So, last week I just listed the rookies that had an impact in no particular order. This week we are upgrading it to include a ranking. The ranking is not a top 10 list. It’s a top however-many-I-feel-like it list. I don’t want to limit it to 10 because if 11 guys are balling, we need to discuss them all. I will cap it at 20 though so that I don’t bore you to tears with some WR who caught 1 ball for 2 yards. Also, I’m sticking to offensive players only. This is not just about who is playing well, but also who will sell the most cards. Defensive players just don’t sell cards. If that changes, I’ll change my rankings. These rankings are not just based on this past week either. They will be weighted in favor of the most recent games, but the overall season means a lot too.
This week was a very strong week for rookies. We have two quarterbacks who are both performing at very high levels. What we lacked last week in rushing, we made up for this week. There were also some insane performances from receivers. Overall, a very good week and a nice start to the season. By the way, last week I showcased some of my favorite cards from the rookies. This week I’m showing you the highest priced card for each player on eBay. You can click the picture to take you to all the autographs they currently have listed. Anyway, on to the rankings.
1. Cam Newton QB Carolina Panthers
I don’t even know where to begin with this guy. Sure he made some mistakes against Green Bay. He has to learn to not force the ball. However, he has 854 passing yards through 2 games. 854 YARDS! That’s crazy. His QB rating is 89.1. He has 3 passing TDs and 2 rushing TDs. These numbers are just plain crazy. Take a look at some quality quarterback’s QB ratings form their rookie year (only listing guys who played a lot):
E. Manning- 55.4
P. Manning- 71.2
So, as you can see Newton would rank 2nd behind Roethlisberger. However, the amazing thing is that none of these guys other than Peyton & Stafford threw the ball nearly as much as Newton is so far. If he continues to throw the ball like this, he’ll go down as the best rookie QB ever. I never thought I’d even think those words, much less type them in a blog. I could go on and on about Newton, but I’ll save you all the trouble. Simply put, this kid looks great.
2. A.J. Green WR Cincinnati Bengals
This was a super tough decision for me between Green and his teammate Dalton. They are both off to a great start and seem to have great chemistry so far. I’m giving the nod to Green because Dalton got hurt in game 1 and because Green scored a TD in both of his games. Green finished this week with 10 catches for 124 yards and a TD. That gives him over 150 yards and 2 TDs in 2 games. Aren’t wide receivers supposed to develop more slowly? Isn’t their third year supposed to be the break out year? If so, look out Jerry Rice because here comes A.J.
3. Andy Dalton QB Cincinnati Bengals
As I just said above, I had a tough time on this one. Dalton has played so well. He did get hurt in the 1st game and made a few mistakes on the last drive that cost the Bengals a chance in week 2. However, no one saw this coming. Carson who? Dalton has 413 yards and 3 TDs in 1 and a half games. He also has a QB rating of 105.7. As crazy as that is, Newton has more passing yards in both games than Dalton has in the season. Just food for thought to show you how amazing Newton has been. Dalton has been insanely good though. And the Bengals are 1-1 and could easily be 2-0. If you’re a Cincy fan, you have to like the idea of Dalton to Green for years to come. Throw in Jerome Simpson and Jermaine Gresham and you have a very fine, young passing attack.
4. Daniel Thomas RB Miami Dolphins
It got a little tougher here. There were quite a few guys who I could have thrown in the #4 slot. However, Thomas was absolutely awesome. He ran for 107 yards on 18 carries for an average of 5.9 yards. He also caught a pass on a screen and picked up 10 yards. He made the Dolphins fans say “Reggie who?” I know he was hurt in week 1, but I can’t fault a guy for that when he performed so well in week 2. He did lose a fumble, but it was a perfect helmet hit right on the ball. 9 out of 10 running backs in the league lose the ball on that play. As long as he continues to get the touches and snaps, he’ll be a force.
5. Roy Helu RB Washington Redskins
Wow, did this come out of nowhere. Helu had a monster game against Arizona. He ran for 74 yards on 10 carries and caught 3 passes for 38 yards. Quite a game for a rookie running back who had 1 carry in the previous game. Washington is a run first offense, so he’s going to get his chances. And if Hightower gets hurt (or remembers that it’s in his nature to fumble every other game), Helu could be in for big numbers. Then again, he could go back to 1 carry next week and his stint on the rankings could be short lived.
6. Denarius Moore WR Oakland Raiders
Another guy who came out of nowhere. Caught zero balls on Monday night against the Broncos. How did he respond? With 5 catches for 146 yards and a crazy good TD catch And he even had 1 run for 25 yards. The Raiders have been looking for a #1 WR for quite some time. Could this be the guy? He flourished with Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy out and has serious speed. Time will tell if this was just a random occurrence for Moore or a recurring theme.
