NFL

NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 13

A.J. Brown stood out among the 2019 rookie in Week 13, but was his performance enough to move the needle at all in the OROY race?

Week 13 was a pretty tame one for the 2019 batch of rookies. While there were a couple of momentous events, the performances themselves lacked pizazz overall. That means the odds skew even more heavily in favor of the frontrunners, and that the underdogs have even more ground to make up in the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) race.

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 13 Total NEP Leaders

PlayerCurrent NEP Current Odds
Terry McLaurin64.033300
AJ Brown50.745000
Marquise Brown47.372600
DK Metcalf43.572300
Kyler Murray42.6240
Gardner Minshew26.431700
Miles Sanders19.378000
Devin Singletary17.722000
Josh Jacobs13.46-260
David Montgomery-9.96000
Daniel Jones-17.9210000


Studs

The studs this week were pretty underwhelming overall, with A.J. Brown's 3.70 NEP leading the pack. Brown was once again impressive in this one, but didn't make a huge splash. He caught 3 of his 4 targets and efficiently converted them into 45 yards. Brown is already one of the best receivers after the catch in the league, generating an elite 8.4 yards after the catch (YAC) per reception, the second-best rate among qualifying receivers in 2019. He'll need a ton more volume going forward if he wants to make a case for himself as an OROY contender, but Brown's rookie season puts him on the map as a strong buy in dynasty fantasy football formats.

Josh Jacobs completely outshone the rest of his team in their blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week -- their second-such blowout in as many weeks. Jacobs put up 104 rushing yards on just 17 carries for a cool 6.12 yards per carry clip while breaking a couple more tackles along the way. It could have been an even bigger game for the OROY frontrunner, but the Raiders gave him just five carries total in the second-half and refused to target him in the passing game. Jacobs posted an elite 58.82% Rushing Success Rate -- the percentage of a back's carries that added positive value to their team's expected points total -- in Week 13, and was the lone bright spot on the offense on a day where it managed just nine total points. Jacobs is still the frontrunner in the OROY race, and further strengthened his case this week with another strong performance.

Duds

Kyler Murray had a really tough weekend, and in total cost the Arizona Cardinals 16.93 NEP in their blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Murray just couldn't get anything going in this one. His 5.6 average intended air yards per attempt ranked as the third-lowest mark among quarterbacks in Week 13, while his 32.% Pass Success Rate -- the passing version of Rushing Success Rate -- only beat out Dwayne Haskins and Nick Foles, who was benched for his poor play. He threw a pretty terrible interception that was returned for a touchdown and took another six sacks, bringing his season total to a league-high 41. For reference, that's how many Andrew Luck took in his entire rookie season and puts him on pace for 54.7 over the full 16 game season. Murray has had to overcome a lot in his rookie year and is a beacon of hope for the Cardinals franchise, but Week 13 was not his week.

Gardner Minshew made his grand return in Week 13 after the Jacksonville Jaguars benched Nick Foles, and while he did instill some more life into the Jags offense than his highly-paid teammate was able to, he still had some trouble himself. Minshew cost the Jags 7.68 expected points in one half of football, mostly on the back of two costly sacks -- his interception did cost the team 4.14 NEP, but the game was already pretty much out of reach at that point. Minshew has a chance at a come-from-behind run at the OROY title, but he'll have to clean up some of his sloppy mistakes to give Jacobs a run for his money.

Betting Odds

Gardner Minshew (+1700) was the biggest mover of the week following the announcement that he will be taking over as the Jaguars starting quarterback next week. Minshew will need to improve on his Week 13 performance if he wants to win the OROY award, but there are reasons to believe he could. Per SharpFootballStats.com, the Jaguars have the fourth-easiest remaining schedule of opposing pass defenses. Minshew could string together some strong performances against teams like the Chargers, the Falcons and the Raiders over the next few weeks, and those games will be freshest in the minds of the voters for the award. Minshew spent some time near the front of the OROY race earlier this year. His odds hit as high as +400 back before Foles reclaimed his job, so his current +1700 odds could be a value considering his previous standing. Minshew has a strong narrative to go with his on-field performance, but he'll still have to seriously impress as the season draws to a close if he wants to compete with Josh Jacobs.