NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds: Can Anyone Catch CJ Stroud?

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds: Can Anyone Catch CJ Stroud?

With Week 9 in the books, we are officially at the halfway point of the 2023 NFL season.

From April's draft until now, we've seen several rookies develop into impact players and become difference-makers for their teams.

Let's take a look at the current NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds from FanDuel Sportsbook and examine where the front-runners stand after half of the season.

Here is a full list of the odds, with a breakdown of the top four players.

AP NFL 2023-24 Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds
1C.J. StroudHouston Texans-550
2Puka NacuaLos Angeles Rams+750
3Jahmyr GibbsDetroit Lions+1500
4Bijan RobinsonAtlanta Falcons+2400
5Jordan AddisonMinnesota Vikings+3500
6Will LevisTennessee Titans+4600
7De'Von AchaneMiami Dolphins+4600
View Full Table

CJ Stroud, Houston Texans (-550)

Entering Week 9's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, C.J. Stroud was already in an excellent position to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY).

Through eight weeks, Stroud, the number two pick in April's draft, had led the Houston Texans to three wins, equaling their win total from last season with 10 games left to play. Joining an offense that ranked 31st with 17.0 points per game (ppg) last season, Stroud had the Texans averaging 21.1 ppg, with most of Houston's success coming through their passing game.

In Week 10, he produced one of the most impressive performances by a rookie signal-caller in NFL history, cementing himself as the favorite for OROY. Against Tampa Bay, Stroud completed 30 of 42 pass attempts for 470 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Stroud's 470 passing yards were a single-game NFL rookie record, and his 5 TDs tied the previous record. If that wasn't enough, his performance was punctuated by a full-field drive with under 46 seconds remaining to win the game.

History? Check. NFL Records? Check. Clutch drive to win the game? Check. Stroud's performance had everything you could ever want in a signature rookie moment and then some.

Eight games into his career, Stroud ranks third in passing yards per game this season (283.8) despite ranking 10th in pass attempts per game (34.9). His interception percentage (0.4%) ranks first, and his passing touchdown percentage (5.0%) ranks ninth. By all accounts, Stroud is having an excellent season not just for a rookie but for any signal-caller.

The Texans sit at 4-4, and while they are unlikely (+600) to dethrone the Jacksonville Jaguars and win the AFC South, per the NFL Division odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, they have an outside chance (+250) to make the playoffs. Even if they fall short of both of those goals, Houston is likely to finish with significantly more wins than they did last season.

Stroud's resume for Rookie of the Year includes a team-level turnaround as well as impressive statistical performances and a signature, record-setting game. The award is his to lose.

Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams (+750)

In many other seasons, what Puka Nacua has done through the first nine games of his career would have him as the favorite for OROY. That Nacua is even within shouting distance of Stroud following his performance against Tampa Bay speaks volumes about how impressive the young wide receiver has been.

Nacua began his career by catching 25 of 35 targets for 266 yards -- in just his first two games. With nine games in the books, he has caught 64 of 96 targets for 827 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 15 catches in Week 2 set a single-game record for a rookie, and he remains on pace to break the record for receiving yards by a rookie, which has stood at 1,473 yards since Bill Groman in 1960.

For more recent context, on his current pace (91.9 yards per game), Nacua would finish with 107 more yards than Ja'Marr Chase's rookie season and 162 more than Justin Jefferson's.

So far this season, Nacua ranks fifth in receptions, third in targets, and fourth in yards. The season Nacua is having at his position is greater than the one Stroud is having at quarterback. He has produced at an All-Pro level thus far.

Unfortunately, Nacua has cooled off recently, with just 6 receptions on 14 targets for 75 yards in his last two games. Those down performances coincided with a thumb injury to Matthew Stafford, and Stafford could miss additional games after the Los Angeles Rams' bye in Week 10.

Any chance Nacua has of overtaking Stroud for OROY starts with the health of Stafford. If Stafford is available in Week 11, and Nacua maintains his current pace for the remainder of the season, he could finish with the greatest statistical season by a rookie wide receiver in NFL history, setting records in both yards and receptions.

Even if he does, it may not be enough to surpass Stroud, but it would certainly give the voters something to think about.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions (+1500)

Jahmyr Gibbs' career got off to a slow start, with the Detroit Lions opting to use him as a change-of-pace back alongside David Montgomery. Gibbs' game-breaking speed and quickness have been on display since Week 1, but his stats have been limited by his utilization.

