The 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year award has the chance to be a hotly contested contest, making it a tough award to place bets on. Last year’s winner was interesting because of the fact that no candidates stood out from the crowd. This year, we could easily see a situation where a number of rookies stand out from the crowd, making the award equally as hard to judge.
Over the last five years, the Offensive Rookie of the Year award has been dominated by running backs and quarterbacks, who have taken home all five between them. If we go back even further, then we have just one wide receiver winning the award in the past decade and just three times since 2000. What about the tight end position? Well to find a winner of the award at that position you have to go all the way back to 1961 when Mike Ditka took home the award.
Recently, Pro Football Network’s Chris Spooner took a look at the history of the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award through the context of their relative athletic score (RAS) and gave some of his own names to watch out for. In this article, we will use the information Chris provided to look at whether or not we can find some value in the 2020 betting markets for the OROY.
Will another quarterback take home the award?
Joe Burrow – Cincinnati Bengals | +250
Burrow was not featured in Chris’ article as he did not partake in combine drills in order to have a RAS score. Understandably, coming off the best season in college football history and entering as the league as the first overall selection, Burrow is the favorite to take home the award. However, at +250 the odds are so short that, much like Chase Young in our Defensive Rookie of the Year award article, Burrow does not offer value right now.
Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins | +1000
Could Tua blow the league away in 2020 and take home this award? Absolutely, but the problem is the unknown of how many games he may start. Ryan Fitzpatrick is well-known for blowing hot and cold, but his performances leading the Dolphins in 2019 will have earned him the right to start for at least a few weeks. There is also still debate about the health of Tua when it comes to contact, which could lead the Dolphins to be cautious.
Did any of the running backs land in spots that could get them OROY consideration?
Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts | +1100
Taylor was one of the five names mentioned in Chris’ article, and I am completely on board with it. There is some issue surrounding the potential committee situation in Indianapolis, which makes me hesitant to be too bullish on Taylor. However, Taylor has proven he is a talented player with the ball in his hands in college, meaning it would be wrong to write him off.
When you look around the running back landscape this season there are a lot of question marks. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+600) and D’Andre Swift (+1600) both had a RAS below the elite level, and both also go into situations where they may not be the lead back in the opening part of the season. If I was going to bet on one of these three backs to take their starting job by the horns, it would be Taylor.
0.5u – Jonathan Taylor Offensive Rookie of the Year | +1100
Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams | +2200
Akers is a fascinating name for consideration when it comes to the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Akers enters the league with an “elite” grade when it comes to his RAS. Additionally, he finds himself in a situation in Los Angeles where the backfield has no clear leader, giving him an opportunity. The Rams offensive line has concerns, but Akers is talented and Sean McVay has demonstrated he knows how to utilize his backs to devastating effect.
0.25u – Cam Akers Offensive Rookie of the Year | +2200
Darrynton Evans – Tennessee Titans | +15000
Chris recommended Redskins rookie running back Antonio Gibson as a name to watch from a longshot perspective. However, if you are looking for a long shot then Evans might just be a better option. Gibson arguably needs a few players to struggle or get injured in order for him to carve out a big enough role in the offense. Meanwhile, Evans may only need one injury to Derrick Henry in order to give him the responsibilities as the lead back.
Evans is such a longshot that his odds are not even listed on many sites, but that does not mean you should forget him. If Henry was to struggle or go down with an injury, Evans could have the opportunity to be a lead back in a team built to run the ball. Throw on top of that, that his RAS ranked sixth among this class and he has the talent to go out and make a major statement in 2020.
0.05u – Darrynton Evans Offensive Rookie of the Year | +15000
Value at the wide receiver position
Justin Jefferson – Minnesota Vikings | +3200
Jefferson actually sits fifth when it comes to the Offensive Rookie of the Year odds, behind Jerry Jeudy (+1600), CeeDee Lamb (+2500), Jalen Reagor (+2500), and Henry Ruggs (+3000). Of those four, only Ruggs had an “elite” RAS, with the other three varying between 6.06 and 7.45. If we narrow it down to Jefferson and Ruggs based on their RAS, then Jefferson stands out because he could easily be a Week 1 starter, as well as seeing the majority of the snaps on the field.
Jefferson will most likely take over the role vacated by Stefon Diggs, which could offer him a tremendous opportunity. With only Adam Thielen a major threat for targets on the outside, we could see Jefferson in the region of 80-100 targets. That is a lot of opportunities for a rookie and makes Jefferson a great value when looking at these awards.
0.25u – Justin Jefferson Offensive Rookie of the Year | +3200
Brandon Aiyuk – San Francisco 49ers | +3800
Aiyuk is another player who could be seeing snaps right from Week 1 with the 49ers. However, while the Vikings have relatively little else in the way of pass-catchers, the 49ers have plenty of rivals for targets. Aiyuk brings an “elite” RAS to the table, but his opportunities might be simply too limited to offer enough value.
Denzel Mims – New York Jets | +6600
Mims is a player who ticks the boxes as a potential Week 1 starter with an “elite” RAS grade. The departure of Robby Anderson vacates 96 targets, of which Mims could see 60-75. Darnold is now in his second year with Adam Gase, meaning we should see an improvement in his consistency. Mims has the potential to offer tremendous value as an outside bet for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020.
0.1u – Denzel Mims Offensive Rookie of the Year | +6600
Ben Rolfe is a betting analyst at the Pro Football Network (@PFN365). Follow the betting group @pfnbets and Ben @benrolfe15