Another rookie is done for the year, but others continue to make an impact as the season winds down. [Note: the ranking from my final 2018 Big Board is listed in parenthesis]
Josh Allen, Bills QB (2)
Last week (v DET)
13/26 (50.0%), 204 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT // 9 carries, 16 yards, 1 TD
52.2%, 1,633 yards, 6 TD, 9 INT // 75 carries, 506 yards, 6 TD
Now 4-4 in games he has started and finished (4-5 overall, which could be 5-4 if he didn’t get injured against Houston), Josh Allen continues to shatter low-bar expectations that doubters set when the Bills took him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen is also 2-2 against teams expected to finish the year with a winning record, but we’ll see how the rookie handles his first matchup in New England as he looks to play spoiler. Perhaps the most impressive part of Allen’s game has been his ability to lift undrafted free agent Robert Foster—who has gone for 94+ yards in four of the past five games—into a dangerous deep threat that has already surpassed four years of college production at Alabama.
Jaire Alexander, Packers CB (8)
Last week (@ CHI)
62 tackles, 1 interception, 11 passes defended, 0.5 sack, 3.5 tackles for loss // 4 punt returns, 25 yards
The Pro Bowl continues be an annual joke, and similar to Tre’Davious White last season in Buffalo, Jaire Alexander was overlooked by not even being selected as an alternate. In the AFC, fellow rookie Denzel Ward made the team outright, and for some reason people feel the need to hold down Alexander as if there can only be one standout, first-year cornerback given accolades. I expect the Louisville product to be determined to shutdown an emerging Robby Anderson this weekend in New York.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals WR (11)
Last week (@ ATL)
DNP – IR (foot)
43 receptions, 590 yards, 3 TD // 3 carries, 35 yards // 21 punt returns, 164 yards
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins TE (13)
Last week (@ MIN)
2 receptions, 23 yards
20 receptions, 179 yards
Mike Gesicki had his first multi-catch game since October in last week’s loss to the Vikings, but again, tight ends aren’t usually productive when they enter the NFL. Plus, Gesicki didn’t really breakout until his junior and senior years at Penn State, so he should become a dangerous weapon—especially in the red zone—when he gets more comfortable. Perhaps the rookie will make an impact over the final two weeks as Miami hopes to sneak in the postseason.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions RB (14)
Last week (@ BUF)
DNP – knee
118 carries, 641 yards, 3 TD // 32 receptions, 213 yards, 1 TD
The Lions were without Kerryon Johnson for the fourth straight game last week, and after being officially eliminated from playoff contention in a 14-13 loss, they placed him in injured reserve, ending his season. But while the rookie campaign was cut short for Johnson, he showed extreme promise and has the makings of an all-around star in 2019.
Josh Jackson, Packers CB (18)
Last week (@ CHI)
48 tackles, 8 passes defended, 1 tackle for loss, 1 TD
Down to 67% of the snaps played, Josh Jackson struggled a bit against Chicago in Week 15, but I wouldn’t be so down on the rookie, who is basically learning a new position (slot corner) on the fly—a puzzling choice considering he was a shutdown boundary corner at Iowa. Fortunately, Jackson will get a chance to build some confidence against the bottom-barrel receiving corps of the Jets and Lions to close out the year.
Nick Chubb, Browns RB (19)
Last week (@ DEN)
20 carries, 100 yards
164 carries, 860 yards, 8 TD // 16 receptions, 150 yards, 2 TD
I was higher on Nick Chubb than anyone in the pre-draft process, but it still doesn’t feel right to have had him as low as I did. The 22-year-old is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and already has 1,000 total yards and ten total touchdowns despite not starting until late October, and there’s a good chance he ends up in the Pro Bowl as a second alternate. In general, there probably haven’t been six more impressive running backs than Chubb this year.
Lorenzo Carter, Giants OLB (21)
Last week (v TEN)
39 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 2 deflections
We didn’t see many opportunities to get after the quarterback for Lorenzo Carter last week as Tennessee ran it 33 times for 170 yards with Derrick Henry, and it led to the rookie being on the field for just 27% of the team’s defensive snaps. The Colts will throw this week to give Carter more playing time, but it won’t be easy to get to Andrew Luck, who has been sacked a league-low 16 times this season. Getting an early lead would be big for New York.
Anthony Miller, Bears WR (28)
Last week (v GB)
3 kick returns, 75 yards
30 receptions, 399 yards, 6 TD // 3 carries, 15 yards // 5 kick returns, 109 yards
Anthony Miller was held without a catch for the second game in a row, and he wasn’t even targeted against the Packers. The rookie has obviously been a factor for Chicago with a team-high six receiving touchdowns, though, and Matt Nagy’s dynamic attack can simply lead to quiet weeks. Miller will look to make more of an offensive impact in San Francisco on Sunday.