The rookie week started off strong with an explosive performance from Saquon Barkley on Thursday Night Football and it didn’t stop there. We saw Sam Darnold play his best game of the season in a win over the Colts. Both Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield show some good even though their teams lost. Unfortunately, Josh Allen got injured, more on that in a minute. It was another wild week that changed the rookie power rankings drastically.

Rookie News

Some bad news in Buffalo this week as first-round rookie QB Josh Allen sustained an elbow injury. The injury is to his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow and there’s officially no timetable for him to return to the Bills. Allen is currently listed as week-to-week and the Bills have mentioned he could be back in two or three weeks. This injury is being downplayed. Although the Bills have said that Allen won’t need Tommy John surgery and they’re going the rest and rehab route with him, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. An injury like this is unpredictable and in baseball it can have a pitcher out for at least a year.

Playing quarterback in the NFL is obviously different than pitching in the MLB, but the Bills need to take every precaution with Allen. They need to protect their investment. Playing QB doesn’t put the same stress on the elbow that pitching does, but if they return Allen too early and it ends up doing long-term damage the Bills are in trouble. They’ve signed veteran QB Derek Anderson and despite having one of the best defenses in the NFL, they’re not competing for a playoff spot this year. So, why rush Allen back? Allen would be better off sitting out until 2019 to make sure he’s fully healthy. Also, despite Allen being the Bills most physically talented QB he was not ready to start this season, the tape backs this up. Sit him, let him get healthy, let him learn behind Anderson, and get him ready for 2019.

Rookie of the Week

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

  • Everybody in the football world knows Saquon Barkley. Now, they know how damn talented he is after his performance against the Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Barkley put up 229 total yards and a TD on just 22 touches. This is his signature game so far in his brief NFL career. Barkley was the only reason to watch the Giants offense in this game. Three plays standout. His incredible 9-yard run where he made a handful of defender’s miss and hurdled a guy. The screen pass he took 55 yards breaking multiple tackles and almost rumbling for a score. Finally, his explosive 50-yard TD run where he looked like the best player on the field. Just six games into Barkley’s career and it’s hard to argue that he isn’t already a top five RB in the NFL.

Week 6 Rookie Power Rankings

*In brackets is where the rookie ranked last week

  1. Derwin James, DW (defensive weapon), Los Angeles Chargers (1)

  • Every week Derwin James does some damn impressive things. It’s going to be hard to move him off this top spot, he’s been here every week this season. Against Cleveland, James was stout coming up against the run. He made a handful of vicious tackles and showed off his explosion. Of course, he did some damage of the edge too and picked up half a sack. In coverage he used his size and range quite well. He has played like a generational safety.
  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (4)

  • Again, Barkley was the rookie of the week because he was the lone bright spot for the Giants offense this week. Putting up 229 total yards against a talented Eagles defense is pretty wild. Barkley’s combination of burst, shiftiness, power, and quick feet is so rare at his size. Adding all that to the ability he brings as a pass catcher and you won’t find five more talented running backs than him in the NFL.
  1. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (2)

  • You could argue this was Denzel Ward’s worst game of his rookie season and he was still the Browns best DB in the game. Ward did an impressive job throughout the game in coverage with his fluidity and footwork. The downside of his performance was the second of Tyrell Williams two TD’s. Ward technically gave up the TD, but he did a good job with protecting the outside, his safety just wasn’t there to make the play. Ward also ended up getting called for holding on another play. He showed off his physicality and involvement vs the run. Not a great game from Ward, but he still flashed.
  1. Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts (7)

  • The Colts defense badly missed linebacker Darius Leonard against the Patriots. They were glad to have him back this week against the Jets, despite losing. The Colts are just so banged up right now and even though they didn’t play well on D, Leonard was the man once again. Leonard was eating up the underneath routes per usual. On run plays he did a nice job sifting through the trash to get to the running back. He also had a major forced fumble on Quincy Enunwa that led to a Colts field goal. Even in the loss Leonard looked like a future star, picking up 8 tackles and the forced fumble.
  1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (3)

  • The box score was not great for Baker Mayfield against the LA Chargers. He threw for 238 yards with a score, but had 2 INT’s and completed just 47.8% of his throws on 5.1 YPA. Those numbers are pretty awful, but the tape did show some good. He had wonderful deep ball placement, but had two 40+ yard TDs dropped. A third potential TD was also dropped. His velocity and mechanics looked beautiful, there was just some poor decisions. Too often Mayfield held the ball and took sacks when he shouldn’t have. The 2 INT’s were both poor decisions and he can’t be making those if the Browns are going to be competitive.
  1. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills (10)

  • Nobody expected the Bills to have such a good defense, they currently rank 3rd in defensive DVOA. The poster boys for this defense are linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. They’ve both been incredible this season. Edmunds was all over the field against the Texans. He’s such a fluid mover and his length allows him to get to running plays other LBs wouldn’t be able to. He had multiple run stops and helped hold the Texans to just 74 rushing yards on his way to 9 tackles.
  1. Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals (13)

