NFL Rookie of the Year Watch: Week 10
Week 10 featured some inspiring performances by the 2019 rookie class, but Josh Jacobs appears to be pulling ahead of the competition -- at least according to the public betting odds. The race for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award has truly narrowed down to just two frontrunners, with the rest of the class trailing behind. At this point, it would take an end-of-season run like Odell Beckham's in 2014 or Todd Gurley's in 2015 for a player outside the two top dogs to have even a plausible shot. Could that be in the cards for any of these players?
In this column, we analyze the 2019 batch of rookies through numberFire's metrics -- specifically, Net Expected Points (NEP). NEP measures how much value a player adds to or subtracts from his team's expected points total, using historic down and distance data as a reference point. You can read more about that metric and others in the terms glossary. All odds are taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Week 10 Total NEP Leaders
|Player||Current NEP||Week 10 Odds|
Daniel Jones led the rookie class in total NEP in Week 10 with 7.31 on the back of his solid performance in the New York Giants' loss to the New York Jets. Jones threw an impressive 4 touchdowns in this one, but also took 6 sacks for 50 yards and fumbled 3 times. He only lost one fumble this week, but Jets safety Jamal Adams took the stripped ball all the way to the end zone for a fumble-six. Jones isn't really in contention for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award anymore, but his Week 10 performance was a solid one.
Marquise Brown is one of the few players I could see making an OBJ-like run at the end of the season, and he helped his case this week with his solid performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown added 7.19 total NEP to the Baltimore Ravens expected points total, the second-highest mark in the rookie class in Week 10. He snagged all 4 of his targets for 80 yards and a touchdown, flashing his elite speed on the first play of the game and punishing the Bengals secondary on his third-quarter score. Brown has missed a significant part of the season with injuries, but when he's been on the field, his talent has been undeniable.
David Montgomery did not have an impressive game against the Detroit Lions and their terrible run defense. He managed just 60 rushing yards on 17 carries and failed to draw a single target in the passing game. As a result, he cost the Chicago Bears 0.24 NEP -- the team still won, but Montgomery did nothing to help them get there. Just 6 of his 17 carries added value to the Bears expected points total, and his longest run on the day went for only 9 yards. It was an uninspiring performance whether you look at it from a film perspective or by the metrics.
Poor D.K. Metcalf. He almost had one of his most impressive plays of the season, only to have it ruined at the last second by a confusing fumble. Metcalf caught a quick screen from Russell Wilson just before the half and nearly took it to the house from about 25 yards out -- breaking tackles and dragging defenders with him --, but a defender that was out of bounds stripped the ball from him just before he could barrel into the end zone. That fumble alone cost the Seattle Seahawks 3.19 total NEP and cost Metcalf what would have been a true highlight-reel score.
Josh Jacobs (-170) became the firm leader this week after another solid outing -- this time on Thursday Night Football. The rookie running back added 2.86 NEP to the Oakland Raiders points total while tallying up over 100 yards from scrimmage and scoring the game-winning touchdown. He has earned high grades from Pro Football Focus throughout the year and has been neck-and-neck at the top of the leaderboards in broken tackles per touch, alongside tackle-breaking monster Chris Carson. Jacobs and the Raiders will face the ninth-easiest schedule of opposing running backs for the remainder of the season, according to SharpFootballStats.com -- so he could be in line for even better production down the stretch.
Kyler Murray (+170) remains in play as the second-most likely player to win the award. We would have liked to have seen him best the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10, but he still leads all rookies in total NEP with 65.93 and had his second 3-touchdown game of the season. He's breaking Arizona Cardinals franchise records and even set an NFL rookie record for most consecutive passes without throwing an interception, at 177 -- just before throwing his first interception. The hype has been growing for the first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, but upcoming dates with defenses like the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Pittsburgh Steelers will put him to the test before the season closes. It will be an uphill battle for Murray to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award this year.
While there are no other strong contenders to win the award behind the two frontrunners, I did mention earlier that Marquise Brown (+2600) could potentially put himself in the running with a strong end to his season. We've seen flashes of Brown's talent at times this year, but the young rookie has struggled to stay on the field. He has dominated against weaker teams with 313 of his 454 yards and 3 of his 4 touchdowns coming against the Miami Dolphins, Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals, but it's important to note that he has played well against tough defenses as well -- he caught a hard-fought touchdown against the Steelers back in Week 5 before succumbing to his injuries, and quietly had one of the most impressive performances we've seen all year against elite New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He has the top-end speed needed to rack up big yardage on minimal opportunities, and as the Ravens face tougher opponents, he could be in line for more usage as the season draws to a close.