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Fantasy Football Rookies to Watch - Devin Singletary, Benny Snell, N'Keal Harry


Two more weeks left in the regular season, Rotoballers. Two more weeks to fight for a spot in the playoffs. Or if you're lucky and sitting at a 9-2 record (or thereabouts), two more weeks to rub your opponents' faces in your complete and utter dominance of the league. As always, I'm here to shift your focus onto the impact the 2019 rookie class will have this weekend. I'll try to determine whether they should fit into your plans of total fantasy football domination.

In case you are new to this column, each week we highlight a few first-year players who are worth keeping your eye on. Not all of the players listed below are must-starts, but all of them are in a position to be viable fantasy options.

If any of these names are sitting out on your waiver wire, you should strongly consider picking them up to play this week or stash for your fantasy playoffs if you have space. Ideally, some of these names will help fantasy players get some roster depth which can minimize the negative impact of injuries and bye weeks.

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The Breakout Psych-Out

Devin Singletary (RB, BUF)

The Bills' third-round pick appeared to have finally broken out in Week 9 after a dominant showing against Washington in which he accumulated 140 total yards and a touchdown on 23 touches. In that same game, Frank Gore touched the ball 11 times and scraped together just 15 yards for a paltry 1.4 yards per attempt. It looked as if the backfield had finally shifted toward youth. And sure, Singletary has played substantially more offensive snaps than Gore since then, but the touch count remains much closer than it should at this point (Singletary's 27 vs Gore's 18).

Singletary's efficiency has remained impressive, however, averaging 5.10 yards per carry in his games against Cleveland and Miami. He was also targeted seven times in that stretch, adding to the narrative that Singletary doesn't have to rely on game script to get you fantasy points. That last part will be helpful against Denver this week, whose defense has allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to running backs, but who have also give up the 11th-most receptions to the position. This game should require much heavier utilization of the rookie than last week's matchup with Miami.

 

The Semi-Resurgent Receiver

Terry McLaurin (WR, WAS)

Remember back in Week 3 when the fantasy community was arguing over the best nickname for this game-wrecking rookie? This was after averaging 86 yards per game and 16 yards per reception, and putting up a touchdown in each of his first three games. Since then, McLaurin has dealt with injuries, a quarterback carousel, and the inevitable attention from defenses that comes with balling out as a true No. 1 wide receiver. Despite some relatively mediocre performances since then, McLaurin still sits at WR29 on the season in PPR formats. Part of that is still because of those overwhelming first three performances, but part of it is because McLaurin can still ball out against middling defenses.

He proved that in Week 6 against Miami (obviously) when he torched them for 100 yards and two touchdowns, but he eased some worries that he'd have a tougher go with Dwayne Haskins under center, posting three catches for 69 yards in Week 11 against the Jets. The man has the burners to make middling defenses pay. Unfortunately, while Detroit has given up the 7th-most receiving yards to the position, McLaurin will have to face off against All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay. He could still put up reasonable stats, as he did against the Patriots' Stephon Gilmore (3-for-51), but don't expect to see McLaurin in his most dominant form.

 

The Last Man Standing

Benny Snell Jr. (RB, PIT)

At this point in the season, is it fair to suggest the Steelers were cursed by a witch that specializes in injuries to skill position players? Big Ben, Mason Rudolph, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Conner, Benny Snell...essentially anyone who's job is to touch the ball on offense has been injured at some point. Snell, luckily, is recovered from his knee surgery and will be available for the Steelers this weekend after missing the last three games. That's good news for the backfield, as Conner will be sidelined with a shoulder injury once more.

The last time Snell played in Conner's absence, he amassed 17 carries and 89 total yards. And Conner only missed one quarter of that game. In a full four quarters, expect Snell to be leaned on heavily in a matchup against the Bengals, whose defense allows the 3rd-most rushing yards to opposing rushers. He's an obvious RB2 this week, even with Jaylen Samuels handling 99% of the receiving work out of the backfield.

 

The Super Secret Weapon 

Jace Sternberger (TE, GB)

Drafted in the third round as a much-needed weapon for the Packers at a position that's been underwhelming in recent years (to say the least), Sternberger missed the first nine weeks of the season due to an ankle injury. After an important bye week, he now travels to San Francisco for a matchup with a stifling 49ers Defense. He could see some valuable targets, however, as outside of Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, Green Bay lacks legitimate threats in the receiving game.

Jimmy Graham has been relatively ineffectual in his age-32 season, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Matt LaFleur figure out ways to get Sternberger involved early on.

 

The Return of the Top-Rated Rookie

N'Keal Harry (WR, NE)

Okay, it's official: We can all stop talking about whether or not Antonio Brown will resign with the Patriots. Despite rumors that New England was so desperate for pass-catching weapons that they would add the 31-year-old time bomb back into the mix, nothing transpired in their transactions log. Instead, Tom Brady will rely on Julian Edelman, James White, and a handful of promising-but-raw receivers that includes newly-cleared N'Keal Harry.

Harry, who was activated off IR last week against Philadelphia, looked like a rookie trying to shake the rust off after missing 10 weeks of game action. Which...ya know...was exactly the case. This week against Dallas, expect the rust to be shaken but don't look for Harry to drop a monster stat line on a defense that's allowing the 5th-fewest yards per completion to quarterbacks. Jeff Driskel may have thrown for nearly 14 yards per completion, but he only completed 15 passes in total, many of which were desperation heaves. Harry should still be involved quite a bit, but Brady's right elbow injury only adds to the concern that there will be minimal yardage to be had though the air.

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