2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Predictions: Who’s the Favorite?

2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Predictions: Who’s the Favorite? article feature image

Getty Images: Breece Hall

We're continuing to dig into season-long awards bets for the 2022 NFL season.

I’ll be previewing each market over the next week and returning to these all season. Today, we’re going over the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) market.

This was a weak draft class overall, at least for offensive players. It was especially rough on quarterbacks, and no offensive skill player even went in the top-seven picks. That means this OROY field could be more open than most years, so we'll wade in cautiously and consider a lot of names.

Let's build a historical winner profile, then dive into 24 names to consider…

Be sure to check out all the other award picks if you haven't already:

For full odds on NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, click here.

Who Wins Offensive Rookie of the Year?

1. Big favorites don't tend to win.

In the last nine years, Kyler Murray (+150) and Saquon Barkley (+155) were the only two OROY winners who started the season shorter than +800. History says this isn't typically an award big favorites win.

Of course, that's not particularly helpful this year, since every bet on the board is longer than +800 in a wide-open class.

2. Almost any position can win … but QBs are the best bet.

Two of the last three OROYs were quarterbacks. Go back a bit further and it's three out of six, six out of 12 and nine out of 18. The math is pretty consistent: There's about a 50% chance the OROY will be a quarterback.

This used to be a running back award. Historically, 62% of OROYs have played the position. Running backs won five of the first eight OROYs at the start of the century, but have only taken four of 14 awards since.

We've had six wide receiver winners in the last 30 seasons — about one every five years — with Ja'Marr Chase winning last year. The only positions with no history of winning are tight end and offensive line.

3. Draft slot is predictive, and we almost certainly need a first-round pick.

Over the last 18 seasons, a remarkable 15 OROYs (83%) were drafted in the first round. It gets better. Fourteen of the 18 were top-12 picks. And eleven of them — still over 61%! — were taken in the top seven.

Ja'Marr Chase was the fifth pick. Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray and Saquon Barkley went sixth, first and second, respectively. Teams are pretty good at drafting star talent! Of course, it helps that these guys are joining bad teams with a clear path to playing time.

Just one problem — we didn't have a QB, RB or WR selected in the top seven of the 2022 NFL Draft. Only four went top 12, all WRs. And we only got one first-round QB and no RBs.

It's worth noting that RB is the one position to stray from the first-round trend. Alvin Kamara (Round 2; No. 67) and Eddie Lacy (Round 2; No. 61) won from outside the first round over the past decade, and guys like Clinton Portis (Round 2; No. 51), Anthony Thomas (Round 2; No. 38) and Mike Anderson (Round 6; No. 189) won earlier this century.

4. Voters care more about big stats than winning.

Winning doesn't seem to be a big focus for OROY. Over the last 12 years, only three won 10 or more games. In fact, seven of them — over half– played for a team that finished below .500.

Winning never hurts. A QB leading a team to the playoffs will always have a case. But Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Cam Newton and Sam Bradford won OROY even with bad records, and Mac Jones didn't win despite taking the Patriots to the playoffs.

This just isn't a winner's award — it's about the numbers, and you need a lot. Over the last decade, a typical OROY RB needs at least 1,300 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs. A winning receiver puts up at least 80 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 scores. Justin Jefferson had 88/1400/7 and still didn't win in 2020.

So what are we looking for in an OROY?

We want a first-round draft pick, preferably a top-12 pick. Any position will do, but QB is best. And stats matter much more than winning.

Now let's look at a slew of the names to consider in this field …

Chic Preseason Candidates

WR George Pickens, Steelers +1100
WR Romeo Doubs, Packers +1500
WR Jalen Tolbert, Cowboys +1600
RB Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs +3000

It's fun to bet on the hot new name, it really is. But be honest — had you even heard of these guys one month ago?

Preseason hype is usually just that: Hype. At the end of the day, it's still really hard for rookies to make an impact, and exponentially more unlikely the further down in the draft a player was selected.

Pacheco has surprised — he's also the third or fourth back in Kansas City's rotation. Doubs has hype but still has to earn actual trust and playing time ahead of Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers. Tolbert has to fight CeeDee Lamb and eventually Michael Gallup for targets. Pickens is behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool in the pecking order.

Could one of these four win Rookie of the Year? Absolutely! But should we bet on them at insane prices when they would've been +10000 or unlisted a couple weeks ago? This isn't about getting it right; it's about making smart value bets. Don't do it.

Receivers to Monitor — But Not Bet, Yet

WR Skyy Moore, Chiefs +1100
WR Christian Watson, Packers +1600
WR Treylon Burks, Titans +1800
WR Jahan Dotson, Commanders +2000
WR David Bell, Browns +2500
WR Alec Pierce, Colts +4000

We don't just need a player who surprises. We need serious stats, probably at least 80 catches, 1,300 yards and double-digit scores. That means we probably need a WR1, and a good one.

Burks is the best of the bunch, and the Titans traded A.J. Brown for him. He was a first-round pick and is a big weapon, though it's been a rocky start. He could be a Percy Harvin-type weapon. Dotson is the only other first rounder on the list, but he's behind Terry McLaurin and both guys are on run-first teams.

Moore and Watson intrigue because their teams traded away star WRs and feature a stud QB in need of a new target. But Moore is still WR5 in Kansas City right now, and that's not even counting Travis Kelce. Watson is probably WR6 at best after missing most of training camp and preseason.

Bell and Pierce have juicier odds, but both come a little further down the draft on run-first teams behind established WR1s.

