As we approach the finish line, we as fantasy football players have to be careful of rookies hitting the proverbial "rookie wall."
Whether that’s an accurate statement or not, well, that will be argued for eons. On the flip side, rookies do have youth and exuberance on their side, which can carry many a fantasy football team toward the finish line.
Here are 10 rookies (ranked in order of significance) you should trust down the stretch.
As Tom Brady reasserts himself in New England, he is starting to rely on rookie receiver Aaron Dobson to turn his fortunes around.
In his last four games, Dobson has been targeted 31 times while registering 18 receptions for 287 receiving yards and also scoring three touchdowns (all in the last two games). With Dobson taking on a more active role in the Patriots offense, Dobson should only get better.
With Rashard Mendenhall breaking down, Ellington should continue to get more touches in the Cardinals offense to close out the season.
The Cardinals know what they got in the veteran Mendenhall, and eventually coach Bruce Arians will want to see more out of Ellington. Coming off a game in which Ellington ran for 154 yards on just 15 carries against the Falcons, you can’t just push that aside even if Mendenhall might be back from his toe injury this week.
The upside is just too good to ignore with Ellington.
However, if James gets the call to be the Buccaneers' lead back for the rest of the season, he could hold a lot of value. After torching the Seahawks in Week 9 to the tune of 158 rushing yards while also throwing for a touchdown, there is hope that James could be a solid start for fantasy owners.
After all, aside from playing San Francisco in Week 15, James has a solid playoff schedule with a matchup against the Bills in Week 14 and a game at St. Louis in Week 16.
Reed has supplanted Fred Davis to become Washington’s primary tight end. Although he had a hiccup in Week 9 (four receptions for 37 yards), Reed has become a valuable target for Robert Griffin III.
Reed had 17 receptions (on 23 targets) for 224 yards and a touchdown in the two weeks prior to Week 9. He is clearly someone Griffin III loves to rely on.
With a solid schedule down the stretch (at Minnesota, at Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York Giants, Kansas City, at Atlanta, Dallas and at New York Giants), Reed should remain a No. 1 tight end to end the season.
After scoring in four straight games in Weeks 5-8, Williams made his way onto many fantasy lineups. In most instances, he has become a trusted starting option.
Playing opposite of Dez Bryant, Williams should continue to draw a lot of single-coverage looks, and as we have seen, Williams can make them pay. With 24 targets over his last three games, you know Tony Romo is looking in Williams’ direction.
With a soft playoff schedule (Weeks 14-16) that includes the likes of Chicago, Green Bay and Washington, Williams has the chance to flourish down the stretch.
While not as heralded as his other rookie running back brethren, Bell has, for the most part, been a solid start all year since being activated in Week 4.
The rushing yards (282 in five games) have been inconsistent, but Bell has reached the end zone three times thus far on the season. As the only legitimate running threat in the Steelers backfield, Bell should continue to be Pittsburgh’s bell cow back for the foreseeable future.
As long as he has that defined role, he should be viewed as at least a solid, low-end No. 2 RB or a good flex play to end the season.
After rushing for 79 yards and two touchdowns in his last game against the Dolphins, Bernard just might take on a larger role with the Bengals offense going forward.
While the Bengals have used Bernard intermittently, while giving a lot of reps to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard should be fresh for the stretch run—granted his ribs are okay. Expect the Bengals to finally unleash him.
For the stretch run, which includes games against the Colts, Steelers and the Vikings in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16 for most leagues), Bernard is a good a No. 2 RB option to bank on or, at the very least, an outstanding flex option.
Stacy has come on like a gangbuster while leaving the other Rams running backs (Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham) in his dust.
In his last two games, Stacy has rushed for a whopping 261 yards while adding two touchdowns. Clearly, Stacy has become the main man in the Rams backfield. With Kellen Clemens likely to struggle at quarterback, the Rams offense should revolve around Stacy.
As such, Stacy is as good a No. 2 running back as there is to depend on in the final weeks.
Have you been paying close attention to Allen lately? If you have, then you have noticed that he is playing on par with that of a No. 1 wide receiver.
In his last four games, Allen has recorded 26 receptions for 417 receiving yards and three touchdowns. With San Diego’s rushing game still erratic, expect Philip Rivers to lean on Allen and the passing game the rest of the season.
Considering how limited he was the first four weeks of the season (13 targets in the first four games), Allen should be energized to end the season on a high note.
The selection of Lacy here is, of course, a no-brainer.
With Aaron Rodgers out for an infinite amount of time, the Packers will rely on Lacy and the running game to carry them for the time being. It’s not like Lacy hasn’t earned it anyway, as he has been a beast lately, racking up 545 rushing yards (plus three touchdowns) in his last five games. Lacy now ranks eighth in the NFL in rushing.
Treat Lacy as a No. 1 running back to end the season and with a playoff schedule that will include games against Atlanta, at Dallas and Pittsburgh, Lacy should end the season in style.
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