For all 32 teams in the league, summer is the season of hope. We are more than two months away from drafting and every fan base has had ample time to digest the fresh influx of talent. We took another look at the new depth maps, polished up our projections, and went over the schedule. This behavior is an annual summertime pastime that will inevitably lead us to stare at the calendar until September.
We are 57 days away from the start of the NFL season. At 0-0, each team has a clean sheet. The parity we talk about every time a favorite lets us down never feels stronger than it does this time of year. Regardless of the team, there are fans and analysts who are absolutely sold on their potential success. Rather than quell the optimism with win totals this early, let’s focus on the dynamic rookies who will make the biggest impact this season.
BetMGM currently offers odds for both offensive and defensive rookie of the year. I’ll share where I see value in both markets by offering a best bet along with a player who offers good value as a long shot.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Best bet: Anthony Richardson +700
Anthony Richardson has the rawest advantage of any quarterback in this year’s rookie class. Much of a QB’s success stems from his landing spot, and the former Florida Gator hit the jackpot with new Colts HC Shane Steichen. I bet Richardson on draft night to be selected in the top five, it would be too tempting for Steichen to pass up his arm strength and athleticism.
Colts owner Jim Irsay recently emphasized the organization’s urgency to get Richardson ready to contribute, making it more than likely he will have a full season to bolster his statistical profile. Under Steichen, the dual-threat QB should put up exceptional rushing numbers to complement his performance through the air. Whatever Richardson lacks in consistency as a rookie will likely be overshadowed by the explosive plays and breathtaking highlights he will produce on Sunday. The Colts could easily be players in the conference’s weakest division, and a late run at the AFC South will only add to its momentum for the prize.
Long shot: Dalton Kincaid +3000
Tight ends don’t win prizes. Until they do. Kincaid’s positional dynamics allow us to get a great prize on the first round of the BIlls, and its potential use makes this bet attractive at the current odds. Pass catchers have won this award for the past two seasons (Garrett Wilson, Ja’Marr Chase), and Kincaid is definitely expected to catch a lot of Josh Allen’s passes this year. He will be more of a Swiss army knife tight end/slot hybrid that could provide just enough positional ambiguity to push voters to finally take the plunge with a man drafted as a tight end.
Bettors of Kyle Pitts from 2021 will be quick to point out that history hasn’t been kind to tight goals when entering the league. When I play devil’s advocate, not many get into a situation like Kincaid. He has Allen throw at him and Stefon Diggs draws attention to the outside in an attack that is absolutely hungry for slot production. If he plays well, the Bills are likely Super Bowl contenders, giving Kincaid the credibility and media attention needed to win the award. I like being the first. At 30 to 1, I’ll make an attempt at history.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Best guess: Jalen Carter +600
The Eagles couldn’t wait to draft Jalen Carter. So much so that they traded a spot for the ninth overall pick to secure the former Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle. Carter was once the most coveted defensive player in the draft, but saw his stock drop due to a serious off-field incident. Not only does he join a defense that led the NFL by a huge margin in 2022, but is expected to be even more aggressive under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai.
Five defensive linemen on the Eagles had seven or more sacks, with four reaching at least 11 on the season. Carter has a chance to slide right into the role vacated by DT Javon Hargrave, who left for San Francisco after amassing a career total of sacks (11) while playing alongside the dreaded Philadelphia defensive front. Carter has everything you want to see in a player before placing a bet in these types of markets. He comes from the top program in college football and now plays with a veteran group for the favorites in the NFC. Moreover, he will have plenty of opportunities to make a statistical impact in an important market. That’s enough to persuade me to buy in.
Long shot: Myles Murphy +3000
You can’t get enough pass rushers when you find yourself rivaling the most talented quarterback to ever play the game. Therefore, the Bengals selected DE Myles Murphy in the first round. You will notice a theme in most of my prize bets. Winning helps, and at least having a shot at the postseason is even better. Players get less attention if they are buried at the bottom of the leaderboard.
The rivalry between Cincinnati and Kansas City is the best in the NFL, so both teams will be in the national spotlight this season. The stage is there for Murphy. He gets to play under DC Lou Anarumo in a rotation of defensive ends that includes Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. Coming from Clemson, I’m not at all worried about Murphy’s play translating to the NFL level. It has already received rave reviews this summer, which gives me confidence that he is ready to make an impact from day one. Pockets get attention, especially when they’re in big contests for contenders. Murphy is a solid bet to make a much bigger splash in Cincinnati than his odds suggest.