Written by Alexander Amir
Offensive rookies have taken the league by storm in 2017. Even outside of these 5 ROY contenders, players like Deshaun Watson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Ryan Ramczyk have played major roles on their respective teams. Below are the best of these rookies and who I think deserves the award:
Alvin Kamara (RB, New Orleans Saints)
Before leaving the Saints’ Week 14 game against Atlanta, Kamara ranked 3rd in the league in all-purpose yards, was tied for the most total TD’s, and sported a massive 8.9 yards per touch. The combination of him and Mark Ingram at running back is lethal, as they have accounted for half of the Saints TD’s this season. According to Football Outsiders, Kamara is the most valuable running back in the entire league (just above Ingram). His importance to the Saints’ offense cannot be overstated: when Kamara has had over 11 touches, the Saints are 7–0. Otherwise they are 2–4.
Leonard Fournette (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Fournette was the preseason favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and if not for the emergence of Kamara he would be my current favorite for the award. A true bell-cow RB averaging 21 carries per game, he is third in the league in rushing yards per game and tied for 5th in total TD’s. He also has 5 games of at least 100 rushing yards, tied with Jordan Howard and Kareem Hunter for most in the league. The knocks against him are due to his inconsistency and recurring nagging injuries but he has been a key part of the Jacksonville Jaguars success this season.
Kareem Hunt (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
The Chiefs’ 3rd round draft pick took the NFL by storm, as he totaled over 600 yards and 6 TD’s in his first 5 games. He’s 2nd in the league in rushing yards and 4th in all-purpose yards, and Pro Football Focus ranks him as the #4 running back in the league. Unfortunately, the majority of his stats come from those first 5 games of the season. He has had a steep decline since then, severely hurting his ROY candidacy. He did, however, return to form against the Raiders and Chargers, to the tune of 116 yards and 155 yards and 1 TD in each contest respectively. Hf Hunt can keep up the pace he can make a late season bid for the award.
Cooper Kupp (WR, Los Angeles Rams)
Kupp ranks 1st among rookie wide receivers in receiving yards, 3rd in receptions, and 2nd in receiving yards per game amongst receivers with over 25 receptions. He also leads the Rams in receptions, receiving yards, and is tied for 2nd on the team in receiving TD’s. He narrowly edges out Evan Engram for the fourth spot due to his consistency.
Evan Engram (TE, New York Giants)
Engram is the only Giants receiver to have been healthy this season, which gave him the lion’s share of targets on the team. As a result, he is 3rd amongst rookies in receiving yards and leads them in TD’s, while also leading his team in both categories. The Giants hope he can follow in the steps of Mark Bavaro and Jeremy Shockey as the franchise’s next great tight end.