The Rookie Blitz goes beyond the box score to examine the fantasy football impact of each NFL Draft class.
Week 1 is in the books and we finally have new raw data to analyze and evaluate. Each week during the season, I will use the premium statistics of PFF to provide a unique view of the key rookies for your fantasy football team.
Sam Bradford had an impressive rookie debut against the Cardinals. His fellow rookie counterparts Tim Tebow (2 rushing attempts) and Jimmy Clausen (2 passing attempts) were in for a few snaps, but neither played the entire game like Bradford. If we look back at the opening weekend debuts of quarterbacks from the past three seasons, how does Bradford stack up?
|Name||Team||Drop backs||Runs||Att.||Comp||Comp %||Yds||Yds / Att.||TD||In||Sk||PFF Rating|
Despite throwing three interceptions, Bradford tied Joe Flacco for the best performance. The eye-popping statistic here is the number of attempts Bradford threw for in relation to his counterparts. The Rams clearly trust him with the game in his hands. He made good decisions with the football, and as our own Neil Hornsby wrote this week, Bradford was victimized by 5 dropped passes and only his first interception was truly bad.
Based on his first performance, Sam Bradford is a relevant backup quarterback option for your fantasy team.
Don’t hit the panic button yet on the trio of Jahvid Best, C.J. Spiller and Ryan Mathews. All three rookies disappointed many fantasy owners this past week, but there are some encouraging signs for each player.
|Name||Team||Snaps||% Snaps||% Team Att.||Att.||Yds||Avg.||YCo||YCo / Att.||TD||MT||Fu|
Jahvid Best: There is no question Best is the featured back for the Lions after he played in 91.4% of the offensive plays, had 66.7% of the rushing attempts, and scored 2 touchdowns. He will not be contained every week to only 20 rushing yards.
Ryan Mathews: Mathews struggled with poor playing conditions. Mathews had 65.5% of the Chargers’ rushing attempts, although he was often replaced by Darren Sproles on third downs. Mathews is still on pace for 300 touches in this offense. The offensive line will improve, especially if Marcus McNeil ends his holdout at some point this season.
C.J. Spiller: Spiller struggled with decisiveness in his few rushing attempts against the Dolphins. Despite the bad matchup, he still was in for over half the team’s offensive plays. Fantasy owners may have to dial back their original expectations for Spiller, but he can still be useful in PPR leagues (4 receptions).
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The notion that rookie wide receivers are useless for you fantasy team is becoming less factually correct each year. Although it is tough for rookies to win starting positions for Week 1, Mike Williams, Jordan Shipley and Brandon LaFell all did so this year. And they won’t be the only productive rookies this year – I created a new metric to track the percentage a player is targeted on the number of snaps played to help find other useful rookies.
|Mike A. Williams||TB||63||9||14.3%|
The outlier after Week 1 is Dez Bryant; he was targeted 30.2% of the time when he was in the game. For reference, Miles Austin was targeted 14.5% on 76 snaps, Jason Witten 9.0% on 77 snaps and Roy Williams 10.7% on 56 snaps. Tony Romo won’t lock onto Dez Bryant every game, but it is clear Bryant will be an integral part of the offense once he starts over Williams.
I applied this same metric to the tight end position.
Michael Hoomanawanui only played 4 snaps before he was injured, but was targeted once by Sam Bradford. Jermaine Gresham did not start the game for the Bengals, however, he played in 86% of offensive plays. Tony Moeaki did start for the Chiefs and split time with Leonard Pope.
My hope is this metric can be useful in identifying which wide receivers and tight ends can be consistent weekly performers with an increase in playing time as the season progresses. I cannot make a conclusion if this metric will be viable on only a week’s worth of data, however, I will revisit it several times during the season to monitor its progress.
Questions and comments are always welcome via Twitter – @PFF_Fontaine
*Statistics courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com