Five Players to Bet to Win Offensive Rookie of the Year: Why Caleb Williams Doesn’t Make the List

Jayden Daniels is the presumptive starter for the Commanders this season.
Jayden Daniels is the presumptive starter for the Commanders this season. / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

I don't consider myself a betting expert, but I do enjoy putting a few bucks down on a parlay or future from time to time (Indiana Fever season wins under is worthy of your attention. Sorry Caitlin Clark fans.) I have also spent the past year studying and analyzing the 2024 NFL draft class, so I figured it would be fun to put a little bit of a betting spin on where some of the top players in the draft landed.

It would be easy to just pick Caleb Williams. The Bears' new quarterback steps into possibly the best situation of any rookie quarterback in recent memory. He has an unreal trio to throw to in D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen and fellow rookie Rome Odunze. Williams is who I expect to win the award, but not who I want to bet on. He is currently listed at +200, which means a $10 bet only wins you $20 in profit. For future bets, I usually like to look for bets that have a bit more potential value. There is also the possibility that Williams plays well and the narrative becomes that he is only thriving because of his supporting cast. Narrative matters for these awards, whether it should or not.

You also won't find other top draft picks on here. No Brock Bowers, Malik Nabers or Odunze. Regarding Bowers, Sam Laporta was named a finalist, but ultimately did not win the award in a year where he broke some tight end records. And that was playing in an offense led by Jared Goff and designed by Ben Johnson. Bowers is playing in an offense led by Gardner Minshew (or Aidan O'Connell) and designed by Luke Getsy.

What's more, no tight end has won Rookie of the Year in the Super Bowl era (since 1967.) Nabers has questionable quarterback play of his own with Daniel Jones, who did not look sharp before suffering a season-ending injury. Odunze unfortunately falls victim to the situation where even if he does well, his quarterback is more likely to get the credit and his quarterback is Williams, the frontrunner for the award. Puka Nacua broke several receiving records last season and still lost the award to C.J. Stroud. When push comes to shove, quarterbacks will get the love. On top of that, Allen and Moore are likely to eat into his potential target share.

Let me be clear, I am in no way advocating for anyone to bet large sums of money based on what I write here, but I think there are some interesting trends and situations to be aware of. Keeping that in mind, here are five players that because of their situation, and betting value of position, I think are worthy of consideration for a future Offensive Rookie of the Year bet.

All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of May 6th.

5. Jaylen Wright RB Miami Dolphins

Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (0) runs the ball during a game between Tennessee and
Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (0) runs the ball during a game between Tennessee and / Hannah Mattix/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

It has been a while since a running back has won Offensive Rookie of the Year. In fact, Saquon Barkley was the last one to do so, back in 2018. Since then, we have had three quarterbacks and two wide receivers win the award. It's a reflection of how much the league has continued to change. From 2013-17, running backs won the award four out of six years. However, with more backs arriving in crowded rooms with fewer true rushing touches to go around, it is hard for these rookie running backs to see enough volume to warrant consideration.

However, the closest we've come to having a rookie running back reclaim the award was just this past season. De'Von Achane dazzled with 997 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. He likely would have won, or at least given a serious challenge to C.J. Stroud, if he had been on the field more. Injuries limited Achane to just 11 games in his first campaign.

You might be wondering how any of this works out to me picking Wright to win the award then. Well, as we just established, Achane is not durable. At just under 5'9" and 188 pounds, he is one of the smallest running backs in the league. Wright is a bigger version of Achane. He is roughly 5'10" and 210 pounds. His 40 time of 4.38 was just six-hundredths of a second slower than Achane. If Achane or Raheem Mostert, who also has his own extensive injury history, go down, Wright instantly becomes the bell-cow in one of the most running back-friendly offenses in the NFL. Mike McDaniel is an expert at designing big-hitting run plays and Wright is a perfect scheme fit. I'm not saying it is likely, but if things break the right way, Wright could be a great value play.

Current odds: +4000
Potential payout for $10 bet: $400

4. Tyrone Tracy Jr. RB, New York Giants

Nov 18, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. (3) runs
Nov 18, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. (3) runs / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

That's right, I'm doubling down on running backs. Tracy is not a name most people are very familiar with, but he goes to a situation where playing time and circumstances are pretty favorable. That's what most of these situations are all about. A path to regular work and a solid supporting cast largely outweigh talent when it comes to this award. Although, talent helps a lot.

