A few standout rookies had their best game of the season in Week 10, as the rookie wall doesn’t seem to be impacting Nick Chubb, Anthony Miller, and others. [Note: the ranking from my final 2018 Big Board is listed in parenthesis]
Josh Allen, Bills QB (2)
Last week (@ NYJ)
DNP – elbow
54.0%, 832 yards, 2 TD, 5 INT // 35 carries, 155 yards, 3 TD
Recently-signed Matt Barkley helped lead Buffalo to a shocking 41-10 victory over the Jets in Week 10 by completing 15-of-25 passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions, but Josh Allen is set to regain the starting job down the stretch if he’s healthy after the bye. The Bills should hope that a former prized prospect like Barkley can help their franchise signal-caller deal with the growing pains that are sure to come over the final six games of the season.
Jaire Alexander, Packers CB (8)
Last week (v MIA)
5 tackles, 2 passes defended
35 tackles, 1 interception, 9 passes defended, 0.5 Sack, 1.5 tackles for loss
He had to enter the concussion protocol in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over Miami, but Jaire Alexander was fortunately cleared as he builds on an impressive rookie campaign. The Packers sacked Brock Osweiler six times in their 31-12 victory, and that was partly due to the coverage on the backend. I think Alexander should be one of the favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but it’ll be interesting to see if he’s punished for just one takeaway so far this season if that stands.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals WR (11)
Last week (@ KC)
2 receptions, 8 yards // 3 punt returns, 8 yards
33 receptions, 418 yards, 2 TD // 2 carries, 12 yards // 13 punt returns, 86 yards
I said last week that a 1,000-yard season was in reach for Christian Kirk with a big second half, but the goal will be much more difficult after being held to eight yards at Arrowhead Stadium. He did see at least six targets for the sixth time in seven games, so it’s at least encouraging that the rookie remains involved under new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. This week, Oakland’s struggling defense could easily allow a couple big plays to Kirk.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins TE (13)
Last week (@ GB)
1 reception, 5 yards
17 receptions, 151 yards
With one target in each of the past two games, Mike Gesicki has fallen behind veterans A.J. Derby and Nick O’Leary in Adam Gase’s offense, which is a disappointment considering his athletic traits are far superior to anyone else on the roster (and most tight ends in the league). It’s important to note that rookies rarely become significant contributors at the position, but maybe the Dolphins will get Gesicki more involved after the Week 11 bye.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions RB (14)
Last week (@ CHI)
14 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD // 6 receptions, 38 yards, 1 TD
103 carries, 554 yards, 2 TD // 30 receptions, 203 yards, 1 TD
The Lions were pretty much dominated in Sunday’s loss to the Bears, but Kerryon Johnson was at least able to find the end zone twice, including for the first time as a receiver. To have any chance of turning things around, Johnson needs to be fed early on to set the tone for Matt Patricia’s squad. After this week’s game against the Panthers, fans will get to see Detroit’s rookie running back featured in front of a national audience for the first Thanksgiving game of his career; and if early returns are any indication, Johnson has a chance to accumulate stats similar to Barry Sanders (210 carries for 931 yards and eight touchdowns in ten games) on the holiday.
Josh Jackson, Packers CB (18)
Last week (v MIA)
28 tackles, 5 passes defended, 1 tackle for loss, 1 TD
As expected, Josh Jackson saw his snaps increase with Kevin King (hamstring) out of the lineup, and he didn’t even leave the field on defense against the Dolphins, playing 100% of the snaps for the first time in his career. The 22-year-old is still seeking his first interception, but they should come in the future when Green Bay gets a consistent pass rush and Jackson adds some polish to stay on the hip of receivers like Jaire Alexander does.
Nick Chubb, Browns RB (19)
Last week (v ATL)
20 carries, 176 yards, 1 TD // 3 receptions, 33 yards, 1 TD
94 carries, 579 yards, 5 TD // 6 receptions, 48 yards, 1 TD
Since taking over the starting job following the trade of Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb has rushed 78 times for 484 yards (6.2 YPC) and three touchdowns in four games, and last week’s highlight 92-yard touchdown run put him on the map for everyone that wasn’t paying attention before. Also, as I’ve been saying, the former Georgia star can be productive as a receiver, too, and the Browns finally got him more involved against Atlanta. Chubb might suddenly be not only a contender, but also the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year as Cleveland heads into their bye.
Lorenzo Carter, Giants OLB (21)
Last week (@ SF)
7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss
26 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 1 deflection
Lorenzo Carter is coming off his best game of the season for New York, as he displayed his all-around skillset that should have fans excited for the future when he fully unlocks his potential. On Monday night, the rookie was able to diagnose a screen pass on consecutive plays for a tackle for loss on back-to-back plays, and he also showed his ability to drop back in coverage. Plus, Carter made a key stop on third down in the fourth quarter by tracking second-round receiver Dante Pettis, which helped the Giants get off the field and pickup their second win of the year. Having more success down the stretch against a string of standout tackle duos to close out his rookie year would be an extremely promising sign for Carter’s future outlook.
Anthony Miller, Bears WR (28)
Last week (v DET)
5 receptions, 122 yards, 1 TD
24 receptions, 332 yards, 4 TD // 2 carries, 16 yards
A great route by Anthony Miller last week led to confusion for Detroit’s secondary on his 55-yard touchdown, as the rookie was able to get wide open on a corner route from the slot before breaking a tackle and sprinting down the sideline for six. The Memphis product will have a chance to keep it going with two high-profile games in five days (v MIN on SNF; @ DET on Thanksgiving), and he looks like the perfect “Robin” to Allen Robinson’s “Batman” in Matt Nagy’s offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miller finishes the season with double-digit touchdowns.