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We are late enough in the season to form strong opinions on rookies; who are you still in on or ready to be out? Footballguys has you covered on movement within dynasty rankings heading into Week 12.
Who is one slow-starting rookie you are still in on and one you are out on? Why?
IN: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle
Christian Williams: Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a slow-starting rookie I remain in on. His preseason hand injury impacted his performance, and the 2023 outlook was never full of high-ceiling potential, with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf still being the focal points of the offense. Still, over the last few weeks, the Seahawks have been intentional about getting him the football early in the script, which offers hope that he'll be a mainstay in fantasy lineups in 2024.
Kevin Coleman: Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a player that I am still in on. The numbers haven't been overwhelming; he has posted just two top-30 wide receiver finishes this year. As things stand right now in dynasty, he has not pulled away from either Tyler Lockett to establish himself as the team's clear number two wide receiver. However, that was most likely never happening in 2023, and he was always a play for 2024 with the outside chance that an injury would speed up his timeline. Managers, though, have become increasingly impatient with their dynasty assets, and that's caused a narrative surrounding Smith-Njigba. With players like Puka Nacua and Tank Dell seemingly becoming WR2s this season, it's put pressure on managers who roster JSN. But you shouldn't worry if he's on your roster. You should expect a big sophomore jump next year, and he could easily be the Seahawks' WR1 at this time next season.
IN: Bryce Young, Carolina
Corey Spala: Bryce Young is the rookie I am still in on in Superflex leagues. It is common for a great prospect and first-round rookie quarterback to take time to develop and give immediate gratification. Trevor Lawrence averaged under 15 points in his rookie season. Carolina's situation is oddly reminiscent of Jacksonville's for each quarterback's respective rookie season, from offense to defense.
We knew this Carolina team was rebuilding and looking forward to the future. Having Adam Thielen as your WR1 is not, well, enticing. I understand C.J. Stroud has elevated his teammates, but we all know Nico Collins or Tank Dell would be Carolina's WR1. Young has flashed, and I believe in his development with Carolina.
Jay Stein: Bryce Young is a slow-starting rookie I am still in on. As a community, we have been quick to write off Young, but I caution people not to be too hasty. Part of the reason may be the historic season fellow rookie C.J. Stroud is having. However, it isn't normal for a rookie quarterback to start that hot. Most rookie quarterbacks struggle early on, but the good ones learn and improve. Let's give Young some time to develop; midway through his 2nd season, we should have a better idea of what kind of NFL quarterback Young can become. We don't know if he will be good, bad, or somewhere in between, but the 2023 first-overall pick requires some patience from fantasy managers.
IN: Quentin Johnston, LA Chargers
Chad Parsons: Quentin Johnston is the epitome of a slow-starting rookie. His 0.75 yards per route run is an anemic and concerning long-term data point. I was a big fan of Johnston's as a prospect, and this start is a buzzkill. However, I would maintain patience. The connection with Justin Herbert and Johnston's Round 1 pedigree elicits a long runway to rise. The primary adjustment is when/if Johnston flashes for a chunk of time or most of a season; the ultimate sustainable upside is historically tempered by slow-starting examples from Round 1/2 wide receivers.
Joey Wright: Regardless of his meager output from increased targets the last few weeks, I am still on Quentin Johnston in dynasty. One of his biggest criticisms coming into the league was his difficulty bringing in contested catches regardless of his 6-foot-4, 215 pound frame. He could not have landed on a better team than the Los Angeles Chargers with the mentorship he will receive from fellow receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. When Williams went down with an injury, there was an unfair expectation for Johnston to produce immediately. His success in Los Angeles was going to take a lot of work. An exercise in patience with Johnston should prove virtuous as early as Week One of next season.
OUT: Quentin Johnston, LA Chargers
Christian Williams: I defended Quentin Johnston for as long as I could, but he seems to be too raw in his head, and the league is often impatient with players like him. His route running is not nuanced, and that'd be okay if he were coming down with 50-50 balls. Last Sunday's drop was my final straw, and he's moving down my dynasty rankings significantly this week.
