National Football League
Ken Walker III reheats; Christian McCaffrey dominates: NFC West Stock Watch
National Football League

Ken Walker III reheats; Christian McCaffrey dominates: NFC West Stock Watch

Published Jan. 4, 2023 6:11 p.m. ET

With a game left and the playoffs still a possibility, Ken Walker III has returned to his productive ways for the Seattle Seahawks.

The rookie out of Michigan State has rushed for more than 100 yards in two straight games. At 8-8, the Seahawks need a win over the visiting Los Angeles Rams, along with a Detroit Lions victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field Sunday night in the final game of the regular season to reach the postseason.

So, what changed for Walker over the past two weeks?

"We are just trying to make sure he is really consistent hitting the line of scrimmage and using the blocking schemes to its fullest," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We are trying to help him trust that if he stays aggressive, all the stuff will happen, and that he will have the consistency that you are seeing. You'll see him be more effective, and that's all we were talking about."


Walker finished with 133 rushing yards in a win over the visiting New York Jets last weekend. Those numbers include a 60-yard run on the first play of the game, providing a jolt to Seattle's offense. 

With his effort against the Jets, Walker became just the third Seattle rookie to eclipse 1,000 yards from scrimmage. With 936 rushing yards, he could reach 1,000 against the Rams on Sunday. 

"It means a lot," Walker said when asked about reaching 1,000 scrimmage yards. "I used to always talk about getting a thousand yards, and I thought it would be cool. It's just a dream come true. I have to give credit to the offensive line, the guys that block for me every day. They make my job easier, so those guys get a lot of the credit for that." 

Walker has been more effective running in between the tackles over the past two weeks. Per Next Gen Stats, he has gained 126 rushing yards running inside the tackles in Week 16 and Week 17. He gained 307 yards in the first 15 weeks in between the tackles, per Next Gen Stats. 

Walker's 60-yard run against the Jets is a good example of his improved patience working inside. He runs to the right, presses the line of scrimmage and then cuts back when the linebackers over pursue to the edge on the perimeter, finding a big crease on the backside and exploding for a big gain.

"I read my keys and the offensive line had a big hole," Walker said about the play. "And I just trusted it and went through it. After that I just ran."

Walker's improved vision leads this week's NFC West Stock Watch.


Seahawks RB Ken Walker III: One thing that helped Walker against the Jets was Seattle finding a complementary back in DeeJay Dallas. The bruising runner had his best game statistically since joining Seattle as a fourth-round selection in the 2020 draft out of Florida.

Dallas finished with 98 scrimmage yards — including a 41-yard reception — and 43 rushing yards. The 220-pound Dallas can ground out yards inside while Walker uses his speed to attack defenses on the perimeter. Dallas had 27 snaps on offense against New York and another 14 on special teams. 

San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey: The Stanford product continues to serve as the catalyst for San Francisco's offense. In an overtime win over the Las Vegas Raiders, McCaffrey finished with 193 scrimmage yards and two total scores, including 121 yards on the ground. 

For the season, McCaffrey now has 1,131 scrimmage yards and nine total touchdowns in 10 games played since the midseason trade from the Carolina Panthers to San Francisco. McCaffrey also has 1,094 total rushing yards this season, the third time he has topped 1,000. 

McCaffrey is dealing with a mild ankle sprain and did not practice on Wednesday. However, the 49ers designated running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) eligible to return from injured reserve this week. 

Seahawks OLB Darrell Taylor: Relegated to limited snaps after struggling earlier this year, Taylor has come on of late. He posted 2.5 sacks in a win over the Jets and now has 5.5 in the past five games and 8.5 sacks on the year. 

Taylor played 41 defensive snaps against the Jets, more than in any game since Week 5.

"[He's] really trying to maximize the speed rushes that he is so good at," Carroll said. "It has kicked him into a different gear. He's out there more, and he's trying to maximize his ability to run around guys. 

"He has a great get-off, and he's very athletic, and that's his strength as opposed on trying to do too many things and maybe watering down his good shots at getting to the quarterback." 


Rams QB Baker Mayfield: It's been an up-and-down tenure with the Rams so far for Mayfield. After an outstanding performance in a win over the Denver Broncos two weeks ago, Mayfield struggled against the crosstown Chargers, finishing 11-of-19 for 132 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 31-10 loss.

In four games with the Rams, Mayfield has completed 67% of his passes for 703 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. He has been sacked 12 times, posting a 95.2 passer rating. 

It will be interesting to see if Mayfield stays with the Rams as a backup to Matthew Stafford this offseason or gets a chance to compete for a starting job on another team.

Arizona Cardinals WR Robbie Anderson: Since coming over to the Cardinals in a midseason trade with the Panthers, the deep-threat receiver has had little impact on Arizona's offense. 

In 10 games, Anderson has seven receptions for 76 yards, with a long of 21 yards on 17 targets. That's not a great return for the Cardinals, who gave up a sixth-round selection in 2024 and a seventh-rounder in 2025 for Anderson. 

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Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.


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