- Young stars have emerged on both sides of the ball
- Is it better to be on a good team or a standout on a mediocre squad?
- There are several strong contenders on defense
Handicapping the NFL Rookie of the Year Award before the season begins can be difficult, particularly on offense. While running backs and wide receivers are usually on the field early, sometimes quarterbacks, the prohibitive favorite to win offensive awards, begin the campaign as backups.
Recently, non-QB’s have taken hold of the Offensive ROY award, with only Dak Prescott representing signal callers over the last five campaigns. Previously, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin had won in three straight seasons. However, this year, with four quarterbacks chosen among the top 10 picks in the draft, it figured one or two would set themselves apart.
While young quarterbacks have certainly made a mark over the first six weeks of this season, Giants running back Saquon Barkley is in a position to set records, and has jumped to the head of the class. Let’s look at some projected odds.
2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds
|Player||Odds to Win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year|
How to Handicap the Offensive Race
This is a legitimately tight race. Barkley has more than justified his high draft selection, but Mayfield looks like the quarterback Cleveland has needed for decades. Meanwhile, Darnold has arguably played his best two games the last two weeks, and Michel is starting to look like last year’s winner Alvin Kamara.
While Barkley and Mayfield are the most likely winners, Michel plays for an elite team and will never be the focal point for a defense to concentrate on since Tom Brady is in the same backfield. Michel’s odds are shrinking, and the time to buy is now.
What About the Top Rookie Defenders?
There is something to be said about playing in games that a national audience watches each week, or being a part of a compelling storyline.
While Colts linebacker Darius Leonard returned from an injury to rack up nine tackles on Sunday, more attention has been and will continue to be paid to Denzel Ward. The fourth pick in the draft is having a productive year for the resurgent Browns. However, since a scintillating debut, Ward has been solid but not spectacular. Meanwhile Leonard, unheralded and on a 1-5 teams yields little discussion.
Chargers safety Derwin James falls somewhere in-between. While LA is solid, they have no real fans, and aren’t the most marketable team in the NFL.
2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds
|Player||Odds to Win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year|
How to Handicap the Defensive Race
It is just too wide open to take a short price. Ward, Leonard, and James all have major positives, but someone could still emerge. Chubb had three sacks on Sunday and the Broncos’ schedule is softening. If he can help pull Denver back into playoff contention, we might find some value there.