Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Michael Gallup
At this point in the season, teams either are, or they aren’t. We’ve passed the threshold where teams and players are still “shaking the rust off,” so there are no more excuses if players are underperforming. All of a sudden, we’re also in the middle of the push for the fantasy playoffs, meaning your lineups need to be as airtight as possible.
If you’ve rostered any rookies (besides Saquon Barkley), you know it’s been an up-and-down campaign. But I’m here to help you sort through the noise and keep track of which rookies’ stocks are up, and which are down.
Nick Chubb (RB – CLE)
Chubb had a ton of buzz around him heading into the weekend. Fantasy owners everywhere were sprinting to their computers Friday to try to pick him up after news broke that the Browns were trading away Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars. Head coach Hue Jackson teased for weeks that he wanted to get Chubb more touches, but general manager John Dorsey finally forced his hands by trading away Cleveland’s starting back.
Chubb started out slow in his first start, but he eventually made it worth it for all of the owners who did grab him by scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and eventually hitting 80 yards. The rookie out of Georgia on Sunday was – as he’s been all year – more productive than Hyde. He’s now averaging 7.4 yards per carry on the year, including 4.4 YPC against the Bucs. Out of his 17 carries Sunday, only one resulted in a loss, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
If you were lucky enough to grab this guy before everyone else did, you can feel comfortable using him on a weekly basis.
Kerryon Johnson (RB – DET)
It’s no longer a massive event when the Lions have a 100-yard rusher. Johnson had his best game as a pro on Sunday, racking up 17 points in standard fantasy leagues on his way to 179 all-purpose yards.
Unfortunately, he once again had a touchdown stolen from him by LeGarrette Blount, and that may not change all season, but his usage is reason enough for owners to keep their heads held high. Johnson is also helped by the fact that Detroit is absolutely stacked at receiver. He’s faced an eight-man box on only 15.94 percent of his snaps, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, which is the 14th-lowest rate of all qualified backs. Defenses are focused on stopping Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones Jr., which opens up the middle of the field for Johnson.
Ronald Jones II (RB – TB)
Jones rounds out a trio of backs, but he’s undoubtedly been disappointing this season. Frankly, he just hasn’t been good.
But he provided a reason for owners in deeper leagues to grab him on Sunday when he scored his first career touchdown. Peyton Barber, Jones’ biggest competitor for touches, also missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury, according to Bucs’ reporter Rick Stroud, who also said that Jones got the majority of the reps in practice.
Jones has also become the more prominent goal-line back, receiving five carries inside the red zone over his past three games, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. If Barber is out for an extended period, Jones is worth looking at as a flex option.
Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)
This is a shame, because Gallup is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season, but with Amari Cooper in town now, the rookie out of Colorado State is likely headed for a role reduction. The Cowboys appear to be going with Allen Hurns and the newly acquired Cooper as their receivers on the outside with the reliable Cole Beasley in the slot, likely leaving Gallup as the No. 4 option in this offense. Make no mistake, he’s still a part of the team’s long-term plans, but it’s tough to see what value he holds in non-dynasty leagues at this point. Gallup was drafted as the 54th wide receiver in drafts this year, according to our ADP rankings, but he’s underperformed based on that value.
Royce Freeman (RB – DEN)
Freeman has become so touchdown-dependent at this point that he’s not worth owning in most leagues. He managed to score in Denver’s Thursday night game against the Cardinals, but he only mustered 37 rushing yards – which is actually a three-week high.
Meanwhile, fellow Broncos rookie rusher Phillip Lindsay continues to play well and dominate the workload. Freeman’s snap count has fallen in each of the past three games, according to FootballGuys.com, and he’s received single-digit touches in four out of his seven appearances. What’s more is that Freeman is considered day-to-day with an ankle injury and didn’t practice Wednesday. With more appealing names on the waiver wire like Raheem Mostert and Jalen Richard, it may be time to move on from the highly drafted Freeman.
Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)
Ridley had a chance to bounce back against a horrible Giants defense, but for the third week in a row, he was held to four or fewer fantasy points in standard leagues. He has yet to score a touchdown since his three-game stretch where he scored six times and hasn’t eclipsed five catches since Week 4. This isn’t to say Ridley owners should cut bait, but you’d have to think that owners are expecting more, especially considering he’s owned in nearly 90 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. The road to a bounce-back won’t be easy, either. The Falcons have the 12th-most difficult schedule for receivers remaining this season, according to our rest of season rankings.