2018 NFL Prop Bets: Who Will Win Rookie of the Year?

By Noah Davis
Published on May 10, 2018
Saquon Barkley Rookie of the Year

The 2018 NFL season is still almost four full months away, but with the draft behind us and teams starting to piece things together, it’s time for bettors to think about the big picture.

Part of that is absolutely gauging which teams can deliver on their win totals, which teams can compete for their divisions, and who will win Super Bowl 53. Another part is taking advantage of NFL player prop bets like the league MVP, Rookie of the Year, and others.

One huge reason why it matters right now? The value may never be better.

Going into last season, guys like Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette, and Corey Davis were some of the top threats to win ROY.

In the end, players nobody really saw coming, like Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt, were in the running.

The award wound up going to Kamara, who was a breakout star in his first season despite being taken in round three of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Needless to say, bettors need to consider every player the top NFL betting sites allow you to wager on, and it may not always be the most obvious options.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline on 5/8/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

2018 NFL Rookie of the Year Odds

The top candidates seemed pretty obvious last year, yet it was a third-round pick who won.

Most would agree the top threats again feel pretty cut and dry for 2018, but I think it goes without saying that bettors need to go into any NFL player prop bets with an open mind.

Here’s a look at the latest Rookie of the Year odds over at BetOnline.

Saquon Barkley, RB – New York Giants+150
Baker Mayfield, QB – Cleveland Browns+300
Josh Rosen, QB – Arizona Cardinals+800
Josh Allen, QB – Buffalo Bills+800
Rashaad Penny, RB – Seattle Seahawks+1400
Derrius Guice, RB – Washington Redskins+1600
Calvin Ridley, WR – Atlanta Falcons+1600
Sam Darnold, QB – New York Jets+1600
Royce Freeman, RB – Denver Broncos+1800
Lamar Jackson, QB – Baltimore Ravens+2000
Sony Michel, RB – New England Patriots+2500
Ronald Jones, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers+3300
Courtland Sutton, WR – Denver Broncos+3300
D.J. Moore, WR – Carolina Panthers+3300
James Washington, WR – Pittsburgh Steelers+3300
Christian Kirk, WR – Arizona Cardinals+3300

Nobody should be shocked that Barkley is the top favorite. He was the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and was one of the most dynamic offensive talents in this year’s draft class.

He could also follow a recent path of stud college running backs coming into the league and aiding major team transformations.

You’ve seen it with the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Leonard Fournette over the last few years, and I’m sure the New York Giants will hope he offers that big of an impact for them as well.

If you’re just looking at talent and potential impact, I can’t fight the Barkley screams for ROY. At +150, you’re actually getting solid bang for your buck, too.

The only problem there is that it’s not the best value bet on the table, and just looking at last year, you know the would-be favorite doesn’t always win. Looking back on past Rookie of the Year winners is also worth doing, just to see which positions typically win and what kind of performances garner the most respect from voters.

Since the Associated Press starting handing out the award in 1967, the quarterback position has won the award nine times (four times since 2010). That actually isn’t a lot, but the difficulty of mastering the position and putting up big numbers in your first season probably plays into that.

Running back is probably the easiest offensive position to learn as far as making a huge immediate impact goes, and that translates to the ROY votes. The position has secured the most votes 33 times, which leads all positions by a mile.

Wide receivers have been named Rookie of the Year nine times, with tight ends and other offensive positions garnering zero wins.

In terms of odds, it makes sense to look hard at which running backs have the best shot at winning the award. That doesn’t mean you should completely ignore quarterbacks and wide receivers, however.

Top Contenders

After Barkley, I think the top challengers are Derrius Guice (+1600) and Calvin Ridley (+1600). Most will point to the odds and suggest Baker Mayfield and the top quarterbacks, but the early signs suggest none of those guys are even guaranteed to start.

Beyond that, it simply is difficult to even play well under center in your first year. Expecting Mayfield, Allen, or Rosen to come out and rip it up enough to win ROY is just asking too much.

