Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Courtland Sutton, D.J. Moore
Usually, I spend these posts going over three “stock up” guys and three “stock down.” But between breakout performances, the trade deadline, and injuries, there’s just too much good to talk about.
So instead of going with the usual up/down format today, I’m instead just going to run down six rookies whose stocks are up and could have a breakout second half of the season. If you haven’t already, rush out to pick up these guys in most leagues (especially dynasty formats).
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB)
MVS is owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, but he could very well finish the season as the No. 2 receiver in Green Bay. This week, he recorded his third straight game of 10 fantasy points or more in standard leagues, hauling in two of his five targets for 45 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. He finished with his largest snap percentage of the season, playing on 60 percent of the Packers’ offensive snaps, with only No. 1 receiver Davante Adams playing more, according to FootballGuys.com. While the South Florida product hardly played in the first three games of the season, he has since carved out a significant role in this offense due to Geronimo Allison’s injury and Randall Cobb’s slowdown.
D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)
I spent a couple editions of this column saying that fantasy owners should give up on Moore until next year, but he’s starting to prove me wrong. The rookie out of Maryland had by far his best game of the season Sunday, hauling in five of his six targets for 90 yards, while adding on 39 rushing yards. While he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2, Moore has gotten at least five targets in each of his past three games.
Moore should get even more looks with Torrey Smith injured. Smith hasn’t practiced at all this week with a knee injury, according to Panthers’ reporter Jourdan Rodrigue, and Moore will be coming off of a game in which he played his most snaps in any game this season.
Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
Kirk didn’t have his most productive day Sunday, but fantasy owners have to be encouraged by the number of looks he’s targeting. He’s been targeting an average of 6.66 times per game over the past three weeks, and has at least four targets in every game that fellow rookie Josh Rosen has started. He came through in the clutch for the Cardinals against the 49ers, catching the game-winning touchdown to cap off what had been a relatively quiet game. Kirk is on a bye week, but then comes back to a relatively easy schedule with games against the Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, and Packers, three of which who are ranked inside the top 12 in terms of most points allowed to opposing receivers, according to our rest of season schedule rankings.
Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
Sutton is the guy everyone is talking about this week, and for good reason. His value skyrocketed late Tuesday when word hit that the Broncos were trading receiver Demaryius Thomas to the Texans. Now, Sutton is immediately catapulted into the No. 2 slot of this offense opposite of Emannuel Sanders.
Thomas saw an average of 8.2 targets per game this year in Denver, so we can expect to see similar volume going to Sutton, and he was already averaging 4.6 touches per game. He’s also coming off his best game of the season, catching three passes for 78 yards.
Sutton’s catch rate isn’t great – it’s less than 50 percent – but he’s primarily been used as a deep threat in Denver, and should now transition into a role where he’s seeing more catchable balls rather than 50-50 passes. He should be owned in all leagues now.
Phillip Lindsay (RB – DEN)
Lindsay cemented his role in Denver this week with fellow rookie Royce Freeman out. He saw an increased workload, racking up 112 total yards and scoring a rushing touchdown against the vulnerable Chiefs defense. He could have been even more involved had the game script been more in the Broncos’ favor – the Chiefs were up for the vast majority of this game.
Lindsay now has back-to-back 90-yard rushing games with back-to-back touchdowns. And it’s looking like Freeman could be out again this week, considering he missed practice on Wednesday, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic.
The undrafted free agent is owned in more than 90 percent of Yahoo! And ESPN leagues, so it’s probably too late to grab him on the waiver wire, but owners should feel comfortable using him as an RB2 every week from here on out, and he’s a value play in daily fantasy with Freeman out.
Nick Chubb (RB – CLE)
Chubb didn’t blow anyone away Sunday against the Steelers, but he still had a solid performance in his second start, carrying the ball 18 times for 65 yards. He did catch two passes as well, but couldn’t do much with them.
Still, it was encouraging to see Chubb get 18 carries for the second week in a row. And his usage likely won’t dip with his former running backs coach being promoted to offensive coordinator in Cleveland after the departures of Todd Haley and Hue Jackson. The schedule also looks amazing for him, with upcoming matchups against the Chiefs (second-most points allowed to opposing running backs), Falcons (eighth most) and Bengals (seventh most), according to our strength of schedule rankings.