 57.

Not a lot of impressive plays for Freeman until the 4th quarter when he ripped off 57 yards on a wheel route. Miami’s defense looked poor against the run, and the end result was each Atlanta running back having success. I need to see more from Devonta, to start moving him up the draft boards.

Grade: B-   Progression: +

Terrence West, CLE:

Stats: 10 Att for 22 yards & 1 Rec for 13.

West’s college tape really didn’t impress me, and this performance reinforced that. After averaging a measly 2.2 ypc and losing a fumble, I think it’s safe to say he lost ground to Ben Tate as the Browns starting running back.

Grade: F   Progression: -

Our neutral category for running backs include: James White, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Charles Sims, Juwan Thompson. I will be monitoring all of these running backs closely in the next week to see if they can repeat results or get more playing time.

Wide Receivers:

John Brown, AZ:

Stats: 5 Rec for 87 yards.

Might be time to write a entire article on how much I like John Brown. He has been compared to Marvin Harrison more than once, and has looked great throughout all off season. He had a very good 1st NFL game totaling 87 yards which could have been even better if he was not brought down by a defender for a deep pass interference call. Brown was consistently open and showed off his good hands more than once. With his rapport with Palmer already developed, he is shaping up to be a draft day steal since he is going undrafted in most leagues!

Grade: A+   Progression: +

Bradin Cooks, NO:

Stats: 5 Rec for 55 yards with 1 TD.

Every route I saw Cooks run was pristine. He is really showing his understanding of the Saints offense and should emerge as a great weapon for Drew Brees this season. His touchdown catch was nothing short of sensational when he made a cutback on a dime. His ADP is going to keep rising as a result, which will make it hard to land him in drafts.

Grade: A+   Progression: +

Kelvin Benjamin, CAR:

Stats: 1 Rec for 29 yards with 1 TD.

Thought to be the most raw receiver in this year’s top group of rookies, he’s out to prove all the scouts wrong. He is off to a good start as he caught a deep TD pass against the Bills starting CB Stephon Gilmore. Not much else to go on in this game, as he was overthrown on his other deep route.

Grade: B   Progression: +

Sammy Watkins, BUF:

Stats: 3 Rec for 21 yards.

All the hype surrounding Watkins this summer and yet it has not showed in game action. I truly believe E.J. Manuel is a bust and will hold Watkins back. That accompanied by a team looking to pound the rock, Sammy is looking like a player to avoid come draft day.

Grade: D   Progression: -

Mike Evans, TB:

Stats: Big fat zero

Evans who is only 20 years old looked lost in his preseason debut. He came up empty on his only two targets of the day, and truly lacked confidence. We must see major improvement from Evans to even consider drafting the 6′ 5″ 231 lb receiver.

Grade: F   Progression: -

Jordan Matthews, PHI:

Stats: 4 Rec for 14 yards.

The first bad sign for Matthews is he saw zero starter snaps. When he was in, he dropped three of his seven targets. This is a player that has to produce for Philadelphia, and if he doesn’t that receiving core is in trouble. I hope to see better results from Jordan next week!

Grade: F   Progression: -

Our neutral category for wide receivers include: Cody Latimer and Charles Johnson. I will be monitoring both of these wide outs closely in the next week and will look to add more to the list.

2014 Fantasy Football Busts

To me a fantasy Bust is someone who is drafted to high and does not live up their expected ADP. When I am trying to find a bust, it might not be because of the player. A lot of times a bust will derive from a coaching change, a contract dispute, or a team trending in the wrong direction. This is my list of Bust’s!

 

Jamal Charles, RB, Chiefs:

Yes I know this might sound crazy, but let me tell you why I think one of the most talented running backs in the league will be a bust! First off the running back position changes dramatically year to year, making it very difficult for a player to repeat as the number one in this position. Charles lost three starting lineman, making his o-line one of the worst in the league. That accompanied by an offense that can’t attack you deep or spread the defense, will only create more problems for Charles. As defenses will key in on him, he will face eight in the box all year long. If that’s not bad enough he has one of the toughest strengths of schedules for running backs. He is currently being drafted as a top two pick, and he will not live up to that expectation this season.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks:

Another star running back from last season lands on my list. I love “beast mode”, but this year I do not want him on any of my teams. He has contemplated retirement, and now is in the middle of a holdout. These are two giant red flags when you are talking about spending a valuable pick on a key player. Seattle is not going to pay him what he wants and I honestly don’t see him playing this year. Pete Carol knows that he has other running backs in the stable and is more than prepared to roll with them. Throw in the amount of workload he has received the last three seasons (almost 1,100 touches), and I will be passing on him all day long.

Update 7/31: Lynch is back in camp after retooling his contract this year. He still is on my bust list however for the reasons stated above.

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans:

This is one of the most talented players in the league, and all this guy wants to do is win. Houston does not give him this chance, Johnson is fully aware and wanted out this off-season. The Texans refused to trade him, and here we are with a humble but disgruntled player who I question his motivation for this season. Factor in all the changes and Gary Kubiak a man who force fed Johnson for many years not in Houston anymore, I will be avoiding Andre at his current ADP.

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns:

How quickly things can change, one of my prized sleepers of last season now lands on my bust list. Cameron finished last season catching 80 balls for 917 yards and seven td’s. Those numbers where good enough to rank him 5th among the position. There were two men responsible for his huge increase in stats, Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski. Both who are out of Cleveland this season. Although the numbers look good on paper, he had a very inconsistent year, finishing the season on a downswing. I would fully expect Cameron’s stat line to dramatically decrease despite being the number one target for the Browns this season.

