The Rise And Fall Of The 2017 NFL Star Rookies

Rookies Christian McCaffrey
Carolina Panthers Running Back Christian McCaffrey During His Time At Stanford. Photo Credit: Michael Li - Under Creative Commons License

Training Camp for the NFL is really important. It not only allows the teams to better themselves for the upcoming season, but it gives us the opportunity to take a look what’s in store for these 2017 NFL star rookies. It is there where we start to get familiar with these new names, as well as see what they are capable of.

As we head into week eight, we are seeing that training camp did pay off for a few of these rookies. In fact, there are a couple of guys in the league that should be given some recognition for their performances so far.

Also, there are guys that were predicted to accomplish a lot based on camp but are doing the exact opposite.

As with every season, there are unfortunately a few rookies already injured, which puts a halt to their playing time and career. We will take a look at who the rising stars are, who needs improvement, and those who were injured as we analyze the first few weeks of the 2017 NFL season.

Rising Stars

Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson has been getting quite the buzz these past few weeks. The rookie was drafted in the first round out of Clemson. He already holds the record for a 49-yard rushing score, which is the longest in franchise history by a quarterback.

Watson was thrown into action in the second half of week one against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Completing 12 passes out of a total of 23 attempts for 102 yards.

In week four, Watson was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week, after completing 26 out of 34 passes for a total of 283 yards. Resulting in four touchdown passes and one rushing for the 57-14 win against the Tennessee Titans.

After completing week six with a 33-17 win against the Cleveland Browns, the rookie holds the record for having at least three touchdown passes for three consecutive weeks. The Texans were on a BYE week seven but will face the Seattle Seahawks in week eight.

Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt had quite the performance in his NFL debut against the New England Patriots. He was drafted in the 3rd round out of Toledo.

His many highlights of the game earned Hunt the most scrimmage yards in a rookie debut since 1970. He secured a 78- yard touchdown catch, as well as adding a 4-yard touchdown rush for the 42-27 win. Finishing his NFL start with the most ever for a total of 246 yards from scrimmage, with 148 rushing and 98 receiving. Hunt was named AFC offensive player of the month (September) leading the NFL with 401 rushing yards, and 538 total yards from scrimmage. Since then he has managed to have six straight games with more than 100 scrimmage yards. For Fantasy players Hunt seems to be a player that will guarantee you points each week.

Needs Improvement

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey was the 8th overall pick from Stanford, where he held the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) record for 3,864 most all-purpose yards in a single season.

In his NFL debut, he was able to secure 16 yards for a crucial first down, as well as catching five out of seven targets for a total of 38 receiving yards against the San Francisco 49ers.

In week 6, he caught a one-yard pass to earn his first NFL career touchdown. Looking at McCaffrey’s numbers from the last six weeks, there is definitely some room for improvement, especially when you have other RB rookies such as Hunt with rushing yards in the 100’s. If McCaffrey happens to be one of your fantasy players, expect some points out of him but nothing eye-popping.

Buffalo Bills WR Zay Jones was predicted to do big things for the Bills, after being classified as having the best hands in the 2017 draft class. The second round pick from East Carolina led the NCAA Division I in career receptions with 399.

In his NFL debut, Jones caught one of four targets for a total of 21 yards. His total for his first 3 starts was just 39 yards on only three catches. Jones also has no touchdowns. With some injured players, the Bills were counting on Jones to have a big role in the offense, but so far he has not been able to contribute to the team much of anything. For fantasy purposes, Jones isn’t looking too good as far as earning points.

Injured Rookies

Washington Redskins DE Jonathan Allen was one of the many young players that turned heads during training camp. Allen was the 17th overall pick out of Alabama and was a leading force in the Redskins middle rotation. He was able to achieve a total of 13 pressures out of 80 snaps, managing a total of 10 tackles and a sack, in his 6 starts.

However, Allen has been placed on the injured reserve list, after having surgery on his sprained left foot. His injury could sideline him for the remainder of the season, but the Redskins are holding onto some hope that he could return at some point with some extensive rehabbing. With that being said there is no expected return for Allen as of now.

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette has had some very impressive performances on the field. He set a career high of 181 rushing yards, as well as two touchdowns in week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fournette, who was the first round, fourth overall draft pick out of LSU, has racked up a total of 6 rushing touchdowns in six starts. Fournette suffered an apparent ankle injury in his Week six game against the Los Angeles Rams. He managed to gain a total of 130 rushing yards with one rushing touchdown. His timetable for return is a bit cloudy as he did not play week seven against the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars will have a BYE in week eight, so it is possible we may see Fournette on the field week nine against the Cincinnati Bengals.