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NFL Rookies to Watch for Fantasy Football Week 11 Including Isaiah Likely, Kyren Williams, Isaiah Spiller, James Cook

Isaiah Likely - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

This year's rookie class has already had a great start to Week 11. Green Bay Packers first-year wideout Christian Watson in particular had another strong performance on Thursday. After posting a four-catch, 107-yard, three-touchdown stat line in Week 10, he gathered four catches for 48 yards and two scores this week versus Tennessee.

The Titans have an impressive rookie wideout of their own, though. First-rounder Treylon Burks made seven grabs for 111 yards, helping his team to a key 27-17 victory over Green Bay to extend their lead in the AFC South. This was the best game of the Arkansas product's young career so far, and he will look to keep the momentum going next week against Cincinnati.

Whether you're a redraft manager or a dynasty manager, being ahead of the curve with rookie players is vital to your team's success. For that reason, each week I am breaking down which rookies you should be watching out for. This column is split into two parts: one pertaining to players most relevant in redraft leagues, and the other for rookies particularly worth watching in dynasty formats.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Redraft Leagues

Kyren Williams (RB, LAR)

The Rams' backfield has been a disaster this season. Cam Akers was the subject of extensive trade talks and has had a volatile role. Darrell Henderson has been largely unremarkable and unable to take advantage of the Akers situation. Malcolm Brown saw some action but showed next-to-no juice and is currently injured. Ronnie Rivers, an undrafted rookie from Fresno State, got a brief moment to shine but gained just 36 yards on 12 touches in his only significant appearance.

This leaves the door open for another rookie, Kyren Williams, to make an impact. Williams, who was drafted in the fifth round out of Notre Dame, injured his ankle in Week 1 and was subsequently placed on injured reserve. However, he returned from IR last week and played against Arizona. In that game, he had one carry for nine yards and three catches for 30 yards. The hope is that this week, Williams will get a larger role as he recovers to full strength.

Williams's athletic profile is nothing crazy; in fact, his 4.65-second 40-yard dash time at 5'9" and 194 pounds is quite poor, amounting to just a ninth-percentile speed score among running backs. Volume is massively important for RBs, though, and the Rams desperately need someone to fill their vacancy in the backfield. Williams should be the next tailback to receive that opportunity. Keep an eye on how he performs this week against New Orleans to see how the Rams plan to use him moving forward.

Isaiah Likely (TE, BAL)

Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely impressed observers in the preseason with his prowess as a receiver. This was a continuation of what he accomplished in college; he had a great senior season at Coastal Carolina, making 59 catches for 912 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. Thus, the Ravens were left with an excellent backup plan when starting tight end Mark Andrews went down with an injury in Week 8 against Tampa Bay.

In that Week 8 Thursday night game, Likely set new career highs across the board with six receptions on seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. His output was much milder the following week, as he had just one catch on five targets for 24 yards. That one catch was a touchdown, though, so managers who started Likely couldn't complain too much. These past two games saw Likely have his largest snap shares of the season at 66.2 and 87.5 percent.

After a Week 10 bye week, Andrews is now questionable to play on Sunday against Carolina. Regardless of whether Andrews does or doesn't suit up, Likely will still be an important player to watch. Will he be able to maintain an elevated snap share if Andrews returns? If Andrews can't play, can Likely post another stat line like the one he had versus the Buccaneers? The answers to these questions will have a large impact on how strong Likely's outlook for the rest of the season is.

Trey McBride (TE, ARI)

Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz had been having a superb campaign in 2022. With 47 catches, 406 yards, and four touchdowns through Week 10, Ertz is currently the TE3 in PPR leagues. In a season where the tight end position has been relatively barren for fantasy managers, Ertz has provided consistent production. In 10 games, he has posted four top-10 weekly finishes at the position and four more in the top 15.

Ertz's strong play just made his season-ending knee injury last week sting even worse. Now, the Cardinals will turn to rookie Trey McBride as their starting tight end. A second-round pick out of Colorado State, McBride was quite the receiver in college. His 2021 production was incredible, as he made 90 catches for 1,121 yards in 12 games. His 46.3 percent college dominator came in at the 99th percentile among tight ends.

