Top 10 NFL rookies entering Week 16
We’ve reached the point in the season where the top-10 list is nearly set in stone. The participants and order of this list are the exact same as they were a week ago, as grades are far less susceptible to week-to-week fluctuations this late in the year. By now, you know the names, so let’s see how they did this week:
1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
If it weren’t for a fumble in Week 15, Elliott would have challenged for the highest grade of the week. As it stands, he’ll have to settle for being the highest-graded running back of the year. Against the Buccaneers, he added 101 more yards after contact on 23 carries and broke three tackles. His 913 yards after contact are 206 more than second-place Jay Ajayi.
2. Jack Conklin, RT, Tennessee Titans
It didn’t get much easier for Conklin on Sunday, going from Von Miller in Week 14 to Justin Houston and Dee Ford in Week 15; however, the results were equally superb. Conklin allowed only two hurries in 37 pass-blocking snaps versus the Chiefs, and paved the way for an effective ground game. He’s still easily the highest-graded right tackle in the NFL.
3. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
This was quite the bounce-back performance from Prescott, who was off target on just four of his 36 throws against the Bucs. He cleaned up on underneath targets, going 28-of-30 for 203 yards on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Once again, he refuses to make mistakes with the ball. Prescott’s 2.58 turnover-worthy throw rate is the fifth-best mark among NFL QBs this season.
4. Joey Bosa, DE, San Diego Chargers
Bosa didn’t have nearly as much success against the Raiders’ offensive line this time around as he did in his debut, but he still made his presence felt on multiple occasions. Bosa collected a sack and three hurries to go along with two run stops. The rookie has earned the fifth-highest grade among NFL edge defenders this season.
5. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Even against a Titans’ offensive line that has been notoriously stingy to pass-rushers this year, Jones still put up an impressive grade this week. His addition continues to bring an added dimension that the Chiefs’ pass-rush desperately needed early in the year. He’s now the 13th-highest-graded interior defensive lineman this season.
6. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Against the Packers in Week 15, Jordan Howard had 17 carries for 90 total yards, putting him over 1,000 for the season. With another outstanding performance, one can’t help but wonder where Howard would be on this list if he was given the kind of opportunities that Elliott has received in Dallas. Howard trumps Elliott in yards after contact per touch, broken tackles per touch, and elusive rating this season.
7. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
It was a so-so day for Thomas against the Cardinals, as the rookie wideout hauled in seven of his 10 targets for only 51 yards while adding only his third drop of the season. That brings his season total to 882 yards, putting him squarely in sight of a 1,000-yard season; he’s the only rookie with a serious chance to do so. Thomas’ 1.85 yards per route run continues to trump all other rookie full-time receivers by half a yard.
8. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
The fifth-rounder did it again—this time, it was a 68-yard touchdown scamper on his only carry of the game. Hill now has 15 carries on the season for 162 yards and three broken tackles. That gives him nine total touchdowns on the season, despite the fact that he’s played only 348 total offensive snaps. That’s the definition of an X-factor.
9. Cody Whitehair, C, Chicago Bears
The success of Jordan Howard and Cody Whitehair this season go hand-in-hand. Whitehair lost more blocks than normal against the Packers in Week 15, but his overall body of work is still easily the most impressive of any interior lineman for Chicago. It’s a shame that we got to see this Bears’ offensive line fully healthy for only a handful of games this season, as they have the potential to be special on the interior.
10. Tavon Young, CB, Baltimore Ravens
Young may not get a lot of publicity, as his five touchdowns surrendered tend to stick out in people’s minds, but he’s starting to move from “good for a rookie corner” status to “good for a corner, period.” His 0.90 yards per coverage snap are 14th-best in the NFL, tied with the Rams CB Trumaine Johnson, and only 0.02 yards behind Patrick Peterson. That’s the kind of company the rookie is in. Against the Eagles this past week, he yielded only 27 yards on five targets and had a pass breakup.