Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Jaylen Samuels, Baker Mayfield, Tre’Quan Smith

Dec 6, 2018

With Drew Brees’ penchant for spreading around the ball, Tre’Quan Smith has little value as New Orleans No. 2 WR

If you’re still reading this column at this point in the season – congratulations! Because it likely means you’re in the fantasy playoffs.

Usually at this time of year, the waiver wire slows down because fewer owners are active, and generally, the teams in the playoffs are comfortable with their roster. However, thanks to some injuries in Week 13 and a push from teams to get their younger players in the mix, there are still some rookies out there who are worth keeping an eye on that you may want to use in your league. Here are four first-year players whose stock rose over the past, and two whose stock fell.

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Lineup & Trade advice >>

Stock Up

Jaylen Samuels (RB – PIT)
Any James Conner owners out there need to rush to make Samuels their No. 1 waiver claim this week, and in FAAB leagues, owners should be emptying whatever they have left to grab him. The fifth-round pick out of North Carolina State was suddenly thrust into the fantasy spotlight this week due to Conner being ruled out with an ankle sprain.

In very limited work last week, Samuels carried the ball twice for five yards, but did manage to gain 30 receiving yards and he scored a touchdown against the Chargers. Head coach Mike Tomlin says that the Steelers are going to go with a running back-by-committee approach, but there’s no doubt that Samuels is the more intriguing player and is more explosive than Stevan Ridley.

And, as an added bonus, Samuels is eligible as a running back and tight end in Yahoo! And CBS leagues. I would certainly be looking to play any tight end who was in line to get 12 – 15 carries.

Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE)
Mayfield has slowly become a top-12 fantasy quarterback with new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens calling plays. Most of Mayfield’s production came in garbage time (after he had thrown three picks), but he still almost hit 400 yards for the first time in his career and averaged more than nine yards per completion for his third game in a row.

The No. 1 overall pick also has an incredibly easy schedule during the fantasy playoffs. This week, he goes up against the Panthers, who are allowing an average of more than 20 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and two weeks from now, plays the Bengals again, who he just torched and who have given up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. If you’re someone who’s been streaming quarterbacks all year, or who is still playing daily, Mayfield is an intriguing option going forward.

Dante Pettis (WR – SF) and Jeff Wilson (RB – SF)
Between Pettis and Wilson, the 49ers are stacked with potential waiver wire pickups this week. I’m grouping these two together because they are young players who head coach Kyle Shanahan will likely want to get a better look at as the season winds down and he starts to think about the 2019 roster.

Pettis has shined with Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin out, catching five passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against the Seahawks. That performance came on the heels on 77 yards and a touchdown the game prior. Goodwin could come back this week, but Garcon could be out again. Pettis is great waiver wire target, especially considering the 49ers have the 13th-easiest remaining schedule for receivers, according to our rankings.

Meanwhile, Wilson appears to be in line for some serious touches this week with Matt Breida already ruled out. Wilson ran for 61 yards and caught eight passes for 83 yards while filling in for Breida on Sunday and playing in 72 percent of the 49ers’ offensive snaps, according to

Stock Down

Tre’Quan Smith (WR – NO)
There was a time when it seemed like Smith would emerge as the Saints’ No. 2 receiver. But it seems like Drew Brees is just fine throwing to Michael Thomas and whoever else he happens to feel like at the time.

Smith has failed to catch a pass in three out of his past four games. He was only targeted once in the Saints’ game against the Cowboys, despite playing 85 percent of their offensive snaps, according to

Besides Thomas and Alvin Kamara (the obvious top options in New Orleans), nine players have at least 10 targets this year. 13 players have caught a touchdown pass this season. It seems like no one is really going to emerge from this group, so I don’t have any alternatives to give you to Smith, but it seems like he’s not going to be a viable fantasy option this year.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB)
It remains to be seen what Green Bay’s offense will even look like now that Mike McCarthy’s been fired, but I have little reason to believe Valdes-Scantling is going to see a resurgence. In the Packers’ shocking loss to the Cardinals at home, the rookie out of South Florida was targeted seven times, but only caught two passes for 19 yards. Over his past three games, he’s hauled in just 33.3 percent of his targets, and he hasn’t scored since October.

Some thought that the return of Randall Cobb would mean MVS would be put in some favorable matchups, but that still didn’t help. I could end up looking silly if this week, Green Bay’s offense totally opens up without McCarthy there, but there’s no reason to hang onto any receiver there besides Davante Adams at this point.

Get a free analysis of your team with My Playbook >>

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | RSS

Jon Munshaw is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him @jon_munshaw.

What's your take? Leave a comment

1Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
2Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
4Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
5Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
6David Johnson (ARI)RB
7DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
8Davante Adams (GB)WR
9Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
10Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
 View All Rankings 
11James Conner (PIT)RB
12Julio Jones (ATL)WR
13Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
14Travis Kelce (KC)TE
15Michael Thomas (NO)WR
16JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)WR
17Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
18Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
19Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21Antonio Brown (OAK)WR
22George Kittle (SF)TE
23T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
24Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
25A.J. Green (CIN)WR
26Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
27Marlon Mack (IND)RB
28Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
29Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
30Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
6Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
7Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
8Trevor Story (COL)SS
9J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
10Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
 View All Rankings 
11Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
12Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
13Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
14Trea Turner (WSH)SS
15Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
16Adalberto Mondesi (KC)2B,SS
17Chris Sale (BOS)SP
18Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
19Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
20Blake Snell (TB)SP
21Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
22Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
23Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
24Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
25Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
26Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
27Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
28Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
29Juan Soto (WSH)LF
30Rhys Hoskins (PHI)1B,LF
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
 View All Rankings 
11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (TOR)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (HOU)PG
16Jimmy Butler (PHI)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests