Welcome back to the rankings. We saw a few monster performances by rookies this week. I continue to be impressed by the rookie quarterbacks. We now have four starting and I can honestly say that I think all four make their team better. It was the first disappointing week for receivers as none of them really made much of an impact. The next few weeks will be important as many of the teams will make or break their season by week 10 or so. Once some teams feel like they are out of it, rookies are more likely to get a chance to play. Anyway, onto the rankings.
1. Cam Newton QB Carolina Panthers (Last week #1)
Just when I thought the #1 spot might be slipping away from Newton, he goes out and has a great game. He completed 78.3% of his passes. He threw for 256 yards and 1 TD. He also ran for 59 yards on 10 carries and another score. He didn’t have a single turnover and his team won. I can’t ask for much more than that. The two things plaguing Newton were turnovers and losing and he cured both in this game. He’s 4th on the year in passing yards and he’s also ran for 266 yards. Very impressive indeed.
2. Andy Dalton QB Cincinnati Bengals (Last week #2)
Dalton was off this week, but I can’t fault him for that. He’s still in a tight race for the best rookie QB with Newton. As I’ve said all along, the best thing about Dalton is that he’s made his team much better. The Bengals are 4-2 and have a very bright future right now. A lot of this is because of Dalton.
3. A.J. Green WR Cincinnati Bengals (Last week #3)
Not often does a player help himself when he has a bye. However, Green is firmly entrenched as the #1 WR from this draft after this past week. Julio Jones sat out another game with an injury. And all the other WRs like Baldwin, Little and Torrey Smith continue to be way too inconsistent. Green, like Dalton, has given the Bengals’ fans a lot to look forward to in the future.
4. DeMarco Murray RB Dallas Cowboys (Last week #15)
Wow is really all I can say. If you saw this coming, you’re much smarter than I am. I did move him into the rankings last week on the potential that he might have a good game. However, I never thought he’d explode like this. He absolutely went off for 253 yards on 25 carries. He’s now second in rookie rushing and is only 5 yards behind Ingram for the lead. Felix is still out for a bit and now Choice is banged up as well. Murray is going to continue to get chances over the next few weeks. And I’ll promise you this, they aren’t going to take the job away from him if he keeps this up.
5. Blaine Gabbert QB Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week #4)
Honestly, Gabbert didn’t have a good game. However, he managed the game and didn’t turn it over in a win against Baltimore. Gabbert has some potential for sure. He’s not going to be phenomenal if you ask me, but I think he’ll be solid. He can definitely make some plays with his legs as well. The Ravens have a very scary defense, so I’ll give Gabbert a pass on this game.
6. Christian Ponder QB Minnesota Vikings (Last week unranked)
Ponder played a pretty solid game. He threw for 219 yards and 2 TDs and also ran for 31 yards. He did throw 2 picks and had a terrible completion percentage of 40.6%. However, he kept his team in the game against the Packers. That’s more than some QBs can say against the Packers. Plus he has very little as far as receiving threats.
7. Greg Little WR Cleveland Browns (Last week #6)
Little didn’t do anything great. He only had 31 yards on 5 receptions. Not terrible, but not great. The Browns’ offense looked completely pathetic. If that trend continues, Little is going to struggle. I think the Browns need Peyton Hillis back if they want their offense to really get back on track. I know that Hardesty is okay, but he’s only averaging 3.3 yards per carry. That’s simply not going to get it done. Little will be okay though as he’s still the best receiving threat they have.
8. Julio Jones WR Atlanta Falcons (Last week #7)
I’m only dropping him one spot this week. The Falcons have a bye this week and I suspect he’ll be ready to play in week 9. If he is not, he’s going to drop much further down. I know he’s playing well when healthy, but he needs to get back on the field.
9. Mark Ingram RB New Orleans Saints (Last week #10)
Ingram had his first real solid game of the year. He finished with 91 yards on 14 carries and also caught 1 ball for 6 yards. However, he was going against the Colts who looked like the worst defensive team I have ever seen. And he also banged up his right heel late in the game. If he misses time, he’ll drop down in the rankings for sure. However, if he’s healthy, this could be the start of a little bit more explosive Ingram. Time will tell.