  • After rolling the last few weeks, the Bengals struggled against the Steelers. One of the quiet bright spots for them was rookie safety Jessie Bates. We’ve seen Bates flash his ability as a centerfielder safety, but we saw a more diverse skill set from him in this game. He was heavily involved against the run this week. James Conner broke a few runs to the second level and Bates was there with clean stick tackles. It was impressive to see him so involved as a run defender. He led the team in tackles with 10.
  1. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys (12)

  • The Cowboys defense had no trouble with Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense this week. A ton of credit goes to linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. They were perfectly combatting the Jaguars offensive approach. The Jags like to run a lot of low crossing routes and LVE was all over them stopping them right away. He also was flying around making plays against the run. The Jags offense couldn’t get anything going because of LVE and Smith. In coverage he did a good job using his size and speed, he broke up a Bortles pass to the tight end. LVE ended up with 10 tackles and the PBU.
  1. Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (16)

  • Coming off a down week, Donte Jackson bounced back with a vengeance against Washington. He’s been fantastic this season with his physicality and willingness to tackle. Twice he made stick tackles on defense and added another on special teams. His twitchiness in coverage is impressive, he reacts so quickly when the ball is in the air. He ended up breaking up two of Alex Smith’s passes. The scheme fit and skill set of Donte Jackson are perfect with Carolina.
  1. Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans (5)

  • Even though the Ravens bodied the Titans this week, the Tennessee defense played a nice game. Harold Landry wasn’t as disruptive as he was in previous weeks, but he did make some flash plays. He got some pressure coming of the edge and winning with athleticism. At one point he forced Flacco to run and he chased him down for the tackle. He also sniffed out a screen on another play and broke up a pass.
  1. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (6)

  • Sadly, Calvin Ridley injured his ankle against the Buccaneers and left the game. Before leaving with the injury Ridley was making an impact. He caught 3 passes for 47 yards and was winning with some nasty route running. Ridley has easily been the best rookie WR this season.
  1. Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers (8)

  • It was a tough and inconsistent week for the 49ers defense. They looked lost at times against Green Bay and couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers when it counted. There was some good and bad from Fred Warner. Early on he missed a tackle that he should have made. He also blew a coverage that ended up going for a decent gain to Jimmy Graham. Later in the game he was much cleaner in coverage and moving around well. He also had a few run stops.
  1. Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts (9)

  • It wasn’t the best game for Quenton Nelson against the Jets. He was struggling more in pass pro than we’ve seen in recent weeks. A few times he was lunging and getting beat with ease. There are a few things he needs to clean up in pass pro before we call him a Pro Bowl type guard. On the ground he was mean and strong, he always seems to be. He did get thrown by Leonard Williams at one point, but in his defense his foot was stepped on. He’s still the Colts best run blocker.
  1. Deadrin Senat, IDL, Atlanta Falcons (14)

  • It just feels like Deadrin Senat is going to have a long NFL career where he is underrated the entire time, doesn’t it? He’s been one of the most consistent rookies this season and he continued making plays against Tampa Bay. Senat had just 2 tackles in the game, but what he does goes beyond the stats. The aggressiveness he plays with in taking on blocks and absorbing double teams is perfect for a 1-Tech. He played with great leverage throughout the game and his motor was relentless. Type of guy coaches must love.
  1. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets (24)

  • After a poor performance against the Browns in Week 3, Sam Darnold has improved in each of his last three games. His best game of the season was this Week 6 win over the Colts. Darnold no longer seems uncomfortable pushing the ball downfield on outside throws. His deep ball placement was impressive. Darnold was also making quick smart decisions and getting through his progressions quickly. The biggest thing was, he started spreading the ball around. Early in the season it felt like he was glued to Enunwa, but now he’s going everywhere. The interception was a poor decision and an underthrown ball, but other than that he played great finishing with 280 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and completing 80% of his throws on 9.3 YPA.
  1. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals (18)

  • Watching the Cardinals offense can be infuriating because the play-calling is terrible. Josh Rosen is playing as well as he can in this situation. The Cardinals lost to the Vikings, but Rosen made some incredible plays. His pocket movement, footwork, and mechanics were beautiful. Rosen made a deep outside throw to Christian Kirk that a lot of QBs in the NFL wouldn’t have been able to pull off. His deep ball placement is very impressive. The poise he has shown makes him look like an NFL vet. He ended up with 240 passing yards and an interception while completing 67.7% of his throws.
  1. Da’Ron Payne, IDL, Washington (19)

