NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year betting: Looking for opportunity
No season-long player market sees its odds shift as drastically before the campaign starts as the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) does, which makes sense for a plethora of reasons:
- None of the players have played in a real game with their real offense
- Preseason game reps happen during inauthentic game states
- Unlike other awards, quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers all have the same chance of winning the award because it's statistically easier to obtain a dominant season over the pool of other rookies
- The market is initially built on often flimsy assumptions made shortly after the NFL Draft in April
At any given moment throughout the offseason, several different players have seen themselves in the role of the favorite for OROY. Right now, the 52nd pick in April's draft sits atop the odds board with one set of games remaining in the preseason.
Offensive Rookie of the Year odds
|Brian Robinson Jr.||+4000|
Odds available on theScore Bet, players not listed above available at 50-1 or longer.
George Pickens leaped into the frontal lobe of bettors' minds with an outstanding touchdown catch during the Steelers' first preseason game, and glowing camp reports reminding us of the talented outside threat he was at Georgia before a knee injury derailed his productivity in Athens. The lesson is that talent matters more than where you're drafted, especially if there's opportunity. But that's the issue: Pickens has five catches for 49 yards in two preseason games - that didn't include Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson - against mostly base defenses with replacement-level players.
But the OROY market is different this year - there isn't a favorite to fade. Normally, a highly-drafted quarterback takes up a large chunk of implied win probability with short odds. Not this season. Kenny Pickett is the quarterback with the shortest odds based on the hope that he'll be the one throwing the ball in Pickens' direction.
Chris Olave (+1000)
We'll let the excitement that surrounds rookies in the preseason create value for other players in this wide-open market. While Pickens fights two incumbent wideouts for targets from a mediocre quarterback in an offense that will likely lean on its run game, Olave has the Saints' commitment after they spent a first-round draft pick on him.
We have only seen Olave working with Andy Dalton and Ian Book in preseason action due to Jameis Winston's lingering foot injury, but praise has been high from what he's shown in training camp and practice. Once everyone's available for New Orleans' offense, Olave will have a place next to Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on a team looking to stretch the field.
Dameon Pierce (+1800)
Like Pickins, Pierce's preseason output has sent him up the board, as it's become clear the underused Florida Gator has the talent to be an NFL running back. Unlike Pickins, he also has a clear path to a starting role. With little competition on the Texans, Pierce can accumulate a 1,200-yard, 10-touchdown season, which would normally be good enough to claim Rookie of the Year.
Given there isn't a go-to quarterback favorite, Pierce may avoid the pitfall of getting compared to a franchise signal-caller. Unless there's another monster campaign from a receiver - like Ja'Marr Chase last year and Justin Jefferson the season before - the solid rushing totals above could be good enough and come at double the odds of Breece Hall, who appears closer to a timeshare situation than Pierce.
Desmond Ridder (+2000)
Speaking of Prescott, Ridder is starting to develop a similar profile to the Cowboys' quarterback during his rookie season. As mid-round picks with a nice mix of running ability but not known for their arm, they both found their way onto draft boards because they won games in college. Ridder has a roadblock in the form of Marcus Mariota, but he's shown enough in the preseason to deserve a quicker look should Mariota struggle early. Once Ridder gets tabbed as the starter, he'll leap up the odds board simply due to the nature of his position, so a small investment now may pay dividends by the end of a long season.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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