All of our favorite professional athletes’ careers began as rookies; fresh faces that give the league’s fans new reason for hope of a better future, or to help further their favorite team’s current momentum. They’re the cheap labor the NFL economy needs to keep the stars at the top of the game paid and still have room left over for complimentary pieces. The best rookies play on a bargain— their production vastly out pacing their wages— and with the way these rookies are playing right now, fans should appreciate them like they would a luxury car they got in an estate sale for 50 percent off market value.
Carson Wentz, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz emerged from the abyss of FCS college football and impressed scouts enough to be the 2nd pick in the NFL draft. He’s the walking embodiment of the American dream, pulling himself up by the bootstraps from an unprivileged situation. However, with the way Wentz has produced so far, it appears he should’ve been the first name called. He’s taken the Eagles from a stumbling franchise with an absent team identity to a high flying, efficient offense worthy of their fans favorite chant, “Fly, Eagles. Fly” Wentz put up impressive stats: 253 passing yards per game, a 5-0 TD/INT ratio, 103.8 passer rating and, most impressively, he’s 3-0 in his first three starts. Wentz is producing elite numbers, all while being the 28th highest paid quarterback in the league. He’s an obscene bargain, and the best rookie in the league.
Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo scrambled left in a preseason game against the Seahawks, scanning the field for an open receiver and then Romo was pulverized by a defender, and the always irrational Cowboys’ fans dream of a Super Bowl was snapped as fast as his back was. Enter Dak Prescott, the 4th round selection out of Mississippi State. He quickly captivated all of us with an impressive preseason performance, finishing with two touchdown scampers on the ground, five through the air, and no interceptions. There was warranted concern as to whether his success would translate against first-teamers during the regular season, but through the first three weeks, the answer has been a resounding yes. Each week Preskott has improved, capped off with a marvelous performance against the Chicago Bears with the bright lights of Sunday Night Football shining down on him. His command of the offense and team was palpable, completing 79 percent of his passes with sharp precision and using his legs to extend plays for more yards. The question entering the season was whether he could hold down the fort until Romo came back but now the confounding inquiry is whether this may be a start of a new, Dak-tacular era.
Will Fuller, wide receiver, Houston Texans
The Texans have been incrementally adding pieces to their offense, notably quarterback Brock Osweiler and tailback Lamar Miller to join Pro Bowl receiver Deandre Hopkins. The last missing piece was a secondary receiver who could divert defenses from keying in on Hopkins, and Will Fuller is the man for the job. He’s lit up defenses in a myriad of ways: quick screens, intermediate crossing routes and deep bombs over the top of secondaries. Fuller is as shifty as an old school ’69 mustang, able to go from 0-60, slow down back to 30 to evade a tackler and then shift back to 6th gear down the sideline. Fuller is the fifth of his name, and if he continues his mind-bending level of play, he’ll be among the best five receivers in the league and help give Houston an offense explosive enough to be located in the Space City.