Offensive Rookie of the year – an early look

So it turns out i’ve got a bit of time on my hands today with the missus and my daughter both being away, so I can have a little look at the Offensive rookie of the year market. I mentioned on twitter a week or two ago that there was a lot of variance in prices on the main guys, so it is worth checking around and making sure you’re getting the best price for anyone you want to take, even though at the moment, there only seems to be Paddypower, Skybet, Bet365 and BetVictor offering prices on this market, which is annoying to say the least. I feel the need to say that this is a tough market, I think it would probably be better to wait until later in the off season to place bets when you’ll know more about the roles being played by these guys, but the value may have evaporated by then. So at small stakes I’m happy to recommend the following…

Lets have a look at the guys topping the market.

Leonard Fournette – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars (5/1 PP)

Lenny, as he’s known to his friends is the early favourite for OROY, the guy is a beast, he was taken at #4 in the draft by the Jags who desperately need to establish some kind of running game. In 2015 at LSU, he set the school record of 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, and led the country with 162.8 rushing yards per game, while he only managed to play in 7 games in his final year in college, he did increase his yards per carry from the year before, and went for 843 yards and 8 TDs. He was touted as a top 10 pick, and obviously that happened, although interestingly PFF and SI had him listed as the no.2 back in the class behind Dalvin Cook (more on him later). The positives – He’s landed in a great situation, the Jags have a very good defence on paper and while QB Blake Bortles has some well publicised issues throwing the ball last year, they need to have a run game to balance the offence. He doesn’t have a huge amount of competition, Yeldon hasn’t established himself and Chris Ivory didn’t make too much of an impression last season either, so it’s his job to own. The negatives… Ivory is getting paid a lot, so may take some carries. The Jags are a constant let down. He’s a very aggressive runner, which could cause some health issues playing in a league against some gigantic guys. My final say on him? I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a good year, but with the bookies expecting the Jags to finish last in the AFC South, at least 3 games behind anyone else, he’d have to have record breaking stats to win it, in my opinion – Not for me.

DeShaun Watson – QB – Houston Texans (7/1 Skybet)

According to most, Deshaun Watson has joined a Texans team that is shaping for a Superbowl run with a  solid QB. I don’t particularly buy into that opinion, i’m not sure they’re that strong on offence even with an average QB, but they have one of the best defences in the league which welcomes back JJ Watt for at least a game this season, he goes in alongside Merciless and Clowney to give them an incredibly disruptive front, and in fairness, they did cause the Patriots some big issues in the playoffs last season, if Will Fuller could catch then who knows what may have happened in that game, so I can understand where people are coming from. The positives – The team has a great defence, which will keep them in games. They have a running game, Dont’a Foreman was added in the draft alongside Lamar Miller who flattered to deceive last year. Deandre ‘Nuk’ Hopkins is awesome and they’ve got a couple of pretty solid tight ends for any checkdowns. He’s a winner. All he did at Clemson is win, although that could have had a lot to do with Mike Williams huge catch radius. The negatives – He probably won’t enter the season as the starter. I think they’ll probably use Tom Savage as the starter on the season… I would imagine that Watson will see at least 12 games, but there’s no guarantee on that at all. If Savage leads the team to a few wins in the first few games then he may keep the job longer. They play the Jags, Bengals, Pats, Titans, Chiefs… Savage will do well to impress in those games, all of them have fairly good defences. They play the Browns in the 6th game of the season, if you wanted to give a new QB an easier start that would probably be it. So that would mean he only plays 11 games. Final say – He’d have to go some to win the award missing the first 5 games. But there’s a long way to go in camp and if he impresses then I don’t see why he couldn’t start the season as their main guy. At 7/1 I’ll have 4pts on him.

