Dak Prescott (DAL) has no turnovers (0.0% turnover pct on 122 opportunities) in the 4th quarter this season (NFL Rank: 1st of 32 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 3.1%)
Most rookie QBs who actually get on the field are mistake-prone (see Carson Wentz and Jared Goff), but Prescott’s playing like a 10-year pro. The Cowboys’ fourth-round pick set a new all-time record for the most attempted passes without an interception to start a career (176), breaking Tom Brady’s previous mark (162 in 2000–01). And like Brady — a fellow college star jilted on draft day — Prescott excels in the clutch. He’s got a 102.9 QB Rating in the fourth quarter, with 6 total TDs and zero turnovers.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) has picked up first downs on 29.7% of his rush attempts this season (NFL Rank: 1st of 35 Qualified RBs; League Avg: 21.7%)
Blessed with power, speed and soft hands, and running behind arguably the NFL’s best offensive line, Elliott is a first down machine. The former Ohio State star has moved the chains on nearly three out of every ten carries, beating out Oakland’s Latavius Murray (29%) and Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman (28.7%) among many others. Elliott is on pace to rush for more than 1,700 yards, which would rank behind only the L.A. Rams’ Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983) for the most ever among rookie RBs.
Jordan Howard (CHI) has rushed for 10 or more yards on 30 of his 193 carries (15.5%) this season (NFL Rank: 2nd of 35 Qualified RBs; League Avg: 10.1%)
Little has gone right in 2016 for the 3–10 Bears, but they got a steal in the fifth round when they selected Howard. The Indiana product, panned by some draft experts for clocking a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, has gained double-digit yardage on rushing attempts more often than every back except Miami’s Jay Ajayi (17.7%). With a few big games to finish out the season, Howard could set a new all-time rushing record for a Bears rookie (Matt Forte holds the current record, with 1,238 in 2008).
Sterling Shepard (NYG) has averaged a touchdown every 8.5 receptions (51 Rec/6 TDs) this season (NFL Rank: tied 4th of 39 Qualified WRs; League Avg: 12.8)
Shepard is on the smaller side (listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds), but that hasn’t prevented him from making impact plays — particularly in the red zone. With 8.5 receptions per TD, Shepard ranks behind just Jordy Nelson (6.3), Davante Adams (7.0), Mike Evans (8.0), and is tied with Antonio Brown. New York’s second-round pick out of Oklahoma is also making lots of combat catches. He places 11th among WRs in receiving yards on plays up the middle (267).
Michael Thomas (NO) has caught 69 of 88 passes when targeted (78.4% Reception Pct) this season (NFL Rank: 1st of 39 Qualified WRs; League Avg: 60.2%)
A huge target at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Thomas has quickly turned into a reliable option for Drew Brees. The former Buckeyes standout is besting the likes of Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs (77.2%), Seattle’s Jonathan Baldwin (77.1%) and Dallas’ Cole Beasley (76.2%) in catch rate. Thomas isn’t just making high-percentage, low-impact catches either. With 12 yards per reception, Thomas ranks ahead of notable rookie WRs like Shepard (10.5) and Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd (11).
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