Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Week 13

Dec 6, 2017

While Corey Davis hasn’t made the most of his recent opportunities, he definitely shouldn’t be written off yet

In a year where rookies could single-handedly win you weeks of fantasy football, it’s easy to gloss over some of the more disappointing rookie performances. While Alvin Kamara steals the spotlight every single week, other rookies just aren’t there yet. In this week’s Rookie Report we’ll be taking a look at some of the more disappointing rookies for fantasy from the 2017 season.

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Corey Davis (WR – TEN)
This was supposed to be the week for Corey Davis. The stars aligned in such a way that it seemed impossible for him to disappoint.

Rishard Matthews was out. The Texans had been giving away fantasy points to wide receivers like day-olds at a bakery. He’d been getting targets from Marcus Mariota.

But then again, last week was also supposed to be the week when the Titans played the Colts. So what gives?

Davis has been seeing plenty of playing time and plenty of targets since returning from injury, but he’s yet to translate that opportunity into fantasy value. In PPR formats he’s finished as a weekly WR2 just once, and that was in Week 1.

Davis hasn’t done much with the targets he’s seen; when he does reel in a catch (his catch rate of 51.2 percent ranks 85th in the league per PlayerProfiler.com), he hasn’t been very efficient. His -30.6 Production Premium, a metric that measures a player’s efficiency across league averages, ranks 82nd in the league. In case it wasn’t obvious, negative values are not good.

Some rookies just take time to hit in the NFL, and it appears that Corey Davis may need another season under his belt. While he was a mega-producer in college (check out his college stats here) and produced as early as his freshman year, he did so in the slightly less competitive MAC.

There’s no doubt that Davis is a skilled player, but 2017 isn’t his year. The fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft could experience a late-season breakout, and the 8-4 Titans could give him a chance to get extra experience in the playoffs, but as of right now it looks like we’ll have to wait a season or two for the Corey Davis breakout.

John Ross (WR – CIN)
Corey Davis may be underperforming his opportunity, but his situation must look pretty nice from the bench John Ross is sitting on. The ninth-overall pick in this year’s draft has been a healthy scratch for two consecutive weeks, ceding playing time to fellow rookie Josh Malone.

Ross has played just 17 offensive snaps all year between his benching and the time he spent recovering from injuries. He isn’t underperforming; he just isn’t performing.

His lack of playing time is frustrating for fantasy football. As fantasy footballers, we should root for every young prospect and hope that someday they help us take home a trophy. Rookie receivers can take time to develop into fantasy studs, but they need in-game experience to get there. The way the Bengals are refusing to develop their young talent is truly confusing.

The most depressing part of Ross’ situation is that he may finish the year with negative fantasy points. That’s right: negative fantasy points.

Way back in Week 2 the Bengals gave Ross a carry, which he ended up fumbling. They benched him for the remainder of that game, and he hasn’t touched the football since.

None of this bodes well for Ross’ future in the NFL. Hopefully, the team (which is likely out of playoff contention at this point) designs to test out their younger assets in the coming weeks. I know I’d like to see the young speedster torch a defense or two.

Zay Jones (WR – CIN)
Zay Jones’ situation is like Corey Davis’, but perhaps even worse. Jones’ -39.8 Production Premium is significantly worse than Davis’ -30.6, and Jones has been doing this all season long.

Despite ranking 35th in targets this season, Jones ranks 78th in PPR fantasy points. Per Josh Hermsmeyer’s RACR metric, which measures the percentage of Air Yards (the total yards thrown to a receiver) a receiver converts into receiving yards, Jones is having an awful season.

Of all receivers with 30 or more targets on the season, Jones’ RACR of 0.32 ranks dead last. Jones’ volume is promising, but his efficiency turns that volume into a total trap for fantasy football.

It’s especially disappointing considering how promising Jones was looking heading into the season. After letting Robert Woods go in free agency, the Bills drafted Jones with the fifth pick in the second round of the 2017 Draft. They felt comfortable enough with him to then deal away Sammy Watkins weeks before the season started, putting Jones in a lead receiver role.

It should be telling of how a team feels about its receiver group when they trade for Kelvin Benjamin partway through the season, and it’s true that Jones has hurt his team with his lack of efficiency. With the recent injuries to Benjamin and Jordan Matthews, Jones is hopefully able to turn it around.

Conclusion 

Not every rookie breaks out in their first NFL season, so don’t rule these guys out for future seasons. They may not have produced this year, but so long as they’re in the league, there’s always a chance they bounce back.

That’s it for this week’s Rookie Report. I’ll be back next week to take a look at some of the Week 14 rookie performances. Until then, good luck in your Week 14 matches, especially to those of you currently competing in your fantasy football playoffs.


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Aidan Mcgrath is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Aidan, check out his archive and follow him @ffaidanmcgrath.

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