2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Can Anyone Beat Kyler Murray?

Apr 28, 2019 06:30 PM EDT
Credit:

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyler Murray

  • Sportsbooks have released odds for 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
  • Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is the favorite at +300.

The 2019 NFL draft is over, and some sportsbooks have already released odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

It’s hard to know months in advance how the season might play out, especially since these rookies haven’t even had any organized team activities yet.

But that’s not going to stop us from getting some action down when there’s value to be had.

Here’s my breakdown of the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year odds.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: 1957-2018

Historically this award has been dominated by running backs. Since the Associated Press first granted the award in 1957, we have seen the following splits for the past 62 years.

  • Running Backs: 40 (64.5%)
  • Wide Receivers: 13 (21.0%)
  • Quarterbacks: 8 (12.9%)
  • Tight Ends: 1 (1.6%)

But over the past 15 years, the NFL has increasingly become a more quarterback-friendly and pass-focused league, and with that shift, the positional distribution of the award has changed.

  • Quarterbacks: 7 (46.7%)
  • Running Backs: 6 (40.0%)
  • Wide Receivers: 2 (13.3%)
  • Tight Ends: 0 (0.0%)

I think it’s worth looking a little at the winners from the past 15 years.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Quarterbacks

Here are the winners at quarterback since 2004.

  • Ben Roethlisberger (2014)
  • Vince Young (2006)
  • Matt Ryan (2008)
  • Sam Bradford (2010)
  • Cam Newton (2011)
  • Robert Griffin III (2012)
  • Dak Prescott (2016)

All of them started at least 13 games; on average, they started 15 games. And with the exception of Prescott, all of them were drafted in Round 1. Aside from Dak and Roethlisberger, all were selected with top-three picks.

Although the group as a whole averaged 9.7 quarterback wins per rookie campaign, a quarterback hasn’t needed his team to win games in order for him to receive the award. In 2011, Newton had just six wins. The year before that, Bradford had seven. And both Young and RG3 had nine.

What matters for this award with quarterbacks isn’t how many games they win or whether their teams make the playoffs.

What matters is how many games they start and whether they look like they belong on the field when they’re out there.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Running Backs

Here are the winners from the past 15 years.

  • Cadillac Williams (2005)
  • Adrian Peterson (2007)
  • Eddie Lacy (2013)
  • Todd Gurley (2015)
  • Alvin Kamara (2017)
  • Saquon Barkley (2018)

For running backs, only one thing matters: Production. Raw, dirty, in-your-face production.

Collectively, these six backs averaged 1,529.8 yards and 11.3 touchdowns from scrimmage in 14.7 games. Not one of them had fewer than 1,250 yards.

Production is the result of opportunity, which is correlated with draft position, and all six of these guys had at least Round 2 draft capital invested into them by their teams.

Not all of them opened their rookie years as starters, but all of them were significant contributors within the first month of the season.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Wide Receivers

Here are the two winners within our time frame.

  • Percy Harvin (2009)
  • Odell Beckham Jr. (2014)

Both Harvin and OBJ were first-round receivers who had a series of highlight-reel plays as rookies.

Harvin wasn’t as productive as OBJ, but in 15 games he had 925 scrimmage yards, six receiving touchdowns and two returning touchdowns. Every time he touched the ball, it seemed like he might score.

As for OBJ, he played only 12 games, but he led the league with 108.8 yards receiving per game. And perhaps more importantly, he had the defining moment of the year with his one-handed touchdown catch on Sunday Night Football.

The sample is small, but for wide receivers, electrifying moments might matter almost as much as total production.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Tight Ends

Only one tight end has ever won the award: Mike Ditka in 1961, when he led the Chicago Bears with 56 receptions, 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 games.

Basically, unless a tight end has the greatest rookie season of all time at the position, he’s not winning the award.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Offensive Linemen

Never before has a lineman won the award, which means that I feel no need to talk further about Andre Dillard (+15000), Jawaan Taylor (+15000), Jonah Williams (+15000), Kaleb McGary (+15000), Tytus Howard (+15000), Chris Lindstrom (+20000) and Garrett Bradbury (+20000).

