The NFL Draft is now in the books and the oddsmakers have turned their attention from draft props to 2020 NFL futures. At FanDuel Sportsbook, the odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year are one of the most intriguing among the early betting markets. Top overall pick Joe Burrow, who went to the Cincinnati Bengals, has the shortest odds to win at +250.
Wide receivers tend to need time to assimilate to understanding vast NFL playbooks, which has historically led to the position struggling to post stats worthy of garnering the ROY award. Since 2000, only three wide receivers—Odell Beckham (2014, Giants), Percy Harvin (2009, Vikings) and Anquan Boldin (2003, Cardinals)—have taken home the prestigious honor. Over that span running backs have dominated the award, winning nine times with quarterbacks taking home the award eight times, most recently by Arizona’s Kyler Murray in 2019.
Let's dive right into this year’s field:
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals / Offensive ROY Odds: +250
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs / Offensive ROY Odds: +800
D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions / Offensive ROY Odds: +900
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts / Offensive ROY Odds: +950
Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams / Offensive ROY Odds: +2000
Burrow could start Week 1, which is a tremendous advantage, and will have some nice weapons around him in WR A.J. Green and RB Joe Mixon. He’ll also have WR Tyler Boyd and the top pick of the second round, WR Tee Higgins, at his disposal.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (8/1) was the very last pick of the first round by Super Bowl LIV Champion Kansas City. The explosive Edwards-Helaire was the first and only running back off the board in Round 1. He joins arguably the best offense in the NFL led by star signal caller Patrick Mahomes.
Dynamic D’Andre Swift (9/1) joins a Detroit Lions offense that is led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, wideout Kenny Golladay and incumbent back Kerryon Johnson. Johnson has had issues staying healthy in his two seasons in the NFL, which could open the door to a potentially impactful rookie season for Swift.
Jonathan Taylor (+950) joins an Indianapolis Colts offense that has transformed overnight via free agency and the draft. The two-time Doak Walker Award winner instantly becomes an integral part of a Colts roster that will feature Philip Rivers under center, star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and a solid tight end in Jack Doyle. Colts starting running back Marlon Mack has yet to play more than 14 games in a season and injuries have obviously made the Colts question if he can actually be their franchise back. Cam Akers (20/1), who was drafted No. 52 overall, will have a great opportunity to fill the void left following the departure of star running back Todd Gurley in the offseason.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins / Offensive ROY Odds: +800
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos / Offensive ROY Odds: +1300
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys / Offensive ROY Odds: +1500
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens / Offensive ROY Odds: +1600
Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas Raiders / Offensive ROY Odds: +1800
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers / Offensive ROY Odds: +2000
Tagovailoa (8/1) and Herbert (20/1), despite earning top-six overall selections, face the realistic prospect of sitting for portions, if not all, of the 2020 season behind veteran signal callers. Tagovailoa is expected to be holding the clipboard watching Ryan Fitzpatrick in Miami, while Herbert could be forced to watch from the sidelines thanks to the strong belief Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has in Tyrod Taylor.
With the understanding that wide receivers typically take time to learn the position, Jerry Jeudy (13/1) could struggle to put up big numbers in his rookie campaign as second-year Broncos quarterback Drew Lock also learns how to break down NFL defenses. CeeDee Lamb (15/1) will make immediate contributions to the Cowboys attack, but with Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup firmly entrenched for touches, the former Oklahoma standout will easily be the fourth option for Dak Prescott. Dobbins (16/1) is an intriguing option from this group joining the Ravens’ top rushing offense, but he will most likely struggle to see touches with veteran Mark Ingram, who is coming off a Pro Bowl 2019 season, in front of him on the depth chart.
Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets / Offensive ROY Odds: +2300
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles / Offensive ROY Odds: +2800
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings / Offensive ROY Odds: +2800
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers / Offensive ROY Odds: +3500
BEST BET: Joe Burrow (+250)
All bettors should always look to do research into other betting markets before making futures wagers. In this instance, it's imperative to see what the oddsmakers are projecting for Burrow in comparison to other NFL quarterbacks. Upon that deeper dive, we learn that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is projected to throw more yards in 2020 than Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones. He is also projected to throw nearly the same amount of touchdowns as Baker Mayfield, Darnold and Allen.
It is also prudent to look at projected season win totals. In this case, William Hill lists the Cincinnati Bengals at five wins, moderately juiced to the over at odds of -145. What every bettor should take away from that, is that the Bengals will often be behind in games which will lead to the ball being in Burrow’s hands quite often in the second half. As fantasy owners can attest, “garbage time” stats are far from garbage. Fantasy championships are predicated upon superior stats and that also holds true for these kinds of awards.
LONGSHOT PLAY: Jonathan Taylor (+950)
Of all of the rookie running backs selected in this year’s draft, I envision Taylor having the best chance of making an immediate impact. I am very high on Clyde Edwards-Helaire joining the Chiefs, but Damien Williams will still have the lead role in 2020. Swift will have a highly productive Kerryon Johnson to deal with in earning consideration for the RB1 role. Taylor is arguably the more explosive back in Indy with superior hands to Mack, so he ranks highest in my PPR model among the rookie running back class heading into 2020.
With both Edwards-Helaire and Swift having to unseat star veteran backs for lead roles, it comes down to Taylor and Akers. The difference here falls upon the respective offensive lines. Taylor will be running behind arguably one of the best in the league, while Akers who just ran behind a poor line at Florida State will once again have the same issue in Los Angeles. At nearly 10/1 odds, Taylor is worth a smaller fall back play.
MORE FROM SI: