2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8
CINCINNATI, OHIO – OCTOBER 04: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the 33-25 win against Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8

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 take a look at the Top-20 ranked, list their Week 1 projection, and give you my thoughts on their match-up. 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

Joe Burrow – QB Cincinnati Bengals
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 12
Current Rank: 1
Week 7 Projection: 16.20
Week 7 Actual: 34.64
Season to Date Actual: 136.02
Weekly Average: 19.43
Week 8 Projection: 17.6

Joe Burrow completed 35-of-47 passes for 406 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the Bengals’ Week 7 loss to the Browns while adding six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown. Outside of one interception, Burrow did everything needed to come away from this game with a win. Cincinnati ultimately lost 37-34.

Burrow is on pace for 670 throws in his rookie campaign. That mark would be eighth-most for an NFL passer, rookie or not. Burrow remains a fringe QB1 because of his passing volume and rushing production. The Bengals have to find a way to protect their franchise quarterback going forward.

James Robinson – RB Jacksonville Jaguars
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 31
Current Rank: 2
Week 7 Projection: 18.30
Week 7 Actual: 31.70
Season to Date Actual: 133.60
Weekly Average: 19.09
Week 8 Projection: Bye Week

James Robinson rushed 22 times for 119 yards and a touchdown plus caught 4-of-6 passes for 18 yards and a touchdown in the Jaguars’ Week 7 loss to the Chargers. It was nice to see Robinson back to early season form in this matchup after the past few weeks had been below his projected totals. He was essentially the entire offense for Jacksonville this week, creating yards after contact on the ground and beating defenders to the edge for a receiving score. The Jaguars’ next opponent, the Texans, have been exposed by running backs all season, Robinson will once again be projected for RB1 totals.

Justin Herbert – QB Los Angeles Chargers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 18
Current Rank: 3
Week 7 Projection: 18.50
Week 7 Actual: 38.48
Season to Date Actual: 128.78
Weekly Average: 25.76
Week 8 Projection: 18.20

Justin Herbert completed 27-of-43 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Chargers’ Week 7 win over the Jaguars, adding 65 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Herbert continues to operate at high levels and is operating at a 16-game pace of 4,934 passing yards with 38 TDs and 10 interceptions. To put his performance into perspective, his 16-game pace equates to 339.36 fantasy points. In 2019 with that total he would have finished as QB6, finishing ahead of Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. In 2020 through 7 weeks, Herbert is QB14 despite playing in only 5 games.

Entering Monday night, Herbert is 4th in points per game, trailing only Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott. He’s leaped into the low-end QB1 conversation. In Week 8, he should see one of his toughest match-ups in Denver. From Week 9 on, the Chargers and Herbert have as good of fantasy schedule as one could ask for.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB Kansas City Chiefs
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 2
Current Rank: 4
Week 7 Projection: 17.20
Week 7 Actual: 13.30
Season to Date Actual: 108.50
Weekly Average: 15.50
Week 8 Projection: 16.80

Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed eight times for 46 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ Week 7 win over the Broncos, adding a 17-yard reception. We all watched this one wanting to know how Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell might split work in the Chiefs’ backfield. CEH won the touch battle 9-6, but this hardly answered any questions we had on usage, as neither had much of a role.

CEH dropped what should have been a second touchdown on one of his 4 targets on the day. That likely won’t help his cause going forward. Bell has a revenge game on tap for Week 8 against the Jets, in a game I would expect him to be heavily featured. CEH will maintain a RB2 ranking, but his workload will be uncertain.

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 27: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8

Justin Jefferson – WR Minnesota Vikings
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 6
Current Rank: 5
Week 7 Projection: Bye Week
Week 7 Actual: Bye Week
Season to Date Actual: 101.70
Weekly Average: 16.95
Week 8 Projection: 16.10

Justin Jefferson and his Minnesota Vikings teammates were on their scheduled bye week. In his last 4 contests, Jefferson has averaged 22.43 PPR points and he has quickly entered into the conversation as the top rookie WR in this loaded draft class. Week 8 should be a tougher test as the Vikings travel to Green Bay. Regardless of match-up or location, Justin Jefferson needs to be in your starting lineups.

