Opening Line Report: Rookie of the Year Futures

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Opening Line Report: Rookie of the Year Futures

The Opening Line Report is an article designed to help our subscribers to get the best odds possible on the initial lines set by sportsbooks. I’ll be writing about the initial spreads in this article every Monday morning during the season. I’m also going to do an Opening Line Report on any initial futures that sportsbooks offer before the season. Unfortunately, many of the season futures markets were set before our website launched. However, the 2020 NFL Draft concluded last weekend, and sportsbooks across the country (and off-shore) didn’t waste any time getting their initial rookie futures out to the betting public.

Wagering your hard-earned money in May and waiting for bets to be settled in eight to nine months — if we’re fortunate this season — isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. Nevertheless, if we’re able to get the best of the odds before the markets fully mature in the near future it will make the wait until the conclusion of the season worth it in the long run. If you can, make sure to shop around for the best lines and odds if possible. You’re likely to see more volatility between books in the off-season than you’ll see on game lines during the season. Enough of my babbling. Let’s see if we can find some value in these rookie futures.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Offensive Rookie of the Year odds for the 2020-21 season are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Current Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds
Joe Burrow (Cin) +215Edwards-Helaire (KC) +550Tua Tagovailoa (Mia) +700
Jonathan Taylor (Ind) +1000D’Andre Swift (Det) +1200Jerry Jeudy (Den) +1400
J.K. Dobbins (Bal) +1600Justin Herbert (+1600)CeeDee Lamb (Dal) +1800
Henry Ruggs (LV) +1800Cam Akers (LAR) +2000Jalen Reagor (Phi) +2000
Justin Jefferson (Min) +2500Ke’Shawn Vaughn (TB) +2500Brandon Aiyuk (SF) +3300
A.J. Dillon (GB) +4000Michael Pittman (Ind) +4000Chase Claypool (Pit) +5000
Tee Higgins (Cin) +6600Cole Kmet (Ind) +6600Zack Moss (Buf) +6600
Jalen Hurts (Phi) +8000Denzel Mims (NYJ) +800012 others +10000 or more

The Favorites

To the surprise of no one, the first overall pick Joe Burrow (+400, sportsbook.ag) is the betting favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. I actually thought Burrow would open up as a much bigger favorite in the +150 range, but some early money on his former LSU teammate (I’ll touch on him in a second) has given Burrow some slight value. Quarterbacks have won the OROY in five of the last 10 seasons, and I don’t see Tua Tagovailoa (+700) and Justin Herbert (+1600) being major threats to win the award since they could be holding clipboards for the first couple weeks of the season. Burrow is coming off the best single-season QB performance in FBS history, and he has the weapons in Cincy to keep the momentum going in Year One. I consider anything above +200 to be a slight value, and I love his current +400 odds at sportsbook.ag.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+550, DraftKings) opened in the +800-1000 range right after the draft, but early money has driven his price down. The lovefest coming out of Kansas City after the first round likely had an impact. Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and Brett Veach each proclaimed their affection for the LSU bowling ball. The Chiefs told us they’re going to eventually use CEH like a bellcow back by using a first-round pick on Edwards-Helaire, and he has massive upside playing in the most explosive offense in the league. Kareem Hunt finished as the RB5 in FPG (18.4) during his rookie season in Reid’s offense, and Hunt’s dominant first rookie campaign came with Alex Smith at quarterback and not Mahomes in 2017. An RB5 finish is within Edwards-Helaire’s range of outcomes this season if he can quickly distance himself from Damien Williams. Running backs have won the OROY four times in the last seven years, and CEH has the best chance to do it out of this year’s RB class.

If you’re looking to bet on either of the favorites, I’d bet on Burrow now at +400 before he becomes a bigger favorite and I’d hold off on CEH to see if his odds get a little longer. Veach tried to throw some water on the CEH lovefest a couple of days after the draft by telling Pro Football Talk that Williams is still the Chiefs starter. Edwards-Helaire could sneak back into the +600-800 range if the public backs off their initial optimism.

Values

Jonathan Taylor (+1000) could be a monster behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, but I don’t see enough value at his current price since I don’t expect Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines to completely disappear. J.K. Dobbins (+2800, FanDuel) has a much tougher path to the top of the rookie rushing leaders, but we’re also getting a lot more value at his current price. I believe Dobbins has the same kind of ceiling potential as Taylor since he’s joining a team that just had the greatest rushing season in the history of the league.

