Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Sony Michel, Ito Smith, Gus Edwards
At this point in the season, waiver wire pickups are more important than ever. Each add/drop period could make your break your seasons as owners either make their final playoff push or kick off the opening round of the fantasy postseason. To help with that, I’m here with the latest Rookie Report to fill you in on how some of the high-profile first-year players did this week, and whether their stocks are rising or falling.
Sony Michel (RB – NE)
For owners hoping to use Michel this week, he does have a tough matchup coming against the Vikings. But he showed last week that, if he’s healthy, he’s going to be New England’s No. 1 back.
The Georgia product carried the ball 21 times for 133 yards and a touchdown, and also caught two passes for 12 yards. Owners did have a scare in the middle of the game when he left with an apparent leg injury (something that Michel has dealt with his entire career), but he eventually came back into the game.
The one wild card at this point is Rex Burkhead, who has returned from the injured reserve. When Michel was injured earlier this year, Burkhead was the starter, carrying the ball 18 times in Week 1 before getting injured in Week 3 and going on IR. Owners should feel good about using Michel, but should definitely watch his snap counts and touches going forward.
Gus Edwards (RB – BAL)
Edwards should be owned in every single league at this point. If there was any concern that his Week 11 performance was a fluke, the Ravens showed again that they want to make Edwards and fellow rookie Lamar Jackson the focal point of the offense.
The undrafted free agent had a season-high 23 carries for 118 yards, averaging more than five yards per carry. Baltimore also let Jackson start throwing more, which will keep teams from stuffing eight men in the box on every defensive snap to try and shut down the run game. It helped that Alex Collins was inactive against the Raiders, so Edwards had little competition, but owners should be hopeful that the Ravens will continue to use him on a near every-down basis.
Josh Adams (RB – PHI)
Like Edwards, Adams’ ownership percentage hovers around 75 percent in Yahoo! and ESPN leagues, but I believe it should be closer to 100. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that he expects to give Adams more touches this week in a crucial game against Washington on Monday night, according to NJ.com reporter Zack Rosenblatt. And for good reason, too. Adams had a breakout game in Week 12, racking up 84 yards on 22 carries and scoring a touchdown, and also had a 50-yard touchdown called back on a holding penalty that could have given him a monster game.
Over the past two games, he’s become the focal point of Philly’s running game. He’s carried the ball eight times from inside the 20 during that span, more than any other Eagles’ running back, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Adams’ snap count has risen every week since Week 8, all the way up to 62 percent of his team’s offensive snaps Sunday, according to Footballguys.
Ito Smith (RB – ATL)
If any Devonta Freeman owners were still hoping to garner some value out of Smith, it may be time to finally move on. Smith has become a touchdown-or-bust option in all formats, but he hasn’t found the end zone over the past three games. Against a subpar Saints defense, Smith got four carries and couldn’t pick up a single yard. Now, he has a much tougher matchup this weekend against the Ravens, who have given up only 12.5 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, the lowest of any team in the league. Unless you’re a Tevin Coleman owner who wants a handcuff, there’s not much reason to own Smith at this point.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB)
Just a few weeks ago I was extolling the virtues of Valdes-Scantling. And while I still believe that he’s going to be fantasy-relevant in the years to come, there’s no reason to own him for the rest of 2018.
Over the Packers past three games, MVS has totaled just eight catches for 55 yards, hauling in just one catch in each of his past two outings, both Packers’ losses. There’s not much to like in Green Bay in general right now – the coach has one foot out the door and changes are certainly on the horizon. Plus, the season is quickly slipping away, even with Aaron Rodgers on the roster.
Royce Freeman (RB – DEN)
Somehow, Freeman is still owned in about 50 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. Owners may still be attached to him because of where they drafted him, but he just simply isn’t a factor in Denver’s offense right now.
The former Oregon standout has been outplayed by the undrafted Phillip Lindsay, and is slowly being phased out of the Broncos’ running game. Over his past two games, Freeman is averaging 3.1 yards per carry and he hasn’t broken 37 yards in a game since Week 4.
Meanwhile, Freeman has averaged more than five yards per carry in four of his past five games, averaging a touchdown per game in that span. It’s time for owners to move on from Freeman and pick up some potential RB3s with a higher upside.