NFL rookies are rising to the fore, including some running backs proving their value remains strong.

In Buffalo, the Dolphins were blasted 48–20 by the Bills, but De’Von Achane went for more than 100 yards and two scores in the defeat. Entering Week 5, the first-year star ranks sixth in the NFL with 309 yards on an incredible 11.4 yards per carry.

Then there’s quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is showing Texans fans why the future is bright. Against a solid Steelers defense, Stroud led Houston to a blowout win while targeting eight different players, including receiver Nico Collins, who went for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Who else shined in Week 4? Here are who is rising, falling and holding steady.


Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Nacua had nine receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' overtime win over the Colts.

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: Not rated

Nacua has dominated from the start, totaling 39 catches on 52 targets for 501 receiving yards and a touchdown. Not only has Nacua been terrific, but he’s also legitimately in the conversation for the best receiver in football through four weeks.

Once the Rams get Cooper Kupp off injured reserve, Los Angeles’s passing game should really take off.

C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

Last Week: Rising

Stroud had a very productive day against the defensive-minded Steelers, going 16-of-30 for 306 yards and two touchdowns. The No. 2 pick in the draft has continuously found the soft spot in zones while making tight-window throws against man coverage.

Houston is 2–2, and Stroud being ahead of schedule is a huge reason why.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Last Week: Holding steady

The Falcons have no passing game, yet Robinson puts up fantastic stats almost every week. In a 23–7 loss to the Jaguars, he ran for 105 yards on 14 carries while adding five receptions for 32 yards.

Imagine what Robinson could do if the Falcons could force teams to respect their talented pass catchers.

Brian Branch, S, Detroit Lions

Last Week: Not rated

Branch slipped out of the first round of April’s draft, falling to the second round before Detroit selected him. He’s been proving everyone wrong since, and did so during Thursday’s 34–20 win over the Packers by leading the Lions with seven tackles.

While safeties don’t often get significant acclaim, Branch is one of the best rookies in this class.

De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

Achane carried eight times for 101 yards and two touchdowns against the Bills.

Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: Rising

Achane is proving to be a great value in this draft class. The third-rounder from Texas A&M notched another 100-yard game, this time on eight carries against Buffalo. He also scored two touchdowns, albeit in a lopsided defeat.

Combined with veteran Raheem Mostert in the backfield, Miami has an electric tandem.

Michael Wilson, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Last Week: Not rated

After seven catches through his first three games, Wilson broke out for seven catches and 76 yards with two touchdowns against the 49ers. Drafted out of Stanford, Wilson was expected to be a starter alongside Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, and he’s doing the job.

Wilson is showing he can run crisp routes, get open and secure the catch, with 14 receptions on 16 targets.

Holding steady

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Buffalo Bills

Last Week: Not rated

There was considerable hype going into Kincaid’s rookie campaign after he was selected in the first round by Buffalo. And while he hasn’t been bad, he also hasn’t produced in a meaningful way.

Kincaid has caught only 15 passes for 99 yards. Historically, tight ends don’t overwhelm as rookies, and perhaps that’s what we’re seeing with Kincaid.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Last Week: Not rated

Richardson is a tough evaluation. The Colts are bereft of perimeter talent save for Michael Pittman Jr., and it’s making Richardson force throws and take off running.

Through three starts, Richardson has thrown for 479 yards and three touchdowns while running for 141 yards and four scores. However, Richardson is completing just 56.9% of attempts. He’s certainly shown flashes, but he’s also been inconsistent.

Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Denver Broncos

Last Week: Rising

Mims didn’t do a ton in the Broncos’ 31–28 comeback victory over the Bears, but on Denver’s last drive, he made a crucial 48-yard catch to get his team into field goal range.

A second-round pick from Oklahoma, Mims has 242 yards receiving on nine receptions. 


Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers

Last Week: Not rated

Young had his best game, throwing for 6.6 yards per attempt on 25-of-32 passing. The problem? That’s a middling stat line, especially when you score six points against a bad Minnesota defense.

Carolina is 0–4 and already hopeless for the playoffs. Coach Frank Reich needs to let Young throw the ball and learn from his mistakes.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, Cleveland Browns

Last Week: Not rated

Thompson-Robinson was a preseason darling as a fifth-rounder out of UCLA. Unfortunately for him, Sunday was a regular-season game.

The Browns were battered 28–3 by Baltimore, and Thompson-Robinson went 19-of-36 for 121 yards (3.4 YPA) with three interceptions.