Betting on wide receivers to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year has been a losing wager in nine of the last 10 seasons. Odell Beckham was the lone exception back in 2014, and it only took a WR1 fantasy performance from him as he posted 91/1305/12 receiving in just 12 games. Percy Harvin (2009) and Anquan Boldin (2003) are the only other WRs to win the award in the last two decades.

I believe a WR has to be the clear alpha in their passing game to even have a chance of winning the award. That eliminates Fantasy Points’ top two pre-draft WRs in Denver’s Jerry Jeudy (+1400) and Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb (+1800) as well as Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson (+2500). Jeudy will have to unseat Sutton, Lamb has to contend with Amari Cooper, and Jefferson will start the year behind Adam Thielen.

I like a couple of the longer shots at the position in Philly’s Jalen Reagor (+4000, sportsbook.ag) and Oakland’s Henry Ruggs (+3000, sportsbook.ag) because they have clear opportunities to be the top options in their passing games. I’m actually a little lower on Reagor for 2020 than most of our staff, but he has potentially the most upside out of this year’s rookie WRs. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert figure to dominate targets again after seeing 222 combined looks last season, but Reagor has a path to become the #1 WR in an offense that’s clearly going to take more shots downfield.

Ruggs’ 4.27 speed is a terrible fit with quarterbacks Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, who each attempted passes 20+ yards downfield at less than a 10% clip last season (per PFF). However, Ruggs landed in a great spot to see immediate targets as the top WR option, and the Raiders figure to manufacture him touches every week around the line of scrimmage. Our Greg Cosell called Ruggs the most explosive WR he’s scouted in recent years. It wouldn’t be shocking if he explodes in an offense that will actually use him as their #1 weapon after Nick Saban used him as the #3 receiving option behind Jeudy and top 2021 prospect Devonta Smith at Alabama.

Sleepers

I like a couple more long shot WRs at their current prices despite the poor track record of WRs winning the award this century. New York’s Denzel Mims (+8000, FanDuel) is a massive value over at FanDuel — he’s currently listed in the +2000-3000 range at most of the other shops. Mims could step into quite a bit of work if he’s ready to play out of the gates after the Jets lost Robby Anderson this off-season. Jamison Crowder is coming off a career year and Breshad Perriman isn’t a proven weapon after his five-game breakout at the end of last season. It’s also possible Sam Darnold starts to realize his potential as a former #3 overall pick, and Mims would likely play a big role in his third-year leap.

Indy’s Michael Pittman (+5000, sportsbook.ag) is another intriguing bet a little further down the board. T.Y. Hilton has been the top option in this passing game for the last seven seasons, but a multitude of small injuries may have him on the downside of his career as he enters his first full season in his 30s. HC Frank Reich raved about Pittman after the draft, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Pittman develops into Philip Rivers’ new Keenan Allen as a huge possession receiver. I don’t think Pittman will get to 100+ catches as a rookie like former OROY winner Boldin, but I could see him making a similar type of impact as a second-round pick.

The last long shot I took a long look at was Buffalo’s Zack Moss (+6600, DraftKings), who is listed as low as +3000 at other sportsbooks. Moss projects to step right into Frank Gore’s old role, but he’ll bring a lot more big plays to the spot after the future Hall of Famer averaged a miserable 3.6 YPC last season. For perspective, among RBs with 150+ carries, Devin Singletary led the league with a 5.1 YPC average as a rookie behind the same offensive line. Moss will likely need some help to emerge as a stud in this backfield, but he has a path to leading all rookies in rushing yards for a team that could win their first division title in 25 years. Associated Press voters love a good story, and they could look to reward the Bills in some fashion if they win their first AFC East title since 1995.

Recap: Bets to Consider

  • Joe Burrow (+400, sportsbook.ag)

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+550, DraftKings)

  • J.K. Dobbins (+2800, FanDuel)

  • Henry Ruggs (+3000, bovada.lv)

  • Jalen Reagor (+4000, sportsbook.ag)

  • Michael Pittman (+5000, sportsbook.ag)

  • Zack Moss (+6600, DraftKings)

  • Denzel Mims (+8000, DraftKings)