In Gibbs' three games played with Montgomery active, he has 22 carries for 101 rushing yards (4.5 yards per carry) with 13 receptions on 16 targets for 68 receiving yards and no touchdowns. In Gibbs' three games with Montgomery inactive, he has 54 carries for 300 rushing yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 2 rushing touchdowns with 15 receptions on 17 targets for 97 receiving yards.

In Gibbs' most recent game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 8, he had a breakout performance, totaling 189 yards and a rushing touchdown on 31 touches. While not as historically significant as Stroud's Week 9 or Nacua's Week 2, it served as a signature moment for Gibbs, proving that he is capable of dominating a game when given the chance.

While not as efficient as Gibbs, Montgomery has been impressive this season, as well, especially in the red zone. Whether you believe the Lions should be using a committee or not, the existence of this backfield split to this point is a major obstacle to Gibbs' chances of being named OROY. Without a role as Detroit's lead back, and the touchdown production that could come with it, it seems unlikely that Gibbs could surpass both Nacua and Stroud.

To do so, he will need his utilization to change coming out of the bye. There are reasons to believe it could. Montgomery is expected to return in Week 10, but it's possible that Gibbs' performance in Week 8 causes Detroit to reevaluate their previous decisions. There is also the historic trend of rookies improving after their byes, and there's the possibility that Detroit intended to increase Gibbs' usage as he gained more experience anyway.

That said, the Lions are 6-2, heavy favorites to win the NFC North (-800), and have a relatively easy rest-of-season schedule. There are no guarantees that they increase Gibbs' utilization in a meaningful enough way for him to see the volume needed to win OROY.

But if Gibbs does start to see more work and leads this backfield the rest of the way, the Lions' schedule provides the potential for a monstrous second half of the season.

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons (+2400)

Speaking of limitations due to his role, next up on the list is Bijan Robinson.

Entering this season, we had already seen Arthur Smith's frustrating utilization of talented players with extremely high draft capital after how he deployed tight end Kyle Pitts, the fourth overall pick in 2021, and wide receiver Drake London, the eighth overall pick in 2022.

The hope for Robinson was that Smith's ineffective utilization of those two pass-catchers was primarily due to the Atlanta Falcons' limitations at quarterback and the extremely run-heavy nature of their offense. When the draft capital was used on a running back, surely Smith wouldn't shy away from giving that individual a role befitting their talent ...right? Wrong.

Nine games into the season, Tyler Allgeier has out-carried Robinson 116 to 103 despite Robinson being far more efficient on his touches (5.2 yards per carry to 3.2). Robinson has been more involved than Allgeier in the passing game (41 targets to 16), but Allgeier has dominated near the goal line, handling 55% of Atlanta's touches from inside the five compared to just 9% for Robinson. As a result, Robinson has just one rushing touchdown on the season compared to three for Allgeier.

Since 2012, five running backs have been selected with a top-10 draft pick - Trent Richardson, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley. The average volume for that group in their rookie season was 247.0 carries and 78.2 targets. Robinson is on pace to see 194.0 carries and 77.4 targets. The average number of touchdowns scored by that group in their rookie seasons is 12.0, whereas Robinson is on pace to score 5.7.

Robinson's path to winning OROY starts with his utilization improving. Waiting for Arthur Smith to change his game plan may be a fool's errand, but the one refrain he has consistently repeated is that his goal is to win and compete. Atlanta has lost three of their last four, and we did see Smith make a quarterback change in Week 8.

In Week 10, the Falcons are 1.5-point favorites against the Arizona Cardinals, who are expected to have Kyler Murray back under center.

This game provides an opportunity for Robinson in two ways. First, if Smith does allow Robinson to have a larger role, this is an ideal matchup for him to capitalize on that opportunity (Arizona ranks 31st in total defense per numberFire). Second, if Smith doesn't make any changes, and the Falcons lose to the Cardinals, it may be the final straw that finally convinces him to change his plans for the Falcons' backfield.

The one aspect of Robinson's outlook that is not in question is his talent, as he ranks fifth among running backs in yards per attempt. If the opportunity is there in the second half of the season, Robinson can make the most of it.

Other Longshots

  • Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings (+3500)
  • Will Levis, Tennessee Titans (+4600)
  • De'Von Achane, Miami Dolphins (+4600)
  • Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens (+6000)
  • Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (+6000)
  • Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs (+6000)
  • Aidan O'Connell, Las Vegas Raiders (+6000)

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.