If you need to bet on someone from that group, Mayfield does stand out the most. He still offers solid value at +300, and he’s got a pretty talented receiving corps around him with Josh Gordon stretching the field and Jarvis Landry dominating on the inside.

Mayfield might be worth a cursory glance, but I don’t see a rookie passer wrecking this year.

There are numerous running backs in amazing situations and a few wide receivers to keep an eye on. After Barkley, the top running back threat has to be Guice, who should have a solid chance at snagging Washington’s starting job.

He was a first-round talent that slid for mild character concerns, but he could be a sensational rusher at the next level. The Redskins have solid talent around him and have really just been missing a stud early-down running back. Guice gives them that, and at +1400, he offers elite betting value.

I’m not enamored with Ridley as he tries to find a role behind Julio Jones in Atlanta, but he’s blessed with the ability to play in a high-powered offense with a very steady quarterback in Matt Ryan leading the charge.

Ridley slid in the draft and may be out to prove teams got it wrong. He has the athleticism to be a star at the next level, and as long as he can carve out a role early on, he could bring a lot of value to the table.

Best Values

As much value as the top contenders might offer, there’s even more upside to be had elsewhere.

If you’re just looking for some guys with a viable shot at contending for Rookie of the Year that also offer some serious bang for your buck, there certainly are a few to consider.

Of the pack, my favorites are Sony Michel (+2500), Ronald Jones (+3300), and D.J. Moore (+3300).

Michel heads to a very crowded offensive backfield in New England, but also one that has shed its top option for two consecutive years. They’re looking for a new lead guy to take over on a regular basis, and Michel has the talent to be the answer.

He may have to contend with Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, and James White initially, but it’s safe to say he’s the most talented rusher on his new team. Considering LeGarrette Blount rushed for 18 scores in this offense two years ago, there is a lot of upside to be had with this +2500 price.

I might like Ronald Jones a bit more, seeing as the Buccaneers dropped Doug Martin this offseason and are seeking for a new franchise back. That figures to be Jones, who had the talent to be a first-round pick if things broke just right.

That didn’t happen, but he’s still a high-level rusher with a clear path to a huge workload in his first season. If he impresses early, he could blow the league away at this absurd +3300 price.

There is also D.J. Moore, who was taken ahead of Calvin Ridley and is in a much better spot to produce big numbers in his first season. Carolina is known more for running the ball, but they got rid of Kelvin Benjamin last year and badly need a go-to receiver to step up.

Moore could be that guy and considering Benjamin put up 1,000 yards and nine scores in this system as a rookie in 2014, the upside is easy to see. At this sick +3300 price, Moore is very much worth a flier bet.

Who Will Win Rookie of the Year?

More than anything, I’d be interested in hunting the top NFL betting sites for a Rookie of the Year wager that hosted a bet for “any/field.” You just never know where the ROY is going to come from or what kind of situation will unfold.

Last year, Deshaun Watson came out of nowhere to be one of the top Rookie of the Year candidates. That was never supposed to happen, but even when it did, he quickly free-fell due to injury.

The year before, Dak Prescott delivered a huge season and helped the Cowboys get to the playoffs, but he never would have had that opportunity without a Tony Romo back injury.

Circumstance is everything, but you absolutely need to consider talent, odds, and value when placing final bets.

As things stand, I do see a lot of sleepers worth tracking or even betting on. However, Saquon Barkley is an amazing talent and should be looking at a ton of touches in his first NFL season. The fact that he offers decent value at +150 has me going at him with zero restraint.

PICKSaquon Barkley+150

Running backs tend to claim Rookie of the Year, and barring something crazy, I think Barkley is destined to win it in 2018.

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2018 NFL Prop Bets: Who Will Win Rookie of the Year?
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2018 NFL Prop Bets: Who Will Win Rookie of the Year?
With the 2018 NFL Draft in the bag, bettors can look ahead and gauge which first-year player will win Rookie of the Year. Here are the current betting odds and my betting pick.
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