NFL Rookie of the Year Odds- Underdog Picks for 2018

Royce Freeman


With the rising trend of rookie running backs outperforming expectations in their first season, many fantasy owners aren’t afraid to gamble with a player who’s never played in the pros early in their fantasy drafts. Ezekiel Elliott, the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, racked up 1,631 rushing yards, 363 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns in his first season. The following year Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey both became top 10 overall picks as the entered and dominated the league in a similar fashion.

This season New York Giants RB, Saquon Barkley, who was selected 2nd overall has a tall order from fantasy owners. His average draft position is climbing up the board daily as Fantasy owners are overly confident that he will be a bonafide stud in the NFL year one. Sports Betting sites tend to agree, as Barkley is a heavy favorite to win rookie of the year in 2018.

Offensive Rookie Odds 2018
Saquon Barkley
Baker Mayfield
Josh Rosen
Josh Allen
Sony Michel
Rashaad Penny
Calvin Ridley
Derrius Guice
Royce Freeman
Lamar Jackson
Ronald Jones
Courtland Sutton
DJ Moore
James Washington
Christian Kirk

NFL Rookie of the Year Odds- Underdog Picks for 2018 5Betting odds are an underrated tool when doing fantasy football research. However, nothing is a given, and despite everyone already crowning Saquon Barkley the rookie winner for 2018, history has shown there can be a wildcard. The last two seasons have seen players that did not get drafted in the first round win offensive rookie of the year. Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing, but Alvin Kamara stole the show in what was considered to be a close race for the top rookie award. Kamara’s odds to win Offensive ROTL in 2017 were actually 34 to 1. With that being said, I thought I would take a look at a few other top candidates to potential win the top offensive rookie award.

History of Rookie of the year

  • 2008 Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons | QB
  • 2009 Percy Harvin – Minnesota Vikings |  WR
  • 2010 Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams | QB
  • 2011 Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers | QB
  • 2012 Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins | QB
  • 2013 Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers | RB
  • 2014 Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants | WR
  • 2015 Todd Gurley-  St. Louis Rams | RB
  • 2016 Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys | QB
  • 2017 Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints | RB

Underdog Picks

I find it interesting that top three favorites after Barkley are all quarterbacks. With the history and difficulty of the position, you would think that Mayfield, Rosen, and Allen would be further down the board in terms of betting odds. Take Eagles Carson Wentz for example, the second year QB looked like he was going to win the league MVP last season before getting hurt, but even he had growing pains his first season. Most quarterbacks do. In fact, even Peyton Manning had a rough rookie season as he threw more INT’s than Touchdowns and had less than 60% completion percentage his first year. My point is, if I were going to pick an underdog, it won’t be a quarterback.

Rashaad Penny had an unbelievable college career that could translate into the pros, but there are a lot of questions about the Seahawks roster this season. After years of dominating the NFC West, the Seahawks look like they may struggle in 2018 after losing a few key leaders and playmakers on both sides of the ball. Obviously, if Penny can fill a void on offense the team could be extremely lethal. Russell Wilson is the ultimate quarterback threat who can buy time with his feet to allow even the most average receivers those extra few seconds to get open and make a play. At +1300, Penny is a nice sleeper pick landing in Seattle, but I think I will dig deeper.

Redskins running back Derrius Guice at +1600 is another tempting option, however, if I had to make a pick it would be Broncos running back Royce Freeman at +2000. The odds alone make this a great underdog option, but in terms of the landing spot, Freeman is one of my favorite rookies for 2018. As a long time Oregon Ducks fan, I feel I’ve gotten to see Freeman throughout the years in key moments of big games. His in-game speed makes me question if he’s faster with the ball in his hands compared to his 4.54 forty-yard dash combine time. At 6″0, and 229lbs, Freeman should handle most, if not all goalline situations for the Broncos this season and in terms of competition, I’m confident he beats out Devontae Booker for the starting job.

Am I saying I think Royce Freeman is better than Saquon Barkley… No, I am not saying that. But if you’re going to give me +2000 betting odds for Freeman to win the offensive rookie of the year, I’ll throw a few bucks on him as I like those odds.


Thanks for Reading

About the author

Mike Rigz

Mike Rigz

Mike is the founding member at Gridiron Experts with over 1000+ articles credited to his name. With over 25 years of fantasy experience, Mike has a very unique style when picking sleepers and gems. He has always had an outside the box look on the NFL and rarely gets sucked into the hype over players or buzzing offenses. Mike has three kids and lives on the West Coast. He's happily married to a beautiful woman who also loves sports. Sundays are spent with friends and family watching games from opening kickoff to well into the evenings.

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