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NFL Rookie of the Year Odds and Best Bets

by Hayden Winks

FanDuel Sportsbook has posted early odds for the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year, and there’s some value to be had if you’re okay with not seeing a return for months. Here is the full list before I get into some research and my five favorite bets:

OROY

Team

Lines

Odds

Kyler Murray

ARI

+250

29%

Joshua Jacobs

OAK

+600

14%

Dwayne Haskins

WAS

+1000

9%

David Montgomery

CHI

+1400

7%

Mecole Hardman

KC

+1800

5%

Miles Sanders

PHI

+1800

5%

T.J. Hockenson

DET

+1800

5%

Deebo Samuel

SF

+2000

5%

Marquise Brown

BAL

+2000

5%

N'Keal Harry

NE

+2000

5%

Parris Campbell

IND

+2000

5%

A.J. Brown

TEN

+2300

4%

D.K. Metcalf

SEA

+2600

4%

Noah Fant

DEN

+2600

4%

Darrell Henderson

LAC

+3000

3%

Hakeem Butler

ARI

+3000

3%

Damien Harris

NE

+3500

3%

Irv Smith

MIN

+3500

3%

JJ Arcega-Whiteside

PHI

+3500

3%

Will Grier

CAR

+3500

3%

Daniel Jones

NYG

+4200

2%

Drew Lock

DEN

+4200

2%

Justice Hill

BAL

+5000

2%

Bryce Love

WAS

+5500

2%

Ryan Finley

CIN

+5500

2%

Andre Dillard

PHI

+10000

1%

Chris Lindstrom

ATL

+10000

1%

Garrett Bradbury

MIN

+10000

1%

Jarrett Stidham

NE

+10000

1%

Jawaan Taylor

JAX

+10000

1%

Jonah Williams

CIN

+10000

1%

Kaleb McGary

ATL

+10000

1%

Tytus Howard

HOU

+10000

1%

 

 

OROY Research

This isn’t very surprising, but the higher a player was drafted, the higher their odds of winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Here’s the breakdown since 2004:

Draft Pick

Count

Winners

No. 1 or  2

6

Vince Young, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin, Saquon Barkley

Rest of Round 1

6

Ben Roethlisberger, Cadillac Williams, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Odell Beckham Jr., Todd Gurley

Round 2

1

Eddie Lacy

Round 3

1

Alvin Kamara

Round 4

1

Dak Prescott

 

It’s primarily quarterbacks (7) and running backs (6) who have won it in the last 15 years, but Odell Beckham and Percy Harvin have shown that wide receivers have a chance. While it hasn’t happened recently, it’s also possible for a tight end to win, but it would take a #GenerationalSeason for that to happen. As for offensive linemen, it appears to be close to impossible, so I’m taking Andre Dillard, Chris Lindstrom, Garrett Bradbury, Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams, Kaleb McGary, and Tytus Howard off my betting list.

 

For quarterbacks, the key to winning OROY is getting close to a full season of starts. The last seven QB OROY winners started at least 13 games and have won 9.6 games on average, so only Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins are real candidates unless there’s an unexpected injury to a veteran quarterback like Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, or Andy Dalton.

 

The final thing I’m targeting for quarterbacks is a rushing ability. The last three quarterbacks to win OROY have all been very athletic (Dak Prescott, Robert Griffin, and Cam Newton) and I’m guessing this athleticism is a big advantage for rookies who are learning the nuances of playing ball in the NFL, so I anticipate this trend to continue with more dual-threat quarterbacks entering the league.

 

As for running backs, the key is simply opportunity. Since 2005, running back OROYs have averaged 289 touches and 11.5 touchdowns. That’s why I’m searching for rookies with a chance to either be a team’s No. 1 option or a complementary piece on a high-scoring offense.

