Cheesy jingle time. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the facts of rookies, the facts of rookies.
Playing rookies is like riding a roller coaster. The worst part about it is you often have their 100-yard performances on your bench and then the next week you start them and get the 40 yarders. Ouch. Hopefully we've been helpful instructing you who to play consistently and when to play the fliers. There's a long list of rookies to at least mention this weekn so we'll get right to it.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan completed 23-of-44 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Philly. He also threw two interceptions. Facing blitz after blitz, Ryan showed the poise of a veteran signal caller. His two touchdowns to Roddy White were absolutely gorgeous throws and his arm strength is proving to be better than advertised. He'll have his ups and downs, but he just might be a potential starter if you're desperate. The Falcons face Oakland this week, so it might be the Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood show, so keep expectations low.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Jack of all trades, master of none. Flacco was only 12-for-24 with 140 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Thankfully, he added 23 yards rushing with a touchdown and actually caught a 43-yard pass from Troy Smith in a bit of trickeration. His passing stats are still quite weak and he's simply not a good fantasy option right now. He's a project.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis, New England Patriots
Green-Ellis started but ended up seeing only 18 snaps as the Patriots rode Kevin Faulk. His nine carries for 16 yards certainly wasn't going to earn him more playing time, though he did notch a score. While he could surprise with a solid game here and there, especially since Bill Belichick is often unpredictable about whom he'll play, you simply can't trust Green-Ellis unless you're supremely desperate to fill a bye. A matchup against the Colts doesn't hurt, but it also looks like Bob Sanders will be back. His presence completely changes that defense.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Don't forget to plug Forte back in your lineup coming off the bye. With a tilt against the dreadful Lions, Forte is almost certain to top 70 yards and a touchdown. The upside is even greater.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Facing eight man fronts, Johnson still ran for 77 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Those in PPR leagues enjoyed four receptions for 19 yards, as well. He's an every-week starter and would be a monster stud if not for the presence of TD stealer LenDale White.
Ryan Torain, Denver Broncos
This could be the start of something grand. Torain will finally get some action this week. While there were rumors of a Michael Pittman injury, Pittman put in a full practice on Wednesday and seems set to start barring a setback. Torain is someone who could be a player in the second half, but it's always hard to trust Mike Shanahan. It's more likely that this is Torain's audition for next year's starting job. A definite keeper prospect.
Steve Slaton, Houston Texans
Slaton definitely let people down last week against the lowly Bengals. The good news is 63 yards and a touchdown is a letdown, whereas many owners are happy to get 12 points from their running back. Ahman Green is once again suffering from a multitude of leg injuries (shocking, I know), so Slaton's workload could increase. Unfortunately, the Vikings (with the gigantic Williams boys in the middle) and the Ravens are up next. Slaton is probably more useful in PPR leagues the next two weeks. Standard scoring owners might want to consider other options.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
A surprise inactive for Week 9, McFadden now has a protective boot on the other foot. Double turf toe injuries? Some rookie season. BUST!
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
I think it's now safe to say that Stewart has become a disappointment. While some of it is due to the excellent play of DeAngelo Williams, Stewart simply is doing nothing with his opportunities. With only 10 yards on eight carries, he isn't going to earn more carries in the coming weeks. I haven't given up hope, but it's looking gloomy for 2008.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Probably won't return until Week 11.
Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions
Earth to Lions, Rudi Johnson stinks! Smith received only four carries last week. Luckily for fantasy owners, Dan Orlovsky is putrid, and Smith nabbed seven dump off passes, which he turned into 50 yards. Matt Millen is gone, but it seems the Lions haven't changed. Your most dangerous weapon outside Calvin Johnson is this kid. Get him the rock!!
Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals
Touchdown Timmy. That's all he does. Score touchdowns. Unfortunately, if you're not in a TD-only league, he's leaving you high and dry. Six rushes for three yards? He's got a 2.7 yards per carry average but there's talk of getting him more involved in the offense. Edgerrin James isn't getting it done anymore and Hightower is the future in Arizona. While not terribly worthy as a starter this year, he could be a very valuable keeper for '09.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Rice is certainly making the most of his chances. With 64 yards on eight carries, he was a spark for the offense. In fact, he touched the ball five times in the first half and achieved five first downs. He added three receptions for 37 yards. As a result, he put himself back into the mix for carries and third down duty. With Willis McGahee not the most durable running back around, don't let Rice be a free agent in your league. Definitely worth a roster spot.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Five carries for 45 yards. That's production the Chiefs haven't seen out of Larry Johnson in a while. Unfortunately, Charles left the game with what is rumored to be the dreaded high ankle sprain. He's doubtful for this week, so Charles owners should have Kolby Smith on their roster.
Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams
Six receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown, equating to 31 fantasy points in my league (PPR with 3pt bonus over 100) in a game I won by 30. Good thing I didn't pick up Josh Morgan. Whew. Avery is becoming a definite every week starter. He has over 300 yards receiving in his last three games and has replaced Torry Holt as the top weapon in the offense. If Stephen Jackson is out again, the Rams will air it out early an often. Get Avery in your lineup. Redraft leaguers might want to try to sell high, as the Rams offense is inconsistent and a return by Jackson could limit the passing game.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
He's still the top dog in Philadelphia, but Brian Westbrook is the engine that drives this offense. The Eagles play at Seattle this week and can probably bully them with a lot of Westbrook, but Jackson is still an intriguing play. A Week 10 Sunday night game against the Giants is probably when Jackson will really be thrust back into prominence.
Josh Morgan, San Francisco 49ers
Talk about disappointing, Morgan put up the dreaded bagel in Week 8. He saw one target in the first quarter and then was invisible. We've seen no reports that Morgan re-injured his groin, but if he did, the bye comes at a great time. Shaun Hill stepping in as the starter isn't going to help Morgan. Hill lacks the arm strength to stretch the field, so it'll be a dink and dunk attack in San Francisco.
Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos
Coming off the bye, Denver faces the 25th ranked pass defense in the Miami Dolphins. With a ton of uncertainty in the backfield, this could be a game where Jay Cutler comes out chucking, attempting to prove the finger injury isn't an issue. Look for a big game from the Broncos wideout.
Chaz Schilens, Oakland Raiders
Three catches for 76 yards against a tough Ravens defense. Go Chaz!! The good news is he just might be developing a rapport with JaMarcus Russell, which bodes well for his future potential. As of now, he's nothing more than filler, as the Raiders passing game is not something you want to hang your hat on.
Limas Sweed, Pittsburgh Steelers
Moving on up the depth chart, Sweed is now the fourth receiver in Pittsburgh. But three catches for 28 yards shouldn't get you excited. Sweed didn't look like a promising rookie. There's clearly a lot more polish that needs to go on there. His future potential is there, but for now, he's nothing more than a flier in keeper leagues.
John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks
One catch for 13 yards. Like we've said, you're praying for that short touchdown or you're left with nothing. There has to be better options than Carlson for you to start on a weekly basis.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
Chris Baker aggravated a hip injury and Keller saw more snaps, which led to 38 yards on four catches. The Jets are relying heavily on Brett Favre's arm and while Keller certainly isn't a solid choice at tight end, it might be a useful time for him if you're desperate this week without Antonio Gates, Jason Witten (possibly) or Jeremy Shockey.
Brad Cottam, Kansas City Chiefs
We just love mentioning one-hit wonders. Cottam caught four passes for 34 yards against the Jets. Don't read too much into this. Tyler Thigpen had a career day that will probably never be duplicated. You are an extreme gambler if you use Cottam.