2020 NFL Rookie of the Year Betting Preview

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Joe Burrow Rookie of the Year

With the exception of perhaps the Most Valuable Player, no football awards garner as much attention and hype as the NFL Rookie of the Year awards. With the 2020 season fast approaching, the race for those top awards is starting shape up. And we have a 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year betting preview for you so that you can take advantage of futures betting opportunities.

Futures betting in the NFL is a tricky business under any circumstances. You’re being asked to project weeks, sometimes months ahead without a clear view of all of the variables that can affect the wager. And, with the pandemic interrupting the normal flow of things such as offseason training activities and minicamps, doing that projecting is even more difficult in 2020.

That said, there are few bets that can be quite as lucrative as futures wagers. Because of the uncertainty, you can enjoy the kind of lucrative odds that you would rarely get during the season. You can make your wagers for relatively little money with the possibility of a major financial reward.

One of the ways you can profit is by placing a bet now on who you think will be the 2020 NFL Rookies of the Year. Note that we said “Rookies” plural, because the NFL splits the award up into offensive and defensive categories. That gives you two chances to win if you can predict who the most impactful two-time players in the league will be.

NFL Rookie of the Year

The key to winning a Rookie of the Year award is opportunity. To have a chance at one of these awards, you have to get the kind of playing time that allows you to rack up impressive stats. That’s what’s needed to stand out for the voters.

  • On the offensive side of the ball, opportunity means touches. Obviously, quarterbacks have an edge if they can break into the lineup early on in the season. But running backs, receivers and tight ends who have the ball in their hands a lot can easily make the kind of impression needed to win awards.
  • On defense, the stats are more limited, so you can often find a Rookie of the Year winner who breaks through for the overall impact he makes. But sacks and interceptions are still an easy way for a player to break out. That’s why the pass-rushing defensive ends and ball-hawking safeties and corners deserve a look when you’re making your bets.

It’s an inexact science, of course, to project the NFL Rookies of the Year at this point, a couple months still before they’ll take the field. But it’s also a fun process. And if you can sift through the candidates and assess them in terms of their skill set and opportunities, you just might pick out some winners.

In the following article, we’ll preview the race for the 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year awards. We’ll take a look at the top candidates on both the offensive and defensive sides in terms of their odds, while also profiling some long shots. And we’ll give our picks for the surest things, the mid-priced gems, and the deep sleepers that can make for great futures picks. The NFL Rookie of the Year betting odds used for this post are courtesy of BetOnline.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Top 10

QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati (+250)

Coming off perhaps the greatest statistical season a quarterback has ever delivered in college football, on a national championship team no less, Burrow was the obvious #1 pick for the Bengals. And with Andy Dalton out of the picture and Ryan Finley the chief competition, there seems to be little doubt that Burrow will be the guy when the season begins. Being a 16-game starter at the glory position gives him a definite leg up on the competition.
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The only question is whether the Bengals are capable enough as a team that his stats will look good. Bengals quarterbacks last year produced a paltry 18 touchdown passes all year long. Burrow will need a healthy and happy A.J. Green to ensure that his numbers don’t drift off into mediocrity.

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City (+400)

The LSU connection continues with this shifty back who falls into the ideal offensive system in Kansas City. Even though the numbers weren’t quite as shiny as they were the previous year, the 2019 Chiefs were still able to finish sixth in the league in total offense a year ago. And the feeling is that they could go back this year to being the dynamo they were two seasons back.

The concern for Edwards-Helaire is whether or not he will dominate the touches at running back. Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson all return to the fold. And Andy Reid has preferred a committee approach during his time in Kansas City, although you might be able to argue has hasn’t has a talent like Edwards-Helaire to feed in the past few seasons.

RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (+900)

Even without Todd Gurley in the picture, it’s hard to imagine this Florida State product immediately stepping into a starring role. Darrell Henderson was drafted last year, and the Rams didn’t really get too much of a chance to see what he can do. You’re most likely looking at a time-share in this situation.

On top of that, the Rams offense doesn’t look like the juggernaut it appeared to be just two years ago. You could make a case that they would be better suited to run the ball often with Akers rather than put the ball in the increasingly shaky hands of Jared Goff. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards with gunslinging Sean McVay.

RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis (+900)

It’s difficult to overstate what he was able to do throughout his career at Wisconsin. Most defenses were geared to stop him, yet week after week he rolled up impressive numbers. He also showed the ability to carry a backfield on his own, which is a rarity in this day and age of running back by committee on most teams.

Even with Philip Rivers under center, it seems likely that Frank Reich will build around the running attack. Whether that means Taylor sees enough carries in tandem wit Marlon Mack, who has been very effective over the past few seasons, remains to be seen. Taylor definitely has a kind of name value that will help him if the ROY is up for grabs and he’s one of the top candidates.

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (+1000)

There are a lot of moving parts when thinking about Tagovailoa as a potential Rookie of the Year. His health is the main question mark, although you could argue that the reduced offseason activities have helped in that regard, giving him more of a chance at recovery. On top of that, he has to get past Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was surprisingly effective down the stretch last year for the Fins.
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We’ve seen that movie before, however, and it’s not unlikely that Fitzpatrick, even if he has the job to start, coughs it up early. Will it be early enough for Tua to do the damage necessary to earn ROY points? Considering this is a wide-open division and Miami could realistically be a playoff candidate with good play under center, it’s not out of the question.

RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit (+1200)

On the one hand, you could say that Swift’s chances are tempered by the fact that Kerryon Johnson, who has been productive but injury-wracked through his first two seasons, is still in the picture. Yet you could also say that the Lions wouldn’t have used second-round draft capital on Swift if they didn’t want him to be the guy. If nothing else, he offers more as a receiver than Johnson.

This is a team that still figures to be most effective through the air, even though Matt Patricia would like to see different. But Swift definitely makes for an intriguing candidate for that 12 to 1 price. He is certainly one of the more appealing mid-priced options.

WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas (+1400)

There is no doubt that Lamb landed in a good spot as far as offensive teams are concerned. Dallas was first in total offense a year ago, and that was in a season where the health of their offensive line was often in question. Now add Lamb to the mix and the potential is juicy.

Lamb’s main drawback is obviously the fact that he has to share touches with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, the latter of whom appears to be a rising star. But Lamb has the explosiveness to do a lot with a little. With the kind of exposure that the Cowboys receive week in and week out, he is certainly going to have plenty of opportunities to make a case for himself.

RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore (+1600)

There are far more appealing options around the same price range as Dobbins. This is nothing against his talent level, which he proved time and again in his career at Ohio State. But it is all about the opportunity, or lack thereof, in Baltimore.

Yes, the Ravens like to run the ball more than anybody else in the NFL by a pretty wide margin. But Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill all return to the fold. Even if one gets traded or cut, there are still too many mouths to feed in the backfield for Dobbins to break out, barring a series of injuries to the others.

WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver (+1600)

When Jeudy slipped to #15, the Broncos went after him, even though you could argue receiver wasn’t their biggest area of need. After all, Courtland Sutton proved explosive in his breakout year, and there are several talented tight ends on the roster. But the pick certainly pleased Drew Lock, who will take all of the weapons given to him with glee in his first full season as the starter.

The concern is not only the competition for passes when it comes to Jeudy. You also have to take into consideration the fact that a team with Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay in the fold figures to run the ball often. As a result, Jeudy, as talented as he may be, seems like an unlikely candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.

QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (+1600)

The Chargers should have an interesting quarterback dynamic, if nothing else. On the one hand, there is Tyrod Taylor, known as the kind of hybrid run/pass threat that has become all the rage in the NFL. Then there is Herbert, a classic drop-back type who doesn’t seem like he’ll be doing too many read options on Sundays.
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How the offense is set up over the long haul should be interesting to watch. But there are a lot of uncertainties here, too many for Herbert to get serious consideration as Rookie of the Year. Don’t fall for the name recognition and waste a bet here.

Long Shots to Win Offensive Rookie of the Year

WR Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas (+1800)

It doesn’t seem like the best fit: the ultimate deep threat playing with a quarterback who seems to be allergic to throwing deep. Ruggs was a bit of an odd choice for Oakland (and yet somehow right on brand.) Most likely he catches a bomb here and there as a rookie, but not enough to give him awards consideration.

RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay (+2000)

In terms of landing spots, the Vanderbilt product couldn’t have done much better. He comes into a Tom Brady-led offense with a shaky starter in front of him. If he can firmly take hold of the job, he makes for a much better value pick than other backs with lower odds in front of him.

WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota (+2800)

The Vikings prefer to run and Adam Thielen figures to suck up a lot of the targets from Kirk Cousins. But with Stefon Diggs out of the picture, Jefferson’s path to playing time is crystal clear. He was productive in college and should continue to be so in the pros.

WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati (+3300)

Higgins figures to have a fruitful time playing with Joe Burrow. And another A.J. Green injury could immediately thrust him into the spotlight. His main drawback is that, if he’s doing well, it means Burrow is too, and Burrow, as the quarterback, has the awards edge.

RB Zack Moss, Buffalo (+3300)

The worst-case scenario is a time share with Devin Singletary on a team that prefers to run the ball. And if Singletary gets hurt (which he did last year), Moss steps into a bell cow role and 20 touches a game. He could be a deep sleeper for award status.

Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Top 10

DE Chase Young, Washington (+275)

Young is the obvious favorite as he makes his debut in Washington. The Redskins have enough pass rushing threats around him that he isn’t as likely to be double-teamed as he would in other spots. He seems to have a legitimate shot at double-digit sacks right off the bat.
Chase Young 2
The only thing that is working against him is expectations. Washington figures to be the doormat of the NFC East again, which might mean racking up the stats won’t be easy. Teams will have leads often against the Skins, which means less passes against them, which means less opportunities for Young to do damage.

LB Isaiah Simmons, Arizona (+750)

Simmons figures to be that rare defensive player that can pick up all of the relevant stats (tackles, interceptions, sacks, fumble recoveries) as he plays. He has the ability to play all over the field in a hybrid role that will have offenses guessing. As a result, he deserves the ROY attention he is getting as the second choice.

As a defensive player, he’ll need Arizona to be better than an NFC West doormat to get serious consideration. That won’t be easy considering the strength within the division. And keep in mind that there could be growing pains as the team figures out just what to do with him during the course of games.

LB Patrick Queen, Baltimore (+1000)

The big positive for Queen, the 28th pick in the first round, is the spot where he landed. He immediately steps into a major role for one of the top teams in the league. If Baltimore’s defense matches or even surpasses what it did last year, Queen is going to be in the spotlight all year long.
Patrick Queen 8
The concern is that rookie middle linebackers often take a while to find their footing in the NFL. Learning the defensive system and getting everybody in place often takes precedence over making big plays. But Queen just needs to be solid, not spectacular, to put himself in a legitimate position for award consideration.

DE A.J. Epenesa, Buffalo (+2000)

Epenesa represents one of those head-scratching situations where a seeming sure-thing NFL product slips a bit in the draft. The fact that Buffalo nabbed him in the second round is a shocker. He immediately steps into a spot on one of the top defenses in the league, one that is expected to lead Buffalo to an AFC East crown now that the Patriots seem to be dropping off.

Yet Epenesa doesn’t figure to get anywhere near the snaps as some of the others on this list. It’s doubtful he’ll show up on running downs, and he could be used, at least at the start of the season, in only the most obvious passing situations. Will that be enough to get him the exposure he needs?

LB Kenneth Murray, Los Angeles Chargers (+2200)

There is little doubt that Murray will be patrolling the middle of the field for the Chargers on Opening Day barring an injury. Few rookies are as guaranteed of playing time. He should also be able to rack up plenty of tackles, and Darius Leonard shows there’s a precedent for that to have an impact on voters (although Leonard stuffed the stat sheet in other ways as well.)

Some people thought that the Chargers reached a bit for Murray, so it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be. And Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram tend to suck up most of the attention when people talk about the Charger defense. But as a guy who figures to be on the field just about every snap, Murray certainly doesn’t lack for opportunity.

CB Jeff Okudah, Detroit (+2500)

It can be difficult for great cornerbacks to get immediate feedback from the press. You can go games without hearing much from them, simply because they’re doing their job so well that opposing teams don’t throw in their direction. But that means a lot less when you’re on a bad team that isn’t stopping anybody even as you’re being avoided.

