You don't always get an obvious frontrunner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott already has the football odds in a headlock.
Nobody said life is fair. The Associated Press has been handing out NFL Rookie of the Year honors for both offense and defense since 1967. Of the 49 people to win Offensive ROY, there have been 33 running backs, nine wide receivers, and seven quarterbacks. Offensive linemen? Tight ends? Sorry about your damn luck.
Quarterbacks did very well for themselves between 2004 and 2012, getting the ROY nod six times as the league went all pass-happy. But the last three winners were Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy, New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr., and St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams RB Todd Gurley. And a running back leads the NFL odds list for 2016; at press time, Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is a massive -125 favorite on the NFL futures market at Bovada.
As a rule, we generally recommend staying away from the favorites when making your NFL picks on the futures market. Recreational bettors love these bets, and they tend to put too much money on the big names at the top of the list – especially when those players are with brand-name football teams like the Cowboys. The betting value is usually a bit further down the list; Gurley was tied as the second-favorite last year at +650, behind Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston at +450.
But what are we supposed to make of Elliott at -125? That's way chalkier than most Offensive ROY favorites. Then again, Elliott isn't your garden-variety running back. He played for three years with the Ohio State Buckeyes, including two full seasons of over 1,800 rushing yards apiece in 2014 and 2015. Elliott is expected to feature just as heavily in the Cowboys offense this year, working with a quality QB in Tony Romo while protected by an offensive line that ranked sixth in the league in run blocking efficiency last year at Football Outsiders. Success is there for the taking.
Dorf on Goff
The thing is, Elliott wasn't even selected first overall at the NFL Draft. The Rams took QB Jared Goff (+700) out of Cal, then the Philadelphia Eagles grabbed QB Carson Wentz (+1600) from North Dakota State with the second pick. Both teams paid a heavy price to trade up in the draft and get their would-be franchise quarterbacks. Aren't they more likely to have an impact with their new teams than Elliott will in Dallas?
Hard to say, really. Wentz goes into training camp as the No. 3 quarterback on Philadelphia's depth chart, behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, so he probably won't get much of a chance to shine this year. Goff, on the other hand, is already at the head of the class for the Rams, ahead of Case Keenum and former Eagles QB Nick Foles. He put in three increasingly good years at Cal, and he's joining a Rams team that led the NFL in pass protection last year at 18 sacks allowed.
On top of that, Goff is a California kid who's being given the keys to the Rams in their much-ballyhooed return to Los Angeles. Goff's ROY floor is probably lower than Elliott's, but his ceiling is higher, and Football Outsiders have Goff ranked as their No. 9 quarterback prospect since 1996, according to their freshly-updated QBASE model. Will his rookie year turn out like 2004 Offensive ROY Ben Roethlisberger's at No. 8? Or will Goff struggle like our pick from last year, No. 5-ranked Marcus Mariota? Heck if we know, but at +700, we're happy to invest a dollar or two in the outcome.
Free NFL Pick: Jared Goff +700
Best Line Offered: at Bovada