Recapping the most important performances from top fantasy football rookies of 2018 and looking ahead to their next matchups.
Baker Mayfield (QB, Cleveland Browns)
I feel like I say this every week, but Baker Mayfield had his best game as a pro. He was nearly perfect, going 17-for-20 for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He led the Browns to their third win of the season and posted one of the best quarterback performances of the season with a QB rating of 151.2. He also added 20 yards on the ground.
The Browns will be enjoying their bye week in Week 11, but will get back to work next to prepare for the Bengals. Cincinnati is 31st in the league, allowing 24.1 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. It’ll be tough to top this week’s performance, but Mayfield has another excellent matchup on the horizon in Week 12.
Josh Rosen (QB, Arizona Cardinals)
The added week of preparation didn’t seem to help Josh Rosen much this week. He struggled to keep up with Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs, going 22-for-39 for 208 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The one thing he did do well was get David Johnson involved in the passing game. Johnson had his best game of the season and that bodes well for Rosen moving forward.
The Cardinals will host the Raiders this week, so it’ll be another opportunity to showcase his skills against an inferior defense. The Raiders don’t score like the Chiefs do, so it should be a more relaxed game flow for Rosen rather than playing catch up from the first drive as he did this week.
Nick Chubb (RB, Cleveland Browns)
Nick Chubb continues to build on his performances week after week. He put forth a dominant effort against the Falcons this week rushing for 176 yards on 20 carries (8.8 yards per attempt) and added another 33 yards on three receptions, with two total touchdowns. It is becoming more evident why Cleveland was so willing to part with Carlos Hyde as it appears they’ve found their running back (and quarterback) of the future.
The Browns are off this week before heading to Cincinnati in an AFC North battle in Week 12. The Bengals are 31st in the NFL allowing 26.3 fantasy points per game this season to opposing running backs, so I’d confidently insert Chubb as an RB1 the next time he takes the field.
Kerryon Johnson (RB, Detroit Lions)
Against a stifling Bears defense, Kerryon Johnson managed to put forth an excellent fantasy output. He finished the day with 89 total yards from scrimmage on 20 touches, and added two touchdowns. It was a hard-fought afternoon, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, but the Lions stuck to the game plan and Johnson owners benefitted from his performance.
Things will get a bit easier this week, but not much. The Lions host the Panthers who have been very good against the run this season. They’re 10th in the NFL allowing 16.0 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. It will be another gritty performance needed to provide fantasy value, but the Lions have shown the patience to stick with him throughout the game.
Saquon Barkley (RB, New York Giants)
Saquon Barkley had another tough outing in San Francisco this week. He managed just 67 rushing yards on 20 carries against a poor 49ers’ run defense. Even with poor rushing numbers of late, he’s generally provided enough in the passing game to remain valuable in fantasy. That changed this week with just 33 receiving yards on four receptions. Defenses have surely gotten enough tape to develop a game plan against him, it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts moving forward.
He does have a favorable matchup this week as the Giants host the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay sports the 24th ranked defense against opposing running backs, allowing 22.3 fantasy points per game. This should be the perfect opportunity for Barkley to get back to being a dominant, dynamic back.
Calvin Ridley (WR, Atlanta Falcons)
Calvin Ridley put forth his worst performance since a catch-less opening week against Philadelphia. He was held to just 3 catches for 37 yards in a surprising loss to the Browns. He’ll need to provide more consistency for fantasy owners to be comfortable slotting him in each and every week.
This week, the Falcons will host the Cowboys, who have been surprisingly excellent against opposing wide receiver groups. They allow just 18.1 fantasy points per game to the position; and assuming Julio Jones will get his usual amount of work, it’ll be difficult for Ridley to provide any sort of fantasy value this week.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, Green Bay Packers)
A good Dolphins’ pass defense kept Marquez Valdes-Scantling in front of them this week, holding to just 44 yards on six receptions. The 7.33 yards per reception was his lowest mark since Week 2 when he had just one catch for three yards. The deep threat he presents was held to a minimum this week.
Seattle, however, hasn’t been as good against the pass as Miami. The Packers head to Seattle this week and Valdes-Scantling should have an opportunity or two to get behind the defense. The Seahawks have allowed 25.2 fantasy points per game against wide receivers; so monitor Valdes-Scantling as he’s not quite must-start just yet, but if he continues to provide big plays with frequency, he’ll become a matchup threat for your fantasy team moving forward.
Anthony Miller (WR, Chicago Bears)
Anthony Miller has been providing good touchdown value with three scores in seven games heading into this week. He finally put the yardage numbers together to go along with it, posting by far his best game as a pro. He torched the Lions for 122 yards and a score on five receptions in a win over Detroit.
Things will get a little tougher this week as the Bears host Minnesota. The Vikings are 5th in the league against wide receivers, allowing just 18.6 fantasy points per game. The bright side, however, is Mitch Trubisky is developing a real trust in Miller targeting him 6.5 times per game over the past four contests. I’d like to see him convert more targets into receptions (just 15 catches on 26 targets in those four games), but volume is essential with fantasy and Miller’s getting a good target share.