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Carolina Panthers (15/2 PP)

This guy is great to watch, he can do things that not many other guys in football can, his cuts, his movement, his pass catching ability is great. There were reports coming out of the combine that if he was a WR he’d have been one of the best in the class. He’s from a sporting family, and set the all time NCAA all-purpose record at Stanford with 3,864 yards in 2015 (600 yards more than Barry Sanders), 1,000 of them from kick off returns. In 2016 he led the nation in all purpose yards 211 yards per game, which is ridiculous it left him 4th in rushing yards per game as well, 145 of them per game on the ground. The positives – He’s a phenomenal athlete. He already seems to be a true pro, he missed his teams bowl game to prepare for the draft. He set the combine alight and only performed positional drills at the Stanford pro-day. This says to me he’s incredibly confident in his ability. He can run between the tackles, take it outside, catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s got it all. The negatives – He’s joined a team which threw one of the fewest amounts in the league to its RBs. Cam just doesn’t do it, if he’s under pressure he won’t dump it off, he’ll take off and run with the ball, although it seems obvious they want to change his style of play with the addition of Samuel and McCaffrey, it remains to be seen that he can do it. Jonathon Stewart is still there, he put up decent enough numbers and could well be the goal-line back vulturing some TDs, and I can’t see them just leaving him out of the lineup despite McCaffreys talent. McCaffrey has a lot of wear on the tyres, he’s had a ton of action in his college days, 821 touches in 3 years is a heck of a lot! It might not matter as much this year, but it may well do in his long term career in the NFL. As mentioned Curtis Samuel was also taken who is pretty much the same player, although a lesser version. Final say – I love the guy, he’s brilliant to watch and can create something from nothing, however, I just don’t see him getting enough in this team to fully showcase his talents. I may well be proved wrong come the end of the season, and as with everyone in this list I’ll be following all off season for any hints! Pass from me… for now.

Corey Davis – WR – Tennesee Titans (10/1 PP)

It seems like Davis is the consensus 4th overall, although PP have him at a bigger price than everywhere else. He’s as short as 6/1 at Skybet. Again he’s a guy who’s landed in a good spot. The Titans are on the rise, their QB Mariota is entering his third year in charge of the offence, and had a good season last time around which would have seen his team make the playoffs if it hadn’t have been for a broken leg with a game or two left. Their defence is solid, and they have a great run game to help out. Davis was my favourite WR in the draft, he set records in college (leading receiver in FBS history), albeit at a poorer level than a lot of the guys in this draft. He’s a unit, he can go up and get it, he can run after the catch, he can do it all. The positives – He’s a great player. He’s shown he can do it at the college level, he was the first receiver off the board at no.5 so the Titans obviously wanted him. He’s in an up-and-coming team with a good QB who just doesn’t give the ball away in the red zone. The negatives – He’s in a run first offence. Although he’ll be the no.1 target, there’s a lot of mouths to feed there and Delanie Walker may well stick to being the top red zone target on the team, for this season at least. The records he set in college weren’t at the highest level, there’s a possibility he won’t be able to do it against NFL competition. Final say – A tough one, I like the guy, and I think the Titans will have a good season, but will it be due to him impressing enough to sway the votes on OROY? I’m not convinced. I think Murray and Henry will have more of a say than he will. Pass.

I’m already at 1,500 words, so i’ll try to sum up the rest of the guys a little more succinctly. I have a couple of fancies at bigger odds, so i’ll go for them in a little more detail.

Dalvin Cook – RB – Minnesota Vikings (20/1 PP)

Once again Paddypower have a much bigger price than their competition. He’s as short at 7/1 at Skybet! I wouldn’t tip him solely because of that, but if you’re looking for value then you won’t get much better than that. Cook was rated as the number one back in the draft class by PFF (pro football focus) and SI (sports illustrated) and despite him being a slightly dodgy character off the field, he’s been charged with a multitude of different things, he’s a devastating back. The Vikings when fit have a decent OL, but that won’t matter too much to Cook, he was brilliant with a shitty one at Florida in college, and still put up great numbers. The Vikings have a crowded backfield having paid for Latavius Murray who scored 12 TDs for the Raiders last season, and may well take goal-line TDs from Cook, there’s also Jerrick McKinnon still there as the third down back, which again could lessen his workload. But in my opinion Cook will quickly be the no.1 back in that team. With the significantly different price being offered by the Irish guys I’ll be taking 2pts at 20/1 with them.

