Over the weekend we saw plenty of rookies shine, particularly on the offensive side.

While we’re still in September, C.J. Stroud looks like he could elevate the Texans after 10 wins over three years prior to his arrival. The young receivers are also showing out, with Tank Dell on our list as a rising stock.

However, there are also a couple of rookies who struggled Sunday, including one who has struggled to see the field. 


C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

Maria Lysaker/USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: Holding steady

Stroud has been everything Houston could have hoped for and then some. The second quarterback taken in the 2023 NFL draft, Stroud has looked the best so far and was the only rookie quarterback to start in Week 3. In an upset of Jacksonville, Stroud showed great pocket presence by avoiding a single sack, while throwing for 280 yards and two scores on 9.3 yards per attempt.

Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Last Week: Not rated

Flowers had another productive day even in defeat, leading Baltimore with eight catches for 48 yards. Flowers hasn’t put up enormous numbers, but he’s consistently done the job, having at least 50 total yards in each of his first three games.

De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

Last Week: Not rated

Talk about coming out of nowhere. Achane was a third-round pick for Miami and expected to play a backup role to Raheem Mostert. After racking up nine yards against the Patriots, Achane had an all-time day, rushing for 203 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 70–20 rout of Denver.

Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Denver Broncos

Last Week: Rising

Not much is worth smiling about in Denver these days, but Mims appears to be a terrific young player. One week after totaling 113 receiving yards, Mims caught three passes for 73 yards against Miami. The Broncos need to find a new identity, and he could be part of the solution over the long term.

Matt LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions

Last Week: Not rated

The second-rounder caught eight passes for 84 yards, highlighted by a 45-yard touchdown. After trading T.J. Hockenson last season to the Vikings, Detroit needed to fill his void, and LaPorta may be the answer.

Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans

Last Week: Not rated

At 5'10" and 165 pounds, Dell isn’t going to wow anybody with his stature. But his quick-twitch athleticism will certainly catch your attention, and he put it on full display in Houston’s 37–17 win over Jacksonville. The Texans rookie caught five passes for 145 yards, including a 68-yarder. He’s on pace for 1,422 receiving yards.

Holding steady

Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons


Last Week: Rising

After posting an absurd 172 total yards in a win over the Packers in Week 2, Robinson was relatively bottled up in a 20–6 loss to the Lions. Robinson gained 60 yards on 14 touches (10 carries, four receptions), a decent game but not nearly enough to help keep Atlanta unbeaten.

Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Last Week: Not rated

Rice has struggled with drops at times, but he’s also gaining the confidence of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with his size and skill. The second-round pick caught five passes for 59 yards Sunday, twice being tackled at the Bears’ one-yard line. Look for Rice’s targets to increase as the year goes on.

Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Last Week: Not rated

The Vikings are 0–3, but it’s not because of Addison. No team has thrown for more yards than Minnesota, and the USC product has amassed 185 through three games. The Vikings were hoping to find a worthy compliment to superstar Justin Jefferson, and Addison has shown he’s a good fit.


Tyjae Spears, RB, Tennessee Titans

Last Week: Not rated

Many believed Spears would be a multi-dimensional weapon when Derrick Henry needed a break, but that hasn’t been the case. In three games, the former Tulane star has 92 total yards, including a paltry nine yards in a 27–3 loss to the Browns on Sunday.

Will McDonald IV, EDGE, New York Jets

Last Week: Not rated

A 24-year-old rookie out of Iowa State, McDonald desperately needs to get off to a fast start. So far, it’s been anything but for the Jets’ first-rounder. McDonald was inactive in Week 2 after totaling one tackle in the season opener, and then in Week 3, he failed to make the stat sheet. It’s been a rough September.