Now that the 2016 NFL regular season is officially underway, we are starting to get a better feel for how the oddsmakers in Las Vegas see the rest of the year playing out. We already touched on the favorites to win Super Bowl LI, the favorites to take home the 2016 NFL MVP award, and who the sportsbooks predict will win the most regular-season games this year. Today, we are looking at which players have the best odds of taking home the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Here’s how the oddsmakers ranked the top nine candidates (in descending order).
9. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry will likely start out his rookie season as the primary backup to DeMarco Murray on the Titans’ depth chart, but when it comes down to it, we would be shocked if the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t get 15–20 touches per game right off the bat. The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder has deceptive speed; he is powerful between the tackles; and he is extremely tough to bring down. His success will likely hinge on the development of Tennessee’s offensive line (which didn’t exactly help him in a Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings), but either way, we wouldn’t be surprised if Henry goes over 1,000 yards on the ground in 2016.
8. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
It is a near lock that Corey Coleman will see at least 100 targets as a rookie given the Browns’ unenviable situation at the wide receiver position. As a result, there is a strong chance that the speedster out of Baylor will lead all rookies in receptions and yardage in 2016. However, his chances at taking home the hardware will take a major hit if the Browns finish near the bottom of the NFL standings, as most people expect.
7. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The bad news for Dallas Cowboys fans is that quarterback Tony Romo is, once again, injured (shocker) and expected to miss some time. The good news is, however, with the way rookie Dak Prescott has looked throughout the preseason, this loss might not actually derail Dallas’s season for once.
Despite being selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft (No. 135 to be exact), the former Mississippi State signal caller had a solid showing in the preseason, was more than respectable in his first regular-season start, and doesn’t appear to be overwhelmed by the spotlight. We wondered whether or not Prescott had the chops to be the Cowboys quarterback of the future — so far, so good.
5 (tie) Tajae Sharpe, WR, Tennessee Titans
The development of rookie wideout Tajae Sharpe is one of the many reasons why Tennessee felt comfortable shipping Dorial Green-Beckham off to Philadelphia. Despite being selected in the fifth round (No. 140 overall) of the 2016 draft, Sharpe came out in Week 1 and quickly showed he belonged at this level, catching seven passes (on 11 targets) for 76 yards while averaging 10.9 yards per reception. The former Massachusetts wide receiver may not win any hardware this season, but he we wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a vital part of the Titans’ offense.
5. (tie) Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders
Jalen Richard worked extremely hard to make the Oakland Raiders’ 53-man roster. Luckily for them, he came out in Week 1 and immediately rewarded their faith in him. Against the Tennessee Titans, Richard had three rushes for 84 yards and a touchdown to go with two receptions for 11 yards. Not bad for an undrafted rookie out of Southern Mississippi.
4. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
After being selected with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Sterling Shepard immediately showcased his speed and talent for the New York faithful, hauling in three receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown in the Giants’ Week 1 win against the Dallas Cowboys. That being said, while we fully expect the young wideout to continue to play nice a role in the Giants’ pass-friendly offense, it will be hard for the rookie to put together big numbers when he’s lining up next to superstar wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. Of course, given who he has the opportunity to learn from, Shepard could certainly find himself in a far worse situation.
3. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
When the Houston Texans selected Notre Dame’s Will Fuller with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2016 draft, we have to admit, we thought it was a little high. After watching Fuller’s debut against the Chicago Bears, we might have to rethink our previous evaluation. Against the lowly Chicago Bears, 22-year-old wideout caught five passes for 107 yards and one touchdown and looks to be the perfect complement to superstar DeAndre Hopkins. Something tells us this won’t be the last time Fuller puts up big numbers in 2016.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
It’s not hard to see why the oddsmakers in Vegas like Ezekiel Elliott’s chances of winning the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The former Ohio State All-American is one of the best running backs to enter the NFL in the last decade, and he will run behind the best offensive line in the league.
On top of that, Elliott is an excellent receiver out of the backfield; he is more than capable of posting 500 or more receiving yards next season. If he proves to be as good as advertised and if he can stay healthy, it’d be hard for us to bet against Zeke.
1. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Following a sensational debut, one which saw him throw for 278 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks, the hype surrounding Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has reached unimaginable heights. Everyone wants his jersey, the President of the United States has talked about “scouting” him, and folks throughout Philly are quickly reserving their seats on the “Wentz wagon.” If this former North Dakota State standout shines in under the bright lights of Monday Night Football in Week 2, there’s no telling how high his star will rise.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.