2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Betting Odds, Analysis and Best Bets

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo shares the latest "Vegas Whispers" on where sharp bettors are going for this NFL futures bet.
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With the NFL draft now in the books, oddsmakers around the country have turned their attention from draft props to posting 2021 Player futures. At BetMGM Sportsbook, the odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year are one of the most intriguing among the early betting markets. The top overall pick, Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence, has the shortest odds to win Offensive ROY at +275.

Odds courtesy of BetMGM

Odds courtesy of BetMGM

Wide receivers often require time to learn the extended route trees in NFL playbooks, which has historically led to the position struggling to post stats worthy of rookie of the year honors. Since 2000, only three wide receivers—Odell Beckham ('14), Percy Harvin ('09), and Anquan Boldin ('03)—have taken home the award. Over that span running backs and quarterbacks have dominated the award (18 combined wins). Signal-callers have won at three of the last five years as Dak Prescott ('16), Kyler Murray ('19) and Justin Herbert ('20) have joined running backs Alvin Kamara ('17) and Saquon Barkley ('18).

Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds

The Favorites

  • Trevor Lawrence, QB, JAX: +275
  • Najee Harris, RB, PIT: +1100
  • Mac Jones, QB, NE: +1200
  • Ja’Marr Chase, WR, CIN: +1100
  • Kyle Pitts, TE, ATL: +1000

Trevor Lawrence (+275) should start Week 1, which is a tremendous advantage, and the former Clemson standout will have weapons around him in wide receivers DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault, as well as rising star James Robinson at the running back position.

Powerful running back Najee Harris (+1100) was chosen by the Steelers at pick No. 24. Harris was the first running back off the board in Round 1 and now lands in an extraordinary situation. Now that last season’s starter, James Conner, is in Arizona, expect Harris to put up tremendous numbers in his rookie season—especially in PPR fantasy leagues where he could easily haul in 40-plus passes.

Explosive receiver Ja’Marr Chase (+1100) joins a Bengals offense led by stud quarterback Joe Burrow, emerging wideout Tee Higgins and incumbent back Joe Mixon. With veteran A.J. Green now in Arizona, the door is wide open for a potentially impactful rookie season for Chase as he reunites with his LSU quarterback.

Kyle Pitts (+1000) joins a Falcons offense that could be a defensive coordinator’s nightmare to stop in 2021. The versatile tight end—in a wide receiver’s body—will now join an offensive attack that already possesses veteran Julio Jones and emerging star Calvin Ridley. Matt Ryan, who led in completions and attempts last season—will once again be under center, so we know the trio will see plenty of targets in '21. With teams focusing on Jones and Ridley, Pitts could find plenty of advantageous red zone opportunities against safeties or linebackers.

Mac Jones (+1200), drafted 15th, will have a great opportunity to fill the void left following the departure of star quarterback Tom Brady two years ago. After what we saw from veteran Cam Newton last season, you can bet that Bill Belichick will have a short hook with the veteran if the Patriots get off to a slow start.

Uphill Climb

  • Justin Fields, QB, CHI: +500
  • Trey Lance, QB, SF: +700
  • Zach Wilson, QB, NYJ: +700
  • Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA: +1800
  • DeVonta Smith, WR, PHI: +1600
  • Javonte Williams, RB, DEN: +3500

Justin Fields (+500) and Trey Lance (+700) face the realistic prospect of sitting for significant portions of the 2021 season behind veteran signal-callers despite their early draft selections. Fields could be holding the clipboard watching Andy Dalton in Chicago while Lance is expected to watch from the sidelines, thanks to the strong belief that San Francisco will roll out veteran Jimmy Garoppolo to start the season. If either of them were to land the starting jobs in training camps this summer, they would easily move up my list and warrant consideration.

Zach Wilson (+700) lands in the Big Apple, and the expectations are unmatched for any quarterback in team history after management decided to move on from 2018 No. 3 pick Sam Darnold after just three seasons. Despite the additions of Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, the Jets receiving corps are solid but far from spectacular. The Jets added a great foundation piece with their second first-round selection in USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. New York now has a dominant left side of the offensive line with LT Mekhi Becton for the next decade. However, the remaining three linemen are a major concern.

Armed with the understanding that wide receivers typically take time to learn the position, Jaylen Waddle (+1800) could struggle to put up big numbers in his rookie campaign coming off a serious ankle injury last season in Alabama. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith (+1600) will make immediate contributions to the Eagles' attack, but with Jaylen Hurts still learning the position, it may take a season or two for this combination to put up prolific numbers.

Javonte Williams (+3500) is an intriguing option from this group—joining the Broncos backfield—but he needs to find a way to unseat veteran Melvin Gordon for early-down touches.

Long Shots

  • Travis Etienne, RB, JAX: +2500
  • Trey Sermon, RB, SF: +3000
  • Rashod Bateman, WR, BAL: +5000
  • Michael Carter, RB, NYJ: +10000

BEST BET

Mac Jones (+1200)

All bettors should always look to research other betting markets before making futures wagers. In this instance, it's imperative to see what the oddsmakers are projecting for New England season win totals. In this case, BetMGM lists the Patriots at 9.5 wins, and there are strong rumors that Jones has been having an impressive rookie minicamp. What every bettor should take away from the rumblings is that Belichick may very well hand the ball to his new prized quarterback sooner than most are expecting. After posting their first losing season since 2000, the Patriots went on a spending frenzy in free agency, adding offensive weapons like Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. If Newton struggles, bettors could be looking at a double-digit steal if Jones is handed the ball early in '21 to pilot Belichick's offense. Jones lands in Foxborough equipped with an outstanding offensive line and a Hall of Fame coach.

MOONSHOT PLAY

Javonte Williams (+3500)

Of all of the rookie running backs selected in this year’s draft, I envision Javonte Williams having a great chance of making an immediate impact. With all the talk that Aaron Rodgers could be running the show in Denver in 2021, I am willing to swing for the fences here. Melvin Gordon, who is ahead of Williams on the depth chart, posted a paltry 158 receiving yards despite playing the second-most regular-season games (15) in his six-year career. If Rodgers comes on board, you can be sure he will want the dynamic rookie out of North Carolina on the field as much as possible. It is also important to note that Gordon is heading into the final year of his contract. At monstrous +3500 odds, Williams is worth an investment. 


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