The rookie class—or at least those not playing in January—will have one more chance to make an impact this weekend. [Note: the ranking from my final 2018 Big Board is listed in parenthesis]
Josh Allen, Bills QB (2)
Last week (@ NE)
20/41 (48.8%), 217 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT // 5 carries, 30 yards
51.7%, 1,850 yards, 7 TD, 11 INT // 80 carries, 536 yards, 6 TD
The statistics weren’t great for Josh Allen in his first game against the Patriots, but that was to be expected, especially in Foxborough. Plus, Allen would have had a touchdown bomb of 80+ yards if Robert Foster didn’t lose a ball in the sun, and as stated time and time again, the rookie has easily the worst offensive supporting cast in the league. I think finishing the season with a completion percentage of more than 50% would be big for Allen just so doubters don’t have an arbitrary number to point to all offseason. Hopefully he can take care of the ball and get a win to end his first year with a 5-5 record in games he starts and finishes.
Jaire Alexander, Packers CB (8)
Last week (@ NYJ)
66 tackles, 1 interception, 11 passes defended, 0.5 sack, 3.5 tackles for loss // 4 punt returns, 25 yards
A groin injury forced Jaire Alexander out of last week’s game and has his status for the season finale in danger, but he has nothing else to prove in what has been a Pro Bowl-caliber rookie campaign. If Alexander ends up playing this weekend, we could see him matchup against the six-foot-four Kenny Golladay for a fun battle between young divisional foes. Golladay posted a 4/98/1 line in Week 5 before Alexander—who missed the game—emerged as Green Bay’s No. 1 corner.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals WR (11)
Last week (v LAR)
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 (v JAX)
1 reception, 5 yards
21 receptions, 184 yards
Another quiet game for Mike Gesicki gives him one more opportunity to find the end zone as a rookie, so perhaps Adam Gase will force the ball to the second-round pick now that Miami has been eliminated from playoff contention. The Penn State product has the size to take advantage of a smaller Buffalo secondary, and it makes sense to at least give him a target in the red zone to build confidence.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions RB (14)
Last week (@ MIN)
DNP – IR (knee)
118 carries, 641 yards, 3 TD // 32 receptions, 213 yards, 1 TD
Josh Jackson, Packers CB (18)
Last week (@ NYJ)
1 pass defended
48 tackles, 9 passes defended, 1 tackle for loss, 1 TD // 1 punt return, 0 yards
Josh Jackson had started six consecutive games for the Packers, but he came off the bench in Week 16 and might have seen little to no playing time if Jaire Alexander didn’t leave early. While Jackson’s instincts and ball skills might play better at safety if the Packers stick to a predominantly man-to-man defense in 2019, I think he can still develop as a top-tier cornerback alongside Alexander. Green Bay might actually be wise to throw him out on Kenny Golladay this week and either sink or swim.
Nick Chubb, Browns RB (19)
Last week (v CIN)
19 carries, 112 yards // 2 receptions, 3 yards
183 carries, 972 yards, 8 TD // 18 receptions, 153 yards, 2 TD
Coming off his second 100-yard game in a row, Nick Chubb needs just 28 rushing yards this week to reach 1,000 on the season, and a big day would give him a real shot at leading the league in yards per carry (currently at 5.31 compared to leader Aaron Jones at 5.47). This week, the former Georgia star should be fed for what the Browns are calling a playoff game in Baltimore, and it is a playoff game for the Ravens as they look to win the AFC North.
Lorenzo Carter, Giants OLB (21)
Last week (@ IND)
1 tackle, 1 deflection
40 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 3 deflections
I said last week that getting an early lead for New York would be huge to give Lorenzo Carter and others an opportunity to get after Andrew Luck, but the Indy offensive line was excellent once again, allowing just one sack to blitzing inside linebacker Tae Davis. To close things out, Carter will either be getting after Dak Prescott (Dallas is said to be playing their starters) or backup Cooper Rush, who would likely hold onto the ball longer and give the pass-rushers more time to collapse the pocket.
Anthony Miller, Bears WR (28)
Last week (@ SF)
3 receptions, 24 yards, 1 TD // 1 carry, 4 yards // 1 kick return, 30 yards
33 receptions, 423 yards, 7 TD // 4 carries, 19 yards // 6 kick returns, 139 yards
The only rookie that will play beyond this week, Anthony Miller caught his seventh touchdown of the season in last week’s win over the 49ers, breaking a two-game streak with zero receptions. He did end up getting ejected for throwing punches with Richard Sherman in a sideline skirmish, but the 24-year-old might have an extended role in Week 17 if Allen Robinson (ribs) gets some rest, so we’ll see if Miller can get some more momentum before January.