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Fantasy Football Rookies to Watch in Week 5


Each week in this column, we'll 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 keep a close watch on them.

Ideally, some of these names will help fantasy players get some roster depth which can minimize the negative impact of injuries and bye weeks.

Initially, some of these names will seem fairly obvious. As the season progresses, expect this column to pay more attention to under-the-radar options.

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The Underrated Matchup

Noah Fant (TE, DEN)

It hasn't exactly been rose petals and air kisses from fantasy owners to Noah Fant these first few weeks. Granted, the "other" rookie tight end from Iowa found paydirt last week against Jacksonville, but his production has been otherwise lackluster. Fant has hovered around the four target mark in each game so far but has seen the field an average of 70.5% of offensive snaps. He just needs an advantageous matchup.

Aaaaaand bingo! Week 5's game against the Chargers is the best matchup Fant's had to this point, at least on paper. Los Angeles got gashed by a pair of unassuming Houston tight ends in Week 3 to the tune of eight receptions for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, T.J. Hockenson was basically a ghost when he played this defense in Week 2, but that was when the Chargers still had Adrian Phillips helping run the show. Expect a nice spike in fantasy output from Fant this week.

 

The Closer

Tony Pollard (RB, DAL)

Similar to their Week 3 matchup with Miami, this week's game against Green Bay offers a virtual cornucopia of rushing opportunities for the Cowboys backfield. And just like Week 3, there should be plenty of leftovers for Pollard to feast on. As we learned in Week 4 with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, it doesn't really matter who's toting the ball against the Packers cream cheese run defense. They're going to rack up some nice stats.

With Davante Adams unlikely to suit up on Sunday, Dallas may find themselves playing with a lead for a majority of the game. If that's the case, we could see a healthy dose of Pollard as the Cowboys try to avoid wearing their star running back out.

 

The Pre-Draft Star

Andy Isabella (WR, ARI)

I've been hyping up Keesean Johnson in this space lately, but it could also be teammate Andy Isabella's time to shine. Both Christian Kirk and Damiere Byrd are likely to miss this Sunday's game against Cincinnati, which leaves a nice hole for the pre-draft hype machine to tantalize fantasy owners. Curiously, Isabella won't be working out of the slot. That will be up to Larry Fitzgerald and recent pickup Pharoah Cooper for some reason.

Despite his 97th percentile College Dominator score and 88th percentile SPARQ score, the (admittedly uneducated) knock on Isabella coming out of the draft was that he was really just a glorified slot receiver. So this is Isabella's opportunity to prove his versatility and flash his outrageous speed on the outside. Against the Bengals, he should have plenty of chances at a big play or two.

 

The Prove-It Game

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI)

We've witnessed some pretty drastic fluctuation in the stat line from the No 1 overall pick thus far, which is to be expected from a rookie. In his first game against Detroit, Murray threw 54 times for 308 yards and two touchdowns thanks in part to some overtime action. In his last matchup with Seattle, however, Murray threw 32 times for 241 yards and his only touchdown went to the wrong team. He's an even 4:4 in the TD to INT ratio but has averaged a 69.3% completion rate over his last two games. Essentially, he's turning into more of a game manager than the fantasy battle axe he was advertised to be in Kliff Kingsbury's fast-paced offense.

If the young guy can't put up above-average fantasy production against a Cincinnati defense that just gave up two touchdowns and an absurd 85.7% completion rate to Mason Rudolph, we may not feel confident starting Murray the rest of the year.

 

The High Upside Fill-In

Dexter Williams (RB, GB)

There were folks out there who fully expected Dexter Williams to eventually win the 1B running back job from Jamaal Williams. The former Notre Dame rusher was a sixth-round pick who fell to the Packers due to some minor off-field issues. With Jamaal unlikely to play against Dallas due to the concussion he received on a nasty hit last Thursday, Dexter will get a miniature showcase for his believers.

Head coach Matt LaFleur has thus far made good on his desire to use a committee backfield, which means Dexter and fullback Danny Vitale should each get a good chunk of snaps to work with behind Aaron Jones. The Packers desperately need a spark at the position, so if Dexter balls out with his limited opportunities, don't be surprised to see him in action more often moving forward.

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