Welcome to this week's roundtable, where our fearless panel of fantasy pundits dive into fantasy playoff strategies, rookies of interest who haven't earned much playing time or production, a longstanding question on Lamar Jackson, and which NFL players they think are overrated.
With this in mind, let's examine what we think about these topics as we head into Week 12:
- Rookies of Interest Who Haven't Earned Extensive Playing Time
- Revisiting Lamar Jackson
- Preparing for the Fantasy Playoffs
- Overrated NFL Players
Rookies of INterest Who Haven't EArned Extensive Playing Time
Matt Waldman: Name a rookie who hasn't earned much playing time this year that you can't wait to see when he finally sees the field for an extended length of time. Why are you excited about him?
Jason Wood: Do I have to name just one? In that case, it's Darwin Thompson. We fantasy analysts were certainly too optimistic about Thompson's chances at making an impact in 2019, as coach Andy Reid has gone with a litany of veterans instead of trying Thompson out in a large role. But the tape doesn't lie and Thompson has the skill set to be a productive three-down back, particularly playing in an elite offense led by Patrick Mahomes II.
Other rookies I think can still make an impact in 2020 and beyond are Trayveon Williams in Cincinnati, Ryquell Armstead in Jacksonville, Justice Hill in Baltimore, Miles Boykin in Baltimore, and KeeSean Johnson in Arizona.
Jeff Pasquino: Jason put out a pretty solid list here, and it is fair to say that a good number of higher-profile rookies have already seen significant playing time this season. KeeSean Johnson and Miles Boykin are still lesser-known quantities, and more opportunities with their young quarterbacks would be nice to see. One other player I would like to throw out there is TE Irv Smith in Minnesota. He has been getting more run of late with Adam Thielen sidelined (24 targets for Smith over the past five weeks), but Kyle Rudolph has also stepped up lately including the key touchdown against Denver last week. Rudolph just signed a four-year contract in June, so it will be interesting to see what happens with Smith. Tight end is a sore spot in fantasy, so finding any possible gems for the future is worth watching for in the second half of the season.
Mark Wimer: Following the advice of Matt's Rookie Scouting Portfolio I landed Miles Boykin in a lot of leagues. In some leagues, I managed to get both Boykin and Marquise Brown. As Jason and Jeff states, KeeSean Jackson and Miles Boykin are still lesser-known quantities, and more opportunities with their young quarterbacks would be nice to see. I would like to see Boykin get more involved here in the latter half of the season—the Ravens are really well stocked with youthful talent at wide receiver and Lamar Jackson has been terrific this season (more on that below). I was excited by the way Preston Williams (MIA) was shaping up in the first half of the season (60 targets for 32 receptions yielding 428 yards and three TDs). I'm hoping he'll be able to fully recover from the knee injury that landed him on IR at mid-season, and that we'll see much more of him in future seasons.
Waldman: I am beginning to have concerns about Boykin's fit in Baltimore because the strength of his game is perimeter routes that aren't necessary Jackson's forte. I have no doubts about Boykin's talent.
Drew Davenport: The guys have put up quite a few names I like, but the one I've been intrigued by lately is Andy Isabella. I'm not sure if I'd be as interested in another location, but in Arizona, I am excited to see what he can do. There has to be a reason that he hasn't earned more snaps to this point in the year, but watching his ability with the ball in his hands has been fun the past few weeks. He had an uneven performance this past week, but it was encouraging to see a season-high four targets nonetheless. His short term viability isn't great with his snap counts hovering in the 30 percent range, but I'm keeping an eye on that for a spike. Either way, Isabella has my attention.
Mark Schofield: This may come off as a complete homer answer but both of the New England rookie wide receivers, N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.
Now we can be honest, the Patriots' passing game is off-kilter at this point, but both have promise. Harry is finally back in the lineup after an extended injury and while he saw a small number of targets, he was able to work himself open on more than a few occasions against the Eagles, so I believe that more targets will be coming his way down the stretch. He can give the Patriots some of what they lost with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, as a big target out of the slot and up the seams.
Meyers is a fascinating player to watch. As a former quarterback, he has a great understanding of timing and rhythm in the passing game and is slowly learning the nuances of route-running. He has already worked himself into the Tom Brady Circle of Trust. Both players might be big factors for this offense down the stretch.
Jeff Haseley: I was impressed with Justice Hill in the preseason. I saw his skill set as more than just a third-round change of pace back. He showed excellent hands, which wasn’t a surprise, but he showed a nose for extra yards, including the end zone. I am excited to see him get more opportunities in the regular season to see if he exhibits the same skills that were present in the preseason.
Jeff Haseley: Russell Wilson likes to utilize his tight ends. He elevated the game of Will Dissly earlier in the season, and he's doing the same for Jacob Hollister. Seattle tight ends have 22 receptions since Week 6 (Dissly injury) and Hollister has 17 of them, plus 3 touchdowns. I don't see Hollister's involvement going away anytime soon. He is definitely a free agent to target for the rest of the season, if available.
The foot injury to Devonta Freeman will keep him out for a few weeks, making Brian Hill the team's go-to running back. He may only have a few weeks of value, and there is a small chance that his value may only be Week 11 at Carolina. The Panthers run defense has been awful lately, which makes for a good matchup for Hill. Atlanta then plays Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and has its rematch with Carolina, however, Freeman may be back in the action by Week 13.
Justin Howe: This is a tough question, revolving around a rookie class that’s been playing a ton. But we’ve yet to see anything from the Packers’ Jace Sternberger, taken in the third round but shelved on injured reserve before Opening Day. He was designated to return in Week 9 but has only drawn 16 snaps since. It’s a cliché, but I’ll say it: Sternberger has all the tools. He’s a playmaker both before and after the catch, as evidenced by his 17.3 yards per reception as a junior at Texas A&M. He’s versatile, too, having lined up at every receiver spot and in the backfield. Jimmy Graham looks like a shell of himself, and Marcedes Lewis offers even less as a receiver. Next season— or perhaps down the 2019 stretch—Sternberger should work his way heavily into the rotation, and he’d catch the last few years of Aaron Rodgers’ prime.