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Royce Freeman Among Offensive Rookie of the Year Favorites After Promising Start

Mile High Stadium in Denver
Royce Freeman is certain to have crowds on their feet this season in Denver. Photo by thelastcanadian (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License]
  • Royce Freeman is climbing up the Offensive Rookie of the Year odds board
  • New York rookies currently have the shortest odds
  • Which player presents the most value?

While it’s fair to say Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley stole the rookie spotlight during Week 1 of the NFL season, there’s another regular emerging from the rest of the pack that Vegas is taking note of.

We have too. Our NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds tracker is showing that Broncos running back Royce Freeman’s odds are picking up steam and sloping down the odds board faster than a diamond run in the Colorado Rockies.

(See the Top 7 Contenders tab of the graph below.)

2018 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Average Odds

The surge can be attributed to the fact that Freeman is the undisputed top option in the Broncos backfield, which was still considered a committee position with incumbent Devontae Booker deep into the preseason.

Even though another Broncos rookie, Phillip Lindsay, posted identical stats on the ground in Week 1’s win over Seattle (each had 15 carries for 71 yards – Lindsay did add 31 receiving yards and a TD), the Broncos are going to ride Freeman with Lindsay offering a nice change of pace.

2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Top 5 Contenders

Player Pos Team Odds to win 2018 NFL OROY at Bovada (9/12/18)
Sam Darnold QB NYJ +135
Saquon Barkley RB NYG +175
Baker Mayfield QB CLE +900
Josh Rosen QB ARI +1000
Royce Freeman RB DEN +1000

Does Royce Freeman present value in OROY Betting?

It goes without saying that at this moment, anyone can still emerge and win Offensive Rookie of the Year. But yes, Freeman at +1000 currently presents the greatest value.

We’ve already mentioned the regular snaps – only Darnold and Barkley join Freeman in that regard. Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen will need to find the field soon if they don’t want Freeman to pass them on Bovada’s odds board.

Why Freeman might emerge out of that group is something out of his control, but something he could take advantage of: the Broncos schedule.

If we’re going by 2017 stats, only the Cardinals (Week 7), Steelers (Week 12) and Browns (Week 15) finished in the top ten of rushing yards allowed. The early eye test tells us Arizona and Cleveland aren’t going to be world beaters this year.

The Ravens (Week 3) and Jets (Week 5) started out strong, but they also bowled over the Bills and the Lions, currently identified in the dictionary under “hapless.”

Besides two divisional showdowns with the Chargers, the only real challenger on the slate are the NFC powerhouse Rams (Week 6, 28th rush yards allowed in 2017).

Regardless, it appears Freeman is geared for tough running.

Who is the Best Bet for NFL OROY Right Now?

It still has to be Barkley. In his first career start he faced one of the premier defenses in the league in the Jaguars, and found a way to bust loose with the best run of the week. He still has the Eagles twice, Panthers and Titans (ranked no. 1, 3 and 4 in rush yards allowed last year, respectively) and the upstart Bears, so we’ll see how he stacks up.

Darnold’s first career pass was memorable for all the wrong reasons. But he did get it together and drop a beauty right into the bucket for his first career TD pass.

Tough sledding still to come, as he’ll have to navigate through the Jaguars, Broncos, Vikings, Bears, and two against the Patriots.

If things stay the way they are now, the path for Freeman to the OROY is simple: outrun Barkley, and outshine Darnold in the only head-to-head involving any of the three candidates.

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Born and bred in the West, Eric is a print and broadcast journalism graduate now based on the East Coast. He has been specializing in NBA and NFL odds and news with SportsBettingDime since 2017, and spends the majority of his free time convincing his wife to spend Sundays with him on the couch.