Now that the season has finally started, we can now review how the rookies did. Can they possibly top the performance of last year’s class? Let’s find out below.
Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay – The rough start to his career may not all be his fault. Winston was playing in bad weather and missing his No. 1 wide receiver in Mike Evans. Still, you wanted to see more from the first overall selection in the NFL Draft. Winston threw a pick-6 on his very first attempt and that was an indication of how the day would go. Winston ended up with 210 yards on 16 completions of 33 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Before we judge him, let us see how he handles this setback and grows from it.
Marcus Mariota – Tennessee – Do you think Tennessee is happy that Mariota fell in the draft? Mariota had a terrific opening performance on Sunday against Tampa Bay and fellow rookie Jameis Winston. Mariota looked composed all game and made smart reads finishing 13-of-16 for 209 yards and four touchdowns. On his first drive, he had a great fake and threw a 52–yard touchdown to Kendall Wright. This could be the beginning of great things.
Garrett Grayson – New Orleans – Inactive
Sean Mannion – St. Louis – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Bryce Petty – New York Jets – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Brett Hundley – Green Bay – Inactive
Trevor Siemian – Denver – Inactive
Todd Gurley – St. Louis – Inactive
Melvin Gordon – San Diego – To be honest, I was really high on Gordon this year. He should still see a lot of carries, but the use of Danny Woodhead leaves me wanting more. Gordon had 14 carries for 51 yards and added three catches for 16 yards with a fumble on Sunday, but it was Woodhead getting into the end zone twice, not Gordon. Watch this situation to see how it plays out the next few weeks.
T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville – The talk in Jacksonville is that the Jaguars should be a better team this year with all the young players getting a little older and with the addition of a true three-down back in Yeldon. Yeldon had a few nice runs on Sunday and ended up with 12 carries for 51 yards and adding three receptions for 16 yards on four targets. Yeldon will be a No. 3 back in fantasy this year and provide nice depth for your team and have some weeks where he will help out more. If you can get him for a low price, do so. You will benefit down the road.
Ameer Abdullah – Detroit – Now this is how you start a career! On his very first carry, Abdullah made some nice moves and run for a 24-yard touchdown. Abdullah ended up with seven carries for 50 yards and also caught all four passes for another 44 yards. Look for Abdullah to take over the lead back duties very soon in Detroit and if you can get him now, do so before his price goes up.
Tevin Coleman – Atlanta – It sure looks like Atlanta may have found its new No. 1 running back. Coleman looked good on Monday night against Philadelphia with 20 carries for 80 yards. Devonta Freeman, however, struggled with only 18 yards on 10 carries. With his game-breaking ability, look for Coleman to firmly grasp the lead role and provide nice games this year in a high-scoring offense.
Duke Johnson – Cleveland – The departure of Terrance West was a good thing for Duke Johnson fans, because that means he gets a bigger workload to showcase his skills in Cleveland. Johnson ran the ball seven times for 22 yards against a very good New York Jets defense last Sunday. He will still get his carries, and not every defense will be as good against the run. Johnson should be rostered in most leagues.
David Johnson – Arizona – When word came out that Chris Johnson was added to the Arizona backfield, I was worried about the playing time that David Johnson would get. Now that Andre Ellington is injured, David Johnson should see a bigger workload, especially after what he did last Sunday. Even though he did not register a carry, he did take a pass for 55 yards and the game-winning touchdown to show what he can do with the ball in his hands. Expect a bigger workload, and he may even take over the starting job should Chris Johnson fail. Have David Johnson high on your waiver list.
Matt Jones – Washington – I believe that Washington wants to run the ball, and then run it some more this season. Especially with the injury to their best wide receiver in DeSean Jackson, that may be even more of the case now. Matt Jones looked good all preseason and earned the No. 2 spot behind Alfred Morris. Jones had six carries for 28 yards last Sunday and I expect him to get even more work in the coming weeks. He should definitely be a player to keep your eye on.
Jeremy Langford – Chicago – One carry for 1 yard, not much to see here.
Jalston Fowler – Tennessee – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Buck Allen – Baltimore – I have been high on him all preseason, I just don’t know if Justin Forsett lasts a whole season again. Allen is a much better fit than Lorenzo Taliaferro under the new offensive scheme. Allen had nine carries for 30 yards and also had a 4-yard catch. Keep your eyes on him. My bet is he starts this year at some point.
Mike Davis – San Francisco – Inactive
David Cobb – Tennessee – Injured Reserve
Jay Ajayi – Miami – Injured Reserve
Karlos Williams – Buffalo – Williams is the handcuff to LeSean McCoy and vultered a touchdown away from him on his way to a six-carry, 55-yard day. Williams looked so good in camp that Buffalo cut Fred Jackson. Williams needs to be owned by all McCoy owners and should be on the priority list of every fantasy owner. Keep an eye on him!
Michael Burton – Detroit – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Cameron Artis–Payne – Carolina – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Josh Robinson – Indianapolis – The new No. 2 behind Frank Gore struggled on Sunday with four carries for 11 yards and a fumble against Buffalo. There are rumors already that Indianapolis may bring back Ahmad Bradshaw to further diminish the prospects of Robinson for 2015.
Aaron Ripkowski – Green Bay – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Marcus Murphy – New Orleans – Did Not Play/No Stat Line
Zach Zenner – Detroit – The undrafted free agent out of South Dakota State was the talk of Detroit camp all summer long, and he earned his job with the team. There are even rumors that he may be the goal-line back for Detroit this year. Zenner did not see much action in Week 1 with only two carries for 6 yards, but keep one eye on him to see if he gets more playing time.
Jarryd Hayne – San Francisco –
The former rugby player impressed everybody during the preseason and it earned him a spot with San Francisco. When Reggie Bush got hurt early in the game against Minnesota on Monday, San Francisco rolled the dice with Hayne being the backup to Carlos Hyde. Hayne had four carries for 13 yards and a fumble and also had a 7-yard reception. Hayne is a tough guy and could be a find if Hyde goes down for any length of time.
Thomas Rawls – Seattle – With the exodus of Christine Michael and Robert Turbin, Rawls is the new No. 3 behind Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson in Seattle. Rawls had a nice preseason to help initiate those moves and proved himself worthy to Seattle. With the game so close against St. Louis, Rawls saw limited action with only two carries for 5 yards. Thomas is one to have if you are a Lynch owner and should be on everyone’s radar.