I’m a value seeker when looking for futures. I’ll take a few of the most obvious bets on the board, but I’m also out there looking for the rare +500 bets and above to throw a few bones at and hope it skyrockets into a large sum.
This week’s futures column is a rather straight-forward one. When wagering for Offensive Rookie of the Year, do you take the chalk that is Kyler Murray? Or do you fade him in the event of injury and take someone else with much better odds? Over the past 15 seasons, we’ve seen quarterbacks take home this award seven times (46.7%), running backs six times (40.0%), and wide receivers twice (13.3%). The top-six players in highest odds to win this award (per DraftKings) are either quarterbacks or running backs.
Remember, futures bets are generally risky propositions. Even just missing one game due to injury puts a player significantly at a disadvantage. The highest “favorite” in this category is still listed at +350 odds.
Note: All odds listed below are from DraftKings.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray (+180) is easily the favorite for this category after being selected first overall in the 2019 draft. Murray not only has the benefit of playing in Kliff Kingsbury’s pass-happy, fast-paced offense, the Cardinals front office decided to double-down on their investment in Murray and surround him with a slew of pass-catchers. Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson all were selected in this year’s draft to supplement a receiving corps of Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Murray also has one of the league’s premiere receiving backs — David Johnson — who has an 80-catch season under his belt. The Cardinals have remained tight-lipped about how exactly Kingsbury’s passing attack will translate to the NFL level, but we know his squads at Texas Tech were perennial contenders for most plays per game and highest passing percentage. Murray finished his collegiate career throwing for 4,361 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, and setting the NCAA single-season record sporting a 13.0 Adjusted Yards per Attempt. Oh yeah, and he also ran for 1,000-plus rushing yards. +180 odds are a slam dunk for Murray if he can stay healthy (207 pounds). He has both play volume and playmakers on his side to help rack up counting stats in a hurry.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington Redskins
The reason I brought up playmakers when talking about Murray, is that Dwayne Haskins (+600) doesn’t have many to help bail him out in Washington. Working with an injury-plagued receiving corps, it might be tough for Haskins to take home this trophy. Haskins is in the midst of a training camp battle with Case Keenum for the starting quarterback position. Keenum’s numbers dropped across the board last year in Denver and there’s a legitimate chance for Haskins to take the job. Haskins has had limited starts in his collegiate career (14) but finished his final season breaking passing records at Ohio State for most passing yards (4,831) and passing touchdowns (50) in a single season. He threw for 400-plus passing yards five different times last year, a feat that had only been accomplished once before in Ohio State’s long, tenured history. Selected 15th overall in this year’s draft, Haskins would likely need to win the starting gig right off the bat in order to keep pace with Murray and contend for this award. I’m personally fading these +600 odds.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders spent first round capital to select their guy, Josh Jacobs (+700), in this year’s draft. Jacobs’ rushing history at Alabama splitting time with Damien Harris can be seen as a negative, but I’ll take the optimistic view instead. Jacobs was able to put up quality numbers on limited touches and now enters the NFL still with full treads on his tires. Adept rushing and receiving the ball, Jacobs also has the backfield pretty much to himself now. Jalen Richard could come in to spell him on some third downs, but Jacobs is a dynamic do-it-all back that the Raiders believe is a complete back and should see a ton of volume. Despite the rookie status, Jacobs could come in and challenge to be a top-12 fantasy back right off the bat. The Raiders brought in former Patriots standout Trent Brown and added Richie Incognito to give this offensive line an uplift and help provide better blocking upfront. Ultimately, I believe this offense will go as far as Derek Carr can take them, and that’s where my view shifts to pessimism, as I’ll be passing on Jacobs at +700.
There’s a few other candidates that have a longshot chance at capturing this award. The player with the next-highest odds, Miles Sanders (+1400), isn’t someone that I’m really expecting to have a shot at winning it. Sanders’ has endured a lingering hamstring injury throughout the offseason, keeping him out of OTA’s and minicamp. The Eagles have no shortage of running backs at this time (eight), so they’re letting others take reps ahead of him as he continues to rehab and learn the playbook. Offseason addition Jordan Howard figures to take the early work as the two-down grinder, and with Sanders missing these valuable offseason reps, likely will start the year behind him in a committee. That will ultimately put him well behind in terms of touch volume and likely out of the running in taking home this award.
The Rams’ Darrell Henderson (+1600) is another popular candidate to take home this trophy at his odds. Questions surrounding the health of Todd Gurley and his durability for the season legitimize Henderson as a potential fit for this award. Henderson averaged a sublime 8.9 yards per carry during his final two seasons at Memphis (344 total carries). He scored 25 total touchdowns in just his final season alone. The explosive playmaker is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. He now gets to benefit from one of the best running game schemers in Sean McVay, who routinely had Gurley set up to run against unstacked boxes. Volume is the loan concern for Henderson, but he should be in for a highly-efficient season if the line can stay healthy.
Another +1600 candidate, the Bears’ David Montgomery is the last back that I believe has a legitimate shot at winning this award. Montgomery has blown away the Bears coaching staff throughout the spring and summer, garnering that steady drumbeat we like to listen for when it comes to fantasy players. The pads come on this week, but Montgomery is set to enter camp as the No. 1 back in Chicago. The Bears were one of the more run-heavy squads last season, ranking sixth in both total rush attempts (468) and in run play percentage (45.2%). Montgomery should see plenty of volume if the defense continues to play like it did last year under Vic Fangio. Montgomery also put together two of the most tackle-elusive NCAA campaigns recorded during his final two years at Iowa State and will be an exciting rookie running back to watch this season. If taking a longshot, Montgomery is my favorite play at +1600 odds.