NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 11
Week 11 was one of the weakest performances all year by the 2019 rookie class. Fortunately for everyone involved, no one really pulled further ahead in the race for the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) award. But unfortunately for any underdogs, that means that the frontrunners can notch another win under their belts -- not a big one, but as the frontrunners didn't do too much to damage their stock, they still came out just a little further ahead.
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 11 Total NEP Leaders
|Player||Current NEP||Week 11 Odds|
Terry McLaurin had a positive week from an NEP standpoint. He caught 3 of his 4 targets for 69 yards in Week 11, adding a class-high 5.11 NEP to Washington's expected points total in the process. Unfortunately for McLaurin, the situation in Washington is really hurting his chances to win the OROY award. McLaurin still holds the second-most NEP in the class through Week 11, but as you can see from his +3300 odds, he isn't truly considered to be in contention for the award. Still, McLaurin's ability to shine despite the struggles of those around him is admirable.
Marquise Brown didn't do much in Week 11, but neither did anyone else, really. His 2.21 NEP against the Houston Texans were the second most of the week for this rookie class. Brown is hovering right around the outside of the true contenders. He stayed at +2600 odds this week, indicating that while he didn't have a great game, there's still some hope for him to come alive down the stretch -- no one is ready to rule him out quite yet. He'll need to break out soon if he wants to keep himself in the race, though, which will be a difficult task given his upcoming schedule -- he'll face the Jalen Ramsey-led Los Angeles Rams, the stingy San Francisco 49ers defense, and Tre'Davious White over the next three weeks.
Devin Singletary is a name we haven't featured much in this column, but he has quietly been putting together an impressive rookie season. Unfortunately, it's the "quietly" part that is tanking his chances to win the OROY award. Despite leading the rookie running back class in total NEP, his odds to win the award (+5000) remain worse than any of his competition. While he has seized the starting job from teammate Frank Gore, Singletary still loses some of the flashy goal line opportunities to the ageless wonder in addition to his own quarterback. While Singletary could arguably be considered one of the best running backs in this rookie class, he isn't a serious contender in the OROY race.
Dwayne Haskins is having a seriously rough rookie season -- his team essentially threw him to the wolves this year. Footage came out after the game of the rookie quarterback begging his offensive line to tell him what he could do to help them. The request makes sense, too -- Haskins took 6 sacks in the loss for 43 yards, costing his team 9.1 NEP on those sacks alone. It was another brutal outing for the former Ohio State Buckeye, whose -31.86 total NEP rank worst in the league among current starters at any position.
Kyler Murray had another tough matchup with the 49ers this weekend and came out of it with 6.4 fewer total NEP than he entered the game with. While his final box score -- and fantasy points -- look decent at a glance, Murray actually cost the Arizona Cardinals 0.27 total NEP each time he attempted a pass. The NFL's Next Gen Stats can help explain why -- Murray's passes were 4.8 yards behind the sticks on average, illustrating how he just wasn't able to sustain drives or get any downfield passing going. The good news is that this game didn't do much to hurt Murray's chances to win the OROY award -- in fact, his odds actually improved from +170 to +150.
Josh Jacobs (-140) had a pretty disappointing performance in what should have been a smash spot against the Cincinnati Bengals but remains the favorite to win the OROY award regardless. While he did put up his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the season, he lost a fumble that led directly to the Bengals' only touchdown of the game. Fortunately for the frontrunner, the rest of his rookie class had similarly disappointing weeks. With a number of running-back friendly matchups left on his schedule, Jacobs should be able to seal the deal in the coming weeks -- assuming he stays healthy.
If total NEP had anything to say about the OROY race, it would be that Kyler Murray (+150) should be the far-and-away favorite to win the award right now. But as things stand, he'll have to settle for a close second-place behind Jacobs. Unfortunately, it will be an uphill battle for the first overall pick if he wants to win the award -- he'll face off against the Los Angeles Rams' seventh-best defense (per numberFire's power rankings) in the league twice, as well as a tough matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers' third-best defense.
With just a few weeks left in the season, it's hard to justify placing a bet on anyone other than Jacobs or Murray.
As I mentioned last week, Hollywood Brown (+2600) could put himself in the running with a strong stretch run. But the same could definitely be said for D.K. Metcalf (+2800), who currently leads the rookie class in receiving yards with 595.
The Seattle Seahawks have some pretty soft matchups coming up for wideouts, and if Tyler Lockett ends up missing any time from the injury that hospitalized him in Week 10, Metcalf would become the team's de facto top pass-catcher. The second-round pick has already grown and improved significantly since the start of the season and has proven to have the breakaway speed to rip off big gains -- he hit 20.45 miles per hour on his big touchdown in Week 10. The stars would have to align just right, but there is a path to win the award for DK.