Week 15 NFL Rookie Rankings

First off let me apologize for not getting all the rankings out lately.  It’s been hectic with all the new products and sales going on.  I’ve been meaning to do this so many times though.  So I apologize for the delay.  With that being said, I also must admit that I’m not excited about updating the rankings, because they’re going to look pretty ugly.  The WRs continue to amaze, but the the QBs and RBs have been less than stellar.  We do have a new #1 now though.  Also, I’m not putting where they were ranked last time because it’s somewhat irrelevant 3 weeks later.

#1. Odell Beckham WR New York Giants

For the first time all year Manziel is not #1.  This is mostly due to Beckham’s tremendous play, but also due to the fact that Manziel was terrible last week.  Beckham is truly one of the best WR in the all of football already.  He’ll be over 1,000 yards after this week and there’s really nothing bad you can say about him right now.  In an absolutely loaded WR rookie class, this guy is the cream of the crop.

#2. Mike Evans WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As good as Beckham has been, this guy isn’t far behind.  Both are elite receivers who should be #1 options for years to come.  Evans has scored a few more times than Beckham, but I still like Beckham’s overall game better.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with either of them.  Evans should be over 1,000 yards this week as well.

#3. Jeremy Hill RB Cincinnati Bengals

Hill is over 200 rushing yards ahead of the next rookie.  He also leads all rookie RBs with at least 100 rushed in yards per carry.  Hill has been a huge blessing for the Bengals with Giovani Bernard being banged up a lot of the year.  Hill has an outside shot at reaching 1,000 yards.  He’s been the best rookie RB by a wide margin over the last few weeks.  The best thing about Hill is that we’ll see him in the Playoffs too.  He’s about the only rookie who’s making a big impact on offense for a Playoff team.

#4. Johnny Manziel QB Cleveland Browns

I had to drop Johnny.  It wasn’t just his terribly playing that made me drop him though.  I’m hearing all sorts of chatter about his teammates not liking him and all this other drama.  Every young QB is going to struggle from time to time.  But if you don’t have your teammates behind you, you have no shot.  Johnny has to become more of a leader.  He has to mature and become a player that other players respect.  He can go a long way towards doing that by performing better on the field.  Based on QBR, that was the worst game a QB has played this season.  Maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but it certainly wasn’t good.  The good news is that it can only get better.

#5. Kelvin Benjamin WR Carolina Panthers

Benjamin probably doesn’t get enough respect.  He’s been one of the better rookie receivers we’ve seen in a long time.  Sadly, he’s playing with the best group of rookie receivers ever.  That puts him 3rd behind Beckham and Evans.  He is on pace for 77 receptions, 1,088 yards and 10 TDs.  That’s one of the top 10-15 seasons we’ve ever seen from a rookie.  Just because Beckham and Evans have been better, it does not mean we should forget about Benjamin.  Give this guy all the credit he deserves.

#6. Sammy Watkins WR Buffalo Bills

Here’s another guy not getting enough respect.  His numbers are certainly going to end up worse than Beckham, Evans or Benjamin.  However, he still has an outside shot at 1,000 yards and will certainly finish above 900 with at least 5 TDs.  That’s still a really productive season.  Had you asked me, at the beginning of the year, if Watkins would put those numbers up and still be the 4th best rookie receiver I would have told you that you were crazy.  Watkins could end up being a top 20 receiver in the entire NFL and still finish 4th among rookies.

#7. Tre Mason RB St. Louis Rams

In case you haven’t realized, I’ve really knocked down all the QBs.  Mason benefits from that more than anyone.  Yes, he has been good.  However, you could certainly make the argument that Bortles, Carr or Bridgewater have more love in the hobby.  With that being said, I think Mason has a long future with the Rams.  He’s been solid, but not spectacular.  I give him a lot of credit too because his offense has had a ton of injuries and most teams really focus on stopping him.  Mason has clearly been the 2nd best rookie running back.

#8. Derek Carr QB Oakland Raiders

Finally another QB is on the board.  Carr really hasn’t been awful statistically this year.  He hasn’t been great either though.  I’ve said it before, but my biggest knock on Carr is his inability to win games.  Has he really made the Raiders ant better?  Have any of the rookie QBs made their teams better?  If any of these teams have a shot at Mariota or Winston, will they pass on them?  Personally I don’t think any of these rookie QBs have shown enough not to be replaced, if the team has a great opportunity.

#9. Jarvis Landry WR Miami Dolphins

Landry has turned into a legitimate threat as a receiver.  At the beginning of the year he was simply a return man who occasionally caught a ball or two.  Now he’s a great option at WR, while still maintaining his status as an elite return man.  He’s 3rd in kickoff return average and 9th in punt return average.  All of that while being tied for the lead in receptions by a rookie with 71.  I doubt many people would guess he has more receptions than Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins.

#10. Jordan Matthews WR Philadelphia Eagles

The receivers just keep on coming.  I know I keep saying it, but how good are these rookie receivers?  Last year Keenan Allen was the best rookie receiver and he had 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and 8 TDs.  This year I have Matthews as the 6th best rookie receiver.  Yet his projected stats aren’t too far off from what Keenan did last year.  He’s on pace for 64 receptions for 810 yards and 8 TDs.  That’s significantly better than the 2nd best rookie receiver last year.

#11. Teddy Bridgewater QB Minnesota Vikings

Teddy has probably been the best rookie QB in terms of managing the game.  He hasn’t been amazing, but has been good enough to put his team in a position to win some games.  The Vikings are 4-3 in the last 7 games.  And the 3 games they lost were by 8, 3 and 1.  Of all the rookie QBs, I have more faith in Bridgewater based on what he’s been able to do this year.  I still don’t know if he’ll ever be a franchise QB, but he’s shown me just enough to give him another year.

