With this week marking the beginning of the bye weeks ruining many a fantasy football lineup, the NFL landscape remained unchanged as the low and close-scoring games continued. In week 6, these were the rookies that stood out.
Bailey Zappe, Quarterback – New England Patriots
Bailey Zappe might well be starting to cause Bill Belichick a headache. In his two starts thus far for the Patriots, the 23-year-old rookie has looked impressive, which could put Mac Jones under pressure to ensure he performs when he returns from injury.
Zappe had a great day on Sunday, demonstrating his ability to go through his reads promptly and show good poise in the pocket, but most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Although the young quarterback didn’t have a perfect day, he did become the first rookie in the Super Bowl era to win and record a QB rating of over 100 in each of his first two starts after finishing with 24 completions from 34 attempts for 309 yards and two touchdowns and an impressive 118.4 passer rating. It’ll be interesting to see who suits up next Monday against the Bears.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge – New York Giants
After missing out on the Giants’ first two games of the season, Thibodeaux has started to increase the pressure on opposing quarterbacks as his snap count has increased, and after multiple close calls last week against reigning MVP Aaron Rogers, this was the game where he was finally rewarded, and ironically, it’s the quarterback he revealed on Reddit in the preseason he most wanted to sack.
With the Giants having just taken the lead, the expectation was that Lamar Jackson would get one more drive to prevent the Ravens from blowing another 4th quarter lead, but Kayvon had other ideas. After blowing past tackle Patrick Mekari, he batted the ball out of Jackson’s hand to record his first sack and forced fumble. It meant a lot to the former duck, as shown by his emotional post-game video.
Tariq Woolen, Cornerback – Seattle Seahawks
After making it into the honourable mentions list last week, it only felt right that Woolen made it onto this week’s, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the defensive rookie of the year conversations started. Fifth-rounder selections are normally a work in progress for a few seasons, and he was even labelled as a project pick, but Woolen is bucking that trend with dominant performances.
In this week’s outing against the Arizona Cardinals, he had five tackles, one stop, allowed four receptions on seven targets, snagged his fourth interception in his fourth straight game, and is now tied for the NFL lead with the Buffalo Bills’ Jordan Poyer. He also recovered a fumble after fellow rookie (and honourable mention) Coby Bryant stripped a scrambling Kyler Murray of the football in the redzone. Are we starting to see the emergence of a legion of boom 2.0? Time will tell.
Sauce Gardner and Breece Hall (both New York Jets), Coby Bryant (Seattle Seahawks), Daniel Bellinger (New York Giants), and Arnold Ebiketie (Atlanta Falcons)