Listed in previous weeks as our “Dropouts from Last Week’s Rankings” section, the four players who fell out of the top 25 this week are all truly deserving of honorable mentions for their work this season.
They lost their spots on the rankings partly due to subpar Week 9 performances, but it was largely due to other rookies simply emerging ahead of them.
Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets
Last Week: No. 22
Smith has been statistically unimpressive this season, and that was never more true than in Week 9, where he completed just 8-of-19 passing attempts for 115 yards.
Yet although those numbers were uninspiring, he led the New York Jets to a victory over the New Orleans Saints, one of the NFC’s top teams. Also, for the first time in four games, he finished the contest without throwing an interception.
With a quarterback rating of 71.0 that ranks 30th among qualifying NFL starting quarterbacks (behind Matt Schaub, Chad Henne and Christian Ponder, among others), Smith has certainly played like a rookie at the position, and he fell out of the rankings this week as a result. That said, the Jets are in playoff position at 5-4, and a big reason for that has been their upgrade at quarterback from Mark Sanchez to Smith.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: No. 23
Patterson continued to be a minimal factor in the Minnesota Vikings offense, catching just three passes for 13 yards in Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys, but he had another strong day returning kickoffs, gaining 105 yards on four returns. He leads the NFL with two kickoff return touchdowns and an average of 36.7 yards per kickoff return.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints
Last Week: No. 24
Kenny Stills has been a dynamic, big-play receiving weapon for the New Orleans Saints this season, but he has not yet emerged as a consistent target for Drew Brees and the New Orleans passing offense.
Stills has caught three passes in each of his last three games, but he only gained 35 receiving yards against the New York Jets in Week 9. Nonetheless, his 22.6 yards per reception stands out as the best among all qualifying NFL wideouts, and his 362 receiving yards (gained on just 16 receptions) rank sixth among all NFL rookies this season.
Micah Hyde, CB, Green Bay Packers
Last Week: No. 25
Hyde has made his biggest impact this season as a special teams standout, and that continued to be the case on Monday night versus the Chicago Bears.
While Hyde only played 11 snaps on defense for the Packers, according to Pro Football Focus, he made one of the game’s biggest plays happen when he knocked the ball out of Bears linebacker Blake Costanzo’s grasp on an onside kick recovery. He then went after the loose ball and nearly recovered it before it was eventually scooped up by Packers teammate Jamari Lattimore for a play that helped push the team to an early third-quarter lead.