NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 3
This year's rookie receiver class is already looking pretty special. The 2019 rookie receivers have been making an impact ever since they hit the field in Week 1, and many of them haven't slowed down since. They've even made their presences felt in fantasy football, four rookie receivers are owned in over 50% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. But the biggest mover in the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) race wasn't a receiver -- it was a highly-criticized young quarterback making his debut in flashy fashion.
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 3 Rookie NEP Leaders
|Player||Current NEP||Week 3 Odds|
Daniel Jones had himself one heck of a debut performance. He brought the New York Giants back from the brink of despair, overcoming an 18-point deficit to lead the team to their first win of the season. Jones had a solid game as a passer, completing 23 of his 36 pass attempts for 336 yards and 2 scores, but where he really made his hay was on the ground -- the 44 yards and 2 touchdowns he rushed for were worth 7.24 NEP for the Giants, the second-highest rushing mark in the league across all positions. We knew Jones was at least a decent athlete after the NFL Combine, but few could have predicted this kind of rushing performance from the Duke product. He is now firmly established as a top dog in this year's OROY race.
Terry McLaurin just keeps tearing it up. The leader in NEP in this year's rookie class entered the record books this weekend, becoming the first rookie receiver in NFL history to record five receptions and a touchdown in each of his first three games. He's been a reliable possession receiver and a downfield threat since the moment he stepped on the field, and is quickly establishing himself as the top underdog in this year's OROY race. It's fair to wonder what his betting odds would be if he had been drafted higher in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Mecole Hardman is a splash play waiting to happen. Despite being a non-factor in Week 1 -- and despite having a long touchdown called back in Week 2 -- Hardman is already the third-best rookie performer according to numberFire's NEP model. He leapt up another 7.46 NEP this week by tallying 98 yards and a score on just 2 catches over the Baltimore Ravens secondary. He's already making a case for himself as one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league -- averaging a ridiculous 26.3 yards per reception.
Kyler Murray has been fairly inconsistent so far in 2019. He looked like he took a step forward in Week 2, but things came crashing back down in Week 3 -- he actually cost the Arizona Cardinals 6.25 NEP in their tough home loss to the Carolina Panthers. He tossed two interceptions to match his two touchdowns in this one, and took a whopping eight sacks on his dropbacks. He'll have to tighten things up going forward if he wants to hold onto his spot as the frontrunner in the OROY race, especially with Daniel Jones' impressive debut.
Josh Jacobs had a rough Week 3. Between dealing with a groin injury and a stubborn illness, he lost valuable opportunities to teammates Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. He was still efficient when he touched the ball, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but on average he actually cost the Oakland Raiders 0.08 NEP per rush attempt. He should bounce back as he heals up heading into Week 4.
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 (+260) is this week's obvious rapid riser. In addition to performing above expectations in his debut, Jones also has a strong narrative on his side -- he replaced the Giants two-time Super Bowl winner and fought his way back to a come-from-behind victory. If he continues this level of play, don't be surprised if he passes Kyler Murray as the frontrunner soon.
The line is moving slowly on Terry McLaurin (+2300) -- likely due to his late draft capital -- but it is moving. McLaurin's line went up by 600 this week. He still has worse odds than Dwayne Haskins (+2000) and David Montgomery (+750) despite his stellar performances to kick off the season, but breaking records should help open doors for him as a contender for the OROY award.
D.K. Metcalf (+4400) was the biggest faller in betting odds this week -- and somewhat inexplicably. His line dropped from +2000 all the way to +4400 after Week 3, despite having another positive performance against the New Orleans Saints, reeling in 2 of his 6 targets for 67 scoreless yards. Evidently, the oddsmakers would like to see Metcalf start catching more of his targets before they can move his line back up -- he's caught under 50% of his targets this season -- but there's reason for optimism with the uber-efficient Russell Wilson throwing him the rock. If you're looking for a value bet this week, buy in on the dip with Metcalf.