2015 Fantasy Football: Week 13 Rookie Report
Marcus Mariota –QB –Tennessee Titans & Jameis Winston – QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I try extremely hard not to be biased in the Rookie of the Year debate. Really, the only two players that are in the conversation are Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Both of the rookie quarterbacks have been exceptional this season, which makes everyone around the two teams happy. The Redskins were happy when they took RGIII second and the Colts were happy they were able to take Andrew Luck with the number one pick just a few year ago, however, and now one of those teams would probably do anything to swap places. Although we have only completed 13 weeks in the NFL season, it appears that both the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Tennessee Titans are completely satisfied with the guy they have running their team.
Marcus Mariota had perhaps the best complete game of his young career in Week 13, completing 20 of 29 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans 42-39 win on Sunday. Mariota also had his second rushing touchdown of the season, taking a third down and seven from their own 13-yard line 87 yards for a touchdown. Mariota finished with 112 yards on the ground on nine carries, which are career high numbers all around as a rusher. The Heisman trophy winner had 380 total yards and four touchdowns, and one interception that receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was at fault for. DGB might as well have wrapped the ball in wrapping paper and hand delivered it to the Jaguars defensive back. He made up for it later in the game, however with a 47 yard touchdown, and he finished the game with 119 yards on five catches and the lone touchdown.
Winston had a great game of his own on Sunday, with his 20 yard run for a first down being the highlight of the game. Winston appeared to be wrapped up and down well short of the line to gain, but he spun out of trouble and fought his way to extend the drive. He led the Bucs to a win over the Falcons with a late touchdown pass to Mike Evans with just 1:39 left in the game. Winston finished with 227 yards passing, completing 18 of 27 passes, and added his sixth rushing touchdown of the year on the team’s first score of the game. Winston had just 15 yards on five rushing attempts, but he had the team’s lone rushing score of the day on a scamper from five yards out. Winston did turn the ball over twice, however, just as Mariota did, but both quarterbacks led their team to a come from behind victory in the 4th quarter.
At this point, there really isn’t a wrong option for Rookie of the Year, but for me personally, I would have to lean towards Mariota. The only personal statistic that Winston leads Mariota in is passing yards, and that has a large part to do with the fact that Winston has started all 12 games, and Mariota missed two games with a knee injury earlier in the year. However, Winston has led his team to a 6-6 record with a chance to make the playoffs, and Mariota and the Titans are just 3-9 on the year. Mariota faces a tougher matchup in week 14, as the Titans will travel to play the Jets. Winston on the other hand, will be at home to face the Saints and their defense that is on pace to allow 47 passing touchdowns this season. The previous NFL record is 40.
Todd Gurley – RB – St. Louis Rams
Todd Gurley came storming out of the gate for the Rams in his first four starts, surpassing 125 yards on the ground in each effort. However, in his last five games, he has yet to eclipse 100 yards. While he hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards in the last five games, Gurley still was able to find the end zone three times in that stretch. The last two games for the rookie out of Georgia have really been the only two games this season that have been marked down as bad games. Nine carries for 19 yards in week 12 against the Bengals, and nine carries for 41 yards in week 13 against the Cardinals, with zero touchdowns in each game. The Rams offense is absolutely atrocious, as Nick Foles and the receivers have not been able to get anything going to help Gurley on the ground. Gurley has already proven in a very short sample size that he has the ability to do damage in the NFL as a running back, however, much like any other player in the league, he needs help around him. If the Rams can get a franchise quarterback to help lead the way, they should have an offense to fear for the foreseeable future with Gurley in the backfield.
T.J. Yeldon – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Yeldon had his best game as the running back for the Jaguars on Sunday against the Titans, which was the theme for many players on that offense. Blake Bortles threw five touchdown passes and Allen Robinson had 10 catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns as well. Yeldon, however, had just 57 yards on 15 carries, but he did find the end zone for just the second time on the ground this season. He added four catches on all four of his targets for 79 yards as well. Yeldon hasn’t been fantastic this season for the Jags, but he has been one of the bright sports in this Jaguars offense that has shown that they can put up plenty of points. Yeldon is averaging just 4.0 yards per carry this season, but he has been the workhorse for the Jags this season, something that bodes well for fantasy running backs. He is the clear running back option for the Jaguars for the foreseeable future, making him a viable fantasy option for the rest of this season on into next year.
Stefon Diggs – WR – Minnesota Vikings
It’s hard to tell what to do with Diggs these days. Much like Gurley, Diggs emerged near the top of the rookie ranks in receiving, behind only Amari Cooper in Oakland. However, Diggs has not caught a touchdown since week eight against the Bears and hasn’t had more than 66 yards receiving in that span. The Vikings will face yet another tough defense as they travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals on Thursday night, making him a flex option at best. It appears that Diggs isn’t going to turn into the star receiver that he was in his first four games in the NFL. I would not cut ties with Diggs, especially with the playoffs beginning, because there is still a chance we see a big game or two from him down the road.
Thomas Rawls – RB – Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been on a roll of late, partially because of the play from Russell Wilson and the passing game in Seattle. Thomas Rawls, however, had another fantastic game rushing for 101 yards on 19 carries, and added his fourth touchdown of the year. Rawls is averaging 5.6 yards per carry on the year, which is the highest among rookie runners with at least 100 attempts on the ground. Only Karlos Williams in Buffalo has higher yards per carry among rookie running backs, with just 66 attempts on the season. Marshawn Lynch won’t have to hurry back into the lineup for the Seahawks, as they are arguably a better team now with Rawls in the backfield than they were when Lynch was back there earlier this season. That being said, the Seahawks are going to welcome beast mode back with open arms when he heals from his hernia surgery.
Javorius Allen – RB – Baltimore Ravens
Allen wasn’t the best on the ground this past week against the Dolphins, running for just 63 yards on 17 attempts and no touchdowns. However, Allen provided 107 receiving yards on TWELVE catches out of the Baltimore backfield. With Matt Schaub at the helm for the rest of the season in Baltimore, he is likely going to rely heavily on the checkdown to the new starter at running back. He has only improved since taking over for Justin Forsett, with most of his damage coming via the passing game for the Ravens. Also known as Buck Allen, he is a must add in all formats and can be relied on each and every week as the Ravens list of playmakers on offense is very short, and he is near the top.