- Bengals No. 1-overall pick Joe Burrow (+250) is the favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+400) headlines an impressive group of first-year running backs who could explode on to the scene
- CeeDee Lamb (+1400) looks to become the first receiver to win the award since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014
Joe Burrow hopes to follow in Kyler Murray’s footsteps as the second-straight Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and No. 1 overall pick to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, but it won’t be easy.
The 2020 NFL rookie class is absolutely loaded, with a slew of talented running backs and a potentially historic wide receiver crop.
After examining the board, we’ll review the contenders at each position and look at some longshots who could challenge the 23-year-old Ohio native for the award.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR ODDS
|Player (Position, Team)||Odds|
|Joe Burrow (QB, Bengals)||+250|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, Chiefs)||+400|
|Cam Akers (RB, Rams)||+900|
|Jonathan Taylor (RB, Colts)||+900|
|Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Dolphins)||+1000|
|D’Andre Swift (RB, Lions)||+1200|
|CeeDee Lamb (WR, Cowboys)||+1400|
|J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ravens)||+1600|
|Jerry Jeudy (WR, Broncos)||+1600|
|Justin Herbert (QB, Chargers)||+1600|
|Henry Ruggs III (WR, Raiders)||+1800|
|Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB, Buccaneers)||+2000|
|Denzel Mims (WR, Jets)||+2200|
|Chase Claypool (WR, Steelers)||+2800|
|Jalen Reagor (WR, Eagles)||+2800|
|Justin Jefferson (WR, Vikings)||+2800|
|Brandon Aiyuk (WR, 49ers)||+3300|
|Tee Higgins (WR, Bengals)||+3300|
|Zach Moss (RB, Bills)||+3300|
|Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, Colts)||+4000|
|Jordan Love (QB, Packers)||+5000|
|K.J. Hamler (WR, Broncos)||+5000|
|Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Jaguars)||+5000|
|A.J. Dillon (RB, Packers)||+6600|
|Joshua Kelley (RB, Chargers)||+6600|
Burrow seems to have the “IT” factor and looks well set up on paper with an array of skill-position talent (Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and second-round pick Tee Higgins), but don’t forget that Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor was one of the least inspiring first-year head coaches in recent memory.
Given the Bengals will also be relying on the return of 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams to stabilize an offensive line that ranked third-worst in the NFL last season, we’re not sure why Burrow’s odds to claim the award (+250) are shorter than Chase Young’s odds (+450) to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) May 12, 2020
Picked four spots after the LSU star, Tua Tagovailoa (+1000) is facing even greater obstacles. Five signal-callers have won OROY since 2010, and all five started from Day 1. With the 22-year-old lefty coming off a serious hip injury, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to unseat Dolphins starter Ryan Fitzpatrick in a training camp that could be shortened by COVID-19.
With Justin Herbert (+1600) also expected to open the season as a back-up, you can safely ignore the Chargers No. 6 overall pick for now.
THE RUNNING BACKS
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+400) may have been the last pick of Round 1, but he’s first in the hearts of fantasy-football analysts everywhere. Seemingly tailor-made for the Chiefs, the pass-catching back totaled 1,867 yards from scrimmage and 17 total touchdowns with LSU in 2019.
Considering that Andy Reid believes he’s better than Brian Westbrook, and that his quarterback is Patrick Mahomes, CEH is in prime position to become the third back in the last four years to be named the NFL’s top rookie.
The most valuable running back in college football last season:
LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire pic.twitter.com/i0mylnk2PX
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 11, 2020
Jonathan Taylor (+900), Cam Akers (+900), D’Andre Swift (+1200) and J.K. Dobbins (+1600) all fell to the second round of April’s NFL Draft, a fact that speaks more to modern day “running backs don’t matter” analytics than their respective talent levels.
Each guy will be stepping into committee situations, so timing and injuries will likely determine who breaks out in their first year. With that in mind, if Mark Ingram were ever to go down, Dobbins would have explosive upside in Baltimore’s league-best ground attack after compiling 2,003 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns at Ohio State last year.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS
While a wide receiver hasn’t won an OROY since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014, many analysts have called this year’s class of pass catchers the best ever.
After somehow slipping to No. 17, CeeDee Lamb (+1600) will have a better shot at hauling in the award than the two guys who went ahead of him, Jerry Jeudy (+1600) and Henry Ruggs III (+1800). Set to wear the famed No. 88 jersey for the Cowboys, Lamb will benefit from the exposure that comes from playing on “America’s Team” and will be open plenty while playing the slot in Dallas’ supercharged passing game.
We T.R.A.I.N. deadly 🔥
— Delfonte Diamond (@DelfonteDiamond) May 8, 2020
It’s easy to build a case for others as well. Denzel Mims (+2200) has chance to be Sam Darnold’s No. 1 option in New York, Jalen Reagor (+2800) could become the deep threat of Carson Wentz’s dreams, Brandon Aiyuk (+3300) will be constantly schemed open by Kyle Shanahan, and Michael Pittman (+4000) resembles the type of big-bodied receiver that Philip Rivers has always enjoyed chucking it to.
However, if you’re seeking value, don’t sleep on Laviska Shenault Jr. (+5000). Perhaps the only talent Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell has is identifying receivers in the draft (DJ Chark, Allen Robinson, etc.) and Shenault is a tackle-breaking machine who will likely be given free reign on screens and sweeps in a Jacksonville offense with few other weapons.
Best bet: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+400)
Value bet: J.K. Dobbins (+1600)
Longshot: Laviska Shenault Jr. (+5000)