CeeDee Lamb – WR Dallas Cowboys
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 3
Current Rank: 6
Week 7 Projection: 14.40
Week 7 Actual: 0.10
Season to Date Actual: 99.10
Weekly Average: 14.16
Week 8 Projection: 12.60

CeeDee Lamb failed to catch a pass and had one rushing attempt for 1 yard in the Cowboys 25-3 loss to Washington. This one was about as ugly as one could imagine for Lamb and the Cowboys offense. Lamb was targeted twice, dropping a sure touchdown pass in the first half, as he had defender beat. Cowboys QB Andy Dalton targeted Lamb later in the end zone in another close miss.

Lamb should be fine if Dalton is back under center for the Cowboys next week against the Eagles. If Dalton can’t go and the Cowboys turn to Ben DiNucci or Garrett Gilbert at QB, Lamb needs to be stapled to your fantasy bench.

Antonio Gibson – RB Washington Football Team
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 19
Current Rank: 7
Week 7 Projection: 13.60
Week 7 Actual: 18.80
Season to Date Total: 92.80
Weekly Average: 13.26
Week 8 Projection: Bye Week

Antonio Gibson rushed 20 times for 128 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s Week 7 win against the Cowboys. Gibson ran through gaping holes in the Dallas defensive line early in the game, showing off his speed-power combo on a handful of impressive runs. Gibson, who didn’t see a target against Dallas, looks like a game script-sensitive running back for now. But when Washington gets a lead, he’ll always have a chance to post impressive stats. Gibson will be a mid-range RB2 in Week 8 against the Giants.

Chase Claypool – WR Pittsburgh Steelers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 20
Current Rank: 8
Week 7 Projection: 14.90
Week 7 Actual: 0.80
Season to Date Actual: 89.40
Weekly Average: 14.90
Week 8 Projection: 13.60

Chase Claypool caught his lone target for -2 yards in the Steelers’ Week 7 win over the Titans. Diontae Johnson (15 targets) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (13 targets) easily paced the team in targets with Ben Roethlisberger setting a new season high with 49 attempts. Claypool did get shadowed by the Titans’ top corner, however.

Claypool’s ceiling is the highest given his athleticism, but rookies can be inconsistent, especially when playing on the outside. Expect Claypool to have many booms and busts as a WR3/flex play. It’s worth tracking Diontae Johnson, who left Week 7 in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. If Johnson is out in Week 8, Claypool is a must start. If Johnson is active, he is a flex play at best.

Tee Higgins – WR Cincinnati Bengals
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 10
Current Rank: 9
Week 7 Projection: 12.00
Week 7 Actual: 18.80
Season to Date Actual: 88.20
Weekly Average: 12.60
Week 8 Projection: 14.30

Tee Higgins caught 5-of-5 targets for 71 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals’ Week 7 loss to the Browns. Higgins has emerged as a weekly threat because of his role in one of the most pass-friendly offenses in the league. Higgins has caught at least four passes in every game since Week 2. He has hit double-digit fantasy points in five consecutive games. A.J. Green has out-targeted Higgins in the past two games, but Cincinnati is averaging 41.9 passes per game. Higgins is a WR3 versus the Titans next week.

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8
CLEVELAND, OHIO – OCTOBER 11: Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8

Jonathan Taylor – RB Indianapolis Colts
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 1
Current Rank: 10
Week 7 Projection: Bye Week
Week 7 Actual: Bye Week
Season to Date Actual: 86.90
Weekly Average: 14.48
Week 8 Projection: 15.80

Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts were off in Week 7, and they return in Week 8 to tackle the Detroit Lions. Last time out, Taylor was being used more in the offense which is what his fnatasy managers have been waiting for since the season ending injury to RB Marlon Mack. Taylor owned 72.7% of the Colts backfield touches in Week 6. The only problem was that usage equated to only 12 carries, and 4 targets. Coming out of the break I anticipate the Colts to start getting Taylor 18-20 touches a game, and this is where he takes off.

With Kansas City’s recent acquisition of RB Le’Veon Bell, I would not be surprised to see Taylor emerge as this years No. 2 rookie running back leader behind James Robinson.

