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Fantasy Football Rookies to Watch in Week 14: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chuba Hubbard, and more

amon-ra st. brown fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

Every week, this column will spotlight the first-year players who are ripe for a breakout performance. Oftentimes, rookies can provide some of the most value as under-the-radar options.

2021 has been a very interesting year for rookies fantasy-wise. The best quarterback in this year's class has been New England's Mac Jones, but he's coming off of a game in which he threw just three passes. Cincinnati's prized receiver Ja'Marr Chase dominated the first half of the season but has yet to crack 60 yards since Week 7. Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts had an amazing midseason stretch but has since slowed down significantly, and Eagles wideout DeVonta Smith has had extremely volatile production week-to-week. Rookie fantasy output can be extremely difficult to predict; thus, articles like this one exist to try to make sense of it all.

For dynasty leagues, this column should help identify ideal trade targets and prized stashes. For redraft managers, this column could provide the edge necessary for a championship run. This week's article includes both prominent fantasy options and those that are less well-known. 

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The Returning Scrambler

Justin Fields (QB, CHI)

After being inactive for the past two weeks with a rib injury, this year's 11th-overall pick Justin Fields is returning to the starting lineup for the Bears this Sunday. Fields started the season very slowly; in his first five starts, he finished as a top-30 fantasy QB just twice, and he never cracked the top-15. However, he had started to gather some major momentum prior to his unfortunate injury. Fields was a top-10 fantasy QB in both Week 8 and Week 9, the two most recent games that he started and finished.

The Ohio State product has built most of his production via the ground game. His 56 carries rank sixth among quarterbacks, and his 311 rushing yards rank fourth. His passing stats have not been up to par though. The Bears throw the ball the second-least often in the league, and as a result, Fields has just four touchdown passes on the year. While he did set a new career-high in passing yardage in Week 9, his capacity as a passer will be severely tested against Green Bay this week. The Packers are the fifth-toughest fantasy defense against QBs, so if Fields can continue to show improvement through the air, his long-term prospects will become even more promising.

 

The Unstoppable Bronco

Javonte Williams (RB, DEN)

Fantasy managers had been impatiently waiting for rookie Javonte Williams to take over the Denver backfield from veteran Melvin Gordon. Gordon's absence last week meant that they finally got their wish. The second-rounder from North Carolina made excellent use of the opportunity, totaling 178 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 29 touches. His RB1 finish in PPR leagues came despite the fact that Denver trailed Kansas City for nearly the entire game.

With Gordon questionable for this week's bout with the one-win Detroit Lions, Williams may not be the sole workhorse again on Sunday. However, his dominant showing was like opening Pandora's Box; it will be very difficult for the Broncos' coaches to close that can of worms and justify returning to a timeshare. That doesn't mean that it won't happen, though. Either way, running backs have had their way with Detroit this year, so Williams will be an excellent fantasy option whether or not Gordon plays. The Lions have surrendered the sixth-most half-PPR points per game to RBs in 2021.

 

The Satisfactory Starter

Chuba Hubbard (RB, CAR)

Carolina's star running back Christian McCaffrey has sadly been unable to stay on the field over the last two seasons, and he has now been shut down for the year after another injury. That means that Chuba Hubbard will return to the starting role that he occupied from Week 4 through Week 8. In those five weeks, Hubbard averaged 20 touches and 83 scrimmage yards, and he found paydirt twice in that span. He also never had a true dud outing, as he finished as a top-36 RB in all five of those weeks.

On the other hand, his upside seems to be limited. He never cracked the top-15 at his position in any week, so if you need boom potential to make it to the playoffs, Hubbard is not your guy. Moreover, advanced stats do not paint a great picture for the fourth-rounder from Oklahoma State. His yards created per touch, true yards per carry, and fantasy points per opportunity are all quite mediocre, and he is all the way down at 145th among RBs in expected points added. Hubbard will get the workload necessary to be a viable start though, so fire him up as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3 this week in a decent matchup against Atlanta.

 

The Clutch Catcher

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, DET)

Before last week, the Lions were winless at 0-10-1. They now have a one in the win column though, and rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown's career day was a big reason why. St. Brown had 10 grabs on 12 targets for 86 yards against Minnesota, all personal bests. The fourth-rounder from USC also made his first NFL touchdown reception last Sunday, and it could not have come at a more important moment. By scoring as time expired, St. Brown delivered Detroit its first win of 2021.

After finishing as the WR6 in PPR leagues in Week 13, how will the rookie fare this weekend? Well, Detroit's offense will be without both of their top running backs, and starting tight end T.J. Hockenson is doubtful to play. Therefore St. Brown is a strong bet to see a lot of targets yet again, as there will simply not be many other mouths to feed. The Detroit offense isn't exactly stacked with weapons even when fully healthy anyway. St. Brown is a sneaky option this week against Denver, although he is a risky play due to his suboptimal efficiency. Despite having the 31st-most catches among wideouts, he has just the 51st-most yards.

 

The Ascending Asset

Dee Eskridge (WR, SEA)

When the Seahawks chose Western Michigan wideout Dee Eskridge in the second round this past April, the selection received mixed reviews. A concussion that Eskridge sustained in the season opener prevented him from proving the detractors wrong, as it forced him to miss seven games. Last week the rookie showed some flashes though, and he caught his first career touchdown pass in a three-catch, 35-yard effort against San Francisco.

Eskridge was a fan-favorite during the pre-draft process. He dominated the Senior Bowl, gaining attention despite being from a small program, and he ran an impressive 4.4 40-yard dash. Eskridge's snap share and routes run have both increased in each week since his Week 10 return from injury, and his second-round draft capital ensures that Seattle will want to continue to get him more involved. He is definitely a sleeper to keep an eye on this week in a nice matchup against Houston.

 

The Next Man Up

Brock Wright (TE, DET)

As mentioned in the section for Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Lions will be without many of their key playmakers against Denver this weekend, likely including tight end T.J. Hockenson. This makes Brock Wright an extremely deep sleeper for Week 14. Wright had just seven catches for 78 yards and one touchdown in his entire three-year career at Notre Dame, and he went undrafted this spring, so expectations should certainly be tempered. However, Wright did make two grabs for 28 yards and a score last week against the Vikings, so Hockenson's probable absence makes him notable enough to cover here.

The Lions have given 24.1 percent of their targets to their tight ends, the 10th-highest figure in the NFL. As a result, Wright could see a surprising number of targets against Denver if Detroit just plugs him into their offense. While there are definitely better options at tight end out there, Wright is interesting by virtue of being an unknown getting thrust into a starting role. Make sure to check him out in Week 14.



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