John Fennelly, Lead WriterI know it’s early, but fantasy football and predictions/rankings are never out of season. It’s time to handicap the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year field.
The last seven NFL Offensive Rookies of the Year have come from the NFC, beginning with Vikings RB Adrien Peterson in 2007 and ending with Green Bay RB Eddie Lacy last season. The last AFC player to win the award was Titans’ QB Vince Young in 2006. Other recent winners: Falcons QB Matt Ryan (2008), Vikings WR Percy Harvin (2009), Rams QB Sam Bradford (2010), Panthers QB Cam Newton (2011) and Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (2012).
This year, there are quite a few early candidates from both conferences. Over time, the running backs have had a clear advantage over the QBs and receivers, but that is changing.
In the 44 years the award has been given, 30 have been RBs, seven have been QBs and seven WRs. Since 2004, six QBs have won after only one QB was given the award from 1967 to 2003 (Dennis Shaw, Buffalo, 1970). No TEs have ever won. No New York Giant has ever won, either.
Quarterbacks: Johnny Manziel, Browns; Blake Bortles, Jaguars; Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings; Derek Carr, Raiders; Zack Mettenberger, Titans; Tom Savage, Texans
Analysis: It’s all about opportunity and Manziel has been told to act like a backup by Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam. Brian Hoyer is currently the No. 1. The Jaguars fell in love with Bortles a long time ago, so he’s likely to see action early. Carr will have to sit behind Matt Schaub and Bridgewater has Matt Caasel and Christian Ponder in front of him. Mettenberger and and Savage could end up taking significant snaps as rookies. I don’t see the ROY coming out of this group.
Running Backs: Carlos Hyde, 49ers; Bishop Sankey, Titans; Tre Mason, Rams; Andre Williams, Giants; Jeremy Hill, Bengals; Devonta Freeman, Falcons; Ka’Deem Carey, Bears; Terrance West, Browns; Charles Sims, Buccaneers
Analysis: Hyde was brought in to help out (and eventually replace) Frank Gore, who seems like he’s never going to slow down. Sankey hopes to fill the void left by CJ2K. Mason has Zac Stacy to contend with, plus may have to undergo wrist surgery at some point. Williams will be part of a committee in New York; Hill will compliment Giovani Bernard in the BJGE role. Freeman will be given a shot to win the job in Atlanta. Carey will be No. 2 at best. West has only the injury-laden Ben Tate in front of him, could be a surprise. Sims will backup/spell Dough Martin in Tampa. Favorites: Sankey, Hill, Freeman
Wide Receivers: Sammy Watkins, Bills; Mike Evans, Buccaneers; Marqise Lee, Jaguars; Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants; Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers; Brandin Cooks, Saints; Donte Moncrief, Colts; Davanta Adams, Packers; Jordan Matthews, Eagles
Analysis: One must consider that WRs can’t throw the ball to themselves and they have a better chance of succeeding if the have a top QB throwing to them. Watkins’ chances will depend on the development of QB EJ Manuel in Buffalo. The same for Lee in Jacksonville and Evans in Tampa, who will be dependent on young QBs. Beckham will be a key part in the Giants’ new offense and has Eli Manning at QB. Benjamin will be a big target for Cam Newton. Cooks will join the Saints’ WR corps and could find himself in the good graces of Drew Brees. Moncrief will benefit from having Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton around him and Andrew Luck at QB. Adams will join a group of talented receivers in Green Bay and work for Aaron Rodgers. Jordan Matthews is not as a fast as DeSean Jackson, but he could be as productive. Favorites: Cooks, Matthews, Beckham
Tight Ends: Eric Ebron, Lions; Troy Niklas, Cardinals; Jace Amaro, Jets; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers; CJ Fiedorowicz, Texans; Richard Rodgers, Packers
Analysis: Someone will have to defy 44 years of history to win from this group. Ebron could end up doing it, considering he’s going into an ideal situation in Detroit. Amaro feels he could also compete this year. Niklas is more of a short yardage/blocker type ASF is joining the other power forwards in Tampa. Could break out as a rookie. Fiedorowicz may end up being a go-to guy in Houston and Rodgers has a good shot at success if he gets the reps.
Favorites to win OROY: Cooks, Matthews, Ebron, Sankey, Amaro