2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 27: Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers rushes during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17

The leap from college football to the NFL is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. While some positions like running back have easier transitions, all rookies have to adjust to facing bigger, faster, and stronger opponents. On top of that, they also have to learn a new playbook and system that is likely different from the one they were used to in college.

The preseason is typically their chance to adapt and get used to the next level of play before the real season begins. Needless to say, an offseason with no field time until August, and no preseason, will cut significantly into the much needed experience these rookies will acquire. Expect the rookies, even the so called “can’t miss” guys, to start off slower than their fantasy managers are hoping for.

The 2020 Fantasy Rookie Tracker follows the fantasy production of the 2020 Rookie class and compares their results to the RotoHeat team’s consensus Dynasty Rookie Rankings. In the initial installment of this season long series, I took a look at the Top-20 ranked rookies, list their projections, and give you my thoughts on their match-up.

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As the season progresses, the rookies will be re-ranked based on their year-to-date performance. We then review their previous week and take a look at the week to come as we follow this draft class that comes with so much hype and promise.

Top 20 Rookies

Justin Herbert – QB Los Angeles Chargers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 18
Current Rank: 1
Week 16 Projection: 19.80
Week 16 Actual: 16.72
Season to Date Actual: 309.86
Weekly Average: 22.13
Week 17 Projection: 19.00

Justin Herbert completed 21-of-33 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown in the Chargers’ Week 16 win over the Broncos. Herbert was without Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry, but found Austin Ekeler on a 9 yard TD pass to set the rookie TD passing record. Justin Herbert will lock up his OROY trophy in Week 17 against the Chiefs, he needs two more touchdowns to get to 30. He’s already over 4,000 yards. Not bad for a rookie I projected to watch from the sidelines.

Justin Jefferson – WR Minnesota Vikings
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 6
Current Rank: 2
Week 16 Projection: 16.00
Week 16 Actual: 14.50
Season to Date Actual: 251.90
Weekly Average: 16.79
Week 17 Projection: 17.60

Justin Jefferson caught 6-of-10 targets for 85 yards in the Vikings’ Week 16 loss to the Saints. Jefferson has become the Vikings top receiver this rookie season. He has broken Randy Moss’ team rookie reception record and has his sights sets on the yardage record as well. He enters Week 17 47 yards shy of that mark. In a plus matchup against Detroit in Week 17 he is safe bet to hit that mark and is a WR1 for those playing into the final week.

James Robinson – RB Jacksonville Jaguars
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 30
Current Rank: 3
Week 16 Projection: 0 – IA
Week 16 Actual: 0
Season to Date Actual: 250.40
Weekly Average: 17.89
Week 17 Projection: 13.80 (Questionable – Ankle)

The Jacksonville Jaguars rested James Robinson all week with the hopes of having him available in Week 16 versus the Chicago Bears. In the end the rest wasn’t enough and Robinson missed his first game of the season. His Week 17 status in in doubt as well as Jacksonville is in full tank mode.

Jonathan Taylor – RB Indianapolis Colt
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 1
Current Rank: 4
Week 16 Projection: 13.90
Week 16 Actual: 19.40
Season to Date Actual: 214.40
Weekly Average: 15.31
Week 17 Projection: 19.60

Jonathan Taylor rushed 18 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns in Indianapolis’ Week 16 loss to Pittsburgh. Taylor scored both of his touchdowns in the first half, helping build Indianapolis’ 21-7 lead. Unfortunately for his fantasy managers and likely the Colts he only had four second-half carries while Pittsburgh scored 21 unanswered points to complete its comeback. Taylor still out-carried Nyheim Hines 18-8. He has an excellent Week 17 matchup against Jacksonville and a bright future in Indy.

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17
ARLINGTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 27: CeeDee Lamb #88 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17

CeeDee Lamb – WR Dallas Cowboys
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 2
Current Rank: 5
Week 16 Projection: 12.10
Week 16 Actual: 23.40
Season to Date Actual: 208.10
Weekly Average: 13.87
Week 17 Projection: 12.60

CeeDee Lamb caught 3-of-5 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ Week 16 win over the Eagles, adding a 19-yard rushing touchdown. Lamb’s 52-yard touchdown was one of three 50-plus yard pass plays for the Cowboys on Sunday. Lamb’s big-play ability has not disappeared with Andy Dalton under center, but his WR3 consistency has. Lamb (my preseason WR1) will be a top-36 option in the final week of the regular season.

Tee Higgins – WR Cincinnati Bengals
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 9
Current Rank: 6
Week 16 Projection: 12.70
Week 16 Actual: 21.90
Season to Date Actual: 194.60
Weekly Average: 12.97
Week 17 Projection: 12.60

Tee Higgins caught 6-of-9 targets for 99 yards and a touchdown in Week 16 against the Houston Texans. He made a ridiculous contested sideline catch in the end-zone for his touchdown. Higgins needs 92 yards in Week 17 to go over 1,000 yards on the season. The future is bright in 2021 for Higgins with Joe Burrow back under center.

