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2020 Rookie Rundown: Top-10 Rookie Playoff Outlook

A look at the top-10 rookie performers & how they project for the fantasy playoffs.

It is playoff time in fantasy football. For fantasy owners, the biggest question is, “can I trust you?” The answer, unfortunately, is generally “no.” At this point in the season, rookies are hitting the “rookie wall,” and their production slows down. For the purposes of this post, I will be using lineups.com to take a closer look at the production allowed for the position and hopefully help answer this important question.

The information provided below is provided from FantasyData.com and LineUps.com using the ppr filter.

For this post, quarterbacks are not mentioned.

James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 14 – vs Titans (25)
Week 15 – at Ravens (8)
Week 16 – vs Bears (11)

While Robinson is having a great rookie season as the current RB4 on the season, things will tighten up for him after Week 14. The Ravens have allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points to the running back position, and the Bears have allowed the 11th fewest. In Week 15, against the Ravens, Robinsons does have an opportunity to see a higher target share, which could boost his overall potential performance. The Baltimore Ravens are allowing the ninth most targets and the tenth most receptions to the running backs in the NFL. Overall, if you have been starting Robinson throughout the season, there is no post to sit him down now.

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Credit: John Autey / Pioneer Press

Week 14 – at Buccaneers 27
Week 15 – vs Bears 5
Week 16 – at Saints 16

Starting strong, Jefferson draws an excellent opportunity against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a likely shootout. Additionally, the Bucs have surrendered the fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2020. Unfortunately, moving beyond Week 14, the schedule tightens up significantly for Jefferson. Both the Bears and the Saints are average, or better, in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers on the season. Additionally, both the Bears and Saints are top-12 in targets to wide receivers per game and receptions allowed per game. Big picture, it is tough to sit Justin Jefferson after the torrid pace he has been on, but there should be some level of caution if you have other options.

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

Week 14 – at 49ers
Week 15 – vs Seahawks
Week 16 – vs Panthers

What a gut punch for Antonio Gibson. Gibson stood tall at RB6 on the season and showed the potential to be a league winner for so many fantasy teams. At this point in time, Gibson is already scheduled to miss his matchup against the 49ers and, at this point, would be lucky to be back Week 16 against the Panthers, a team that has allowed the 6th most fantasy points to running backs in 2020.

Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 14 – at Bills 
Week 15 – at Bengals
Week 16 – vs Colts

Fantasy managers are taking a calculated gamble by playing Chase Claypool in their fantasy playoffs. On the one hand, he has only had one game below four targets since Week 7. On the other hand, Claypool has not posted over 100 yards receiving since Week 5. Claypool’s fantasy output is very touchdown-dependent. Making the future even murkier are the upcoming matchups. Two of the following three games are against the top half of the NFL units against wide receivers. 

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Week 14 – at Bengals
Week 15 – vs 49ers
Week 16 – vs Eagles

Play CeeDee Lamb. It is really that simple. In every game this season, Lamb has received at least five targets and, over the next three weeks, Lamb is going to help you get that cash. The Bengals have no quality defensive back depth, and the 49ers and Eagles are both in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to the wide receiver position. The floor is as solid as you get, and the ceiling is solid.

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 14 – vs Cowboys
Week 15 – vs Steelers
Week 16 – at Texans

I had significant usage concerns with Tee Higgins, with Joe Burrow went down for the season. I did not account for the team still using Higgins just as much and only the quality of targets dipping. For this reason, I am all in for trying to get Higgins on your roster. All three of Higgins’ matchups for the remainder of the season are above average, even if he is not getting quality targets.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Week 14 – at Dolphins
Week 15 – at Saints
Week 16 – vs Falcons

It is impossible to feel any trust in CEH at this point in the season. In Week 13, CEH was active and played zero snaps due to illness. In Week 12, he posted his lowest fantasy points of the season. While juicy matchups coming up, I would not want to be forced to have CEH in any of my lineups.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Week 14 – at Raiders
Week 15 – vs Texans
Week 16 – at Steelers

Everything is pointing towards being able to trust Jonathan Taylor for the remainder of the season. He has seen his usage increase since a season-low in Week 9. Taking this a step further, Taylor faces two top-five teams in fantasy points allowed to running backs, Texans and Raiders. Taylor could be the type of player you ride to the fantasy championship.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Credit: USA Today

Week 14 – vs Washington
Week 15 – at Cowboys
Week 16 – at Cardinals

Sign me up for all of the Aiyuk shares possible. Aiyuk has received five or more targets in seven contests this season and is the clear top wide receiver for the 49ers. At this point, even if the matchup is bad, I am playing Aiyuk with confidence.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

Week 14 – vs Packers
Week 15 – at Titans
Week 16 – vs Buccaneers

Entering Week 14, Swift is likely active and likely back in everyone’s lineup. Before missing time with a concussion, Swift had double-digit points in five of his previous six games. The even better news is that two of Swift’s final three games are against teams who allow the most fantasy points to runners, Packers, and Titans, and the third team, Buccaneers, allow the most receptions to running backs. The runway is clear for Swift to help you make the final stretch run if he can stay healthy.

The Breakdown

Congratulations if you have made it this far. There is still plenty of work to be done, but the heavy lifting has been done. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. If you found any of the information in this article useful, give me a follow on Twitter @TimNFL. More great pieces can be found on the Dynasty Nerds website, and don’t forget to subscribe to the DynastyGM. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can see how your team measures up against your league, find a trade partner, and more. Enjoy seamless integration with MFL, Fleaflicker, Sleeper, as well as manual input for other platforms.

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