Now that the dust has settled from the NFL draft, it’s time to get in those early futures bets and lock in some value for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
This year’s draft felt more like chess than checkers, with teams clearly leaning more on their analytics departments than in years past. Defensive players dominated the first five picks, while offensive tackles went picks six and seven.
We saw the first wide receiver come off the board at No. 8 (Drake London, Falcons) and 17 wide receivers came off the board in the first three rounds.
Conversely, rookie quarterbacks were valued much like fantasy quarterbacks. Only one went in the first round (Kenny Pickett, Steelers, 20th overall) while the next went in the second round at pick 73 (Desmond Ridder, Falcons). Malik Willis, the betting favorite for first quarterback drafted, fell all the way to the third round.
A quarterback has taken home OROY honors in two of the last three years and six of the last 12 years, while four running backs have won in the last dozen years. Only two wide receivers have won in that span, although Ja’Marr Chase won it this past season.
An early look at OROY odds reflects the receiver-dominant draft. Let’s break it down.
Steelers QB Kenny Pickett +500
Titans WR Treylon Burks +750
Falcons WR Drake London +750
Packers WR Christian Watson +800
Jets RB Breece Hall +900
Chiefs WR Skyy Moore +1000
Jets WR Garrett Wilson +1000
Saints WR Chris Olave +1000
Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker III +1200
Falcons QB Desmond Ridder +1400
Bills RB James Cook +1500
Titans QB Malik Willis +1600
Panthers QB Matt Corral +1800
Pickett at +500 odds makes sense in that a QB is often in the best position to win this award. However, he’s behind Mitch Trubisky—and possibly also Mason Rudolph—in the pecking order. He may not have the opportunity to start this season.
Titans receiver Treylon Burks (+750) is in a good spot with AJ Brown in Philadelphia. He should be the second target behind Robert Woods for the accurate Ryan Tannehill. He’s not dissimilar to AJ Brown, and he could be a great fit for this offense.
London (+750), as the first receiver selected in the draft, immediately earns WR1 status for a team with a sparse wide receivers room. New quarterback Marcus Mariota will be throwing him the ball, which is … OK.
Jets running back Breece Hall likely joins a committee in New York that already includes talented sophomore Michael Carter.
Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker Jr. will be in line behind fantasy waiver-wire darling Rashad Penny, as well as possibly Chris Carson. Between the two backs, I’d rather put my money on Walker (+1200). He’s behind two players that have often found themselves on IR. Plus, Peter Carroll’s offense loves the running back position.
Packers receiver Christian Watson has the opportunity to win Aaron Rodgers’ favor and therefore also take home this award. Chris Olave, Garret Wilson, Jameson Williams and Skyy Moore are also in good spots with their respective teams.
But perhaps my favorite bet is Matt Corral at +1800. The Panthers will be going to battle with Sam Darnold, but we’ve seen how that can turn out. Corral should be ahead of PJ Walker, and let’s face it: a quarterback is most likely to win this award.
Sure, it’s a long shot, but at +1800 odds? Let’s ride!
BETS: Falcons WR Drake London (+750); Long shot: Panthers QB Matt Corral (+1800)
Now, let’s see which players the rest of the SI Betting team are backing.
SI Betting’s Matt Ehalt:
I’m betting on Saints receiver Chris Olave since I like his odds better than Treylon Burks at +750. It’s not hard to imagine Olave getting No. 1 opportunities with the Saints (can we still trust Michael Thomas) and that’s what I’m looking for with this wager. Treylon Burks has that chance, but the Titans want to run the ball. Olave is a better player, IMO. I don’t trust a QB to won it since this was a bad class, and Drake London may be passing catches from Marcus Mariota. My concern with Christian Watson is that Aaron Rodgers and rookie receivers is a bad combo. I’m willing to invest in Olave at 10-1 odds.
BET: Saints WR Chris Olave (+1000)
SI Betting and Fantasy’s Kyle Wood:
The first skill position player came off the board at No. 8, so there’s no clear-cut pick to win OROY. Kenny Pickett has the best odds, but I’m not convinced he starts right away in Pittsburgh with Mitch Trubisky in the room. There’s also plenty of good receivers in this class, but I don’t love the value of Treylon Burks, Drake London or Christian Watson given their situations. (Burks is probably the best bet of the top rookie pass catchers because of the guaranteed volume he’ll see.) That brings us to Breece Hall, the Iowa State running back whom the Jets grabbed early in the second round. He played 12 games every year in college, nearly eclipsed 4,000 career rushing yards and has a nose for the end zone. He can surely supplant Michael Carter, New York’s 2021 fourth-round selection, in the backfield and rack up scrimmage yards in what figures to be an improved offense in Zach Wilson’s second season. The NFL is steadily moving away from heavy dependence on running backs, but rookie running backs have won this award just as often as quarterbacks in the last decade. If you’re looking for a long shot, I like the Bills’ second-round pick, James Cook out of Georgia.
BETS: Jets RB Breece Hall (+900); Long Shot: Bills RB James Cook (+1500)
MMQB’s Conor Orr:
Treylon Burks is a smart bet because the Titans literally view him as a 1:1 replacement for AJ Brown. Their actions on draft night show an organization confident in the scheme slightly above the player. Burks is explosive with a tremendous ability to run after the catch. While Brown’s strength was understanding the nuances of Tennessee’s offense and adding his own flair, Burks could certainly develop into that player.
BET: Titans WR Treylon Burks (+750)
SI Fantasy’s Craig Ellenport:
Most of the top wide receiver prospects were drafted by bad teams or teams with mediocre quarterbacks, so it’s hard to see them putting up Rookie-of-the-Year numbers. Then there’s second-rounder Christian Watson, who will catch passes from Aaron Rodgers. Ignore the ridiculous narrative about rookie receivers struggling with Rodgers. When Davante Adams was a rookie in 2014, the Packers had Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, both of whom caught 90-plus passes. Watson, on the other hand, will be much more critical to the team’s success in 2022. With Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling no longer in Green Bay, that’s 224 targets lost. If Watson gets half of those targets, he’ll do enough to earn OROY honors.
BET: Packers WR Christian Watson (+800)
SI Betting’s Frank Taddeo:
Tyreek Hill is no longer in Kansas City, so the Chiefs went out and grabbed former Western Michigan standout Skyy Moore. The 5’10” speedster will step in and become a major threat running routes for Patrick Mahomes in his first season in Andy Reid’s offense. I could envision the former Bronco star stepping into Hill’s role and instantly becoming the WR1 for Kansas City. Moore could become one of the steals of the second round of this year’s draft and at double-digit odds he could very well become one for bettors in the OROY market.
BET: Chiefs WR Skyy Moore (+1000)
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