Corey Spala: Quentin Johnston is the obvious answer here. Matthew Harmon's reception perception further explains this to be true. The first-round rookie wide receiver was drafted to a crowded wide receiver room. Unfortunately, circumstances propelled him up the depth chart and into an immediate role, resulting in less to be desired. Johnston averages 3.4 targets per game and has a season-high of 50 yards. His future outlook does not bode well.
OUT: Jonathan Mingo, Carolina
Jay Stein: Jonathan Mingo is a slow-starting rookie that I am out on. The issue is that he is getting opportunities many others haven't and still isn't performing. I argued for patience for Mingo's teammate Byrce Young above; however, I'm not sure Mingo should get our patience. Mingo has an 18% target share and a 29% share of the Panthers' air yards, both pretty good for a rookie wide receiver, but has only been able to turn that into about 40 fantasy points. He has been inefficient, with a yards-per-route run of 0.67, which might be last compared to the rookie class with actual playing time. His PFF receiving grade is among the worst of the rookie class at 52.1. When wide receivers get the opportunity but don't perform, that's a warning sign for me and is why I'm out on Mingo.
OUT: Will Levis, Tennessee
Chad Parsons: I am out on Will Levis. His four-touchdown opening game was a massive outlier as his expected touchdowns that game were fewer than 1.0, and DeAndre Hopkins played like he was in his prime to aid Levis. Since Levis has been mired in slow processing and a lack of rushing upside. The dynasty market zoomed Levis into the top 20 of the position off of a single game. This after Levis plummeted in the NFL Draft.
OUT: Sean Tucker, Tampa Bay
Kevin Coleman: Sean Tucker has always been a prospect that I have been out on, even before he declared for the NFL draft at Syracuse. He's been a healthy scratch multiple times this season and has failed to meet many analysts' expectations as a potential sleeper in 2023. With the talent coming into the NFL draft in the 2024 class, it's hard to see any road where Tucker is relevant and looks like a wasted rookie draft pick.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Christian Williams: While the move away from offensive coordinator Matt Canada suggests improvement could be on the horizon, it's challenging to fathom improvement significant enough to make Pickett a fantasy-relevant performer. He can't throw to the middle of the field, he constantly misses wide-open receivers, and he's not utilizing his legs as many thought he would. Pickett moves into the Mac Jones tier of quarterbacks, and that's not a great spot to be in.
Kyler Murray, Arizona
Jay Stein: Murray is back. After working his way back from a significant injury, Murray wasted no time and is already averaging 20-plus fantasy points per game. It's remarkable. There was lots of speculation about what would happen with Murray this year, including that Murray may not even be the quarterback for the Cardinals going forward, but that speculation needs to be put to rest. Whatever you think about Murray, the real-life quarterback, Murray, the fantasy quarterback, is elite, provides differentiated PPG at the position, and should be considered in the middle of the QB1 conversation.
Dak Prescott, Dallas
Chad Parsons: Prescott is having a historic season, yet the dynasty market has largely not moved upward. Dallas is passing well beyond expectation, and Prescott's underlying play is far superior to his 3.17 TD-INT ratio. With Brandin Cooks rising, Prescott can keep his elite QB1 production of late rumbling later this season.
Geno Smith, Seattle
Kevin Coleman: Many analysts were touting Smith as a top-12 quarterback sleeper heading into the 2023 season. That just hasn't panned out. He currently sits at QB21 overall with just two top-12 finishes. The biggest issue for Smith has been his inability to throw touchdown passes consistently. He has yet to throw more than two touchdowns in a game and has six games where he's thrown one or zero. You are not winning your league with Geno Smith as your QB2 in superflex leagues. His dynasty value and trajectory are declining. Now could be an excellent time to move the veteran quarterback.
Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay
Joey Wright: Coming into the season, the expectation for Baker Mayfield was simply a bridge quarterback to get the Buccaneers to their next true franchise player. However, Mayfield has been more than serviceable for Tampa Bay, winning over not just the locker room but also Buccaneers fans. Mayfield is the current QB15 in fantasy, which can be attributed much to working with the best receiver group of his career and a sterling 1.7% interception rate. Mayfield has risen from a tier of "back-up only quarterback" in two-quarterback and Superflex dynasty leagues to a quarterback I am comfortable starting if I have an anchor, think Jalen Hurts, at my other starting quarterback position.
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