Ethan Hewett | November 7th, 2019
Did we have an impressive group of rookies in week nine or what? While most weeks we’ve had a few remarkable performances, this past week was full of breakout performances from players we were waiting to go off. While week one saw four pass catchers with 100 or more yards, week nine saw several receivers, running backs, and defensive players alike put up career games. Who stepped up big time? Who thrived under pressure? Find out in this week’s edition of the NFL Rookie Rankings. As always, let’s begin with a couple of honorable mentions.
Nik Needham – Needham had a standout performance this week racking up nine total tackles and a sack from his defensive back position. He has slowly become a bigger part of this Miami Dolphins defense after suiting up for 93% of the team’s defensive snaps this past weekend. He has played decent in coverage and possesses a lot of speed. Look for him to continue to develop this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts.
T.J. Hockenson – Hockenson was able to see a few more touches this past week through the air on this Detroit Lions offense, as he was able to gain 56 yards on just three receptions. Hockenson’s biggest play of the game came near the end of the fourth quarter on a tight-end screen that helped put the Lions in a position to score. Hockenson did leave the game later that quarter with a back injury but looks hopeful for this weekend’s matchup against the Chicago Bears.
15. Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Week Nine Stats: 5 Receptions, 53 Yards
Campbell finds his way onto my rankings this week after a solid performance last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Campbell caught all five passes thrown his way in just his second start of the season and nearly doubled his receiving total on the year (115). If not for the dreaded turf monster, Campbell most likely would’ve taken his first reception for six after making a couple of defenders miss. Unfortunately, just as Campbell was starting to get going due to other team injuries, he suffered a fractured hand which will sideline him for several weeks if not the rest of the season.
Projected Stat Line vs Miami: N/A (Injury – Hand)
14. Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week Nine Stats: 7 Total Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD
Bush put up another solid performance this past weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. While he hasn’t put up incredible numbers this past couple of weeks, he has still been a big part of the Steelers defense and continues to lead all rookies in tackles (66). Bush and the Steelers’ linebackers as a whole have had great moments this season, but if they want to help out their defense, they need to provide just a little more consistency throughout the game. Look for them to try and do just that this weekend against the Los Angeles Rams and try to slow down this Rams offense.
Projected Stat Line vs Los Angeles: 10 Total Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sack
13. Andy Isabella, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Week Nine Stats: 1 Reception, 88 Yards, 1 TD
While it may seem crazy that Isabella is this far down on the list with 88 receiving yards, keep in mind that it all came on one catch in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers. Isabella’s speed was too much for the 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to keep up with and Isabella ran a great route and then outran the rest of the 49ers defense on his way to his first NFL touchdown.
Isabella, like most of the Cardinals receiving room, has incredible speed and also looks to have a lot of upsides, so look for Kliff Kingsbury and staff to keep the young rookie involved this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are ranked 31st in passing yards allowed this season.
Projected Stat Line vs Tampa Bay: 4 Receptions, 60 Yards, 1 TD
12. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
Week Nine Stats: 14 Carries, 40 Yards, 2 TD
Montgomery over the past two games has acquired three rushing touchdowns and 175 yards on the ground bringing his total to 406 on the year. With the current situation at quarterback for the Bears, Montgomery has had to step up and he has been averaging 4.27 yards a carry for the past two weeks. While he did have a big drop in the loss to Philadelphia, Montgomery will most likely be the primary weapon for this Bears offense moving forward. Look for Montgomery to capitalize this week against a Detroit Lions defense who gave up 120 yards to fellow rookie running back Josh Jacobs last weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs Detroit: 20 Carries, 110 Yards, 1 TD
11. Mack Wilson, LB, Cleveland Browns
Week Nine Stats: 5 Solo Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 PD
Wilson hasn’t put up crazy numbers for most of the season, but he has been a consistent and strong player for what has been a very disappointing Browns team. Wilson was also able to notch his first NFL sack and was able to get into the backfield several times throughout the game against the Denver Broncos. He is a solid tackler in space and the Browns team trusts him as he played 100% of the team’s defensive snaps for the fourth time this season. Look for him to stay busy again this weekend against the Buffalo Bills as the Browns look to grab their third win on the season.
Projected Stat Line vs Buffalo: 7 Total Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 INT
10. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Week Nine Stats: 4 Receptions, 81 Yards
Brown has continued to be Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target so far for this Titans offense the past couple of games after leading his team in both targets and receiving yards in their loss to the Carolina Panthers. The young receiver continues to impress with his ability to create yardage after the catch whether it be making a guy miss or simply running through a defender. He also made a nice 50/50 catch down the sideline early in the fourth quarter. Brown will be up for a challenge this week as he and the Titans offense will be taking on a Kansas City Chiefs defense that is enjoying the return of a few key star players.
Projected Stat Line vs Kansas City: 5 Rec, 70 Yards, 1 TD
9. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Week Nine Stats: 17/24, 241 Yards, 2 TD
Murray has had a good season. While he hadn’t contributed to the final score for a few weeks, week nine Murray was able to find the end zone twice through the air against the San Francisco 49ers. While Murray hasn’t put up incredible touchdown numbers, he has played clean football and hasn’t thrown an interception since week four.
While most of last week’s game against the 49ers was an expected struggle, one play near the end of the fourth quarter helped to boost his stat line on an 88-yard touchdown pass to Andy Isabella. This week the Cardinals are taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers whose secondary doesn’t quite measure up to the 49ers so expect Murray to find more success this week.