Chase Claypool – WR Pittsburgh Steelers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 19
Current Rank: 7
Week 16 Projection: 12.10
Week 16 Actual: 9.40
Season to Date Actual: 193.80
Weekly Average: 12.92
Week 17 Projection: 11.40

Chase Claypool caught 4-of-6 targets for 54 yards in Pittsburgh’s Week 16 win against the Colts. Claypool was ignored until the second half when the Steelers trailed 24-7. Claypool remains a boom/bust WR. If he doesn’t score be likely a bust. There is no denying the talent here, but Claypool likely tops my sell high list entering the 2021 season.

Antonio Gibson – RB Washington Football Team
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 17
Current Rank: 8
Week 16 Projection: 7.40
Week 16 Actual: 9.90
Season to Date Total: 193.10
Weekly Average: 14.85
Week 17 Projection: 13.40

Antonio Gibson was listed as doubtful all week, and unlike Week 15 was active for the Football Team in Week 16. Gibson rushed 10 times for 61 yards, hauling in 3-of-4 targets for eight yards in Washington’s Week 16 loss to Carolina. He looked good in this one but for whatever reason only saw 13 touches. With Washington having something to play for in Week 17 and almost certainly having Alex Smith back at QB, Gibson will be in the RB1 conversation.

Brandon Aiyuk – WR San Francisco 49ers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 13
Current Rank: 9
Week 16 Projection: 16.30
Week 16 Actual: 4.10
Season to Date Actual: 184.50
Weekly Average: 15.38
Week 17 Projection: 0.00 (Out – Ankle)

Brandon Aiyuk was on fire in recent weeks and picked the wrong week to lay an egg for his fantasy mangers. Aiyuk caught 1-of-2 targets for 15 yards in the 49ers’ Week 16 win against the Cardinals, adding one rush for 16 yards. The Niners only
threw 22 passes in this one, but the result remains a massive disappointment. George Kittle drew a team-high five targets in his return to the 49ers lineup, a possible factor in Aiyuk’s usage reduction. Aiyuk suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 16 and his season is done as a result.

Joe Burrow – QB Cincinnati Bengals
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 11
Current Rank: 10
Week 16 Projection: IR – Out for the season
Week 16 Actual: 0.00
Season to Date Actual: 178.72
Weekly Average: 17.87
Week 17 Projection: 0.00 (Out)

Joe Burrow remains on IR and will miss the remainder of the 2020 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in Week 11.

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17
LANDOVER, MARYLAND – NOVEMBER 22: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals is injured during the third quarter against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on November 22, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17

Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB Kansas City Chiefs
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 3
Current Rank: 11
Week 16 Projection: 0.00 (Out)
Week 16 Actual: 0.00
Season to Date Actual: 176.00
Weekly Average: 13.54
Week 17 Projection: 0.00 (Out)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire as expected missed Week 16 with a hip/leg injury. He will miss Week 17 as well. He will finish his rookie season with 217 touches, 1100 total yards and 5 touchdowns. He enters Week 17 as RB18. He was massively overdrafted in all formats this year injury or not. CEH may provide dynasty managers a small buy window this offseason.

D’Andre Swift – RB Detroit Lions
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 5
Current Rank: 12
Week 16 Projection: 14.70
Week 16 Actual: 9.00
Season to Date Actual: 173.80
Weekly Average: 14.48
Week 17 Projection: 16.00

D’Andre Swift rushed 10 times for 45 yards and caught 4-of-5 targets for 25 yards in Week 16 against the Bucs.
Swift was one of the few bright spots for Detroit in the blowout loss. Swift will try to close the season on a high note with a matchup against the Vikings in Week 17. He is a back I am very excited for in 2021.

J.K. Dobbins – RB Baltimore Ravens
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 4
Current Rank: 13
Week 16 Projection: 14.70
Week 16 Actual: 13.70
Season to Date Actual: 140.50
Weekly Average: 10.04
Week 17 Projection: 14.20

J.K. Dobbins had 11 rushes for 77 yards in the Ravens’ Week 16 win against the Giants. Dobbins started this one a the featured back. He injured his chest on an early second half carry and returned to the game in the fourth quarter but did not see a touch. Gus Edwards ended up leading the Ravens in rushing attempts and yardage on the day. Deactivating Mark Ingram and starting Dobbins for two straight weeks shows the team is committed to making the rookie a key part of their run-heavy offense. He’ll be a RB2 with RB1 upside in Week 17 against the Bengals.

Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR Jacksonville Jaguars
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 16
Current Rank: 14
Week 16 Projection: 9.40
Week 16 Actual: 15.80
Season to Date Actual: 132.50
Weekly Average: 10.19
Week 17 Projection: 8.20

Laviska Shenault caught 5-of-7 targets for 48 yards and one touchdown in the Jaguars’ Week 16 loss to the Bears. Shenault’s touchdown was a 34-yarder in garbage time with the Jaguars down 41-10 in the fourth quarter. It was his third receiving score of the year. He hasn’t topped 49 yards in a game since Week 5. Shenault isn’t a recommended fantasy play for Week 17 against the Colts.

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – DECEMBER 20: Darnell Mooney #11 of the Chicago Bears runs on his way to scoring a touchdown as Troy Dye #45 of the Minnesota Vikings is unable to make the tackle during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17

Darnell Mooney – WR Chicago Bears
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 51
Current Rank: 15
Week 16 Projection: 10.70
Week 16 Actual: 8.10
Season to Date Actual: 131.80
Weekly Average: 8.79
Week 17 Projection: 9.60

Darnell Mooney caught 4-of-7 targets for 39 yards in the Bears’ Week 16 win over the Jaguars. After scoring in consecutive games Weeks 14-15, Mooney was back to a more anticipated stat line this week. He’s failed to top 69 yards all season and hasn’t surpassed 49 yards in a game since Week 8. Mooney is a weak WR5/6 ahead of a Week 17 date with the Packers. He went 3-34-0 on nine targets when the Bears faced Green Bay back in Week 12.

Jerry Jeudy – WR Denver Broncos
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 7
Current Rank: 16
Week 16 Projection: 10.10
Week 16 Actual: 12.10
Season to Date: 130.60
Weekly Average: 8.71
Week 17 Projection: 10.00

Jerry Jeudy caught 6-of-15 targets for 61 yards in the Broncos’ Week 16 loss to the Chargers. Jeudy remains a top route runner in this 2020 class. He hasn’t had an issue separating at the line of scrimmage or making defenders. He has struggled with drops and his QB play could certainly be improved as well. That was magnified in Week 16. Jeudy dropped at least five passes including a few downfield shots that could’ve changed the outcome of the game. He remains a WR I am high on and someone to target in trades this offseason.

Tua Tagovailoa – QB Miami Dolphins
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 21
Current Rank: 17
Week 16 Projection: 17.10
Week 16 Actual: 8.86
Season to Date Actual: 122.22
Weekly Average: 12.22
Week 17 Projection: 16.20

Tua Tagovailoa completed 17 of his 22 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown before being benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of their Week 16 game against the Raiders. Tagovailoa was unable to do much of anything in this one. through over four quarters of action. Fitzpatrick immediately drove the Dolphins down the field. Fitz’s ability to pick up chunks of yardage has separated him from Tagovailoa and adds an extra dimension to the offense. The Dolphins should keep Tua on the bench in Week 17, but plan on starting him once again.

Gabriel Davis – WR Buffalo Bills
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 38
Current Rank: 18
Week 16 Projection: 9.20
Week 16 Actual: 6.30
Season to Date Actual: 118.20
Weekly Average: 7.88
Week 17 Projection: 6.80

Gabriel Davis caught 3-of-5 targets for 33 yards in the Bills’ Week 16 win over the Patriots. He caught a couple passes early in the first quarter but wasn’t heard from much the rest of the way. The 33 yards were actually Davis’ most in a game since Week 13. He’s a big-play WR4 when John Brown is out, but Brown should be back for the playoff run. If Cole Beasley (leg) is hurt, however, Davis may remain in three-wide sets.

Jalen Hurts – QB Philadelphia Eagles
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking:
Current Rank: 37
Week 16 Projection: 22.10
Week 16 Actual: 20.58
Season to Date Actual: 96.16
Weekly Average: 6.87
Week 17 Projection: 18.70

Welcome to the top-20 Mr. Hurts. Jalen Hurts completed 21-of-39 passes for 342 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Eagles 37-17, Week 16 loss to the Cowboys, adding nine carries for 69 additional yards. Hurst since taking over as The Eagles stating QB has averaged 25.89 points per game. Hurts appears to be yet another viable fantasy option at QB from this 2020 draft class. Hurts gets one final chance to impress in Week 17 against the Football Team, which needs to win to sew up the NFC East.

Michael Pittman Jr. – WR Indianapolis Colts
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 14
Current Rank: 20
Week 16 Projection: 9.30
Week 16 Actual: 6.80
Season to Date Actual: 93.90
Weekly Average: 7.83
Week 17 Projection: 8.70

Michael Pittman caught 3-of-5 targets for 38 yards in Indianapolis’ Week 16 loss to Pittsburgh. Pittman remained behind T.Y. Hilton in Indy’s pecking order, failing to exceed 50 receiving yards or score a touchdown since Week 11. Pittman doesn’t offer much fantasy value for those playing into Week 17, but he is a player to buy this offseason.

Thank you for reading 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 17. Come back next week for the 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker wrap up.

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