  • To be honest Washington’s defense is starting to put a decent core together. They have some tough and physical players. Da’Ron Payne has been a great get as their nose tackle. He helped shutdown the Panthers rushing attack by controlling the line of scrimmage with Jon Allen. Payne is an absolute space eater. He did a great job occupying blocks allowing other to roam free. The strength and motor have been impressive with Payne. He even got some pressure as a pass rusher.
  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins (11)

  • The Dolphins defense didn’t have their best day against the Bears, but ultimately got stops when it mattered to pull off the win. Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t have a big flashy game, but he was solid. Looked good in coverage and came up a PBU. He’s a very involved DB against the run and made some nice tackles. It feels like the Dolphins could get a bit more out of him if they’d take advantage of his versatility more freqeuently.
  1. Will Hernandez, OG, New York Giants (23)

  • Although the Giants offensive line has been one of the three worst in the league this season, rookie Will Hernandez has stood out. In Barkley’s huge performance against the Eagles, Hernandez made some key blocks. Early in the game Barkley took a carry 46 yards. On that play Hernandez was the lead blocker on a pull and he executed it to perfection, he’s the reason Barkley was able to break that run. All game Hernandez was handling business on run plays. He also flashed his heavy hands in pass pro. He’s probably the Giants best offensive lineman already.
  1. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots (27)

  • There was a time early in the NFL season where people were calling Sony Michel a bust. Pretty wild. He just needed to hit his groove after missing the entire preseason. Over his last three games Michel has run for 316 yards, including 106 against the Chiefs this week. He still looks like he isn’t 100%, but his explosive running style behind the O-line has been great for New England. Michel is beginning to look more elusive as a runner, but the patients and explosiveness have been the difference so far.
  1. Maurice Hurst Jr., IDL, Oakland Raiders (28)

  2. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos (33)

  3. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (15)

  4. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (17)

  5. Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears (21)

  6. Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (20)

  7. Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans (25)

  8. Taron Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills (34)

  9. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos (22)

  10. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (38)

  11. Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns (26)

  12. Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (29)

  13. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (47)

  14. Josh Jackson, CB, Green Bay Packers (30)

  15. BJ Hill, IDL, New York Giants (31)

  16. Da’Shawn Hand, IDL, Detroit Lions (36)

  17. Jerome Baker, LB, Miami Dolphins (37)

  18. Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (40)

  19. Michael Dickson, P, Seattle Seahawks (42)

  20. Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers (46)

  21. Rashan Evans, LB, Tennessee Titans (NR)

  22. Braden Smith, OT, Indianapolis Colts (NR)

  23. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (35)

  24. Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens (NR)

  25. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (NR)

  26. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers (50)

  27. Desmond Harrison, OT, Cleveland Browns (48)

  28. Taven Bryan, IDL, Jacksonville Jaguars (43)

  29. Connor Williams, OG, Dallas Cowboys (NR)

  30. Brian O’Neil, OT, Minnesota Vikings (NR)

Start the Rook

This Week:

Arden Key, EDGE, Oakland Raiders

  • The Oakland Raiders are a complete mess right now. Jon Gruden is running this thing into the ground and benching players who shouldn’t be benched. After trading Khalil Mack their pass rush has been non-existent and for that reason they might as well play Arden Key full-time. Key’s been playing a decent chunk of the snaps, but the season is lost so they should go all in. Key is an interesting prospect. Two years ago he looked like a potential first-round pick with his length and athleticism, but off-field problems, work ethic questions, and weight issues had him slide. Oakland doesn’t have anything better than Key on the edge, so play him.

PJ Hall, IDL, Oakland Raiders

  • For the same reasons the Raiders should make Key a starter, they should make PJ Hall one. Hall felt like an overdraft from Oakland in the second-round. He’s a super raw, but freaky athlete from a small school, Sam Houston State. Luckily, they stole Maurice Hurst in the fifth-round and he’s already working out for them. Getting Hall on the field more makes sense for his development. He needs to learn as he goes and it’s not like the Raiders defense is stout. More than anything, the Raiders need Key and Hall to workout the way Hurst has thus far.

Damion Ratley, WR, Cleveland Browns

  • This one might be a slight stretch, but Damion Ratley made some plays against the Chargers. The tall and lean deep threat did a better job than Antonio Callaway in the game, despite dropping a should be big TD. Ratley had 6 receptions for 82 yards and was more reliable than Callaway. The Browns pass catchers are struggling right now. Jarvis Landry has comedown since a dynamic start to the season and Callaway is good for at least one major mistake per game. If they can get Ratley more snaps on the outside his downfield presents could open up some underneath stuff for Landry.

Previous Weeks:

  • Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
  • DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
  • Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
  • Mike Hughes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
  • Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Uchenna Nwosu, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
  • Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers
  • Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
  • Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans
  • Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
  • Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
  • Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns
  • Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers
  • Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Carolina Panthers
  • Braden Smith, OL, Indianapolis Colts

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Author Details
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.


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