2015 Fantasy Football: Rookie Report Recap
Well, that was fast. It seems like just yesterday Jameis Winston was picked number one by the Tampa Bay Bucs and commissioner Roger Goodell butchered Marcus Mariota’s name at number two in the draft back in May. Now, eight months later, both quarterbacks, along with everyone else taken in that draft, have their rookie season under their belt. Here’s a recap of their seasons.
Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall, Winston’s rookie season was a success in Tampa Bay, as he will likely win rookie of the year this year in the NFL, as the other two top candidates, Marcus Mariota and Todd Gurley, both missed time this season with injuries. However, those injuries don’t mean that Winston won by default, as he put up some of the best numbers by a quarterback in Bucs franchise history. Winston threw for over 4,000 yards in his rookie season (4,042 to be exact), something that has only been accomplished two times in NFL history (Luck – 2012, Newton – 2011). Not only is Winston just the third rookie to throw for over 4,000 yards, he is the youngest quarterback in NFL history to do so. He averaged 252.6 yards per game and threw for 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and added six more touchdowns on the ground for a total of 28. It will be interesting to see if Winston can keep the interceptions down in seasons to come, as he seems right on track for a fantastic NFL career.
Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
If it weren’t for two separate sprained MCL’s in each knee that caused him to miss four games, Mariota could have joined Winston in the 4,000-yard club. He would have had his work cut out for him, needing to throw for 295.5 yards per game in those four games that he missed, but it was still possible. The highlights for Matiota in his rookie season start in week one, when Mariota defeated Winston and the Bucs head-to-head 42-14, where he threw for four touchdowns in the first half. In fact, in the Titans three wins, Marcus Mariota had 12 touchdowns in those three games. In the nine losses with Marcus Mariota as the starter, he threw for just eight touchdowns, with three of those eight coming in a loss against the Raiders. He threw for over 300 yards twice, 367 in week three against the Colts, and 371 in week nine against the Saints. Mariota also ran for two scores, one in each game against the Jaguars.
Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams
It is a shame that the Rams just filed their application for relocation, because the people in St. Louis have a star in Todd Gurley, who is worth the price of admission on his own. Gurley missed three games this season, and was eased in for his first game of the year in week three. Starting in week four when the Rams cut him loose, Gurley ripped off four consecutive games of rushing for more than 125-yards a game, and finished with 10 rushing touchdowns in 12 games as a starter. He led all rookies in rushing by a mile, totaling 1,106 yards, and was third in the NFL, behind only Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin. Gurley averaged 4.5 yards per carry on a team that does not have a threat at quarterback.
Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks
Raise your hand if you said that Thomas Rawls was going to lead the Seahawks in rushing this season, over Marshawn Lynch? Liar. Rawls burst on the scene, filling in quite nicely for Lynch while he missed nine games with a number of different injuries, with a sports hernia being the biggest of the bunch. Rawls averaged 5.6 yards per carry, as he finished the season with 830 yards on 147 carries and four touchdowns. Rawls was second amongst rookies in rushing yards this season, only behind Gurley.
TJ Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars
It was a fine rookie season for the former star at Alabama, as TJ Yeldon was just one of many weapons for Blake Bortles in that Jacksonville offense. He ran for 740 yards on 182 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and reached the end zone just twice on the ground. If there was one disappointment this season for Yeldon, it was the lack of touchdowns he had, as Bortles seemed to hog them all through the air.
Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers
Where do you start with the season Melvin Gordon had? No, that is not because he tore it up. Gordon was, perhaps, the biggest rookie disappointment in 2015, rushing for just 641 yards on 184 carries, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. To be fair, Gordon plays in a very pass heavy offense and is running behind a horrendous offensive line. With that being said, there is still no excuse to rush 184 times and not find the end zone even once.
Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
Where do you start with Amari Cooper? He was the first Oakland receiver to have over 1,000 yards receiving since Randy Moss. He caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns, with a 68-yard touchdown highlighting his season. He averaged 14.9 yards per catch and had 16 catches of longer than 20-yards. Cooper struggled at times this season, but he is well on his way to having a fantastic career, as the Raiders offense is only getting better. The addition of Michael Crabtree this offseason only opened up coverage for Cooper. As he continues to learn and get better, he is well on his way to becoming a fantasy stud for many years to come.
Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
I did not give Jamison Crowder much love this season on these rookie reports; however, he was second in the NFL amongst rookie receivers in catches this season with 59. Crowder did a nice job filling in for DeSean Jackson when he went down with a hamstring injury, and once he returned, he gave the Redskins three legitimate receiving threats, and four if you include Pierre Garcon. Crowder finished with 604 yards and 59 catches, 10.2 yards per catch, and two touchdowns. Crowder will never be Amari Cooper in terms of talent, or even results on the field, but he is a nice option for Kirk Cousins and will likely get better as his career progresses, making him a possible sleeper option late in drafts next season.
Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings
Diggs did not dress in the Vikings’ first three games of the season. However, just like Todd Gurley, when he was inserted into the lineup, he burst on to the scene with 25 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns. It looked like Diggs was going to be the next Odell Beckham Jr., as he led the Vikings in each of those four games, and sometimes had more targets than the rest of the team combined. However, Diggs would only have two games for the rest of the season where he had more than 50 yards and combined for just two touchdowns in the final nine games, both of them coming in week 15 against the Bears. Weeks four, six, seven and eight were great for the rookie out of Maryland, but weeks nine to 17 were not. He has the chance to be a terrific playmaker for the Vikings next season, as long as they can get the ball in his hands.
DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins
Parker had just four catches for 49 yards combined in the first 11 weeks of the season. In weeks 12-17, Parker had 22 catches for 445 yards and three touchdowns, as he took advantage of the playing time he received. He made a few highlight reel catches as well, as the rookie out of Louisville appears to be on his way to becoming a nice second option behind Jarvis Landry for Ryan Tannehill to try to become a franchise quarterback for the Dolphins.
It was an up and down year for DGB, as he finished the season with 32 catches for 549 yards and four touchdowns. DGB was third amongst rookies in catches that went for more than 20-yards with 10, and he did not fumble the ball once this season. He had a few costly drops, however, with a couple of them leading to tipped interceptions. He showed many flashes of brilliance and appears to have good chemistry with Mariota, as he had two games over 100 yards receiving in the final three games that Mariota started, including a 47-yard touchdown against the Jaguars. DGB is still raw in his development, but there is no question that he has the skill and size to be a dynamic receiver in the NFL.
Well there you have it. The 2015 regular season is a wrap, and it is on to the playoffs and the offseason, only to get ready to do this all over again in August when preseason football begins.