NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Fournette trying to close gap

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

Kareem Hunt will be well-rested heading into Week 11. Hunt and his teammates were able to regroup for the first time this season. The Chiefs began 5-0 but have been 1-3 in their last four games. Over the weekend, Hunt lost the title of league’s leading rusher to Le’Veon Bell. Hunt has not reached the end zone since Week 3. He is likely to end that drought against the New York Giants. Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid is infamous for his record off of bye weeks. Reid is 16-2 in his 18-year coaching career when having an extra week to prepare. Expect a big week for Hunt.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 29 receptions, 521 yards, 18 yds/catch, five touchdowns

Twenty-year-old Juju Smith-Schuster has put up the most impressive numbers in recent weeks for rookies. After only his third start, Smith-Schuster is leading rookie wide receivers in yards and touchdowns. He has scored in each of his past three games. The past two, he has recorded 300 receiving yards. Smith-Schuster and his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, have been on the same page in recent games, and it has shown on the stat sheet. Smith-Schuster has a favorable matchup on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars, 147 carries, 629 yards, six touchdowns, 17 receptions, 149 yards, one touchdown

(James Jackson, Flickr)

Leonard Fournette had a poor performance on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. He accounted for no touchdowns and only 33 yards on 17 carries. There was definitely some rust, as Fournette made his return after missing the team’s past two games because of injury and a suspension. Like Hunt, Fournette’s early-season performance landed him on this list, but his lackluster outings since are driving his award chances downward. Fournette and the Jaguars play the winless Cleveland Browns at noon Sunday.

ozone@ocolly.com

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