That could be an issue for Okudah. But other than that, there is a lot to like, including his draft capital as the third overall pick and his immense talent. It just might take a while before that talent is recognized, probably too long for him to win the Rookie of the Year this season.

S Grant Delpit, Cleveland (+2500)

As one of the stalwarts on the LSU national championship squad, Delpit also enjoys good name recognition. Safeties often make a smoother transition to the league than some of the other defensive positions. And he figures to have no problems securing a starting job at a position of need for the Browns.

Delpit needs to make plays as a safety to gain recognition as a Rookie of the Year possibility. And plays on the defensive end can be a matter of being lucky enough to be where the ball is; it’s why there is such variance in interception leaders from year to year. But he makes for a nice play at 25 to 1.

DT Derrick Brown, Carolina (+2500)

The Panthers picked Brown over Isaiah Simmons in the draft, a selection which surprised some people. Not that Brown isn’t talented; it’s just that Simmons would seem to be more impactful on a defense needing a lot of holes to be filled. Nonetheless, Brown should be on the field plenty for the Panthers, most likely as a starting tackle in a 4-3 set.

Working against him is the fact that he doesn’t figure to be much of a quarterback sacker. In fact, he could come off the field often in passing situations, at least at the start of his career. But Brown is a major talent on a defense lacking other standouts, so he could immediately come to the fore.

OLB Curtis Weaver, Miami (+2500)

The Dolphins had a ton of draft picks, but you could argue that Weaver, a fifth-rounder, might end up being the most impactful right off the bat. He has a little bit of Dwight Freeney to his game, the kind of guy who can get to the quarterback against much bigger, but slower, offensive lineman. And he is coming off an extremely productive college career at Boise State.
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Miami might be playing a hybrid between 3-4 and 4-3, so Weaver figures to play some defensive end and some outside linebacker. What wouldn’t be surprising is if he gets plenty of chances to rush the passer right off the bat. And that’s a great way to make impact plays that catch voters’ attention.

OLB Julian Okwara, Detroit (+2500)

Although Matt Patricia is keeping the same system in place, he is overhauling the personnel for his Detroit defence. And Okwara could benefit from all the turnover to immediately grab some playing time. The Lions snagged him in the third round as a potential pass rusher from either end or outside linebacker.

Once you get past Jarrad Davis and Jamie Collins, the depth chart at linebacker for the Lions isn’t that imposing. It’s not completely out of the question that Okwara could walk into a starting position right off the bat. And that would put him in line for many potential splash plays.

Long Shots to Win Defensive Rookie of the Year

DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Jacksonville (+2800)

Here is another LSU product who should get a chance to display his wares early on as a rookie. Chaisson would immediately stand out as a great value play if Yannick Ngakoue holds out or is traded. He would make for a great pass-rushing bookend to Josh Allen.

LB Zack Baun, New Orleans (+2800)

Baun could find himself in a cushy role for a team that has an outstanding chance at the postseason. He can rush the passer for sure, but he showed excellent versatility at Wisconsin. Don’t be surprised if he flashes some playmaking ability right off the bat.

DE Marlon Davidson, Atlanta (+3000)

Davidson was part of a menacing defensive line at Auburn. The playing time is there for him on an Atlanta defense in serious rebuilding mode. He could be a starting defensive end and an immediate impact player.

CB A,J. Terrell, Atlanta (+3300)

Most experts thought that the Falcons reached a bit for Terrell in the first round. But he should waltz into playing time in a secondary full of holes. He’ll get every chance to prove his doubters wrong.

DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Carolina (+4000)

Derrick Brown will get most of the attention as the first-round pick in Carolina. As an edge rusher, Gross-Matos could be in more of a position to make plays that jump off the screen. The Penn State product makes for an intriguing dart throw at 40 to 1 on top NFL betting sites.

NFL Rookie of the Year Picks

Offensive Rookie of the Year

  • Best Bet: Joe Burrow
  • Best Value: CeeDee Lamb
  • Best Long Shot: Justin Jefferson

Defensive Rookie of The Year

  • Best Bet: Chase Young
  • Best Value: Grant Delpit
  • Best Long Shot: Marlon Davidson
Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

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