Tracy's path to the NFL is a fascinating one. He spent four years at Iowa as a wide receiver, transferred to Purdue in 2022 and split time between running back and receiver in a very limited role. In 2023, he moved to running back full time, racking up 716 yards and eight touchdowns. He is very much still learning the position, but his upside is enticing. He is a dynamic athlete as well, running a solid 4.48 40 at the combine and testing in the 83rd, 89th and 94th percentile for the broad jump, three cone and vertical jump respectively.

What really stands out for Tracy is the situation he drops into in New York. The Giants have leaned on the aforementioned Saquon Barkley heavily when healthy and have yet to really find another back to take over the backfield. Offseason addition Devin Singletary has a history with Brian Daboll from their time in Buffalo, but he has never been a dominant leadback. He set a career-high in Houston last year with 898 rushing yards and offers very modest returns as a receiver. The other backs of note on the roster are Eric Gray, who averaged an underwhelming 3 yards per touch on 23 total touches as a rookie in 2023, and Gary Brightwell, who has 52 career touches in three seasons with the Giants. The path to meaningful playing time is pretty clear for Tracy, especially on receiving downs.

What's more, the Giants have invested heavily in their offensive line. Aaron Stinnie arrives from Tampa, Jon Runyan Jr. arrives from Green Bay and Jermaine Eluemunor arrives from Las Vegas. Runyan and Eluemunor should start on the right-hand side. Andrew Thomas is a franchise left tackle and I wouldn't be surprised to see Evan Neal compete with Stinnie for the job at left guard. John Michael Schmitz will hopefully take the next step at center, and New York should have a much better unit up front. Is it likely Tracy wins the starting job right off the bat? No, but if he can carve out an early role that grows as the season goes on, he could easily find his way into being the lead back on this team. At that point, it is still unlikely he will win Rookie of the Year, but I'm willing to take a swing on a potential lottery ticket.

Current odds: +20000
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $2000

3. Keon Coleman WR, Buffalo Bills

Nov 18, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4)
Nov 18, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Trust me, I don't think Coleman was the best receiver in this draft class. Just outside the first round felt like a good spot for him actually. That being said, few receivers walk into a situation in which they will be expected to produce more than Coleman will in Buffalo.

The Bills let Gabe Davis walk in free agency and then traded Stefon Diggs to Houston for future draft capital. Buffalo still has a ton of receivers left on the roster, but it is more quantity than quality. Khalil Shakir earned Josh Allen's trust and should be heavily featured again. Curtis Samuel will be a solid rotational option with inside-outside versatility, but he is injured quite a bit. The Bills took fliers on Chase Claypool, Mack Hollins, Quintez Cephus, KJ Hamler, Andy Isabella and still have 2023 fifth-round pick Justin Shorter. It is likely that group is fighting for about three spots, mostly as depth and potentially as special teamers.

All of this points to Coleman being the focus of the passing offense, at least from a receiver standpoint. Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox should still be involved quite a bit and the Bills dearth of options at wideout could lead to more 12 personnel this season under Joe Brady. Still, Coleman should have a sizable target share in an offense led by one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He is a jump ball phenom and can win in contested catch situations consistently. Those two elements of his game could see him put up double-digit touchdown catches this season and close to 1,000 yards. That pales in comparison to the season Puka Nacua just had, but Coleman just needs to beat his draft class, not all-time records.

You can make an argument for a number of receivers in this draft class to be in consideration, but Coleman is an interesting cross-section of talent, opportunity and situation. I could see him posting gaudy touchdown numbers as Allen's go-to red zone option in what has historically been a very high-scoring offense with Allen at the helm. In fact, Buffalo's past four seasons have been among the five highest-scoring seasons in franchise history. The one exception was the 1991 team led by Jim Kelly that reached the Super Bowl. At his current odds, I think Coleman is a solid value play that could pay some serious dividends. Plus, I think Coleman will earn a lot of positive media attention this season with his entertaining personality. Narrative matters.

