Gauging Value in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Futures

Nov 17, 2017
After Week 1, it looked like the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds were a done deal. But in the last month, consensus favorite Kareem Hunt has tailored off a bit and allowed the rest of his explosive class to catch up to him. Here’s an update on the Rookie of the Year odds at BetOnline.ag and where some strong stash investments lie.

Kareem Hunt (-200) – Kansas City Chiefs
Let’s start at the top, where Hunt retains his title as the favorite for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year despite some recent struggles. Overshadowing the downturn in his production is what he’s managed to accomplish in steady production. Hunt is currently second to Le’Veon Ball in rushing yards this season.

Almost all of that production came in the first five weeks of the season, where he went over 100 yards in four games while scoring all six of his touchdowns. In the past four games, he’s averaged just 47.8 yards per game and has been held scoreless for six straight weeks.

It’s not that Hunt is a bad player, but teams have figured him out to a certain extent. The Cowboys bottled him up and the rest of the Chiefs offence, and Hunt failed to elude the Denver front-seven as well. In short, he’s had some bad matchups over the last four games which might excuse his production.

But it’s also worth pointing out that Hunt has never ever been on a stage this big for this long. That’s a byproduct of playing for a school like Toledo. Hunt deserves to be the frontrunner in this market, but his production needs a big jump if he’s to fend off some of his fellow draftees.

Next Game: Kansas City -10 at NYG

Leonard Fournette (+450) – Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s hard to say that Fournette is the most talented rookie to come out of the 2017 draft class, but he’s pretty damn close. What’s killing his value overall is that he’s missed two games due to injury and team misconduct (he missed the team photo and that’s apparently a sin). Fournette is averaging 89.6 yards per game, which is slightly better than Hunt’s 88.9 yards per game. Had he played a full slate, Fournette would be an amazing value play but the missed games is going to hamper him. He’s also a risky play given that his ankle is shaky. Wouldn’t regret laying down money behind him, but he’s certainly not a lock.

Next Game: Jacksonville -7.5 at Cleveland

Christian McAffery (+3300) – Carolina Panthers
You want to know how insulting these odds are? Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has the same odds for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. That’s totally unfair.

McAffery gets dinged because his numbers don’t jump off the page, but his recent uptick in production is vital here. The Panthers jettisoned Kelvin Benjamin (for no apparent reason other than not wanting to pay him) and we all saw what the likes of Curtis Samuel can do to help move the chains. In the end, McAffery is a running-back but he’s also leading all rookies with 57 receptions this year for 433 yards. To put those catches in perspective, he ranks 6th in all of football.

The stats for McAffery are concerning given that he’s only totaled 639 yards on offence, and has yet to break off one of those dazzling kick return highlights that he submitted weekly at Stanford.

However, he’s a stat nerds dream bet. McAffery’s usage is peculiar because Ron Rivera is a weird play caller, and that’s really going to be what makes McAffery a runner-up here. The Panthers have toned down the “big play” part of their offence and gone to a dink-and-dunk variation that unfortunately limits McAffery’s ability to break out in to open space. His longest carry this year has been for just 17 yards, and his longest reception went for 37.

Where McAffery’s value spikes, however, is in touchdowns. He’s scored three of his five total scores in the past two weeks, and if he rips off a season-ending barrage of scores that leads all rookies then he’s undeniably in the mix. At 33-to-1 there’s probably no better value play from a payout standpoint. You’re right to ignore him for a lot of reasons, but those who are in love with his ability wouldn’t be crucified for lobbing a flier at a potentially massive payout.

Next Game: BYE WEEK

Alvin Kamara (+250) – New Orleans Saints
Nobody will openly say it, but Kamara is everything we expected McAffery to be. He has 42 receptions on the year for 373 yards and has added 417 on the ground. Kamara is simply a huge producer in all the right places, and his team is one of the best in the league right now. What makes Kamara’s production even more amazing is that he’s accomplishing all of this as a backup running back behind a resurgent Mark Ingram. Kamara is by and large the deserving second-favorite, but it’s impossible to gauge his production unless you consider that he’s been devilishly consistent all year long. I just don’t know if he stands out on his own team enough to warrant a play.

Next Game: Washington at New Orleans -7.5

Evan Engram (+2000) – New York Giants
If there has been one bright spot on the Giants this year, it’s Evan Engram. He has quickly become one of the best tight ends in football and has notched 40 catches on 72 targets with 443 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. And while this is all grand, Engram is on the worst team in the entire league meaning that nobody’s going to care what he does. Engram will save your fantasy football season, but he’s not going to save the Giants so venturing on a 200-to-1 play like this is basically idiotic.

Next Game: Kansas City -10 at NYG

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