2014 Fantasy Football Breakouts

Identifying a breakout candidate, I’m looking for a player who can far exceed his ADP and one you’re willing to reach for on Draft Day. I believe to win consistently in fantasy you must make your own opinions, and take the risk on players that can excel in their current situations.

When I am trying to identify a breakout player I’m looking at three things. I want someone who has a proven track record on the verge of doing something great, a stud who is likely to have a career year, or a rookie who can have a immediate impact . Extra motivation such as a player’s contract year (show me the money), is always something to consider too. Those are the kind of players I have identified as my Breakouts!

 

Kendall Wright, WR, Titans:

Wright posted solid numbers last year with 94 receptions, 1,079 yards and two scores. He finished 20th at the position with 213 fantasy points. Enter Ken Whisenhunt and his up tempo offense. Whisenhunt has done wonders for previous receivers such as Keenan Allen from last season, who could have won Offensive Rookie of the Year, if not for Eddie Lacy and his beastness. The only thing that could hold Kendall back this year is his QB Jake Locker. If Locker can step up and stay healthy, the sky is the limit for Wright this season.

 

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers:

Crabtree is healthy this season coming off of a Achilles injury, and is in a contract year. The extra motivation for him is a bonus since he’s Kaepernicks favorite target. He proved that in 2012 when Kaepernick took over the starting gig and targeted Crabtree with a heavy dose. Over the course of those seven games Michael had 41 receptions, 595 yards and five touchdowns. With them already having a great rapport, I see San Francisco opening up the offense more this season. This can only improve Crabtree’s stat line and makes him a great Breakout candidate.

 

Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans:

Rookie running backs can often be over looked, and thus become great values. Look at Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard’s ADP from last season. I was high on both of them, and ultimately they were both draft day steals! I see this being the case for the Huskie prospect this season. He is behind one of the best offensive lines in the league and has a great strength of schedule. There is no competition for touches at his position, just another reason to like this kid. Looking at Chris Johnson’s consistent top 12 finishes over the years, I only see high potential for Sankey this season.

 

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings:

Let’s start of by saying this kid can ball! After getting use to the offense last season, he started to show what he’s capable of, and that is star quality. He not only has another year in the league but gets offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Turner has done wonders for past wide receivers, and helped produce my favorite breakout from last year, Josh Gordon. With a great offensive line and improved quarterback play, I see Patterson as a shoe in No. 2 fantasy receiver with No. 1 upside!

2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers

Possibly the best part of being a fantasy buff, is digging deep to find those hidden gems we call sleepers! Sleepers generally are late round picks that we can load up on and hope for exceptional value. If you are wrong on a sleeper, it’s no big deal, cut them and look to the waiver wire. Here’s my list of sleepers!

 

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings:

The Gronk-sized tight end signed a brand new deal with Minnesota, inking the former Irish star for five years worth 40 million. That’s a lot of dough to pay someone and is a great show of confidence in this young player. Now let’s get to the Norv Turner magic and what he creates for a tight end. He likes to spread the field with speed receivers and work the tight end in the middle. He has had great success over his career with tight ends such as Antonio Gates, and last year’s breakout star Jordan Cameron. I fully expect Minnesota to use Rudolph like Cameron, and that means a huge increased stat line which will lead to one heck of a value on draft day!

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks:

Michael is electric, any time he has the ball he can score. At Texas A&M he was a star, averaging 5.3 ypc over the course of 529 carries. He added 44 catches with a 7.3 ypc and a total of 35 touchdowns, in the 40 games he played. The Seahawks had a plan when they drafted him in the second round of last year’s draft. Though in small doses, he showed flashes of brilliance throughout the year. Bring in Marshawn Lynch’s contract disputes, and his massive work load (almost 1,100 touches the last three seasons), Michael not only could be a steal in drafts but if Lynch goes down early, you have yourself a bona fide number one running back. I would look to draft Christine in the 8th or 9th round of drafts this season.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons:

Atlanta has talked Freeman up as their three down back. That being said, it won’t take much for him to supplant a aging Steven Jackson to become their go to running back. Jackson has been slowing down for several years now and has well over 2,500 career carries. I also don’t have much faith in Jacquizz Rodgers who has had ample amounts of opportunities, but only has proven his receiving abilities. I feel that there is no value in drafting Jackson or Rodgers this season, and can see Freeman running away with the starting gig.

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams:

Bradford was on pace for a career year, working with a young wide receiving core and a muddled backfield. He then tore his ACL at Carolina Week 7. His rehab has went well and he should be fine for the start of this season. He comes back with a receiving corps led by speed demon Tavon Austin, a outstanding offensive line, and physically gifted running back in Zac Stacy. I think too many people sleep on Bradford because of the tuff smash mouth division he’s playing in. He will be a great quarter back to stream, play match ups, or simply to have for insurance/bye week replacement.

Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos:

This guy has been on my radar for quite a while. He was a dominant wide receiver in college with some of the best hands I have ever seen. I have watched a ton of tape on this kid and he has thoroughly impressed me. His size 6’3″, 215 lbs accompanied by a 4.41 speed, led Todd McShay to say he is the most underrated player in this year’s draft. Beat writers are impressed with Latimer in his early debut receiving passes from Manning. I can’t see how Denver can keep this guy off the field (especially in the redzone), with an aging Wes Welker, and slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders. I think there’s plenty of points to spread across the number one offense and expect Latimer to get his share.

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