 

Best Bets

1. Kyler Murray (+250 or 29% odds) - QB - Cardinals

Murray checks almost all of the boxes listed above as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s a quarterback with dual-threat abilities, was drafted No. 1 overall, and is expected to start the entire season with Josh Rosen taking his talents to South Beach. The only issue Murray faces is a projected poor starting record with the Arizona Cardinals expected to win 5.5 games in 2019, but Murray has one of the best analytical profiles of any quarterback ever. He basically broke my quarterback model after posting the best EPA and QBR seasons in ESPN’s college database, so to call me bullish on Murray’s abilities is an understatement. But I also love what the Cardinals have done to put their new franchise quarterback in the best position to succeed. The Cardinals had the best draft according to my formulas, and they earned that “A” grade by primarily helping the offense; Kliff Kingsbury added analytics’ stud WR Andy Isabella, Rotoworld’s favorite WR Hakeem Butler, and productive sleeper WR KeeSean Johnson to David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk. With Kingsbury’s attacking style, a decent supporting cast, and a quarterback that wants to move fast, I’m expecting the Cardinals offense to go from the 31st most plays to the top-10, which will obviously help Murray pad the stats he needs to win the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

 

2. Darrell Henderson (+3000 or 3% odds) - RB - Rams

This is easily my favorite long shot bet. Henderson was one of the best backs in the draft after averaging 8.9 YPC in two straight seasons at Memphis, but the reason why I think he has better than 3% odds to win OROY is not Henderson’s ability to run. Instead, it’s his receiving chops and his ideal fit in Sean McVay’s offense. Henderson caught at least 19 passes in all three of his college seasons despite sharing a backfield with Tony Pollard (5th rounder) and Patrick Taylor (1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018). But it’s not just the analytics community who likes Henderson. Respected film analyst Greg Cosell compared Henderson to James White, and I’m betting on Sean McVay getting the most out of Henderson as a receiver, especially with Todd Gurley’s knee looking like an actual problem. If Gurley were to miss games (again), then Henderson’s odds of winning would skyrocket as he will only be competing with Malcolm Brown who doesn’t have Henderson’s explosion. Overall, I’m confident that Henderson has enough talent to rack up production, so this bet pays off if Gurley’s knee acts up.

 

3. Josh Jacobs (+600 or 14% odds) - RB - Raiders

Jacobs has rightfully been given the second-best odds to win the award. He has the first-round draft capital we want, but he also goes to a Raiders offense that wants to get a running back involved. Jacobs’ overall profile isn’t as good as his draft capital would indicate -- he had average production at Alabama and ran a 4.64 forty at his pro day -- but the way Nick Saban utilized Jacobs indicates that he has three-down upside and that's exactly why Gruden and Mayock drafted him in Round 1. Of course, that’s what we are looking for here, especially with only Doug Martin and Jalen Richard standing in his way to seeing 250-300 touches as a rookie. Ultimately, I wouldn’t have drafted Jacobs in the first round, but this bet is about the opportunity which matters more than talent in player props and fantasy football.

 

4. D.K. Metcalf (+2600 or 4%) - WR - Seahawks

Only two wide receivers have won the award since 2005 (Odell Beckham and Percy Harvin), so this is accurately priced as a long shot. With that said, Metcalf’s odds feel just a tad too low with an easy path to volume in Seattle. The Doug Baldwin retirement is a big deal, especially with Tyler Lockett (who I really like) ideally more of a second option than a true WR1. Now, I’m not sure Metcalf has the experience and lateral ability to become the Seahawks’ WR1 as a rookie, but he did average over 13.5 yards per target at Ole Miss last year and Russell Wilson’s extreme efficiency makes me optimistic that the production will be there. Overall, Metcalf can have enough yardage and touchdowns on deep passes and screens to steal the Rookie of the Year in 2019, a year where the rookie skill-position talent is below average.

 

5. Justice Hill (+5000 or 2%) - RB - Ravens

Hill is undersized (5’10/200) which limits his projection as a three-down back in the NFL, but Hill has more than enough athleticism (4.40 speed with a 40-inch vertical) and college production to be bullish on him as a complementary back. In Baltimore, Hill can be just that behind Mark Ingram. Hill should some catch passes (31 receptions as a sophomore), but it’s his rushing upside that makes this a worthwhile bet. At Oklahoma State, Hill started in front of Chris Carson as an 18-year old, ran for 1,467 yards at age-19, and then averaged 5.9 yards per carry last year. With Hill’s college production and with Lamar Jackson’s rushing abilities opening holes for his running backs, I’m expecting an efficient season from Hill.

 

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Hayden Winks

Hayden Winks is a college football and NFL writer for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter @HaydenWinks.