Recapping the most important Week 12 performances from top fantasy football rookies of 2018 and looking ahead to their Week 13 matchups. Follow Joe on Twitter @joebuttgereit for random thoughts and nuggets pertaining to all things fantasy sports.
The year of the rookie continues. Fantasy owners everywhere have benefitted from a rookie’s play at some point this season. Here’s a recap of the top rookie performances this week and a look ahead to their upcoming matchups!
Baker Mayfield (QB, Cleveland Browns)
I feel like a broken record, but Baker Mayfield has, again, posted the best stat line thus far in his young career. In a win over the Bengals on Sunday, he completed 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns. In his last five games, he has 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions. It is becoming more and more clear why Cleveland chose Mayfield with the first overall selection in 2018 NFL Draft.
This week, the Browns head to Houston to take on the streaking Texans. Houston, winners of eight straight, will provide the toughest matchup Mayfield has had in a few weeks. They are 7th in the NFL allowing just 16.0 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. He has been the ultimate streaming option of late, but this may be a week to insert another option at quarterback.
Lamar Jackson (QB, Baltimore Ravens)
Lamar Jackson has led the Ravens to back-to-back victories as the starting quarterback. While doing so, he also provided excellent value in fantasy football, thanks to his legs. He carried the ball another 11 times on Sunday for 71 yards and a score. He has not been as effective through the air, going 14-for-25 for 178 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. As long as they allow him to keep running, he can provide good fantasy value in deeper leagues.
In Week 13, Baltimore will take on the Falcons in Atlanta. The Falcons were all but eliminated from playoff contention with their loss to the Saints on Thanksgiving night. They have also been horrific against quarterbacks, allowing 22.7 fantasy points per game, second worst in the league. As long as Jackson and the Ravens keep winning, he’ll keep starting; and this is an excellent matchup for him if you’re in a crunch and need an available quarterback.
Josh Allen (QB, Buffalo Bills)
Josh Allen has been a quirky player to say the least. He’s been leading the Bills to wins without doing much at all through the air. He completed just 8 of 19 passes in a win over Jacksonville on Sunday for 160 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown being a 75-yard toss to Robert Foster. What he has done is be effective on the ground, adding 99 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, his 4th in six starts this season.
The Bills will square up against the Dolphins this week, providing a difficult matchup for Allen. Miami has been very good against quarterbacks, ranking 8th in the NFL. Allen will need to show that he can provide more production through the air before he becomes relevant for fantasy football owners; and a stingy opponent this week will leave him on the waiver wire for at least another week.
Saquon Barkley (RB, New York Giants)
For the first time as a professional, Saquon Barkley recorded over 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games. He carried the ball 13 times for 101 yards and a score, while adding 41 yards through the air on seven receptions and another score. He has been as reliable as they come this season, rookie or not. He has certainly earned the right to be labeled as “matchup-proof” as you head to the fantasy football playoffs.
Speaking of matchup-proof, the matchup this week is a daunting one. The Giants host the Bears this week, and welcome their 2nd ranked defense against opposing fantasy football running backs. They allow just 13.7 fantasy points per game to the position and have been suffocating on defense all year long. Although, outside of David Johnson early on, Chicago has not faced a back as dynamic as Barkley. The ability to take over a game on the ground and through the air, makes him a must-start, regardless of the opponent.
Phillip Lindsay (RB, Denver Broncos)
Against a difficult opponent, Philip Lindsay provided another quality fantasy football performance. In a win over the Steelers, he rushed for 110 yards and a score on just 14 carries. Although he failed to record a reception for the first time this season, he provided enough on the ground to warrant RB1 status.
As the Broncos head to Cincinnati this week, it’ll be another must-start game for Lindsay. The Bengals are last in the NFL against opposing fantasy running backs. After losing Andy Dalton for the rest of the season, the Bengals may have a hard time scoring, benefitting the Broncos’ run game. Denver should look to control the clock on the ground allowing Lindsay to see plenty of volume, providing the opportunity for another RB1 fantasy football performance.
Josh Adams (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)
Cracking this report for the first time, Josh Adams has taken control of a confusing backfield in Philadelphia. After averaging 7.0 yards per carry for the previous three games, Pederson and the Eagles’ staff gave him the opportunity for a full workload on Sunday against the Giants. It paid off. He carried the ball 22 times for 84 yards and a touchdown.
This week, the Eagles will host the Redskins. Washington has been middle-of-the-pack against fantasy running backs, allowing 17.0 points per game. The positive side of this is the Eagles’ HC Doug Pederson said in a press conference that they will be giving Adams even more opportunities with the ball. For a guy that’s already averaging over 6.0 yards per carry on the season, that’s excellent news for fantasy football owners that need to fill the hole of a Melvin Gordon/Leonard Fournette this week.
D.J. Moore (WR, Carolina Panthers)
D.J. Moore put forth another impressive fantasy football outing this week. In a loss to the Seahawks, he amassed 91 yards on eight receptions. The targets continue to rise for Moore as he set a new season high with nine. The only think keeping him from exploding into a weekly WR1 is the utter dominance of Christian McCaffrey, stealing 7.5 targets a game out of the backfield.
The Panthers have a divisional clash with the Buccaneers this week. This presents an excellent matchup for Moore and the Panthers’ receiving corps. Tampa is 27th in the NFL against opposing wide receiver groups, allowing 27.3 fantasy points per game. Moore has emerged as the clear #1 option for Newton as far as receivers go. He will continue to battle McCaffrey for targets, but should receive enough volume to remain a fantasy football WR2 at worst moving forward.
Calvin Ridley (WR, Atlanta Falcons)
Calvin Ridley put forth arguably his best game this season in a loss to the Saints on Thanksgiving night. He set career highs with both eight receptions and 13 targets. He turned that into 93 yards and a touchdown. The flow of the game may have enhanced these numbers as Atlanta played from behind and threw the ball often, however, it bodes well for Ridley’s fantasy owners knowing he can produce even when the defense knows the Falcons are passing frequently.
Following up a great matchup with a dreadful one, the Falcons will host the Ravens this week. Baltimore boasts the league’s top defense against opposing wide receiver groups this season. They allow just 16.9 fantasy football points per game to the position. Knowing the target share for Julio Jones won’t waiver too much, it’s tough to imagine Ridley will receive similar volume as he did last week. As the fantasy playoffs are upon us, you may be safer in finding an alternative for Ridley this week.
Dante Pettis (WR, San Francisco 49ers)
Another player who has cracked this report for the first time; Dante Pettis. After receiving just one target in the previous four games, he’s received 13 in the last two. He converted those into eight receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. He has developed quite a connection with Nick Mullens in those games; it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pettis moving forward should the 49ers go back to QB C.J. Beathard.
This week, the 49ers will take on the Seahawks and the daunting twelves in Seattle. Not as frightening as the Legion of Boom of years past, but Seattle has been playing much better on defense of late. They are middle-of-the-pack against opposing wide receiver groups this season after a couple good defensive games in recent weeks. The story in this matchup will be the quarterback situation in San Francisco. Pettis should only be considered a legitimate fantasy option in deep leagues at the moment, but certainly a name to keep an eye on.