NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 12
At this point, it's starting to feel like the 2019 rookie class is performing better than some of their veteran counterparts. While rookies are typically unreliable in fantasy football, many from this class have become borderline-bankable players at their positions -- particularly at the wide receiver position. But which ones still have hopes to take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) award at the end of the season?
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 Online Sportsbook.
Week 12 Total NEP Leaders
|Player||Current NEP||Week 11 Odds|
A.J. Brown had himself a game in Week 12. He added a whopping 11.62 total NEP to the Tennessee Titans' expected points total on the back of his 4 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown. Brown looked unstoppable in this one, hitting a top speed of 20.72 miles per hour on his 65-yard touchdown score -- the ninth-fastest recorded speed of the week -- despite his 6'0", 226-pound frame. Brown has shown off an enviable skill set in his first season, but between his own inconsistencies and the mostly unreliable Titans offense, he hasn't been quite as consistent as he'd need to be to put together a successful Rookie of the Year campaign.
Terry McLaurin is one heck of a good receiver. Despite playing with arguably the worst quarterback in the league -- who has been removed from our chart above -- McLaurin is still finding a way to produce in the NFL. This week, McLaurin caught 5 of 12 targets for 72 scoreless yards. That doesn't seem like too much, but his 72 receiving yards were just under 50% of the team's entire passing offense. It's safe to say he's the only player holding his team together, but unfortunately, that's probably not enough to notch him a Rookie of the Year trophy.
Marquise " Hollywood" Brown added 6.89 Total NEP this week with his second two-touchdown performance of the year. The Baltimore Ravens dominated the Los Angeles Rams and consistently found themselves in the red zone. When they were in the red zone, they were looking Hollywood's way -- he should have even had a third touchdown, but he let the ball slip out of his hands before he could secure it. Brown's lightning-fast speed hasn't been showcased down the field recently, but it is evident that his quickness is proving valuable in the red zone. It's also worth noting that Brown has now escaped matchups with Jalen Ramsey and Stephon Gilmore with decent receiving games -- though neither shadowed the first-round pick. That's an impressive feat for any receiver, let alone a rookie.
David Montgomery just might not have what it takes to compete at the NFL level. His lack of speed was a concern coming out of college, as his tape from Iowa State featured numerous clips of his getting caught from behind. While he did lead college football in forced missed tackles by a ridiculous margin, that skill hasn't quite translated to the next level in a meaningful way. He's averaging a broken tackle once every 9.8 carries -- 11th-best in the league -- but just 1.3 yards after contact and 3.3 yards per attempt total. In other words, he's breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and not getting much farther after that. Part of that is his offensive line and the lackluster situation in Chicago, but either way, it has been a disappointing year for the rookie.
Daniel Jones was simply bad in Week 12. He cost the New York Giants 10.07 total NEP in the 19-14 loss -- in other words, they probably would have won if not for Jones. Jones completed under 60% of his throws and lost another fumble, bringing his fumble total to 14 on the season. To make that sub-60% completion rate look even worse, just 35.14% of Jones' attempts added positive NEP to the Giants' expected points total. Among the quarterbacks who started in Week 12, that mark ranked fourth-worst -- even Mason Rudolph had a better game from that perspective.
Josh Jacobs (-140) and Kyler Murray (+180) remain the hands-down favorites to win the award at the end of the season, but a couple of wideouts are making their cases heard as well.
I've mentioned before how a wide receiver could theoretically have an Odell Beckham-esque end-of-season breakout to come from behind and win the award. Last week, I reference Marquise Brown (+1400) as an interesting prospect from that perspective -- and that remains true after his two-score performance in Week 12 -- but A.J. Brown (+5000) could be in play as an outsider's outsider with his impressive performance.
The Titans have stubbornly resisted giving Brown a full complement of snaps, but he has managed to produce despite their reluctance. His 581 receiving yards rank only behind Terry McLaurin (638) and D.K. Metcalf (630) and his schedule for the rest of the season includes multiple in-division meetings with the Houston Texans' burnable secondary, as well as wide receiver-friendly matchups against the Oakland Raiders and the New Orleans Saints. The Titans have really turned things around with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback and are technically still in contention for a playoff berth at 6-4 -- numberFire's projections have them at a 28.7% chance to make the playoffs. If Brown can help guide the Titans to a playoff appearance and keep up this level of play, he'll definitely have a case as a dark horse contender for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.