D’Andre Swift – RB Detroit Lions
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 5
Current Rank: 11
Week 7 Projection: 12.90
Week 7 Actual: 14.80
Season to Date Actual: 83.70
Weekly Average: 13.95
Week 8 Projection: 13.60

I tweeted out Sunday morning to get D’Andre Swift into your lineups—that it is time. It turns out that I was right. Swift led the team’s backfield in snaps against the Falcons with 28. Adrian Peterson played 19 snaps, and Kerryon Johnson, who did not touch the football, saw 14. Swift rushed nine times for 27 yards and a touchdown, adding four catches for 21 yards.

The Lions have slowly but surely moved the rookie into the lead-back role. Swift, whose pass-catching prowess will keep him from being phased out of the offense when the Lions are chasing points, should continue to see his role grow. Swift managers who stayed patient in the season’s first month could be rewarded handsomely. Fire him up in Week 8 against Indianapolis Colts despite the tough match-up.

Brandon Aiyuk – WR San Francisco 49ers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 14
Current Rank: 12
Week 7 Projection: 9.40
Week 7 Actual: 17.50
Season to Date Actual: 72.90
Weekly Average: 12.15
Week 8 Projection: 13.70

Brandon Aiyuk caught 6-of-7 targets for 115 yards in the 49ers’ Week 7 win against the Patriots. The Niners again used Aiyuk on toss sweeps that appear to be unstoppable. With long strides and tough running, Aiyuk went over 100 yards with ease. In a more competitive game, we might’ve seen him eclipse 150 yards. He seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted against the Patriots.

Deebo Samuel left in the second half with a hamstring injury, and is expected to miss Week 7 and possibly Week 8. With Samuel out, Aiyuk becomes the Niners No.2 passing option and provides his fnatasy managers with potential WR2 productivity. In Week 7 against the Seahawks welcoming defense, Aiyuk is a must start option.

Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR Jacksonville Jaguars
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 13
Current Rank: 13
Week 7 Projection: 11.10
Week 7 Actual: 7.40
Season to Date Actual: 72.80
Weekly Average: 10.40
Week 8 Projection: Bye Week

Laviska Shenault caught 3-of-3 targets for 44 yards in the Jaguars’ Week 7 loss to the Chargers. His three targets were tied for third on the team behind D.J. Chark (7) and James Robinson (6). Shenault seems to have hit a bit of a rookie wall as we near the midpoint of the season. Laviska has 11.50 PPR points combined in the last two weeks and seems to be struggling for targets.

Shenault is a bench stash in all formats as the Jaguars enter their bye week. Hopefully they spend the week getting this passing game back on track.

Jerry Jeudy – WR Denver Broncos
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 6
Current Rank: 14
Week 7 Projection: 10.80
Week 7 Actual: 4.00
Season to Date: 53.60
Weekly Average: 8.93
Week 8 Projection: 10.90

Jerry Jeudy caught 2-of-4 targets for 20 yards in the Broncos’ Week 7 loss to the Chiefs. With KJ Hamler (hamstring) back from injury, Jeudy posted his fewest yards of the season. With Drew Lock playing exceptionally poorly, Jeudy has only 52 yards across his past two appearances. Lock is making it impossible for Jeudy to carve out reliable WR4 value.

Entering Week 8 against the Chargers, it’s near impossible to start Jeudy, who has seen his weekly average drop below 9 PPR points a game.

2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8
INGLEWOOD, CA – OCTOBER 26: Wide receiver Darnell Mooney #11 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by cornerback Troy Hill #22 of the Los Angeles Rams after making a catch and gaining yardage during the first half at SoFi Stadium on October 26, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8

Darnell Mooney – WR Chicago Bears
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: NR
Current Rank: 15
Week 7 Projection: 7.70
Week 7 Actual: 7.00
Season to Date Actual: 50.30
Weekly Average: 7.19
Week 8 Projection: 7.90

Darnell Mooney caught 3-of-7 targets for 40 yards in the Bears’ Week 7 loss to the Rams. Mooney has seen at least five targets in five straight games but has yet to top 52 yards in a game mainly due to poor quarterback play. Mooney should have had a 96-yard touchdown in this one after beating Jalen Ramsey clean, but Nick Foles completely missed him.

Mooney is quickly understanding how Anthony Miller must feel. Getting open isn’t the problem for Mooney, but having a quarterback competent enough to make the throws is. He is off the redraft radar but should be owned in all Dynasty formats. The Bears host the Saints in Week 8, and Mooney has to remain on your bench.

