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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Matt Verderame

NFL Week 14 Rookie Stock Watch: Sam LaPorta Powers the Lions

On Sunday, we watched rookies take over games.

Against the Saints, Lions tight end Sam LaPorta refused to be stopped, putting together the best game of his young career. In a win over the Commanders, Dolphins RB De’Von Achane proved once more he might end up being the best back of this class, finding the end zone twice.

Then there was the weekly stardom by C.J. Stroud, who led the Texans to a win over the Broncos, bringing Houston’s record to 7–5.

However, there were also a few concerning performances, including a pair of quarterbacks who can’t seem to find the right play at the right time.

Let’s dive into our NFL rookie stock watch from Week 13.

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Sam LaPorta, TE, Lions
Jared Goff called LaPorta a “clutch player” after Sunday’s game.

Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports

Last week: Holding steady

LaPorta has been the best rookie tight end all season, and he saved his best game for last Sunday in New Orleans. The second-rounder caught all nine of his targets for 140 yards and a touchdown. If he goes for another 321 yards this season, he’ll crack the 1,000-yard threshold.

Rashee Rice, WR, Chiefs

Last week: Rising

Rice had another excellent game Sunday night, even in a loss to the Packers. The rookie was targeted nine times by Patrick Mahomes and caught eight of them for 64 yards, giving Rice 591 on the season along with five touchdowns. In a thin receiver room, Rice is Kansas City’s best.

Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans

Last week: Not rated

Spears has languished behind Derrick Henry for much of this season, but the Tulane product made his impact known against the Colts in Week 13. Spears rushed for 75 yards on 16 carries while also catching four passes; with Tennessee out of the playoff mix, he should see an increased workload.

C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans
Stroud has risen as far as MVP conversations this fall.

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

Last week: Rising

The Texans pulled out a huge win over the weekend, and Stroud once again shined. Even without star rookie receiver Tank Dell, Stroud still threw for 10.1 yards per attempt and 274 yards overall (despite being sacked five times). 

De’Von Achane, RB, Dolphins

Last week: Not rated

After missing a month in the middle of the season with a knee injury, Achane looks fully healthy once more. He ran for two touchdowns against the Commanders while amassing 103 total yards. With Achane, Raheem Mostert, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, no team has more speed than the Dolphins.

Puka Nacua, WR, RamsLast week: Not rated

Nacua continues to be the rookie revelation of the season. The fifth-round BYU product had another huge day, this time torching the Browns. Nacua caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, putting him over the 1,000-yard marker.

Will Anderson, EDGE, Texans

Last Week: Not rated

While the counting stats haven't been there at times for Anderson this season, the No. 3 pick has been excellent. He dominated the Broncos on Sunday, sacking Russell Wilson twice while pressuring him eight times. For the year, Anderson now has five sacks and 10 stuffs. Not bad for a rookie.

Holding steady

Bijan Robinson, RB, Falcons
Robinson is nearing 800 rushing yards so far this season.

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Last week: Rising

Robinson found running room tough to come by against the Jets. After having a huge game the week before, Robinson rushed for just 53 yards on 2.9 yards per carry. Still, the rookie added something in the passing game with three catches for 26 yards, helping Atlanta grind out an ugly win.

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers

Last week: Not rated

Mingo makes his first appearance on our stock list this week. He caught six passes for 69 yards against the Buccaneers, leading his team Sunday. At this point, the Panthers should be doing all they can to develop their young talent, and Mingo should be toward the top of that list.


Bryce Young, QB, Panthers

Last week: Falling

Young and the Panthers are in a downward spiral this season.

Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

Young continues to struggle, now under interim coach Chris Tabor. The Panthers have one win this season—and Young hasn’t helped their cause, throwing a measly nine touchdowns while matching that number in interceptions. Against the Bucs, this year’s No. 1 pick completed only 15 of his 31 attempts.

Will Levis, QB, Titans

Levis was under duress much of the day against an underrated Colts front, being sacked six times in the loss. However, he struggled even while upright, completing 16 of 33 attempts for 6.8 yards per attempt. He’s got to be better if the Titans are to see him as the future.

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