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2018 NFL OROY Winner Saquon Barkley’s Odds Never Worse Than 5-1

Saquon Barkley at the NFL Honors
Saquon Barkley was named the 2018 NFL OROY during the 2019 NFL Honors show. Photo from @cbssports (Twitter).
  • New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley is the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Barkley edged Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield in a close vote
  • The odds of Barkley winning the award were never longer than 5-1

In one of the closest races in years, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was voted the Asscoiated Press 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Barkley gained 26.5 votes, compared to 21.5 votes for the second-place finisher, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

It was a seesaw battle all season long, with Barkley taking the early lead. Mayfield made a strong case for himself in mid-season and briefly gained the advantage, but down the stretch, the betting public went strongly for Barkley, pushing him back in front in NFL OROY odds.

Closing Odds To Win 2018 NFL OROY Award

Player Team Closing Odds To Win 2018 NFL OROY Award at BetOnline (1/21/19)
Saquon Barkley New York Giants -220
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns +175

*Odds were from 1/21/19, the last time any sports betting site had them available

Barkley’s win follows the 2017 victory by Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, marking the first time since 2001-02 that a running back was the NFL OROY in successive seasons.

Moving The Chain

Mayfield and Barkley made a playful side bet on the outcome of the NFL OROY balloting, with the loser to purchase the winner the chain of his choice.

During the season, it quickly became evident that the award would come down to a two-horse race between these two studs.

Suddenly, It’s Sam

Barkley opened the season as the betting favorite, but gave way to New York Jets QB Sam Darnold after the Jets pounded the Detroit Lions 48-17 in Week 1.

By Week 3, Barkley had slid to third in the odds behind Darnold and Mayfield.

Barkley Finds His Groove

But after an explosive Week 6 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he gained 130 yards on 13 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run, as well as catching nine passes for 99 yards, Barkley’s odds dropped from +470 down to +140 and he was once more the chalk for the NFL OROY award.

Baker Gets Cooking

By Week 9, Barkley was the -750 betting choice, but as Mayfield began to string together some sensational games of his own, the race tightened up once more.

Though Barkley was still favored, his odds reduced to -150 by Week 10.

Then, treating the rest of the rookie field like they were all NFL defenders attempting to tackle him, Saquon – or SayGone, as Giants fans like to call Barkley – pulled away from the field.

Saquon? How About Say Gone?

By Week 14, Barkley’s odds were -850. But Mayfield wasn’t done, and as money came in on him, the odds grew close once more and the award looked to be a toss up.

Significant late money was wagered on Barkley immediately following the conclusion of the regular season and the odds shortened on him yet again.

They’re Just Wild About Saquon

With 1,307 yards on the ground, Barkley finished second in the NFL in rushing yardage to Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys.

And he did it running behind an offensive line that graded out as the 29th-best in the NFL according to data crunched by FootballOutsiders.com.

Barkley’s 2,028 yards from scrimmage led all NFL players. He joined Edgerrin James and Eric Dickerson as the only rookies to top 2,000 yards from scrimmage. 

Barkley’s 91 receptions bettered the NFL rookie mark of 88 set by Saints RB Reggie Bush in 2008 and tied the Giants club record set by WR Odell Beckham Jr in 2014.

Barkley’s rushing TD total topped the Giants rookie record of 10 set by Bill Paschal in 1943. He was the first rookie to surpass 1,200 yards rushing and 600 yards receiving since Billy Sims of the Detroit Lions in 1980.

He had six rushes of 50+ yards, twice as many as any other NFL player. And perhaps the most astonishing stat of all – Barkley had 352 touches this season, and never fumbled.

Baker’s A Sweet Treat

There was also a lot to like about Mayfield’s 2018 campaign.

He was named NFL rookie of the week seven times and was November’s NFL rookie of the month.

Mayfield threw for 27 TDs, breaking the previous NFL rookie mark of 26 shared by Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks (2012) and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts (1998).

Taking over as Cleveland’s starting QB in Week 3, Mayfield was 6-7 as a starter as the Browns improved from 0-16 to 7-8-1 and hovered on the cusp of contention for an AFC Wildcard playoff berth.

This is where much of the love for Mayfield as NFL OROY emanates, and it is not without merit. He was playing the toughest position in the NFL and for a team that entered the season coming off a winless campaign.

Mayfield took the Browns to heights not reached since head coach Butch Davis guided Cleveland to a Wildcard spot in the postseason in 2002.

Though he led NFL rookie QBs in passing yardage, Mayfield ranked just 18th in the NFL. Mayfield threw for 17 TDs in his last nine games, but was picked off seven times in his last five games. His 14 interceptions and seven lost fumbles almost offset his 27 TD passes.

Why Barkley Was The Right Choice

Mayfield was impressive, yes, but Barkley’s work was generational. To suggest that because it was done on a bad Giants team doesn’t hinder his performance. In reality, it elevates Barkley’s quality of work.

It no doubt hampered Mayfield’s cause that he wasn’t at the helm of the Browns all season, and when you take in the entire body of his work, it can’t be forgotten that he was 1-5 in his first six games as Cleveland’s starting QB and his TD-INT ratio in that span was 10-7.

Barkley was on top of his game from the get-go and never wavered.

Barkley’s win marks the fourth time in six years that the NFL OROY went to a RB. Dak Prescott (2016) of the Dallas Cowboys was the last QB to earn the award.

Barkley and Mayfield also reversed their draft order in the OROY balloting. Mayfield is the seventh straight No. 1 overall not to be NFL OROY. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (2011) was the last to be No. 1 overall in the draft and win NFL OROY.

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