Betting on someone like Kyler Murray or Josh Jacobs to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award this season is boring. It’s much more fun to bet on a long shot. That also gives you the chance to earn real money.
In this piece I’ll walk you through five interesting plays that are outside the group of typical favorites. It doesn’t mean that backing Murray, or particularly Jacobs, isn’t a smart play. What I am saying is that you should hedge your bet by playing a few long shots to increase your potential profitability.
It’s no secret that the Chiefs have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes is going to help lots of his skill guys put up big numbers this year. With a little luck, Hardman could find himself as one of his quarterback’s favorite targets.
The reason his odds at the award are so long is because of the talent in front of him on the depth chart. Tyreek Hill is going to soak up a lot of targets that could potentially go to Hardman otherwise. If Hill goes down to injury or something more sinister, Hardman is going to put up video game numbers. He’s a fun and potentially profitable long shot to play.
Let me be the first to admit that I’m still not a complete believer in Jones as an NFL starter. He’s definitely exceeded my expectations in the preseason though. If he gets a chance to start for the Giants, it’s easy to envision a scenario where he becomes the most popular rookie in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Jones, team ownership is adamant that Eli Manning is going to be their guy in 2019. That sounds great in the preseason, but it’s unlikely to hold up through a full, 16-game slate. If Jones gets the nod earlier than expected and leads the Giants to an improbable playoff run, he’ll win the award in an absolute land slide. Jones needs a lot of things to go right, but none of them are impossible.
Can you think of any NFL players who’ve enjoyed a productive season while suffering from arthritis in their knees? I certainly can’t. That’s just what Todd Gurley is trying to do this season for the Rams.
Maybe Gurley shrugs off his issues and continues to play like a Pro Bowler. If he can’t do that, Darrell Henderson is ready to pick up a lot of carries. His big play potential makes him a nice bet to put up a really healthy yards per carry average. If he takes over for Gurley as Sean McVay’s No. 1 back, he could win some serious hardware.
Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis might start the season ahead of Montgomery on the Bears’ depth chart, but back the rookie to take over for the pair sooner, rather than later. He’s just the sort of physical, versatile back that can flourish in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Unlike some guys on this list, Montgomery isn’t going to come out of nowhere to win the award. Just look at his average draft position in fantasy football as proof that he’s coming into the year with sizable expectations. He only needs to exceed them by a modest margin to catapult himself into Rookie of the Year discussions.
Everything the Lions have done this preseason makes it clear they want to build their offense around running the football. Sometimes the best-laid plans get torched early in the regular season. That’s what we expect to happen to Matt Patricia’s offensive dreams in 2019.
When you look at the talent Detroit possesses on offense, most of it excels when they throw the football. Matthew Stafford is a strong-armed quarterback capable of putting up really big numbers in the right offense. He’s also flanked by an intriguing group of talented wide receivers.
Hockenson could be the missing piece at the tight end position. The Lions spent a valuable first round pick on him for a reason. He’s not a great blocker. He is, however, a dynamic wide receiver when he’s lined up in the slot.
It might be tough for a tight end to win the award, but Hockenson has All-Pro ability. The former Iowa star just needs Patricia to turn the offense loose to throw the ball. If Detroit gets off to a slow start, look for them to revert to the pass. That’s going to allow Hockenson to show his prodigious talent to the entire league.