McBride carries some major upside into the back half of the season. Cardinals tight ends have gotten a combined 75 targets this season, sixth-most in the NFL. With Ertz out, McBride will take on a much larger chunk of those. Other tight ends on the team, such as Stephen Anderson, do not pose a serious threat to McBride's target share. Arizona drafted McBride in the second round to contribute in the passing game, and now he'll do exactly that. Check out his game against San Francisco on Monday to evaluate how strong of an option he will be.

NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

Isaiah Spiller (RB, LAC)

Los Angeles Chargers running back Isaiah Spiller was a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M this past spring. He had a solid college career; his best season came in 2020 as a sophomore when he gained 1,229 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns on 208 touches in 10 games. His role as Austin Ekeler's presumptive backup in L.A. made him a highly-touted asset in fantasy circles in the preseason, to the point where he was going in the same area as Rachaad White and Brian Robinson in rookie drafts.

Unlike White and Robinson, though, Spiller has failed to carve out a fantasy-relevant role in his backfield. Spiller was unable to beat out Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel for the team's backup RB spot and began the season as a healthy scratch. However, with Kelley sustaining an injury in Week 6 that landed him on injured reserve, Spiller saw game action for the first time in Week 7. In his three appearances, he has gained 27 yards on 12 carries and made no catches.

With a disappointing series of showings, Spiller will be looking to get back on track this week in a favorable matchup against Kansas City. Regardless, his dynasty stock has already taken a hit. It is also worth pointing out that Spiller runs just a 4.69-second 40-yard dash, placing him at the 21st percentile among RBs. His Burst Score is also at just the 24th percentile. There have not been very many positives for Spiller recently, so watch to see if he can undo some of the damage his value has taken with a better performance versus the Chiefs.

James Cook (RB, BUF)

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook has had a role in the team's offense throughout the season, but he is still waiting for a breakthrough. The largest workload the rookie from Georgia has seen this year was in Week 2 against Tennessee, but much of his 11-carry, 53-yard effort came in garbage time in a 41-7 victory. Most recently, Cook posted five attempts for 22 yards against his brother Dalvin's Minnesota Vikings. In PPR formats, he has five weekly finishes inside the top-50 RBs in nine games but is just the RB62 on the year.

Cook possesses excellent speed. He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, earning him a 94th-percentile mark among running backs. He put his speed to good use in college, averaging a strong 6.5 yards per carry with the Bulldogs in his four-year career. He's versatile too; he made 27 catches in his last college season and averaged 10.9 yards per reception. His profile is more promising than Spiller's, for example, which is why Cook was taken in the second round this year by the Bills.

There was concern that Cook's role would be reduced further by Buffalo's acquisition of former Colts RB Nyheim Hines at the trade deadline. However, that development has not yet materialized. Hines is yet to reach a 10-percent snap share in his two games with the Bills, whereas Cook's has still been hovering in the 15 to 25 percent range. If this status quo is maintained this week against Cleveland, it will be a sign that the Bills view Cook positively enough to hold back with their new weapon and would thus be good for Cook's dynasty outlook.

Jahan Dotson (WR, WAS)

Lost in the shuffle of the emergence of rookie wideouts Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and more is that Commanders rookie WR Jahan Dotson also had a strong start to his career. Indeed, in three of the first four weeks, Dotson was a top-25 receiver in PPR scoring. He scored four receiving touchdowns in that opening stretch, a figure that led all rookies this season until Christian Watson surpassed it on Thursday. The Penn State product is surely not to be forgotten.

Dotson made his return to action last week against Philadelphia after missing five straight games with a hamstring injury. The rookie was quiet in the matchup, catching his lone target for 14 yards. He was still being eased back into the lineup, though; his snap share and route participation were both the lowest he's had this year. Dotson should be incorporated more into the offense this week in a contest against Houston.

For dynasty managers, watching Dotson's game this week is important. The more red zone targets he gets, the less fluky his early season touchdown rates will look. Notably, his lone target last week was in the red zone. Moreover, can he maintain his high average depth of target (aDOT) of 13.9? With a small sample size so far, it's difficult to tell what Dotson's numbers could be in the long run. This week's game will help change that.

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