With half a season in the books, we are seeing more and more rookies establish themselves as legitimate starters and make their way onto our fantasy radars. This creates huge opportunities to improve your team mid-season, especially as players like Stevan Ridley get injured or guys like Doug Martin underwhelm.
Let’s take a look at some hot shot rookies ready for fantasy relevance and one wily vet who has run with his opportunity.
Kyle Orton (Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues): Orton has now graced this list every week since he’s been the Bills’ starter and all he’s done is put up numbers. Orton completed just 10 passes against the Jets but it proved to be his best game of the season as he tossed four touchdown passes, bringing his season total to 9 TD/3 INT. He’s averaging 282 yards and 2.25 touchdowns per game yet he’s owned in fewer leagues than Johnny Manziel, Josh McCown, and Kirk Cousins.
I don’t love his matchup with Kansas City after the bye week but after that he has a Dolphins defense that has given up at least one passing touchdown in every game and have allowed Aaron Rodgers, as well as guys like Alex Smith, Derek Carr/Matt McGloin, and Blake Bortles, to post strong fantasy days against them every week since Week 2. After that he faces the woeful Jets defense again followed by a game against the Browns, who have also given up a passing touchdown in every single game and thus far have only really been able to stop Blake Bortles. Last week the Browns gave up 328 yards to Derek Carr.
Zach Mettenberger (2 percent): Mettenberger made his first start on Sunday and played very well in a losing effort, completing 66 percent of his passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick.
Following the bye week, he’ll play a seemingly good Baltimore defense, but one that has given up 19.5+ fantasy points to opposing QBs in three of the last four weeks, giving up 280 passing yards per game and a touchdown over that stretch.
After that he’ll face a Pittsburgh defense that was torched by Andrew Luck for 400 yards and three touchdowns but was equally porous the previous week, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to put up 262 yards and two scores. Even Mike Glennon put up 302 yards and two touchdowns against them just a few weeks ago. Following that, he’ll get a nice matchup against an Eagles team that has given up 2+ touchdowns in all but one game and given up 329+ yards in two of the last three weeks to Carson Palmer and Austin Davis.
Running Back Targets:
Charles Sims (6 percent): Sims has been activated from the IR list and appears to be in line for a chance at a lot of snaps with Doug Martin underperforming and Bobby Rainey seemingly falling out of favor. Though he only played one season as a senior at West Virginia, the third-rounder excelled as a dual threat, collecting 1496 yards and 14 touchdowns from scrimmage, catching 45 passes while averaging 5.3 yards per carry on the ground. Expect Sims to come on strong for an otherwise iffy Tampa offense.
You can take a look at a much more in-depth breakdown of what Sims brings to the table by fellow XNer Matt Kelley.
Jonas Gray (6 percent): We knew that Shane Vereen would not fill Stevan Ridley’s vacated role as the Pats’ “big back” and Gray seems to have quickly leapfrogged Brandon Bolden on the depth chart. Gray had 17 carries for 86 yards on Sunday against the Bears compared to just five carries for Vereen and six for James White.
Gray is not an every week starter and won’t help in PPR leagues but the opportunities will be there to put up strong numbers and red zone touchdowns given the right matchups.
Wide Receiver Targets:
Martavis Bryant (7 percent): In just two games as an NFL player, Bryant now has seven catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns. With no pro experience, Bryant has been targeted more than anyone outside of Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell in the past two weeks and is clearly becoming a growing part of a Steelers offense that suddenly ranks fourth in the league in passing. The guy is a bona fide playmaker with all the tools he needs to excel in fantasy.
Allen Robinson (23 percent): Like Orton, Robinson has been a frequent flyer on this list and continues to put up an impressive rookie campaign. In seven games since Week 2, Robinson has 38 catches for 453 yards and two scores. Extrapolate that over a full season and you get 87 catches for 1,035 yards and 4-5 touchdowns. Those numbers are pretty good but don’t even take into account that Robinson is still maturing as a player, as is his rookie quarterback. This combo has already proven good despite a lack of real world football results and will only continue to improve.