NFL Odds and Predictions: 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year Picks
by Alan Matthews - 5/6/2016
Now that free agency is over for the most part and the draft has concluded, we have hit the dreaded dead zone in terms of NFL news. Sure, you might see a big injury during OTAs or surprise player release over the next few months, but for the most part things calm down until teams report to training camp in July. Trust me, this is when most NFL beat writers take their vacations.
But before putting a final cap on last week's wild draft, and teams are having rookie camps this weekend, let's take a look at Bovada's early Offensive Rookie of the Year odds along with some player props for top candidates. I'm still waiting for the day when an offensive linemen, tight end or kicker wins this award!
To no surprise, quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff is the +200 favorite. He better be good right away considering how much the Los Angeles Rams gave up to Tennessee in order to move up from No. 15 to No. 1 to get Goff. Interesting they did that considering Goff isn't close to as highly-rated as Jameis Winston, last year's No. 1 pick, was. While Winston won a national title and the Heisman at Florida State, Goff had a below-.500 record at Cal. Plus he doesn't have a cannon arm and also has very small hands. I wonder if an outdoor cold-weather team thus would have taken him at No. 1. Rams coach Jeff Fisher already has said he expects Goff to start Week 1, and I'm sure he will considering the other options right now are journeyman Case Keenum and Nick Foles, who is likely to be cut or traded.
I'm not sure Goff will put up huge numbers because Fisher won't ask him to. The Rams are going to pound the ball with 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley. They will simply ask Goff to minimize mistakes and rely on Gurley and a strong defense. Plus I'm definitely not a fan of L.A's receiving corps. Bovada lists Goff's "over/under" totals at 3,400 yards and 16.5 touchdowns (both -120). Just for a point of comparison, Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater was a full-time starter last year in his second season. He played in a similar run-heavy scheme. He threw for 3,231 yards and 14 scores. The Vikings did have some wintry outdoor games, though. I'd go under Goff's yards but over the TDs. A QB hasn't won OROY since Robert Griffin III in 2012. How'd that turn out? Winston was a close second in 2015, and I'd argue should have won it because he played all 16 games and Gurley really just 12 (technically 13). But I love Gurley, he looks like the next Eric Dickerson.
The second-favorite is former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, who went No. 4 overall to Dallas. Elliott was clearly the top back in this draft and has been called the best prospect at the position since Adrian Peterson -- although LSU's Leonard Fournette is rated as even better for the 2017 draft. Yet the Cowboys got some grief for choosing Elliott instead of going defense, which was clearly a major need. Dallas' frame of mind is that the team wants to pound the ball like it did in 2014 behind DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing that year and the Cowboys win the NFC East. A better running game means less passing from Tony Romo, which theoretically means a better chance of him staying healthy. The Cowboys do have the NFL's best offensive line. But they also have tailbacks Darren McFadden and free-agent addition Albert Morris already on the roster. McFadden rushed for 1,089 yards last year (very good 4.6 yards per carry) for Dallas and Morris was a three-time 1,000-yard rusher with Washington but struggled some in 2015. So I see the detractors' point.
If McFadden and Morris weren't around, I'd jump all over Elliott to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. I still think he will be the primary guy sooner rather than later. McFadden is injury-prone and perhaps Morris is simply released. Elliott has an O/U of 900 yards rushing, with the under at -250 and over +170. I'd go over.
Tennessee surprised some by taking Alabama tailback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry with the No. 45 overall pick, and he is +750 for OROY. And like Elliott, I'd be all over him if there wasn't already a good back in place. In this case, it's Murray. He was acquired in trade this offseason from Philadelphia. Murray found the going much tougher behind a weak Eagles offensive line than he did in Dallas the year before. The Titans are taking a similar approach to Dallas: bash people to death on the ground and keep QB Marcus Mariota safe. But Murray clearly will be the featured guy. I can see Henry getting plenty of goal-line action at his size. I mention that because his O/U totals are 600 yards rushing and five touchdowns (both -120). I'd go over both because I'm not convinced Murray stays healthy. He has played all 16 games just once.
Your other OROY options are: Browns receiver Corey Coleman (+750), Redskins receiver Josh Doctson (+1200), Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell (+1200), Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon (+1400), Bears running back Jordan Howard (+1400), Giants running back Paul Perkins (+1600) and Giants receiver Sterling Shepard (+1600). I like Elliott for now. But if the Redskins release either Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson, which is quite possible, I might shift to Doctson as he would then start.
One guy not listed is the No. 2 overall pick out of North Dakota State, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. He is given an O/U of 3.5 starts (both -120) in 2016. That's interesting. Philly certainly doesn't want to play him at all. The Eagles keep saying that Sam Bradford is their starter and Chase Daniel is the clear No. 2. But Bradford keeps insisting on a trade. Problem being: no one wants him at that guaranteed salary. New coach Doug Pederson knows Daniel well from their days at the Chiefs, so I'm sure Pederson would turn to him over the rookie when (and I do mean when) Bradford gets hurt. I don't see Wentz getting any starts barring a QB injury apocalypse. Go under.
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