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: 2019

Let’s run through these guys one at a time. As always, be sure to shop around for the best lines.

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray: +300

Murray should be the favorite. I’m betting the over on his passing yardage prop: He’s likely to be the Week 1 starter, and I expect the Cardinals offense to be explosive under head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Kyler should be a dynamic player right away.

The Pick: Murray (+300)

Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins: +800

Haskins might not open the season as the starter, and he has one of the least inspiring wide receiver groups in the league. On top of that, he has some significant flaws.

The Pick: Pass

Raiders RB Josh Jacobs: +1200

Jacobs is big (220 lbs.), young (21 years old), and a Round 1 pick (No. 24). The last three guys to fit that description as rookies — Saquon, Zeke and Gurley — all won the award.

And the last time Raiders HC Jon Gruden drafted a Round 1 back — Cadillac in 2005 — that guy won the award.

Jacobs should get every opportunity he needs to put produce.

The Pick: Jacobs (+1200)

Ravens WR Marquise Brown: +2000

Brown is electric, but the Ravens employ a run-heavy offense, and quarterback Lamar Jackson struggled mightily last year with accuracy.

Basically, his situation is horrible.

The Pick: Pass

Lions T.J. Hockenson: +2000

Hockenson is a great player, but I’ll bet against his having a Ditka-esque first-year campaign.

The Pick: Pass

Patriots WR N’Keal Harry: +2100

Harry is a good receiver, but he’s not a dynamic playmaker, and the Patriots spread the ball around their offense. He won’t get enough targets.

The Pick: Pass

Giants QB Daniel Jones: +2300

Not now. Not ever.

Never.

The Pick: Pass

Titans WR A.J. Brown: +2500

With the run-first Titans, Brown is unlikely to see the target volume he would need to win.

The Pick: Pass

Colts WR Parris Campbell: +2500

Campbell is fast and versatile, and he has a great quarterback in Andrew Luck. But he’s likely to play behind wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight end Eric Ebron and maybe even wide receiver Devin Funchess and tight end Jack Doyle.

The Pick: Pass

Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf: +2500

Metcalf is certainly dynamic, but he also might be the No. 3 wide receiver in an antiquated run-first offense.

The Pick: Pass

Rams RB Darrell Henderson: +3000

Henderson is fast, but why would I invest in a guy who is no more than a change-of-pace back?

The Pick: Pass

Broncos QB Drew Lock: +3000

Lock is an inconsistent passer, and he could sit the entire season behind veteran starter Joe Flacco.

The Pick: Pass

Eagles RB Miles Sanders: +3000

As a Round 2 selection, Sanders has a good chance to earn the starting job in training camp, and his three-down skill set could enable him to stay on the field in all situations.

It doesn’t hurt that he has above-average athleticism and will have a good offensive line.

He’s a reasonable longshot.

The Pick: Sanders (+3000)

Patriots RB Damien Harris: +3000

Harris will play behind starter Sony Michel and change-of-pace back James White. Prognosis negative.

The Pick: Pass

Vikings RB Alexander Mattison: +3000

He’s a 21-year-old rookie selected with a top-100 pick, so he’s not without talent. But he’s stuck behind starter Dalvin Cook.

The Pick: Pass

49ers WR Jalen Hurd: +3000

He’ll play behind wide receivers Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin and maybe even rookie second-rounder Deebo Samuel. Not to mention tight end George Kittle. And he might not even have a fixed NFL position.

The Pick: Pass

Bears RB David Montgomery: +3500

I like his skill set, but Montgomery will lose targets to running back Tarik Cohen and perhaps some carries to Mike Davis. If we knew for sure that he’d be a three-down lead back, then maybe we’d consider him.

The Pick: Pass

Broncos TE Noah Fant: +3500

Good, but no Ditka.

The Pick: Pass

Cardinals WR Hakeem Butler: +3500

GTFO. Butler is a fourth-rounder.

The Pick: Pass

Panthers QB Will Grier: +3500

This guy is a third-round backup. The only way he’d have a shot is if, like Dak in 2016, he’s forced into action because the starter suffers a season-ending injury.