Current odds: +2800
Potential payout for $10 bet: $280

2. Marvin Harrison Jr. WR, Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) warms up prior to the NCAA football game
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) warms up prior to the NCAA football game / Adam Cairns/USA Today / USA TODAY

Now we get to some of the odds on favorites. Harrison is already a household name. His dad is an NFL Hall of Famer and the younger Harrison had way better collegiate production and much more enticing physical tools. He is one of the most hyped receiver prospects in a decade. Should he deliver, awards will certainly be within reach.

It had been a long stretch where receivers were not getting much love as rookies. From 2004-20, only two receivers won Offensive Rookie of the Year, Percy Harvin in 2009 and Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. Then, Ja'Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson won the award in back-to-back seasons and Puka Nacua was the runner-up in 2023. Nacua's case is a cautionary tale for banking on anyone other than a quarterback to win the award. The former BYU standout set records for most receptions and receiving yards by a rookie receiver and yet, he only received two first-place votes for the award. Stroud had a good year, but not one nearly as statistically significant as Nacua, and the Texans QB still ran away with the award. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Still despite all of that, I really like Harrison's chances of winning. He is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in an offense led by Kyler Murray, who when healthy is one of the top 12 quarterbacks in the league. The last time Murray had a receiver like Harrison was when he was paired up with DeAndre Hopkins. In 30 games together, Hopkins accounted for 2,364 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. Expecting Harrison to be producing at the level of prime Hopkins is a bit unrealistic, but the potential is there for him to see a massive target share. While I like Michael Wilson and Greg Dortch, it is hard to imagine anyone other than Harrison seeing the bulk of the work.

It will be hard to beat out the quarterbacks in this draft class if they have a good year, but I think Harrison is the best player in this year's draft class and about as pro-ready as they come. There is risk with banking on Murray to be available, he hasn't played a full season since 2020, but if Harrison continues to put up big numbers even without his starting quarterback, that could further boost his case. Given his current odds, there is still enough value for me to take a swing on Harrison hitting the ground running.

Current odds: +600
Potential payout for $10 bet: $60

1. Jayden Daniels QB, Washington Commanders

Quarterback Jayden Daniels 5 as the LSU Tigers take on Texas A&M in Tiger Stadium in Baton
Quarterback Jayden Daniels 5 as the LSU Tigers take on Texas A&M in Tiger Stadium in Baton / SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA

Finally, we get to a quarterback. It is the position in the sport and the increased focus on them makes it easy for them to dominate these awards conversations. If you are looking for one from this class that has the potential to run away with it and also carries some enticing betting value, Daniels is my pick.

The former LSU star checks a lot of boxes for projecting the winner of this award. For starters, he is heading to a pass-heavy offense. Washington had the highest pass percentage last year, and that was before Air Raid disciple Kliff Kingsberry took over as the offensive coordinator. Secondly, there is very little competition for the starting job. The Commanders brought in Marcus Mariota, likely to be the backup. Otherwise, they have Jeff Driskel, Jake Fromm and Sam Hartman. It is hard to imagine anyone other than Daniels opening the season under center. Lastly, Daniels is an elite dual-threat option. His elusiveness and incredible open-field running ability set him apart and make it easy for him to set himself apart from other rookie quarterbacks. Scrambling gives Daniels another way to rack up stats that will turn heads.

This is also a pretty good receiving corps that he walks into. Terry McLaurin is the new Allen Robinson, supremely talented, but frequently undercut by subpar quarterback play in his career. Jahan Dotson is a fantastic slot receiver on the rise. Olamide Zaccheus and fellow rookie Luke McCaffrey figure to compete for snaps as the third receiver in this offense. Zach Ertz and second-round pick Ben Sinnott create a good pairing at tight end as well. Far from an elite group, but it could be a lot worse. Just look at Drake Maye.

Daniels draws a lot of comparisons to a certain former No. 2 overall pick by Washington who went on to win Rookie of the Year. Asking Daniels to replicate what Robert Griffin III did in 2012 is too much, but that is the clear pathway to him winning this award. He needs to have an incredible individual season, but he has the skill set to do just that. It will help if the Commanders can make a big jump this season in the standings, but not necessarily a requirement. Daniels feels like good value at this spot, as a Day 1 rookie starter with dual threat ability. That will play well with voters.

Current odds: +650
Potential payout for a $10 bet: $65