As we roll into the offseason and rookies settle into their teams fits, we can begin projecting how they'll perform given where they landed.
It's a fun, generally futile, exercise and never has that been more true than this year with one of the more talented classes in recent memory entering one of the weirdest offseasons ever.
It will be best to temper rookie expectations on the lower side, as the lack of traditional camps, and likely a traditional preseason, will shorten their ramp-up and steepen their learning curve. With that considered, there are some juicy lines currently on the rookie betting market.
Author’s Note: These lines assume a 16-game season, and in the event of a truncated season, will be considered pushes. All lines pulled from Bet Online.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis: O/U 750 rushing yards
This is a tricky one. I'm certain that Jonathan Taylor is talented enough to rush for 750 yards, as 26 players hit that mark last season alone. I am confident that Taylor is at least the 25th best back in the NFL from the moment he steps onto the field, especially if we limit the scope simply to ability as a runner, which is where Taylor shines.
The issue is volume and opportunity. Of the 26 players who hit that mark last season, all were on different teams save for two, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, which is definitely cheating; Jackson is not a running back. All but five of the backs had at least 200 carries to get to the 750 figure too.
Will Taylor get 200 carries with Marlon Mack — a 1,000-yard rusher last year on 247 carries — in the backfield? Seeing how the 41st pick was spent on Taylor, I'm inclined to believe that he's at least a 12-carry-per-game player, which would put him at that 200 carry figure by the end of the season. When we consider that Mack isn't the most durable player in the world — he's missed at least two games in each of the last three years — there's even further reason for optimism. But even then, Taylor will be right around 200 carries, if he reaches it. It's not a given.
I'm inclined to go over on 750, but the better number was much earlier in the betting cycle — it was at 550 for a while — so I wouldn't go chasing the value here. I do think Taylor is over an 800-yard rusher in Year 1 given the opportunity and investment put in on his profile, even with Mack still taking a primary chunk of the backfield.
Bet: Taylor over 750 (-125)
Jerry Jeudy, WR Denver: O/U 900 receiving yards; CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas: O/U 850 receiving yards
Neither Jeudy or Lamb project as primary targets on their offenses. Jeudy will serve as WR2 behind Courtland Sutton and will have a shallower depth of target even if they end up with equivalent volume by the end of the season. Lamb will be WR3 in terms of targets with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the roster, and both excelling last season.
It's worth noting that in, a given game, Lamb could certainly out-target Cooper or Gallup, and Jeudy over Sutton, relative to the matchup. But in season-long game-planning, this is where their teams expect them to be in the pecking order.
Only seven of the 32 teams last year had two receivers over the 850-yard mark and six went over 900. The only rookie to do so was D.K. Metcalf, who had exactly 900 yards for the Seahawks.
It's generally unrealistic to expect rookie receivers, even first-round selections, to break the 800-yard threshold; but it's even more unlikely when they clearly enter the season as the second or third option in their respective offenses. For value, the bet I feel most confident in is Lamb under 850, as unforeseen circumstances would give me some insurance.
Bet: Jeudy under 900 (-130)
Bet: Lamb under 850 (-150)
Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore: DROY (+1000)
The Rookie of the Year will likely be Chase Young. He's extremely good and should stack up big sack and tackle for loss numbers. Young’s odds at +450 are more certain than I am in any Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) wager, especially when you consider Young may be in rotation in a crowded EDGE room in Washington
Do you know what isn't crowded? Baltimore’s linebacker room.
Patrick Queen is an extremely attractive option. He projects as a high turnover and sack player for the Ravens because you can almost guarantee he'll be on the field all year; there are no real veterans to beat out. He now plays in an aggressive system that blitzes often, especially with linebackers. Queen was a quality blitzer and an elite cover linebacker for LSU in his one season starting.
Generally, linebacker is the best position to wager on for the DROY title. In the last few years, it's fallen out of favor as rookies have caught more playing time than ever before, and pass rushers, in general, have improved. But nine of the last 20 DROYs have been off-ball linebackers with EDGEs (six), defensive tackles (three) and cornerbacks (two) trailing. As such, ignore Jeffrey Okudah and miss Isaiah Simmons as well — if he plays anything near a safety, he has no chance — and chase value with Queen.
The real frisky bet? K'Lavon Chaisson at +2800. If the Jaguars and Yannick Ngakoue do find a way to separate before the season starts, that's a starting EDGE in a system that maximizes speedy outside rushers.