Ethan Hewett | October 23rd, 2019
Week seven has come and gone and given us another batch of rookie performances with a few new faces. Rookie defenders across the league stepped up their game two weeks ago, and last week was no different as the top of the leader board was full of defensive players. Which guys stepped up this week? Who slipped up? Find out right here and right now with our rookie rankings. Let’s get started with a couple of honorable mentions.
T.J. Hockenson, TE – Hockenson has yet to live up to the expectations set by a 131-yard performance in week one, but he has been a consistent blocker and pass catcher for the Detroit Lions offense as he leads rookie tight-ends in receiving yards (219). He came on late against the Minnesota Vikings and had a chance to catch a touchdown pass but was overthrown. Look for Hockenson and the Lions to take advantage of a struggling New York Giants secondary this weekend.
Rock Ya-Sin, CB – Rock Ya-Sin had a career-high seven tackles last weekend against the Houston Texans and helped to slow down a good Texans offense. Ya-Sin was on the field for every defensive snap this past weekend and has been a consistent corner for an Indianapolis Colts secondary that has had to deal with several injuries. I expect Ya-Sin to be a big part again this weekend against the Denver Broncos.
15. Miles Boykin, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Week Seven Stats: 2 Rec, 55 Yards
Boykin led his Ravens team in receiving yards last week against the Seattle Seahawks. He only had two receptions as almost his entire yardage came from a 50-yard bomb from Lamar Jackson on the opening drive of the game. After that Boykin only saw one reception, and the absence of Marquise Brown didn’t seem to affect the role he played in their offense. With a bye week this weekend, Brown is expected to return in week nine against the New England Patriots, but Boykin could still possibly serve as a good second or third option for Jackson against a very good Patriots defense.
Projected Stat Line vs New England: 3 Rec, 40 Yards
14. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Week Seven Stats: 4 Rec, 53 Yards
Metcalf and this Seahawks team are coming off a tough loss this past weekend against the Baltimore Ravens. While the team lost and Russell Wilson threw his first interception of the season, Metcalf continued to put up solid numbers. Metcalf played a strong three quarters including a nice 37-yard reception late in the first quarter. However, late in the fourth the Seahawks were down by ten and had a chance to score quickly and get the ball back. But Metcalf had an untimely fumble that Baltimore recovered and returned for a touchdown. However, it was one play and I expect Metcalf and this Seahawks team to bounce back this week against a struggling 1-6 Atlanta Falcons team.
Projected Stat Line vs Atlanta: 5 Rec, 70 Yards, 1 TD
13. Foster Moreau, TE, Oakland Raiders
Week Seven Stats: 2 Rec, 24 Yards, 1 TD
We haven’t seen a lot of tight-ends on this list, and I decided it was time to give a little love to some guys who have impressed so far this season. Moreau is one of those guys and he was able to snag his second NFL career touchdown last week against the Green Bay Packers. While the team may have lost, Moreau has served as a solid number two to rising star Darren Waller. With the injury to Tyrell Williams potentially spilling into week eight, Moreau could see similar snaps this week against the Houston Texans who are currently ranked 29th in passing yards per game this season. Look for this Oakland offense to utilize all their weapons this week.
Projected Stat Line vs Houston: 3 Rec, 30 Yards, 1 TD
12. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Week Seven Stats: 6 Rec, 64 Yards
While Brown didn’t have his highest numbers this past weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers, he still was able to show that he is most likely the new number one on this Titans offense. With a slightly better thrower under center in Ryan Tannehill, the Titans were able to move the ball up and down the field with the connection between Brown and Tannehill. Brown had career highs in targets (eight) and receptions and I only expect the chemistry to grow between him and his new quarterback. Brown should see a considerable amount of targets this weekend against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that has given up the most passing yards this season.
Projected Stat Line vs Tampa Bay: 6 Rec, 90 Yards, 1 TD
11. Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Week Seven Stats: 2 Rec, 28 Yards, 1 TD
While Hardman may not have had the yardage this past weekend against the Denver Broncos, he did attribute to the final score as he reigned in a nice catch for a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Hardman snapped a three-game streak without a touchdown and was also able to show off his speed on a 36-yard punt return that was nearly taken for his second touchdown of the game. Hardman will look to build off of a solid performance this weekend against the Green Bay Packers. It will be a challenge, however, as the Chiefs lost their superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a knee injury and are taking on a tough Packers secondary.
Projected Stat Line vs Green Bay: 3 Rec, 55 Yards
10. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings
Week Seven Stats: 5 Rec, 60 Yards
Smith had himself a solid day this past weekend against the Detroit Lions. Smith matched his week three performance with 60 yards and has slowly become a bigger part of this Vikings offense. While most of his production came on a 28-yard reception in the first quarter, he also made a nice grab in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings a first down. Part of Smith’s involvement could be thanks to Adam Thielen getting injured, and with Thielen expected to sit out against the Washington Redskins, we could see similar involvement on Thursday night. Expect the former Alabama tight-end to have another good game this week.