Cam Newton is recovering from shoulder surgery, and it’s possible that — like Luck in 2017 — he could heal slowly or have some random complications that require him to miss the season.

But I’m not betting on it.

The Pick: Pass

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman: +5000

Drafted on Day 2, Hardman is pretty much a Tyreek Hill replacement, but he might be more than just a cheap imitation knockoff.

With his athletic profile, versatility and age, Hardman is very comparable to Harvin, and Reid and Mahomes are more than capable of turning almost any receiver with talent into a star.

The Pick: Hardman (+5000)

Eagles WR J.J. Arcega Whiteside: +5000

He won’t see enough action behind wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson and tight end Zach Ertz.

The Pick: Pass

49ers WR Deebo Samuel: +5000

Samuel is Harvin-esque in that he produced in college as a receiver, runner and returner. And he is an explosive player. But he’s unlikely to get the targets he needs with all the other receivers on the team.

The Pick: Pass

Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr.: +5000

As a rookie, he’ll be a backup tight end — and no Ditka.

The Pick: Pass

Ravens RB Justice Hill: +5000

Hill is fast, and he produced in college, but with the Ravens he’ll open the year behind running back Mark Ingram. Even if Hill forces his way into a timeshare, Ingram is much likelier to get the touchdowns.

The Pick: Pass

Redskins RB Bryce Love: +5500

Love tore his ACL in his final college game in December. I’m doubtful that he’ll even play this year.

The Pick: Pass

Bengals QB Ryan Finley: +7500

I’m not betting on Andy Dalton’s fourth-round backup.

The Pick: Pass

Cardinals WR Andy Isabella: +8000

You better believe that I’m betting on Isabella. He’s a fast-and-versatile big-play producer who could put up stats in the Air Raid offense.

If Isabella has an outstanding season, Murray probably will have one as well, in which case the quarterback will likely win the award — but it might not necessarily work out that way.

If Murray has an above-average season but misses some games with injury — and that’s possible because of his willingness to run — and if Isabella has a great season that is partially fueled with supplemental rushing and returning production, then Isabella would have a real shot.

Regardless, there’s no way I’m not betting on the rookie I want most in fantasy leagues this year.

The Pick: Isabella +8000

Bills RB Devin Singletary: +10000

Singletary is a small-and-slow mid-major back on a subpar NFL team, and he’s currently behind LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon on the depth chart.

The Pick: Pass

Packers TE Jace Sternberger: +10000

No. More. Tight. Ends.

The Pick: Pass

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham: +10000

Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t win the award in 2014. Stidham’s not winning it now.

The Pick: Pass

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson: +10000

Johnson is intriguing as a potential Antonio Brown replacement, but he’s unlikely to get enough targets with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief and James Washington at wide receiver.

The Pick: Pass

Freedman’s 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Bets

In total, there are five guys I think could win the award.

  • Murray (+300)
  • Jacobs (+1200)
  • Sanders (+3000)
  • Hardman (+5000)
  • Isabella (+8000)

Here’s how I’m going to invest. I’ll put 1.0 units on Murray. If he wins, I’ll get 3.0 units, which is the exact amount I’m going to put on Jacobs (1.0 units), Sanders (0.9 units), Hardman (0.9 units) and Isabella (0.2 units) combined.

Basically, I’m using Murray as a free roll for the bets on all the other guys.

I’m investing 4.0 units total with these potential outcomes.

  • Murray ROY: Break even
  • Jacobs ROY: Win +9.0 units
  • Sanders ROY: Win +23.9 units
  • Hardman ROY: Win +41.9 units
  • Isabella ROY: Win +12.2 units
  • Anyone Else ROY: Bust

Let’s crush.

And, remember: No tight ends.

The Picks:

  • Murray: +300, 1.0 units
  • Jacobs: +1200, 1.0 units
  • Sanders: +3000, 0.9 units
  • Hardman: +5000, 0.9 units
  • Isabella: +8000, 0.2 units

For daily player props, follow me in The Action Network app.

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

How would you rate this article?
Follow Matthew Freedman on Twitter
@MattFtheOracle

Top Stories