2019 NFL ROY Picks & Analysis
There’s no need to sugarcoat it: Rookie of the Year is one of the riskiest prop bets on the board for the NFL season. After all, it’s nearly impossible to predict which players are going to have the safest path to becoming a solid contributor in the professional ranks.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the best choice is one of the first three picks in the draft, as six of the top rookies since 2004 have come out of this group. But for every Saquon Barkley, who earned honors as the Giants’ running back while being taken second overall, you’ll find two or three Trent Richardsons, who was drafted third overall by Cleveland and never amounted to much as a professional.
Still, history shows the first round is the safest way to bet. Of the past 15 rookies of the year, 12 of them came from the first round, with six coming from the top three picks. Here are a few of the top bets on the board!
ROY Top Contenders
Kyler Murray, Arizona
Why he could win: If Kliff Kingsbury’s offense translates to the NFL, Murray is in for some huge numbers. Kingsbury’s pass-happy offense at Texas Tech didn’t win many games, but it did result in a lot of points for the Red Raiders, making for one of the most exciting offenses in college football. If it can work in the NFL, it requires the quarterback to sling the ball around all game long, which would be a potential game-changer for Murray’s chances at the ROY. If Kingsbury’s offense is moving, then Murray will likely get a lot of the credit and a lot of the votes for NFL honors.
Why he won’t win: Have you looked at the pieces that Murray has to work with? The Cardinals are back to the Sun Devil Stadium days in terms of their competitiveness right now, and that’s never a good thing for any quarterback, especially a rookie. There’s also the fact that nobody knows what to expect from Kingsbury. Some coaches have successfully gone from college to the pros. Some have gone the Steve Spurrier route and washed out spectacularly.
Bottom line: Murray isn’t going off at a great price. Being the favorite is a good thing, but that means that he’s not going to get good odds on doing something that’s mostly subjective. At +250, I’d look elsewhere; you aren’t able to get enough from the price here to justify the red flags surrounding Murray.
Josh Jacobs, Oakland
Why he could win: Jon Gruden likes to run the ball on a regular basis. Gruden prefers to give one back the lion’s share of the carries and ride them all season, which has sometimes worked out well and sometimes not. If Jacobs shows the talent that he displayed at Alabama, though, he’s going to be a nice player in the NFL and will undoubtedly impress the Raiders. He won’t lack for opportunities to gain on the ground, which could make a big difference if he’s able to find holes and help the Raiders be more successful than last year’s squad.
Why he won’t win: None of Oakland’s backs ran for more than 750 yards last season. That could be because the Raiders lacked the confidence to ride someone all year long, but it could also be because the Raiders risk getting knocked out of games very early. Eight of the Raiders’ 12 defeats were by at least 14 points last season, and a team can’t feed its back when it’s down two scores or more. This is a bad Oakland squad that isn’t getting better in a hurry. There’s little chance Jacobs could be ROY if he’s watching from the sidelines as the Oakland defense.
Bottom line: At +900, he’s going off at a fairly reasonable price. However, there’s plenty of reason for concern here. Running backs aren’t necessarily the bell cows that they once were, and Jacobs comes from Alabama, which famously produced Trent Richardson. On the other hand, Barkley flew in the face of those predicting the decline of the back, and Jacobs coming from Alabama doesn’t mean that he’ll be Richardson. There’s a reasonable shot here to make some decent money — if the Raiders can keep themselves in enough games for him to get his numbers.
Dwayne Haskins, Washington
Why he could win: Haskins has a low bar to meet to be a success. The Redskins were putrid on offense last year, ranking 28th in passing yards. Washington didn’t throw for 300 yards in any game last year, relying on Adrian Peterson to do much of the work. Haskins could take the pressure off Peterson and produce solid numbers, which would impress the critics enough.
Why he won’t win: One name, Case Keenum. The Redskins didn’t trade for Keenum to have him sit on the bench. If Keenum plays well, the Redskins will keep him on the field for as long as possible. The ideal situation when you trade for someone like Keenum and draft a quarterback is to let the draft choice learn until at least the bye week and re-assess at that point. The Redskins’ bye comes in Week 10, which won’t give Haskins enough time.
Bottom line: At +1000, there’s a good price here, but the opportunities likely will not be there. Unlike Kyler Murray, who will start on Day 1 in Arizona, Haskins will probably sit until halfway through the season unless Keenum flops. Betting on Keenum to flop is risky, and that’s why I don’t like this bet.
Mecole Hardman, Kansas City
Why he could win: Patrick Mahomes loves to spread the ball around, and with Tyreek Hill suspended, Hardman could be the one who benefits. He’s got the speed and skills to make some big plays, and with Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce drawing defenses’ attention, Hardman is in prime position to produce.
Why he won’t win: Only two receivers have won in the past 15 years, because it is tough for a receiver to establish himself as a genuine reason for his team’s success. While Hardman will initially benefit from Watkins and Kelce, this could also cause him to be overshadowed, especially if Hill is suspended for only four games.
Bottom line: I love the +1800 price given the possibilities open for Hardman. But the danger is that he’s got to establish himself within the first four weeks of the season, and that stretch includes Jacksonville and Baltimore, both of whom were top-five pass defenses last year. Luckily, the Raiders are also in that stretch, and Mahomes’ offense is pretty close to matchup-proof as it is. Hardman will need to be on top of his game from Day 1, but if he is, this bet is a great longshot bet.
Andy Isabella, Arizona
Why he could win: We have no idea what Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will do in the NFL, but if it’s successful at putting up points, Isabella has the speed to burn opposing defenses. The Cardinals’ offense was at its best a few years ago when it had John Brown as its deep-ball threat, and Isabella could be the new version of Brown in an offense that likely won’t shy away from the deep shot.
Why he won’t win: Once again, we have no idea what success Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will have in the NFL, and if it goes as well as Steve Spurrier’s did, Isabella won’t do much of anything this year. Plus, Larry Fitzgerald is also still around, and while Isabella is a different kind of receiver than Fitz, Fitz is likely to be Kyler Murray’s first option, given how professional the future Hall of Fame receiver is.
Bottom line: His +5000 price means he’s an ultimate longshot. I’m not that confident in the Kingsbury offense doing much of anything after his washout at Texas Tech, but quite a few people disagree. If you believe in Kingsbury, Isabella is a great bet to make because he could really pay off if the offense is as good as you think. Going with a longshot usually isn’t a great strategy, but longshots do occasionally hit, and the conditions are right for Isabella to be the one. He’s worth a flier if you’d like to take a shot to turn $10 into $500.
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