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Defensive Rookie of the Year odds for the 2020-21 season are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Current Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds
Chase Young (Was) +200Isaiah Simmons (Ari) +500Patrick Queen (Bal) +900
Kenneth Murray (LAC) +1100Jeffrey Okudah (Det) +1600K’Lavon Chaisson (Jax) +2000
Willie Gay (KC) +2000Derrick Brown (Car) +2500Javon Kinlaw (SF) +2500
Jordyn Brooks (Sea) +2500Grant Delpit (Cle) +3300A.J. Epenesa (Buf) +3300
C.J. Henderson (Jax) +3300Xavier McKinney (NYG) +3300A.J. Terrell (Atl) +3300
Antoine Winfield (TB) +3300Kyle Dugger (NE) +3300Jeff Gladney (Min) +4000
Damon Arnette (LV) +4000Jeremy Chinn (Car) +5000Yetur Gross-Matos (Car) +5000
Kristian Fulton (Ten) +6000Noah Igbinoghene (Mia) +6000Jaylon Johnson (Chi) +6000
Zack Baun (NO) +6600Ross Blacklock (Hou) +6600Trevon Diggs (Dal) +6600
Akeem Davis-Gaither (Cin) +6600Troy Dye (Min) +6600Terrell Lewis (LAR) +7000

Right off the bat, I want to say I’m not an expert on individual defensive players so I enlisted some help from our amazing IDP writers Justin Varnes and Tom Simons. They’ve already written several articles breaking down this year’s rookie class. I’d highly encourage everyone to check out their content if you play in IDP leagues.

The Favorites

Burrow opened up as the heavy favorite to win the OROY, and the other slam-dunk pick at the top of this year’s drafts heads up the Defensive Rookie of the Year favorites. Washington’s Chase Young (+200) is looking to join fellow Ohio State EDGE defenders Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa as DROY winners in the last five seasons. Young racked up 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss during his final season in Columbus. He joined a pretty loaded defensive line with Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and Daron Payne, which could make it a little more difficult for him to stand out. The Redskins also project to be one of the league’s worst teams, which could limit his pass-rushing opportunities if they’re consistently losing in the second half.

Arizona’s Isaiah Simmons (+500) comes in as the second favorite. He could have one of the more unique defensive roles in the league after he played ILB, safety, EDGE, and even some cornerback during his time at Clemson. Varnes believes his unique skill set could be to his detriment this season because the Cardinals could struggle to implement his role with a lack of off-season workouts and potentially a condensed training camp and preseason.

Values

Our top IDP rookie linebacker and our favorite bet for the DROY is Baltimore’s Patrick Queen (+1200, FanDuel). He’s stepping into a three-down role on potentially one of the league’s best defenses. The Ravens cleaned up their defensive front this off-season by bringing in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, which should free Queen up at the second level. He also comes to the Ravens with plenty of experience playing man coverage against TEs and RBs — covering Edwards-Helaire in practice is a good rehearsal for the NFL. Simons believes that his odds should have been more in line with the favorites in Young and Simmons. Our IDP writers believe he could reach 125+ tackles with big-play potential if he hits his ceiling in Year One.

Sleepers

I’m looking toward some cornerbacks for a couple of long-shot bets. Varnes picked out Dallas’ Trevon Diggs (+6600, DraftKings) Atlanta’s A.J. Terrell (+3500, FanDuel), and Las Vegas’ Damon Arnette (+4000, DraftKings) as a trio of cornerbacks with good hands who could be heavily targeted this season. The hope is that one of these cornerbacks will rack up a high number of interceptions with some potential for touchdowns if they’re lucky.

The Falcons reached for Terrell at 16th overall, but he landed in the NFC South, which could be the pass-happiest division in the league this year. Our own Greg Cosell ranked Diggs with the likes of Jeffrey Okudah and C.J. Henderson, but he fell to the Cowboys in the second round. He should start immediately with Byron Jones heading to Miami this off-season, and Diggs will get four starts against NFC East QBs Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins.

Varnes believes Arnette may have some Marcus Peters potential because of his physical style in a strikingly similar body type — they’re both listed at 6’0”, 195 pounds. Peters won the DROY five years ago with the Chiefs on the strength of his eight interceptions and his two return TDs.

Recap: Bets to Consider

  • Patrick Queen (+1200, FanDuel)

  • A.J. Terrell (+3500, FanDuel)

  • Damon Arnette (+4000, DraftKings)

  • Trevon Diggs (+6600, DraftKings)

IDP Analysts Justin Varnes and Tom Simons contributed to the Defensive Rookie of the Year analysis.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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