Every year, we see rookies get off to quiet starts before hitting their stride and exploding down the stretch. Last year, Amon-Ra St. Brown immediately comes to mind. He was the WR62 from weeks 1-12 before finishing as the WR2 from weeks 13-17. Now I’m not assuring we’ll see any rookies take that drastic of a leap this year, but there are certainly a few candidates to take big jumps in production that could pay serious dividends.
Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans
In comparison to other first-round receivers in the 2022 class, Burks has been quiet. Between low-volume and a turf toe injury that knocked him out for over a month. However, all the signs were quickly pointed at Burks as Tennessee’s best receiver, which is what gravitated myself & Andrew Little towards scooping up Burks off waivers as a bench stash.
Treylon Burks leads the Titans in targets, receptions, and receiving yards…
On just 29 routes run 🤯
That’s good for a 38% target rate 🔥
He’s Tennessee best receiver. Once he gets on the field more (which may be very soon), watch out pic.twitter.com/J4r0X3An3j
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) September 20, 2022
Last week, we finally saw these underlying metrics turn into production. Burks put his explosive playmaking on full blast against the Packers. He once again led the Titans in all major statistical receiving categories, and that was without being featured in two receiver sets, which should soon change and unlock even more volume.
Treylon Burks looked fantastic last night
Team-high 8 targets, 7 receptions, and 111 yards…
And there’s more room to grow 👀
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) November 18, 2022
Yes, the Titans don’t throw the ball a whole lot, but with Burks’ high target rate & explosive ability soon converting into a full-time role, his ceiling is still extremely enticing. Burks is currently the WR86 on the season, averaging 7.9 PPG.
Might be spicy, but I believe Treylon Burks has top 15 ROS upside 🌶
We’ve seen many rookie receivers explode down the stretch and win fantasy leagues
He’s Tennessee’s best receiver with great metrics and tons of big-play ability
Happy I got ahead of the rush on waivers
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) November 23, 2022
Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rachaad White has been a must-stash handcuff for me this year. Fantasy production has been far and few thus far, but we’re starting to see a changing of the guard. Although the bar hasn’t been set very high, White has made a case as Tampa Bay’s best running back, and clearly the Bucs coaching staff is starting to realize this. Our own Elie Gaffen projected this shift in volume. In week nine, he set a season-high in touches. In week 10, he took it a step further, with a 65% snap share, 22 carries, and all-in-all more volume than Fournette.
This rookie running back might already be one of fantasy football’s best handcuffs…
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) August 3, 2022
The Buccaneers are now fresh off the bye week — a time where rookies typically see an increase in volume — and White will have another chance to get ahead this week. Fournette is doubtful to play, and the Browns have one of the league’s worst run defenses. This is a high-volume Tampa Bay offense that seems to be finding its footing after an extremely disappointing start to the season. White is in a week 12 smash spot with the upside to take over as this teams rest of season RB1.
🔸Fournette is doubtful (hip) 🚑
🔸GREAT matchup vs Cleveland 👀
🔸Rainy weather on forecast 🌧
🔸Ascending, high-volume offense fresh off a bye week 🚀
Rachaad White is a MUST START in fantasy lineups this week 🔥
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) November 26, 2022
Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Pacheco is a player that I’ve tempered expectations for. Seventh round draft capital, vision issues, and a lack of receiving chops all kept me skeptical. However, there’s no denying his rest of season upside. Pacheco brings a nice speed/power combo on the ground, and he’s taken over as the clear #1 ball-carrier in one of the league’s best offenses. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had nearly fallen out of the rotation before being placed on Injured Reserve this past week.
Pacheco has tallied 15+ carries in two straight games, and although he remains touchdown dependent in a pass-happy red zone offense due to a lack of receiving upside, Kansas City will provide him with plenty of scoring chances. They lead the league in red zone scoring opportunities per game (4.3).
Ultimately, I feel better about both Burks & White fulfilling such a leap, but Pacheco can’t be written off. This rushing volume in a potent offense has to draw eyes, and Pacheco’s playoff schedule is filled with juicy matchups:
-Week 15 @HOU
-Week 16 vs SEA
-Week 17 vs DEN
The Texans have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Seattle has also struggled against the run, and their week 17 date with Denver will call for a more run-heavy Chiefs attack, as Kansas City should be comfortably in the lead for most of that game.
If you have any fantasy football related questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter @Aidan_Maher17