#12. Blake Bortles QB Jacksonville Jaguars

To be perfectly honest, Bortles has been terrible this year.  He ranks at, or near, the bottom in nearly every passing stat in the entire NFL.  The only reason I give him a bit of a pass is because his offense is severely lacking in talent.  With that being said, he should be able to put up better numbers than he has.  The Jaguars are going to be in a very tough position next year.  They spent the 3rd overall pick on Bortles, but he certainly hasn’t lived up to the expectations.  Do the Jaguars give up on their 3rd overall pick or do they draft talent around him and hope he gets better?  Honestly, I’m not sure what I’d do.  They’re definitely going to wind up with a top 5 pick.  I hope, for their sake, that Winston and Mariota are gone by the time they pick.  That way they can take some talent around Bortles and not be haunted if he doesn’t end up improving next year.

#13. Zach Mettenberger QB Tennessee Titans

This guy actually played the best of all the rookie QBs.  The problem is that he got hurt.  Mettenberger showed a lot of potential during his limited playing time.  And I really believe the Titans should stick with him.  This is another team that is lacking talent and need to build up around him.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s always tough to determine if the QB is making the talent look good or the other way around.  Would a guy like T.Y. Hilton be a star if he had Bortles throwing to him?  Or is Andrew Luck really that good?  It’s always tough for me to say.  That’s what makes being an NFL GM such a tough job.  Fortunately for the Titans they selected Mettenberger in the 6th round, so there isn’t a lot of pressure on them.  This is a much different scenario than say a Bortles or Bridgewater.

#14. Isaiah Crowell RB Cleveland Browns

The entire Browns team has been very up and down all season.  This is the same with Crowell.  He’s had some fantastic games: 77 yards on 11 carries and a TD against Pittsburgh, 88 yards on 12 carries and 2 TDs against Atlanta, 55 yards on 11 carries and a TD against Baltimore.  And then he’s had some miserable games: 18 yards on 7 carries against Jacksonville, 29 yards on 17 carries against Buffalo, 17 yards on 7 carries against Cincinnati.  For the season he has 546 yards with a 4.3 yard average and 8 TDs.  Those numbers really aren’t bad at all.  And I am a bit surprised the Browns haven’t given him more carries, especially after they cut Ben Tate.  He’s only had 15+ carries 1 time this whole season.

#15. Brandin Cooks WR New Orleans Saints

I realize that Cooks is out for the year, but he had a tremendous year.  He was on pace for about 85 receptions for 880 yards and 5 TDs before he got hurt.  Those are great numbers for a rookie receiver playing in a system with so many different options.  I expect Cooks to become a go-to guy for Brees and the Saints in the next few years.  Colston is getting older and Kenny Stills hasn’t developed as well as they had hoped.

#16. Terrance West RB Cleveland Browns

While West has more yards than Crowell, I don’t think there’s any doubt Crowell has been the better back this year.  West is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry and has only 3 TDs on the year.  He’s shown very little explosive ability with his longest run being only 29 yards.  While I’ll put some of the blame on his team, West simply has to do a better job.  He also offers nothing in the passing game with only 9 receptions all year.

#17. Jerick McKinnon RB Minnesota Vikings

I can’t, for the life of me, understand why the Vikings handled McKinnon the way they did.  I realize he’s hurt now and will miss the rest of the year.  However, I would have been giving that guy more touches while he was healthy.  Why not find out what you have with the guy?  He broke out in week 4 with 18 rushes for 135 yards.  From that point on I would have continued to feed him.  Instead he only received 18+ touches one more time all year.  The two times he ran the ball 18 times or more he ran for 100+ yards.  Every other game he was held under 100 yards.  In week 11 he received only 8 carries.  He averaged 4.8 yards per carry that week.  One thing I will never understand is why teams that have no shot don’t play their young guys more.  Better to find out if they are worth building around than to not play them.

#18. Bishop Sankey RB Tennessee Titans

Speaking of not playing a young guy.  Sankey has not been great this year, I’ll give you that.  But the Titans are 2-13!  What in the world is the point of playing Shonn Greene?  Nothing against Greene, but we know he’s not a long term answer at RB.  Yet over the last 4 weeks Green has 31 carries and Sankey has 36.  I don’t care if I’m losing, I’m giving the ball to Sankey every time I run it.  The only explanation for this is if the Titans already realize Sankey isn’t the answer.  But if that’s the case why not give him the ball and hope he shows something so you can trade him?  It just makes no sense to me.  Sankey has only received more than 10 carries one time since week 12.

#19. Allen Hurns WR Jacksonville Jaguars

Hurns has put up really solid numbers for a rookie receiver playing with a rookie quarterback.  He has 49 receptions for 662 yards and 6 TDs.  Those are very respectable numbers.  The one knock I have on Hurns is that a big portion of his production came in two games.  He had 11 receptions for 222 yards and 4 TDs in those two games.  If you take those two games out you’re looking at a receiver who is well below average.  However, as an undrafted free agent, he’s had a tremendous rookie year.

#20. John Brown WR Arizona Cardinals

Brown has been really solid for the Cardinals this year.  He’s had to play as the 3rd receiver on a team with Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald.  Yet he’s still managed to pull in 41 receptions for 591 yards and 5 TDs.  Let’s also not forget all the troubles this team has had at QB over the last few weeks.  Brown is a definitive deep threat and he should continue to be that going forward.

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