NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Hunt leads as competition falls away

By Hayden Bonine

Sports Blogger

@HaydenBonine

 

Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs, 155 carries, 800 yards, four touchdowns, 32 receptions, 331 receiving yards, two touchdowns

(Brandon Blanchard, Flickr)

The league’s leading rusher, Kareem Hunt, could soon lose that distinction. However, despite his recent decline, Hunt remains leaps and bounds ahead in the NFL Rookie of the Year Award running. His top two competitors, Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook, have both suffered season-ending injuries. Despite recording fewer than 70 yards in back-to-back games, Hunt is still on top. He will look to regain his early-season dominance during the Chiefs’ bye this week.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars, 130 carries, 596 yards, six touchdowns, 15 receptions, 136 yards, one touchdown

Leonard Fournette has had a difficult time getting on the field in recent weeks. Fournette missed Week 7 because of injury, the team had a bye during Week 8, and in Week 9, Fournette was unable to play for violating team rules. As the second contender for NFL Rookie of the Year, Fournette needs to get back on the field of play to have a shot at the award. Despite missing two games, Fournette holds fast with the league’s sixth-highest rushing yard total. The Jaguars host the Los Angeles Chargers this week.

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 24 receptions, 424 yards, 17.7 yds/catch, four touchdowns

Only 20 years old, Juju Smith-Schuster is emerging as a rookie of the year contender late in the season. He has started only two games, but has played in all eight for the Steelers. Although Smith-Schuster was unable to gain more than 60 receiving yards in the first seven weeks, he had a monstrous Week 8. Smith-Schuster had seven receptions for 193 yards, including a 97 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He may not have impressed early in the season, but Smith-Schuster is peaking late. He leads all rookies in receiving yards. Fresh off of a bye, the Steelers go to Indianapolis to face the Colts.

ozone@ocolly.com

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