Projected Stat Line vs Washington: 4 Rec, 55 Yards, 1 TD
9. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Washington Redskins
Week Seven Stats: 4 Total Tackles, 0.5 Sack
Sweat is another rookie who has been a consistent pass rusher off the edge for his respective team. While there aren’t a lot of bright spots for this Redskins team who currently sit at 1-6, Sweat is a glimmer of hope for the future of the defense as he has 26 total tackles on the season along with 1.5 sacks. While the sack numbers aren’t quite where I expected them to be, I do expect him to get hot as the season progresses including this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings offensive line has gotten better as the season has progressed, but I expect Sweat and company to be able to get some pressure on Kirk Cousins this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs Minnesota: 5 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
8. Ed Oliver, DL, Buffalo Bills
Week Seven Stats: 2 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 TFL
Oliver was able to pick up his first NFL career sack this past weekend against the Miami Dolphins. While it may have not been the quarterback, as the Dolphins were attempting a trick play, Oliver never gave up on the play and was able to drag down Albert Wilson for a ten-yard loss on Miami’s first offensive snap. Oliver hasn’t put up incredible numbers this season but his presence has been felt by opposing offensive lines. Oliver and this Bills defensive line will be taking on the Philadelphia Eagles who have one of the better offensive lines in the league so Oliver will be up for a test this week.
Projected Stat Line vs Philadelphia: 4 Total Tackles, 1 TFL
7. Olabisi Johnson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Week Seven Stats: 4 Rec, 40 Yards, 1 TD
Johnson stepped into a role that was opened by Adam Thielen suffering a hamstring injury in their game against the Detroit Lions. Johnson stepped up big time with four receptions for 40 yards including a touchdown throw that tied the game at 14 early in the second quarter. With Thielen listed as doubtful this week against the Washington Redskins, I expect Johnson to continue to be the number two to Stefon Diggs as he has already been lining up in three-receiver sets early in the season. Look for Johnson to put up respectable numbers against the 12th ranked passing defense in yardage this Thursday.
Projected Stat Line vs Washington: 5 Rec, 80 Yards, 1 TD
6. Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Seven Stats: 15/32, 255 Yards, 1 TD
Minshew had another clean game this week and did just enough to help his team get their third win on the season to improve to 3-4. Minshew threw for 190 yards in the first half but it did not amount to much as the team was down 7-6 at halftime, however early in the fourth quarter, Minshew was able to find Chris Conley on a slant that was taken for 47 yards. Two plays later Minshew tossed a two-yard fade to Keelan Cole for the score putting the Jags up 17-10 after a two-point conversion. This week the Jags take on the New York Jets so look for Minshew to take advantage of a struggling defensive secondary and continue his quest for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Projected Stat Line vs New York: 20/35, 275 Yards, 2 TD
5. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, New Orleans Saints
Week Seven Stats: 6 Total Tackles, 2 TFL, 2 PD
Johnson stepped in this week as the Saint’s primary slot corner taking over for the suspended P.J. Williams and he did not disappoint. On targets thrown his way, Johnson only allowed 18 total yards which all were yards after the catch. He was a very consistent tackler and seemed to shadow Tarik Cohen all over the field and locked him down. He had two pass breakups on the night and made a strong case for the starting job when Williams returns off of his suspension. While he was listed as a safety Johnson showed great playmaking ability from that slot position getting into the backfield on a couple of plays. This week the Saints take on the Arizona Cardinals and a young playmaker in Kyler Murray so look for Johnson to show again why he deserves the starting role.
Projected Stat Line vs Arizona: 6 Total Tackles, 1 INT
4. Josh Allen, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Seven Stats: 2 Solo Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 TFL
Allen has continued to be a consistent pass rusher off the edge for this Jacksonville defense as he was able to get to the quarterback for the third straight week, bringing his total to five on the year. While he has been a great pass rusher, Allen has also been a pretty consistent run defender and can get into the backfield with his quickness. While the Jags may have only gotten to the quarterback twice last weekend, they also held running-back Joe Mixon to just TWO rushing yards. Allen and this Jags defense will be facing a New York Jets team next week that has struggled with offensive line injuries and we will see how they fare against star running-back Le’Veon Bell.
Projected Stat Line vs New York: 3 Total Tackles, 2 Sack
3. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Tennessee Titans
Week Seven Stats: 4 Solo Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 TFL
When Simmons returned off of an ACL tear that happened shortly after the NFL combine back in early March, he was able to put on a show against the Los Angeles Chargers racking up 4 solo tackles and showing his strength to fight through blockers into the backfield. Simmons was also able to pick up his first career NFL sack in the process. The Titans defense looks really good right now and they are taking on a high-powered Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing offense. Look for Simmons and company to get pressure on Jameis Winston and force several mistakes.
Projected Stat Line vs Tampa Bay: 3 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
2. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Week Seven Stats: 21 Car, 124 Yards
While Jacobs may not have found the endzone this past weekend against the Green Bay Packers, the Raiders have continued to be a run-first team giving Jacobs several touches each game. And he has been consistent averaging 5.1 yards a carry so far this season. While the Raiders did lose on Sunday, Jacobs came out firing as he weaved and shoved his way to a 42-yard gain on his third carry of the game, putting on his best Marshawn Lynch impression. This Oakland offense runs through Jacobs and he will be up for a challenge this weekend against a pretty stout run defense in the Houston Texans.
Projected Stat Line vs Houston: 16 Car, 85 Yards, 1 TD
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers
Week Seven Stats: 7 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 4 TFL
Bosa had an incredible game last Sunday on the slip-n-slide that was the Washington Redskins field. He was able to rack up a total of seven tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage and sacking Case Keenum for his fourth on the year to seal the team’s victory. Bosa was a threat off the edge all game and is a big part of a strong 49ers defensive line that now has 20 sacks on the season. Week eight has the 49ers taking on the Carolina Panthers who also possess a strong defensive line. Look for both defenses to be on top of their game in this one, and Bosa to possibly grab his fifth sack of the year.
Projected Stat Line vs Carolina: 4 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 TFL
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