7. Blaine Gabbert QB Jacksonville Jaguars
This ranking is based more on potential than anything. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 52 yards this past week. However, the score was totally out of hand by the time he came in. So, the Jets weren’t exactly buckling down on defense. But, I think he showed enough to warrant a start next week. Luke McCown has been downright awful and Gabbert can’t be that bad. We’ll see if he actually starts this week, but I like his chances.
8. Randall Cobb WR Green Bay Packers
Cobb didn’t have a great week. Only caught 2 balls for 25 yards. Lost a fumble on a kickoff return. And he didn’t have any big returns. However, we can’t drop him too far after what he did in week one. He’s going to be a big part of the Packers all year. And if they make another run like last year, he’ll get plenty of notice. Plus an injury or two could make him a more important target for Rodgers. The Panthers did a good job with time of possession against Green Bay, so there wasn’t as much offense for them. Next week may be more of the same against Chicago, but Cobb will certainly have his moments throughout the year.
9. Mark Ingram RB New Orleans Saints
Ingram had another okay game. He hasn’t broken many runs yet as his long on the season is only 12 yards. With that said, he’s still averaging 3.4 yards per carry which means he’s not getting stuff a whole lot. He did lose a fumble this past week as well. However, he has shown some serious potential. And this offense is so good, it’s only a matter of time until he breaks one. The most important thing is that he has almost twice as many carries as the next guy. So, he definitely seems to be “the guy” in New Orleans. Now if he can just show us why he is “the guy”, it would be nice.
10. Julio Jones WR Atlanta Falcons
Julio had a bit of a tough time this week. It’s hard to blame him with Namdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all covering him. With that said, he still had 2 catches for 29 yards. He has 100 yards through 2 games and is only going to get better. Perhaps the most encouraging news is that the Falcons tried to open up the field a little more. If that continues, Jones should be in line for a few monster games. Plus, how can a guy that can do this not be a star?
11. Titus Young WR Detroit Lions
Titus had a very nice first game of his career. He ended up with 5 catches for 89 yards. He’s a quick, little WR who could make some noise for the upstart Lions this year. This offense looks very explosive so far and Titus should take advantage of that in the coming weeks. I don’t expect him to be the top WR in the class with guys like Green and Jones. But, there’s no reason he can’t be a solid #2 or #3 WR for a good team.
12. Delone Carter RB Indianapolis Colts
Carter didn’t have a huge game. But, he did get 11 carries which means something. He ended up with 46 yards and now has 71 on the year. He hasn’t done anything major yet. And with the pathetic offense in Indy, he may not all year. However, if something were to happen to Addai or Peyton somehow comes back, Carter could make some noise. He’s shown enough in 2 games not to get down on him.
13. Doug Baldwin WR Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin did almost nothing this week with only 1 catch for 4 yards. Tough to be too critical since they played at Pittsburgh and had a total of 164 yards. Even after this poor game, Baldwin still ranks in the top 5 in receiving yards and receptions for rookies. Baldwin still has zero cards.
14. Jesse Holley WR Dallas Cowboys
Okay, so this guy was a rookie last year. However, he’s never had a card. So, if they make one now it will be a RC. He had a big game this past week against San Fran. He caught 3 balls for 96 yards including the 77-yard catch that sealed the victory in OT. With Miles Austin and Dez Bryant banged up, this guy could make a splash in the next few weeks. Good news is that he plays for the Cowboys, so he can’t go un-noticed.
15. DeMarco Murray RB Dallas Cowboys
Speaking of Cowboys. Murray didn’t have a great game. 6 carries or 21 yards and 1 catch for 4 yards. However, Felix Jones hurt his shoulder and may or may not be able to play. If Murray ends up starting, his cards could go boom. Or he could show us that he’s really not very good. One way or the other, Murray has a lot riding on the next few weeks.
16. Clyde Gates WR Miami Dolphins
This guy can flat out fly. He has mostly been relegated to kickoffs and punts so far. However, he did get a big pass interference call against the Texans this past week. The DB had to just grab a hold of him so he didn’t catch the ball for a TD. He’s averaging 22.9 yards per kickoff and 10.7 per punt. The more he learns the offense, the more he will be involved in that too.
17. Greg Little WR Cleveland Browns
Little hasn’t done a whole lot yet. But he does have 5 catches for 50 yards on the season. Not terrible numbers for a team that is run first. The best thing he has going for him is that there aren’t any big time WRs on this team. He’ll get his chances at some point.
Well, that’s all for this week. It was another enjoyable week of NFL action. I don’t even like to think about how bad it would be right now if the NFL were still locked out. Have a good week and let’s root for some more big rookie play for next week.
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