Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Fantasy Football Rookies to Watch - Diontae Johnson, Mecole Hardman, Preston Williams


It's Week 8 of the 2019 fantasy football season, Rotoballers. And what a ride it's been. We've watched some rookies blossom right before our very eyes, while others have remained trapped in their cocoons. And that's okay. Some players catch on and adjust to NFL game speed faster than others. Just because they haven't broken out yet, that doesn't mean they're doomed to be busts. That said, today we're going to focus on the rookies that have already emerged from their cocoons or are on the verge of transforming into the triumphant fantasy butterflies we know they can be.

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 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.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

The Quarterback Boost

Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)

Mason Rudolph will be returning to the fold after suffering a brutal concussion in Week 5 against the Ravens. That's great news for Diontae Johnson, who thrived with the sophomore quarterback under center. It's a small sample size, but in the two games Rudolph both started and finished, Johnson finished with a combined stat line of 9-of-12 for 129 yards and two touchdowns. It's worth noting one of those contests was against San Francisco, who are allowing the fewest passing yards and third-fewest passing touchdowns on the season.

And now he gets to face a defense on the exact opposite end of the spectrum in the Miami Dolphins. They're allowing the second-most touchdowns and are middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed, but only because teams have been blowing them out in the first half and reverting to the run game in the second half. I expect Johnson to continue seeing a good chunk of targets, which automatically equates to fantasy points against Miami.

 

The Positional Advantage

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

If there's one thing we know about the Bills Defense thus far, it's that they don't get beat through the air very often. Carson Wentz should figure to have tough sledding against Bufallo's hyper-stingy pass defense, and will likely be required to lean on his running backs early and often. While this primarily projects to be a Jordan Howard game, there should be no doubt Sanders will be utilized frequently.

Sanders hit a fantasy speed bump against Dallas last week, carrying the ball fewer than 10 times for the third straight week. His involvement as a pass-catcher has been refreshing to see, however, as the rookie has seen 11 targets over that same three-week stretch. Howard has seen just two in that period. Even if Philadelphia's corners can't manage to keep this game somewhat close -- because, well, that's not exactly their forte -- Sanders may be game script-proof enough to put together a nice game.

 

The Big Play Question Mark

Mecole Hardman (WR, KC)

With Tyreek Hill sidelined, Kansas City called upon their rookie Hill clone to step up and deliver his best impersonation. And he performed well. In Weeks 2-5, he amassed 22 targets and delivered 12 receptions for 246 yards and two touchdowns. But with the real Hill back on the field, Hardman's target share has dipped along with his fantasy production, as we all expected it would.

This week's matchup with Green Bay is interesting because the Packers' defense has been incredibly susceptible to giving up big plays to wide receivers. They'll likely put their fastest corner Jaire Alexander on Hill in hopes of limiting his home run receptions, perhaps leaving Hardman to sneak a couple of chunk gains. This should be the type of game where having two similarly explosive players really pays off for the Chiefs, particularly since they won't have Patrick Mahomes to make magic out of thin air.

 

The Late Bloomer

Noah Fant (TE, DEN)

Things haven't worked out for Fant in his rookie season the way many expected. While most people understand that rookie tight ends rarely produce for fantasy purposes in their first year, Fant seemed like he had an opportunity to break the mold. Fant profiled as more of an outright receiving tight end than fellow Hawkeye alum T.J. Hockenson, and he was going to an offense led by Joe Flacco, who notoriously hyper-targets his tight ends. That's relatively simple math that suggested Fant would be worth rostering even in redraft leagues.

So far, he simply hasn't produced. Fant's exceeded 35 yards just once all season, which is the same number of times he's found the end zone. And yet, there's now a glimmer of hope for the rookie tight end. Emmanuel Sanders was just traded to the 49ers, and while Daesean Hamilton is the most obvious beneficiary, this could also open up more opportunities for Fant. Keep an eye on him this week against Indianapolis, who is allowing the third-most fantasy points to the tight end position.

 

The Model of Consistency

Preston Williams (WR, MIA)

Despite being a part of such a historically terrible offense, Williams has managed to keep his head above water and put together consistently respectable stat lines. No matter which quarterback has been under center for the Dolphins, Williams has seen no fewer than five targets, has averaged 13.7 yards per reception, and leads the team in catches and receiving yards. It hasn't really mattered how strong the opposing defense is either, as he put up four receptions for 63 yards against the dominant Patriots. So a matchup with Pittsburgh should have little bearing on Williams' production. The guy just finds a way.

Of course, all of that still only makes him the WR55 on the season because there's only so much you can do when you're stuck wearing orange and teal.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




More Recent Articles

 

Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs is in the books, and hopefully you're still writing another chapter in it. Week 14 was absolutely brutal from an injury perspective, with several big name players getting carted off the field and burying multitudes of fantasy teams in the process. Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Devante Parker, Alshon... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 Le'Veon Bell (flu) is back at practice and should return for TNF. Bilal Powell (ankle, flu) is likely... Read More


Week 14 Surprises? We Must Overreact Immediately!

In Week 14, the quarterback position was littered with surprises. Drew Brees dropped over 40 fantasy points on a 49ers Defense that's given up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season and Jameis Winston hung 456 yards and 5 touchdowns on a Colts Defense that's been solid against the pass all year. Mitch... Read More


The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 15)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More


Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Week 15 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 15 is here and for those of you that won the first week of your fantasy playoffs, congratulations. If you had a bye week, good luck to you this week. Kicker lives still matter, and three different kickers had 15 or more points last week. Three different kickers outscored Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick... Read More


FAAB Bidding - Week 15 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More


Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More


Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... Read More


Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More


Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More