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Saquon Barkley Heads 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds

Saquon Barkley holding his Giants jersey at the 2018 NFL Draft
After being selected 2nd-overall by the New York Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, big things are expected of Saquon Barkley in his first season. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
  • Which quarterbacks do betting sites believe will have an impact as rookies? 
  • The OROY award has gone to a running back 64.7% of the time – find more trends below
  • Where does the value lie in 2018 NFL OROY betting?

The 2018 NFL Draft saw five quarterbacks selected in the first-round – Baker Mayfield (Browns), Sam Darnold (Jets), Josh Allen (Bills), Josh Rosen (Cardinals), and Lamar Jackson (Ravens) – for the first time since 1999.

Big points if you can name those five from ’99 in the comments section below – without cheating!

Though much of the focus was on the quintet of QBs leading up to the draft, it’s a running back who is listed as the favorite to win the NFL’s 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Bovada recently released their odds to win the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and it’s second-overall pick Saquon Barkley (Giants) who leads the pack with +150 odds.

Player Pos. Team Odds to Win OROY
Saquon Barkley RB NYG +150
Baker Mayfield QB CLE +285
Josh Allen QB BUF +900
Josh Rosen QB ARI +1000
Rashaad Penny RB SEA +1400
Derrius Guice RB WAS +1800
Sam Darnold QB NYJ +2000
Ronald Jones II RB TB +2000
Sony Michel RB NE +2000
Lamar Jackson QB BAL +2400
DJ Moore WR CAR +3300
Calvin Ridley WR ATL +4000
Anthony Miller WR CHI +5000
Royce Freeman RB DEN +5000

First-overall pick Baker Mayfield comes in at a close second at +285. He’s well ahead of the other four quarterbacks drafted behind him in the first-round.

If the Bills were willing to bench Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman in the middle of a playoff-run, it makes total sense for the Browns to put a clipboard in Taylor’s hands to get the future of the franchise on the field.

Mayfield’s vote of approval from Bovada is also due to the plethora of weapons the former Sooner will have at his disposal in Cleveland. Josh Gordon has the talent to be on the same level as Julio Jones; Jarvis Landry is one of the best slot receivers in the game; Corey Coleman, though he hasn’t shown it, is a real speedster with a lot of potential; and David Njoku’s rare mix of size and athleticism will continue creating a lot of mismatches.

It’s a pretty good situation to walk into, even if it does carry the stigma of being the Cleveland Browns franchise.

But Mayfield does still have to find his way onto the field before he can take advantage of the weapons around him. On the other hand, Saquon Barkley is going to be heavily relied upon from Week 1 on in New York. Sure, Jonathan Stewart may vulture some goal-line carries, but it’ll be Barkley who does the vast majority of the damage between the 20s, and not just as a runner.

Barkley’s immediate status as a do-it-all back with the Giants is the reason the former Nittany Lion has the shortest odds to win the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Trends

  • A QB has only won the award once in the last five years – Dak Prescott (2016)
  • Of the 51 OROY winners, only nine are QBs
  • Seven of the nine QBs to win OROY were drafted in the first-round of their class – Dak Prescott and Dennis Shaw (1970) are the outliers
  • Only one QB won OROY with less than 12 games started in their rookie campaign – Dan Marino made nine starts and played in 11 games for Miami in 1983
  • The last time five QBs were drafted in the 1st-round, a running back won OROY – Edgerrin James (1999)
  • RBs have won OROY three of the last five seasons
  • RBs have won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 33 of the 51 occasions
  • Of the 51 OROY winners, only nine are wide receivers
  • Six of the nine WRs to win Offensive Rookie of the Year were drafted in the first-round of their class – Sammy White (1976), Carl Pickens (1992), and Anquan Boldin (2003) were not
  • No position other than QB, RB, or WR has ever won OROY
  • Nine teams have never produced an OROY winner: the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks
  • The Minnesota Vikings lead all teams in OROY winners with five. Dallas and Detroit come in at second with four each

2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Betting Value

Betting Saquon Barkley to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at +150 odds is crazy. Yes, he is projected to receive a ton of touches with the Giants, but those odds are way too short. If you love Barkley, do yourself a favor and wait for some value.

The same applies to Baker Mayfield at +285. Tyrod Taylor is a very competent QB, and Hue Jackson gives us no reason to believe he can get any production from a young pivot. It’s also the Browns, so you know something has to go wrong.

[B]y the time [a rookie QB does] get on the field, they likely won’t have enough time/help around them to make up for lost ground.

In hunting for value it’s best to stay away from QBs. No rookie signal-caller is in place to start for their new respective franchises right away, and by the time they do get on the field, they likely won’t have enough time/help around them to make up for lost ground.

It’s also best to avoid wide receivers. The position is just far too dependent on the QB who throws them the ball, and it’s awfully tough to win the trust of your new pivot in one summer.

Running backs largely dominate the award because they get touches from Day 1. Some backs not named Barkley who also expect to see an increased workload right out of the gate include:

  • Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
  • Ronald Jones II, Buccaneers
  • Derrius Guice, Washington

Of the three, Rashaad Penny is in the best situation in Seattle. The nation’s leading rusher last year may not have a ton of success being handed the football in Seattle – the Seahawks’ offensive line is laughable – but when Russell Wilson is running for his life, Penny will see a ton of checkdowns. And at +1400, there’s certainly value in betting Penny.

If you’re looking for some deep sleepers, Royce Freeman (+5000) could see a lot of goal-line work in Denver. There are also two other backs who don’t have odds available at Bovada that you should keep your eyes on: Kerryon Johnson (Lions) and Nyheim Hines (Colts).

The former might serve as the lead back in Detroit come Week 1, as Ameer Abdullah squandered his opportunity last year. And with new head coach Matt Patricia clearly wanting a more balanced offensive attack, Johnson could see a lot of carries.

[W]hen Indianapolis sees the explosion [Nyheim Hines] possesses, it’ll be hard to take him off the field.

Hines benefits from being in an offense with (a hopefully healthy) Andrew Luck and a pass-happy head coach in Frank Reich, who has already said he’s fine with a RBBC (running back by committee). With Marlon Mack potentially shelved for OTAs and minicamp to recover from the torn labrum he suffered through all of 2017, Hines could see a lot of reps with the first-team this summer. And when Indianapolis sees the explosion this kid possesses, it’ll be hard to take him off the field.

Let us know who you like to win the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

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After receiving a bachelor's degree in communications, Matt spent two years with Rogers TV as a host, producer, and play-by-play commentator. He has been with us since 2016 and serves as SBD's editor-in-chief and sports betting expert.