Dont’a Foreman – RB – Houston Texans (80/1 PP)

He’s a dominating RB who can just run through guys, I expect him to be mixed into the Texans offence from the outset, and he may well get goal-line carries. If this offence comes on then, at the price offered I’ll put a point on him. If Lamar Miller suffers an injury then he may well be the workhorse guy in this offence. My main reason to think against him is that if the Texans make the playoffs, or hugely impress, I think it will be with Watson at the helm, and as seen last year, it doesn’t matter how good an RB is, the QB is going to take the awards over him (I’m still bitter than Zeke was beaten out by Dak) – 1 point at 80/1

Samaje Perine – RB – Washington Redskins (175/1 PP)#

The Redskins running back room has been a bit of a mess recently. “Fat” Rob Kelley was the man for a lot of last year, beating out Matt Jones who ended the season as a healthy scratch in a lot of games (and seems likely to be moved on). There’s already been reports from local beat writers and the OTAs that Perine is going to be the lead back for this team. Now, they have a very tough schedule and are in a very tough division, but they have a good offence, and should be able to stay in games, Perine is good enough catching out of the backfield and if he takes over as the #1 he’ll get sufficient opportunities, although Chris Thompson being there is a little worry for me as a third down back. “Perine rushed for 427 yards on 34 rushes along with six touchdowns” in one game… ONE GAME – That says it all really. He’s a cracking player and is hugely overpriced at 175/1 – 2 points at PP. 

Joe Mixon – RB – Cincinnati Bengals (16/1 Skybet)

After mentioning his backup Samaje Perine, I have to mention Mr. Mixon, he is in many peoples eyes the most offensive guy on this list… (Get it?!) But I don’t think there is even the slightest chance that Mixon wins this award. He’s great at football, arguably the best back in the class, but I highly doubt that a guy who has a video of him punching a women in the face will win a media voted award in the NFL. He would have to set records in every facet of the game, and even then he would still probably be overlooked, it’s bad enough that he is allowed to have a career in his chosen profession, let alone the media then hailing him as the best in the league.

Worth a mention….

Jamaal Williams – RB – Green Bay (50/1 PP)

Once again PP have a far higher price than everywhere else. The Packers should win their division, and are going into the season (at the moment) with a converted WR at running back, Ty Montgomery was good last year, and I can’t see anyone taking the job from him, but if Williams can prove himself he may well get a lot of carries in this team. Personally I don’t think he’ll do a whole heck of a lot this season, but given that the highest price elsewhere is 20/1 at Bet365, I feel obliged to at least mention it. For me I won’t be backing it, but the possible value is there.

Joe Williams – RB – 49ers (275/1 PP)

The 49ers won’t be a good team this year. BUT They have a very good coach in place now, Kyle Shanahan was the OC that orchestrated the Falcons run to the Superbowl last year. Joe Williams is his man. The kid wasn’t on the 49ers draft board until Shanahan asked GM John Lynch to give him a call. His story is one of a kind, he basically gave up football (“Quit on his team”…) after not being able to mourn for his sisters death, he just couldn’t cope. But he re-joined his team and destroyed his rivals in the last few games of the campaign. (http://www.espn.com/blog/san-francisco-49ers/post/_/id/24844/49ers-joe-williams-took-break-from-football-to-come-to-terms-with-loss-of-sister) – Seriously read this article, the guy has been through so much more than anyone deserves to at that age. Such was their desire to take him they traded up 22 places in the fourth round to ensure they got him. His last 6 games for Utah… 332, 172, 181, 149, 97, 222 yards rushing… with 9 TDs. He’s a great runner, and once again there’s talk in the local media of him usurping Carlos Hyde. While I don’t think that will happen as Hyde has done pretty damn well in a dogshit team, in a very tough division coming up against the Cards, Seahawks and Rams defences. I’ll still chuck 1 pt on it at 275/1 though.

A word on the remainder – John Ross won’t get the workload to win it, Tight ends don’t generally perform well in their first year, and no TE has ever won OROY anyway, so that rules out Howard, Engram, Njoku, Shaheen. Mike Williams has too much competition in the WR corps at the Chargers for me, Mahomes won’t play so i’m not sure how he’s as low as 20/1 at BetVictor. Trubisky will be at a bum Bears team if/when he gets a start, I think Glennon will start most of the matches for them this year. Kareem Hunt is a little more interesting, but Spencer Ware is getting disrespected, he’ll be the #1 there all season.

Overview –

  • Watson – 7/1 (Skybet) 4pts
  • Dalvin Cook – 20/1 (PP) 2pts
  • Dont’a Foreman – 80/1 (PP) 1pt
  • Samaje Perine – 175/1 (PP) 2pts 
  • Joe Williams – 275/1 (PP) 1pt

10 points total outlay.

Cheers, Adam.

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