NFL Rookie Rankings: Ranking the Top 10 Rookies Going Into Week 9
NFL Rookie Rankings: Ranking the Top 10 Rookies Going Into Week 9
With eight weeks of NFL action in the rearview mirror, we're starting to better understand which rookies are establishing themselves as bonafide NFL starters. Some struggle to acclimate to the pro level, but others have become immediate contributors to their respective teams. So, here are my top 10 rookies of the NFL season to this point.
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NFL Rookie Rankings
1. Kenneth Walker III (RB - SEA) ROY Odds - +160(Bet $100 to collect $260) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
When Rashaad Penny went down with a season-ending injury, Kenneth Walker stepped into the starting lineup in Seattle. Walker hasn't missed a beat, averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground since taking over as the starter. The second-round rookie already has five touchdowns, and he has been among the league's most efficient runners (5.4 YPC). He is currently the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and deservingly so.
2. Sauce Gardner (CB - NYJ) - ROY Odds +175 (Bet $100 to collect $275) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Cornerback is a notoriously difficult position to play as a rookie—it has a steep learning curve, meaning that most rookie corners struggle to stay afloat. Gardner, though, has seemingly bucked that trend, providing the Jets' defense with that lockdown cover corner that it has long lacked. He has just one interception on the year, but he has recorded an astounding 12 pass deflections. His PFF grade of 85 is one of the best among all cornerbacks, not just rookies. Sauce has the best odds to win the Rookie Defensive Player of the Year Award.
3. Chris Olave (WR - NO) ROY Odds - +800 (Bet $100 to collect $900) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Olave has been the Saints' de facto number one receiver, despite his status as a rookie. He has logged 547 receiving yards on 37 catches, averaging 78.1 yards per game. Coming out of a 2022 draft class that was seen as unusually strong at receiver, Olave seems to be emerging as the top wideout. He has only found the end zone twice, but much of that can be attributed to the Saints' general struggles on offense. Overall, Olave looks like everything a team could wish for in an alpha receiver.
4. Tariq Woolen (CB - SEA) ROY Odds - +300 (Bet $100 to collect $400) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Tariq Woolen was not exactly a household name coming into the season. He was picked in the fifth round (No. 153, to be exact); as a result, little attention was paid to him. However, he has been a standout cornerback for the Seahawks—his four interceptions lead the entire league, and his contributions have extended to multiple fumble recoveries, seven pass deflections, and more. If he maintains that form, he could further move up this list in the coming weeks.
5. Jack Jones (CB - NE) ROY Odds - +1200 (Bet $100 to collect $1300) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Jack Jones, just like Woolen, is a cornerback who was selected on day three of the 2022 draft. The fourth-round defensive back has registered an outstanding PFF grade of 87.4, and it isn't difficult to see why. He has allowed just 14 receptions despite playing a majority of snaps for the Patriots' defense, and he has recorded two interceptions, including a pick six. The Patriots have outperformed their preseason expectations on the defensive side of the ball, and Jones' stellar play has played a key role.
6. Dameon Pierce (RB - HOU) ROY Odds - +250 (Bet $100 to collect $350) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Dameon Pierce received a fair amount of training camp hype when he was announced as the full-time starter at RB, but, unlike many, he has managed to turn that hype into legitimate production. Pierce has been one of the few bright spots on an atrocious Texans team, rushing for 539 yards and three touchdowns through Week 8. He has also been surprisingly productive in the passing game, catching 20 passes for 98 yards and a score.
7. Aidan Hutchinson (DE - DET) ROY Odds - +1200 (Bet $100 to collect $1300) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Hutchinson entered the league with lofty expectations, a function of his No. 2 overall pick draft status. He may not have fully lived up to them yet, but he has been a productive pass rusher on a defense sorely lacking for talent across the board. Hutchinson has recorded 4.5 sacks and 9 QB hits, demonstrating an ability to get to the quarterback despite facing frequent double teams. It remains to be seem how his development will shake out, but it's not a bad start to an NFL career.
8. Garrett Wilson (WR - NYJ) ROY Odds - +2200 (Bet $100 to collect $2300) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Garrett Wilson opened the season with three standout performances, logging 18 catches for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns over the span. Unfortunately, he then received a quarterback downgrade with the return of impending bust Zach Wilson, and his production took a hit. Last week, though, he returned to form, catching six passes for 115 yards. Perhaps that game was a sign of things to come—if Wilson and Wilson can establish a rapport, Garrett has the talent to flourish and finish the year strong, even with a bad quarterback.
9. Drake London (WR - ATL) ROY Odds - +2200 (Bet $100 to collect $2300) Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
Drake London is another example of an exceedingly talented rookie receiver whose production has suffered due to circumstance. London has just 346 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on the year; those figures are middling due to the Falcons' refusal to throw the ball. Kyle Pitts has struggled to consistently produce for the same reason, something to which his fantasy owners can attest. London has hinted at superstar upside, so it would feel wrong to take him off of the list. Still, I'd like to see him string together some games where he can grow his involvement, even if he continues to be hamstrung by this run-heavy offense.
10. Travon Walker (DE - JAX) ROY Odds - +1700 (Bet $100 to collect $1800)Click here for the best odds, available at FanDuel
The No. 1 pick from the 2022 draft has not been bad, but he hasn't proven worthy of that draft status—yet. Walker has recorded 2.5 sacks and 5 QB hits on the year, neither of which is an ideal total for an edge rusher taken with the top pick in the draft. Still, he was drafted for his physical traits more than his "NFL readiness", so there is a good chance that he'll grow into his role as the season progresses.
Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.