Rookie Watch: Week 2
Week 2 of the NFL season was another great one for the 2019 rookie class. Across the board, nearly every player in contention for the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) Award showed signs of improvement. There are a lot of strong contenders this season, and all of them have legitimate arguments in favor of their winning the award.
In this column, we analyze the 2019 batch of rookies through numberFire's metrics -- specifically Net Expected Points (NEP). NEP measures how much value a player adds to or subtracts from his team's expected points total, using historic down and distance data as a reference point. You can read more about that metric and others in the Terms Glossary.
Week 2 Rookie NEP Leaders
|Player||Current NEP||Week 2 Odds|
Kyler Murray took a huge leap forward in Week 2 -- despite not throwing a touchdown and losing to the Baltimore Ravens. Murray's Total NEP for the season increased by 10.65 NEP in Week 2, the most of the entire rookie class. He kept the Arizona Cardinals in a surprisingly close game against a Ravens squad that's already considered one of the strongest in the league -- at least according to the odds posted on the FanDuel Sportsbook. His giant leap in NEP in Week 2 definitely strengthens his case as the favorite to win the OROY award. I'm looking forward to watching Murray continue to grow this season.
Terry McLaurin had yet another excellent performance and seems to have already established himself as the WR1 on Washington's offense. McLaurin -- who still leads the 2019 rookie class in Total NEP -- added another 9.16 NEP to his team's expected points total on the back of his Week 2 performance. Based on the extremely real rules of NBA Jam, McLaurin is heating up. One more dominant performance and we can officially declare him on fire.
The other standout performance in Week 2 came from Mecole Hardman, wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs. Hardman showcased the elite speed that got him drafted in the second round of this year's draft, accumulating 82 air yards and notching his first score of the year. He had another deep touchdown negated due to a holding penalty, but things are trending up for the young speedster on the Patrick Mahomes-led offense.
Darrell Henderson is not doing much to help his case as a contender for this year's OROY award -- in fact, he's not doing much at all. After losing 0.45 NEP for the Los Angeles Rams on his only carry in Week 1, Henderson failed to log even a single snap in Week 2. It's definitely hard to win Offensive Rookie of the Year if you aren't playing. We'll need to see a lot more of Henderson before we can consider him a real option.
Miles Sanders didn't do himself any favors, either. While he did show improvements in Week 2, he still cost the Philadelphia Eagles negative NEP in their match against the Atlanta Falcons. In Week 1 Sanders totaled -4.33 NEP, which was seventh-lowest at the position. In Week 2, he bumped that up to -1.61, for a total of -5.94 NEP. It was a significant improvement, but getting better doesn't necessarily mean you're helping your team. In Sanders' case, he's just hurting them less than before.
The third column of the chart above lists the betting odds on the FanDuel Sportsbook for each potential OROY. If a rookie is not listed on the above chart, his odds were either +5000 or above or he did not have available odds at the time of writing.
Daniel Jones (+700) is probably the big winner this week following the announcement that he would be the starting quarterback for the New York Giants going forward. We've seen Jones play a little this season, and he looked very impressive in the preseason. The optimism for Jones is evident in his betting odds, which shot up by 1000 after the announcement.
Terry McLaurin (+2900) saw no change to his odds after Week 2 despite another impressive performance. I noted last week that he was a long-shot based on the lack of historical precedent for late-round receivers winning the award, but if he continues playing like he has been we should see those odds change in the near future.
Speaking of changing odds, Marquise Brown (+700) saw the second-biggest shift in his odds this week, behind only Daniel Jones. Brown is just narrowly behind McLaurin in NEP on the season. His first-round draft capital and propensity for flashy plays -- like the 41-yard grab he made this week that was worth a whopping 4.01 NEP by itself -- forced the oddsmakers to bump Brown up.
D.K. Metcalf (+2000) stands out as a value this week. He's already become the Seattle Seahawks WR2 behind Tyler Lockett. Like Brown, Metcalf has demonstrated a knack for making high-value catches down the field -- already notching 3 receptions of 20 or more yards this season. Metcalf's pre-draft reputation and top-notch athleticism should help his case as a strong contender for the OROY award.