NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 6
There was yet another huge shift in the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) race. While some fast-starters are beginning to fall off the radar, two headliners have all but cemented their places at the top of the pack with impressive Week 6 performances.
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. All odds are taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Week 6 NEP Leaders
|Player||Current NEP||Week 6 Odds|
At this point, the OROY race is Kyler Murray's to lose -- as reflected by his +105 betting odds. And for the first time all season, he has taken the top spot in numberFire's NEP leaderboards. He certainly earned it, too, with his victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Murray completed 27 of his 37 pass attempts for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding another 32 yards on 11 carries. These typically weren't empty carries, either, as they added positive NEP to the Arizona Cardinals' expected points total 50% of the team -- the highest rate on the team. His 26.06 NEP in Week 6 was the most among all rookies this week by a wide margin and vaulted him all the way up to the number 8 spot among all quarterbacks in total NEP -- not just among rookies.
Kyler Murray may have taken over the top spot in total NEP among rookies this past week, but Terry McLaurin is still close behind him. McLaurin has been about as consistent and productive as you could ask any player to be. He's performing like a bonafide, lead receiver in his rookie season, and it feels safe to say that without him, Washington would have lost to Miami this week. McLaurin dunked on the Dolphins for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, and finally, his betting odds caught up to his performance -- he was this week's biggest mover and it wasn't even close.
Daniel Jones had himself another rough outing, losing another 21.58 total NEP for the New York Giants in their 14-35 loss to the New England Patriots. His interceptions certainly didn't help, but his 57 second-half passing yards were pretty brutal as well. He'll look to bounce back next week against OROY frontrunner Kyler Murray's Cardinals, but at this point, Jones should be considered a long shot compared to Murray barring injury.
Gardner Minshew similarly struggled in Week 6 against a tough New Orleans Saints defensive front -- he cost the Jacksonville Jaguars 3.61 NEP on his two sacks and another 2.32 NEP on his interception. But unlike Jones, Minshew still kept his team competitive for the entire game. Minshew still has a lot going for him as an OROY candidate, but he'll have to bounce back in a convincing way to catch up to Murray.
It's getting pretty hard to endorse anyone other than Kyler Murray (+105) or maybe Terry McLaurin (+800) at this point in the season. Murray has the benefit of being the first overall pick of the draft, playing the quarterback position, and playing that position quite well the past few weeks. And McLaurin has the numbers to back up his underdog, come-from-nowhere appeal -- he's on pace to post more total NEP than Odell Beckham did in his award-winning rookie season, though Beckham was more efficient on a per-game basis. Still, some other players still have viable paths to winning the award.
Gardner Minshew (+800) has fallen slightly behind the past few weeks, but things should start looking up for him soon. Per SharpFootballStats.com, the Jags have the easiest rest-of-season schedule of opposing pass defenses. They'll square off against one of the worst pass defenses in the league next week in the Cincinnati Bengals. Minshew's odds fell this past week, so this could be a good time to buy in if you're looking to place a bet on him.
Josh Jacobs (+420) could be a decent bet at his current odds based on historical precedent -- he is the top-drafted running back from the 2019 NFL Draft class, has been playing well, and has relatively little competition at his position. He'll have to start picking up the pace to keep up with Murray, but with his bye now behind him, he'll have the opportunity to stay in the spotlight from here on out. The Oakland Raiders face the second-easiest schedule of rush defenses from here on out and could start strengthening his OROY case next week against the Green Bay Packers league-worst rushing defense.