10. Daniel Thomas RB Miami Dolphins (Last week #5)
Thomas had a tough week against the Broncos. He was much left effective than Reggie Bush this week. He got 19 carries and was only able to manage 53 yards for an average of 2.8 yards per carry. The Dolphins need to work on improving their offense in general if Thomas wants to get better. Why they don’t use Bush more as a decoy is beyond me. A lot of the successful running plays the Saints had while Bush was there were based on Bush going in motion. Sparano has no idea what he’s doing, in my opinion.
11. Torrey Smith WR Baltimore Ravens (Last week #9)
Torrey didn’t have a monster game last night. However, he was solid with 3 catches for 32 yards. And if you watched the game, you know what I mean when I say 32 yards was quite a feat last night. The Ravens offense looked truly terrible last night. Flacco needs to improve his accuracy big time. He’s currently 3rd to last in that category with only Gabbert and Kerry Collins behind him. Smith is a great deep threat, but Flacco needs to throw balls that he has a chance to catch.
12. Delone Carter RB Indianapolis Colts (Last week unranked)
Carter has a very solid game on Sunday night. I know the game got out of hand quickly, but Cater scored his TD and had 76 yards before halftime. With Joseph Addai potentially out, Carter could become a bigger part of the offense. However, let’s remember that the Colts are 0-6 and Carter will have a tough time garnering attention unless they start winning a few games. No one cares about a RB on a team that is awful.
13. Randall Cobb WR Green Bay Packers (Last week #17)
I’m moving Cobb up more because of the lack of production from other players. However, Cobb continues to contribute to the best team in the league. He had a great special teams game with 113 return yards. He didn’t do much on offense, but he does play. That’s saying a lot to me. This is a guy who could have completely fallen out of favor, but he continues to get looks here and there. He has almost 700 total yards on the season.
14. Greg Salas WR St. Louis Rams (Last week #16)
Salas had 33 yards on 2 receptions. Nothing great, but not completely terrible. He’s going to lose some production to Brandon Lloyd for sure. However, if he can be the #2 WR then he’ll have some value. Once Bradford is back and playing again, Salas should see his numbers improve as well.
15. Kendall Hunter RB San Francisco 49ers (Last week #11)
Hunter dropped mostly because of his bye week. The bye week gives Gore a chance to fully heal up from any minor injuries he may have had. And Hunter will only have real value if Gore is out. Hunter certainly has some potential, but it’s just going to be limited until he has a bigger part of the offense. The good news is that the 49ers are playing very well, so he’ll definitely be noticed if he starts getting more touches.
16. Stevan Ridley RB New England Patriots (Last week #12)
Ridley is very similar to Hunter this week. His team was on bye and it allowed Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk to get healthy. Ridley will still get chances, but the New England backfield is becoming more and more crowded. Also similar to Hunter is the fact that Ridley’s team is doing well. So, Ridley will also be noticed if he performs.
17. Doug Baldwin WR Seattle Seahawks (Last week #8)
It was tough to keep Baldwin in the rankings after he laid an egg this week. However, he’s still had a solid rookie season and is still 3rd among rookies in receiving yards. I know you’re going to laugh at this, but he really needs Tarvaris Jackson to come back. As bad as Jackson is, Whitehurst is so much worse. The Seahawks have a tough match-up this week against the Bengals. If Baldwin can get back on track, he could see a big jump in his ranking next week.
Well, that’s it for this week. Dropping out were Dane Sanzenbacher & Jake Ballard. Sanzenbacher had an okay game, but the Bears didn’t really look his way much. Ballard was off this week on bye. The quarterbacks are really starting to step up. Newton, Dalton, Gabbert and Ponder are all starting and we’re only in week 7. Newton and Dalton are playing insanely well. Gabbert and Ponder still have work to do, but there are definitely signs of progress. Gabbert and Ponder can both make plays with their legs, but they do need to work on accuracy.
I continue to look forward to each week and see how the rookies perform. I only hope that they continue to do well and make plays. I really can’t wait for the bye weeks to be over so that they are all playing again. It’s tough to evaluate some of these guys without them all playing each week. Have a great week.