ROY Best Bets

12 Weeks of 2019 NFL Futures Predictions

The 2019 NFL season is getting closer and closer, and after spending the past month covering season win total plays, it's time to branch out and go a little more individualistic with the next few pieces. We can come back to team perspectives in terms of division winners and playoff contenders a little later down the road, but now that the 2019 NFL draft has had more than a month to settle in, and those rookies are getting their first real “pro” experience with minicamps going on, it's the Rookie of the Year awards that get the attention this week.

As with any year, predicting ROY winners can be tough at this point in the year simply because playing time is a relative unknown with depth charts still being constructed. Every rookie needs the opportunity of just being out on the field to make an impact, although generally speaking you can already have a good idea about who will end up with those opportunities with their respective clubs. And with some historical trends involving past winners available to be used as a bit of a road map in terms of making selections, it's not like there isn't plenty of value out there.

Let's get right to it:

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Dwayne Haskins (+780) – QB Washington Redskins

The running back position has owned this award lately with it cashing in each of the past two seasons and four of the last six overall. Alvin Kamara's win in 2017 came a bit out of left field given that he was a 3rd round pick that spring, but typically award winners at that position have been high 1st round draft picks and there really wasn't any of those in the 2019 draft. Josh Jacobs was the only RB taken in the first round and with Oakland still in the early stages of the Gruden era of tearing things down and rebuilding them before Las Vegas, it's tough to envision Jacobs being the savior of the running game in Oakland just yet.

Quarterback is always going to be the next popular position for potential award winners, and while #1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray is the heavy favorite to win the award this year, it's actually been seven years since the reigning Heisman Trophy winner took home NFL ROY honors. It was RG III who was the last to do it back in 2012, and while it's debatable that had Baker Mayfield started from Day 1 in Cleveland a year ago that result might be different, Saquon Barkley's season was tremendous from start to finish and he still might have won it anyways.

Murray is a guy we can assume will start from Day 1 in Arizona, and while there may be some comparisons to a fresh from college RG III, he's the much accurate passer overall. That definitely gives Murray a leg up there and rightfully positions him as the preseason favorite, but Arizona still has a boatload of offensive line issues to work out this year, and while Murray's size is now a conversation long forgotten, you definitely can't rule out him not making it through the full 16-game slate. That's almost a must for ROY honors, and at a favored price of around +200, from a big picture standpoint, that's tough to get behind.

Instead, I'm looking to back another QB taken in the 1st round with Haskins, albeit someone who's not a sure thing to start Day 1 in Washington. But early reports about Haskins has Redskins camp raving about his potential, and with Colt McCoy and Case Keenum – two career clipboard holders – as his competition, and Washington's season outlook being one of where an 8-8 type season may be considered overachieving, Haskins should get his time in the spotlight in 2019.

To take it a step further in terms of the Haskins vs Murray discussion, Washington's got a few more winnable games on their slate then the Cardinals do, with two against the Giants and the AFC East on their docket as well. Haskins has the opportunity to make plenty of noise in the voter's heads with strong – winning – performances in those outings, and at his size and with his arm strength, writers and voters that still get swooned by those prototypical attributes will only need a few winning efforts from Haskins to start gushing over him. At nearly 8-1 odds, that definitely could end up working in our favor here, as that size brings very few durability concerns as well when compared to Murray.

So while the opportunity of seeing Haskins in 16 games isn't a virtual certainty now, who knows what training camp brings in Washington for one, and it's not like they spent the 15th overall pick on this local kid to not give him a shot at being the guy. At 8-1 odds, the risk of him not starting the first few games is a concern, but if he does end up coming out of training camp as Jay Gruden's starter, this price will feel like a steal.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Devin White (+700) – LB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The DROY award is an interesting one in the sense that last year's winner – Darius Leonard from Indianapolis – was only the third winner this century to not be drafted in the 1st round. The other two, (DeMeco Ryans in 2006, and Kendrell Bell in 2001) were both linebackers as well, as that position has dominated this award with 12 victories in 19 years since the 2000 season. So while going down the draft board for some huge odds may be appealing to some, history suggests that the 2019 DROY winner will come from the 1st round and be a relatively high pick as well. Of those 16 DROY winners this century to come from the 1st round, the average pick number they went in the draft was 9.5.

That's where the Devin White selection comes in, as he's priced as one of the four co-favorites if you will for this award, with Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Devin Bush being the other three. Only White and Bush are linebackers so they've got that going for them, and while the most common number of draft position for this award has been #2 overall – Nick Bosa – I'm still not entirely sure how much you can trust him having been out of competitive game action for basically all of last year. Bosa's definitely got the family pedigree behind him, but until I see him in action, it's definitely not time to hedge this play yet.

Instead, it's the opportunity that exists for White as a LB for Tampa this year that appears to be the most attractive prospect on the field for a number of reasons. One, Tampa's not expected to be that good of a team this year so their defense will see plenty of time on the field to begin with. Young linebackers with White's speed and tackling ability -2018 Butkus Award winner for best LB in NCAAF – always love to fly around and pack on the stats, and White's going to have plenty of opportunity to do so.

Furthermore, just looking at what he'll see in NFC South division games alone set up for some potentially monster games. Carolina's a run-heavy team with the Newton/McCaffrey duo in the backfield, New Orleans isn't going to get away from their duel-pronged running attack that's led to plenty of recent success this year, not to mention Brees liking to throw those short routes to move the chains, and the Falcons offense is similar even with them looking to stretch the field more. That's five games right there where White's tackle numbers could be through the roof if he stays healthy, and that's with the Bucs likely playing from behind in most of those contests.

Outside of those games, Tampa Bay's got run-heavy teams to deal with in both the NFC West, and AFC South, with the New York Giants and them likely force-feeding last year's OROY RB Saquon Barkley the ball Ad nauseam. As long as White is on the field for all 16 weeks, his tackle numbers should rival what Leonard put up for the Colts a year ago (163), and the end result could be the same for White in 2019.

Win Total Predictions

1) Baltimore Ravens
2) Indianapolis Colts
3) Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers

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