This isn't a great rookie class, so anyone could emerge in time. But these are better names to monitor than bet right now.

Quarterbacks to Keep an Eye On

QB Kenny Pickett, Steelers +900
QB Desmond Ridder, Falcons +2500
QB Malik Willis, Titans +5000
QB Sam Howell, Commanders +8000

Remember, the most common position to win OROY is quarterback (around 50%). But we should also remember this was a historically bad draft class of QBs, with only one selected in the first two rounds.

Right now, only Pickett looks in line to start some time this season, and it appears Mitchell Trubisky will begin the year as Pittsburgh's starter. If you think Pickett takes the job from Trubisky early and leads the Steelers to the playoffs, that could be enough. But you absolutely cannot bet Pickett as the favorite at +900 when his odds are due to drop while he rides the pine at least a few weeks in September.

That's true for all of these guys. Sure, the odds will drop some when an injury or benching provides opportunity, but they'll also rise in the meantime while they sit on the bench. Willis has been an electric runner in the preseason and could dazzle if given a chance. Ridder has looked solid and will probably play at some point given Marcus Mariota's injury history.

We can't bet these guys right now, not when the odds should only grow as they start the season on the bench. We'll watch for opportunity later.

Non-First Round RBs with Opportunity

RB Dameon Pierce, Texans +1600
RB Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks +1800
RB James Cook, Bills +1800
RB Brian Robinson, Commanders +3500
RB Tyler Allgeier, Falcons +6000

RB is the one position that tends to break the first-round rule at times, so we should actually consider these guys. With RB, it's often as much about opportunity as it is talent or draft position.

Pierce looks like the best bet of the first three, by far. His odds are shortening quickly, but it's silly he has the same odds as Walker or Cook when those two are clearly coming off the bench while Pierce is running with the starters in Houston. He could end up leading all rookies in touches. The Texans were disastrously bad running the ball last year and might have the least talented roster in football, so it will be uphill sledding.

Washington doesn't seem confident in Antonio Gibson, and an improved offensive line could be a top-10 run-blocking unit. J.D. McKissic is just the receiving back there, so Robinson could get a real opportunity once he recovers from an unfortunate incident in which he was shot in the right leg twice.

Atlanta may have the most open RB room in the league. Allgeier is sure to get some touches at some point, and don't forget, Arthur Smith helped Derrick Henry become a stud and turned Cordarrelle Patterson into a fantasy star.

Robinson and Allgeier are intriguing long shots who are worth a sprinkle. Again, any of these guys could emerge from a wide-open field.

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Candidates Who Best Fit the Historical Profile

WR Chris Olave, Saints +1000
WR Drake London, Falcons +1400
WR Garrett Wilson, Jets +1800
WR Jameson Williams, Lions +3000

If we want to follow the historical profile above, these are our four best options. They're not quarterbacks or top-seven picks, but they're all top-12 picks, where 78% of the most recent 18 OROYs have been selected. If we just blindly follow history, one of these four should win.

Olave is the hot name, but Michael Thomas is looking healthy again — and Olave will also have to fight for touches with Alvin Kamara and Jarvis Landry. His price is simply too short to bet, especially when we don't know what that crowded team will look like yet. Wilson's odds look more appropriate, but he's behind buzzy breakout candidate Elijah Moore and Corey Davis.

Williams has long odds because no one knows when or if he'll play this season after tearing his ACL in January. That doesn't necessarily mean he can't win — Odell Beckham Jr. missed the start of his rookie season and won. Amon-Ra St. Brown had a hot finish last year, so we know Detroit rookie WRs can put up numbers. We can't bet Williams right now since his odds can only lengthen, but he's a sneaky long shot to add to the portfolio later.

London looks like the best bet of the four at +1400. He was the first receiver selected and he's a clear WR1 in Atlanta. We're getting a discount with London's preseason injury, but he should be ready to start the season. Receivers drafted in the top 10 represent a steep investment and usually get the workload to make the price tag worth it.

If you want to just go all-in on history and bet all four candidates, you can do so at about +300 combined. If you only bet one, London looks like the pick.

But I've got one more guy ahead of the pack right now.

The Best Bet … For Now

RB Breece Hall, Jets +1200

If you play fantasy football, you're already familiar with Hall. He was probably a third- or fourth-round pick in your draft, or a first rounder in your dynasty and the clear No. 1 in every rookie draft.

Football Outsiders rates Hall far ahead of the rest of the RB class in the mold of do-it-all backs like Dalvin Cook and LaDainian Tomlinson. Just about everyone agrees Hall will be good. And even though he wasn't a first-round pick, he did go No. 36, which is about as high as RBs get drafted in 2022.

The Jets actually ran the ball well last year. New York ranked 15th in run DVOA, which means OC Mike LaFleur's system worked, even with a poor offensive line. The line should be improved this year, and New York's QB and WR play can really only get better. This is a pretty nice situation for Hall, and he should start ahead of Michael Carter soon enough.

Hall had over 1,750 scrimmage yards each of the last two seasons, plus 46 touchdowns. He also caught 82 balls over his three years at Iowa State, so he projects as a three-down guy like Saquon Barkley or Alvin Kamara, recent OROY winners who caught a ton of passes to add to their value. Add in the New York market, and you know voters are sure to notice Hall if he has a big year.

It's a wide open Offensive Rookie of the Year field, so we'll have to monitor this race all year and add to our position later. But right now, there's only one name I'm betting to start the season, and that's Breece Hall.

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