Projected Stat Line vs Tampa Bay: 24/33, 300 Yards, 3 TD
8. Hunter Renfrow, WR, Oakland Raiders
Week Nine Stats: 6 Receptions, 54 Yards, 1 TD
Renfrow has been a bit of a surprise so far this season with both production and involvement in the Raiders’ offense. Last week was no exception as Renfrow led his team in both receptions and receiving yards in their win over the Detroit Lions. Renfrow also secured a nine-yard touchdown pass in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter to give the Raiders the go-ahead score and eventually the win. Renfrow has posted a touchdown for two straight games now and 142 receiving yards over that same span. He will look to continue his success this Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Projected Stat Line vs Los Angeles: 5 Receptions, 65 Yards, 1 TD
7. Christian Wilkins, DL, Miami Dolphins
Week Nine Stats: 5 Total Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sack
Wilkins was finally able to secure his first NFL sack this past weekend in the Dolphins win over the New York Jets. Wilkins powered his way through the interior defensive line and forced the young Sam Darnold to panic and fall to the ground. While he just now grabbed his first sack, Wilkins has had a solid rookie season so far totaling 28 tackles on the season along with a pair of tackles for loss. While these aren’t earth-shattering numbers, it is important to recognize that Wilkins has a good presence on the Dolphins defensive line. This week will be a challenge as the Dolphins are taking on the Indianapolis Colts who have one of the best interior offensive lines in the league.
Projected Stat Line vs Indianapolis: 4 Total Tackles, 1 TFL
6. Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
Week Nine Stats: 20 Carries, 95 Yards, 1 TD, 3 Receptions, 45 Yards
Singletary put together a very solid performance this past weekend in the Bills win over the Washington Redskins. Singletary had been dealing with an injury that saw him sidelined weeks three through six and he wasn’t very involved until this past weekend, and boy did he make up for it. Not only did Singletary have a solid rushing performance averaging 4.75 yards a carry, but he had success as a receiver coming out of the backfield.
Singletary looks to be the workload running back moving forward and I expect him to get a decent amount of carries this week against a struggling Cleveland Browns team who are currently a bottom-three run defense in rushing yards allowed in 2019.
Projected Stat Line vs Cleveland: 22 Carries, 100 Yards, 1 TD
5. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week Nine Stats: 12 Total Tackles, 2 FF, 0.5 Sacks
White had his first breakout game this past weekend after missing a few weeks due to a knee sprain and showed why the Buccaneers drafted him with the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 draft. White stuffed the stat sheet with 12 total tackles, six of which were solo, along with half a sack and two forced fumbles. White was all over the field and played for 99% of the team’s defensive snaps in a close loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Look for White and this Bucs defensive front to get after rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and shut down the run game in this week’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
Projected Stat Line vs Arizona: 10 Total Tackles, 3 TFL, 1 Sack
4. Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins
Week Nine Stats: 5 Receptions, 72 Yards, 2 TD
Williams had been having a quiet, yet productive rookie season for the Dolphins. After having a breakout game last week reigning in two touchdown grabs on five receptions and a decent amount of yardage, Williams went down with a knee injury. Earlier this week, it was announced that Williams would miss the remainder of the season due to an ACL injury. The undrafted rookie was ranked fourth among rookie receivers in receiving yards this season and was the Dolphins top receiving threat. Unfortunately, we will not get to see him anymore this season and will await his return come July of 2020 for training camp.
Projected Stat Line vs Indianapolis: N/A (Injured Reserve – Knee)
3. Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos
Week Nine Stats: 3 Receptions, 115 Yards, 1 TD
We all knew that it would just be a matter of time before Fant was able to break out with a solid receiving performance and he did just that in a week nine victory over the Cleveland Browns. Most of his yardage came on a 75-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter but Fant had a great game overall. Fant was able to barrel through several defenders after catching a pass over the middle on his way to the end zone for his second receiving touchdown of the season. While we can’t say he’s a sure thing for the rest of the year, Fant should continue to be involved after Denver’s week ten bye when they take on the Minnesota Vikings.
Projected Stat Line vs Minnesota (Week 11): 5 Rec, 67 Yards, 1 TD
2. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Week Nine Stats: 28 Carries, 120 Yards, 2 TD
I feel like I’ve had Jacobs in my top five nearly every week so far this year, and for good reason. Jacobs continues to steamroll through opposing defenses after having his third 100-yard game this past weekend against the Detroit Lions. Jacobs leads rookie running backs by a good margin with 740 rushing yards on the season and six touchdowns to his name. Jacobs continues to make a solid case for Offensive Rookie of the Year and will look to continue his dominance this weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers in a road, divisional matchup. Look for Jacobs to find success against an inconsistent run defense.
Projected Stat Line vs Los Angeles: 22 Carries, 100 Yards, 1 TD
1. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Week Nine Stats: 6 Receptions, 123 Yards, 1 TD
Metcalf hadn’t quite had the breakout performance yet this season, but after last weekend we can officially say that the former Ole Miss receiver has made his impact on the NFL after putting up his first 100-yard performance of the year. Metcalf also notched his fifth touchdown of the season.
Pairing the big-bodied receiver with the short and speedy Tyler Lockett has opened the door for both receivers and with the addition of Josh Gordon, this could become one of the best receiving corps in the league paired with one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The San Francisco 49ers defense will be put to the test this weekend in their week ten matchup against the Seahawks.
Projected Stat Line vs San Francisco: 5 Rec, 80 Yards, 1 TD
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images