Joshua Kelley – RB Los Angeles Chargers
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 27
Current Rank: 16
Week 7 Projection: 6.90
Week 7 Actual: 10.30
Season to Date Actual: 49.90
Weekly Average: 8.32
Week 8 Projection: 10.10

Joshua Kelley led the team’s backfield in snaps in Week 7 against the Jaguars. Kelley played 38 snaps to Justin Jackson’s 31 in the Chargers’ win. Kelley rushed 12 times for 29 yards while Jackson notched five carries for 12 yards. Jackson, who saw six targets against Jacksonville, remains the primary pass-catching back with Austin Ekeler (hamstring) out. For now, Kelley looks like he’ll get a decent number of carries when the Chargers have game script on their side.

The reality is this backfield likely remains a mystery until one of these backs gets hot and takes a firm grasp of the primary role. With Justin Jackson nursing a sore knee, the time for Kelley is now. The Chargers have a fantastic fantasy schedule upcoming and their toughest test is Week 8 in Denver. I would avoid this backfield entirely if possible in Week 8.

Gabriel Davis – WR Buffalo Bills
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 38
Current Rank: 17
Week 7 Projection: 4.40
Week 7 Actual: 2.10
Season to Date Actual: 47.50
Weekly Average: 6.77
Week 8 Projection: 8.10

Gabriel Davis caught 1-of-3 targets for 11 yards in Week 7 against the Jets. Davis started with John Brown sidelined, and did next to nothing with his opportunity. He did have a touchdown overturned on a penalty (for the second time this season), that would have dramatically changed his outcome. The entire Bills offense was bad in Week 7, settling for six field goals to beat the Jets. If Brown misses Week 8, Davis will be on the desperation streaming radar against New England Patriots.

J.K. Dobbins – RB Baltimore Ravens
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 4
Current Rank: 18
Week 7 Projection: Bye Week
Week 7 Actual: Bye Week
Season to Date Actual: 45.80
Weekly Average: 7.63
Week 8 Projection: Bye Week

J.K. Dobbins enters Week 8 fresh off a Week 7 bye. Starting RB Mark Ingram was injured in the Ravens last contest and his status will have a direct impact on Dobbins fantasy relevance in Week and and for the remainder of the season. The matchup in Week 8 is not a good one, as Baltimore hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers. Should Ingram miss this one, Dobbins is likely to share work with RB Gus Edwards. Dobbins would be the pass catching back in this one for sure. Dobbins may be an option this week for the RB desperate, so keep your eye on the Ravens injury and practice report.

Harrison Bryant – TE Cleveland Browns
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 50
Current Rank: 19
Week 7 Projection: 4.10
Week 7 Actual: 21.60
Season to Date Actual: 42.60
Weekly Average: 6.09
Week 8 Projection: 6.70

Harrison Bryant caught 4-of-5 targets for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the Browns’ Week 7 win over the Bengals. The Browns chose to start Bryant over David Njoku with Austin Hooper (appendicitis) inactive. Njoku also scored but did so on just three targets.

Both players will be involved whenever Hooper is out but Bryant will be the only Cleveland tight end with a fantasy-relevant role. He figures to be a touchdown-dependent TE2 in Week 8 versus the Raiders.

Henry Ruggs – WR Las Vegas Raiders
RotoHeat Rookie Ranking: 11
Current Rank: 20
Week 7 Projection: 8.20
Week 7 Actual: 6.50
Season to Date Actual: 37.30
Weekly Average: 9.33
Week 8 Projection: 10.20

Henry Ruggs caught 2-of-3 targets for 35 yards in Las Vegas’s Week 7 loss to Tampa Bay. Ruggs hauled in a shallow pass on 3rd-and-4 in the second quarter and turned upfield for a 29-yard gain. The issue is that was the only time coach Jon Gruden attempted to use Ruggs, having him simply run go-routes for the second straight game.

Ruggs has now recorded three targets in back-to-back starts since returning from injury, being out-targeted by Nelson Agholor 11 to 6 in that stint — somewhat confusing for an offense that is in need of playmakers. Ruggs will remain a boom-or-bust WR3/4 in Week 8 against the Browns.

Thank you for reading 2020 Rookie Fantasy Tracker Week 8. Good luck in Week 8 everyone!

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