Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season is right around the corner and awards race conversations have already begun to heat up. One of the awards being discussed by both fans and experts alike is NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
A lot of this year’s offensive rookies have stood out, however, none have grabbed the spotlight more than Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The 21-year-old also happens to be Bovada’s current favorite to be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year at -120 odds.
After an uneventful preseason, some experts wondered if Chase could have the same chemistry with QB Joe Burrow as they did when they played for the LSU Tigers. After a few weeks, it turns out that they’ve had no issue with the transition. After seven games, Chase currently has 35 receptions for 754 yards and six touchdowns. His receiving yards trail only that of Cooper Kupp (809) and his 21.5 yards per reception is the best in the entire NFL. Not only that but he’s gone for over 100 receiving yards on three occasions, including when he reached 201 in Week 7.
At the end of the day, Chase has helped reignite the Bengals’ offense. Last season, Cincinnati averaged just 19.4 points per game — the fourth-worst average in the league. However, Chase and Burrow’s reunion has led to the team putting up 27.0 PPG, which ranks seventh-best ahead of Week 8. Considering how this is Chase’s first year in the league, it’s not unfathomable to imagine him getting even better. Until then, he’s looking like a look to be named the NFL’s top offensive rookie this season.
2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds
Odds via Bovada as of Wednesday, October 27
- Ja’Marr Chase (-120)
- Mac Jones (+450)
- Najee Harris (+800)
- Trevor Lawrence (+1000)
- Trey Lance (+1400)
- Kyle Pitts (+1600)
- Justin Fields (+2000)
- DeVonta Smith (+3300)
- Jaylen Waddle (+3300)
- Rondale Moore (+3300)
The complete OROY odds list is available at Bovada.lv.
Jones Sits Second in the Field
Before the season began, people thought that Trevor Lawrence (+1000) was the quarterback most likely to be named 2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, that hasn’t been the case so far because those honors belong to New England Patriots QB Mac Jones at +450.
The Patriots have had an up-and-down season so far, going 3-4 in Jones’ first seven career starts. The former Crimson Tide gunslinger has looked good thus far, completing 70.4% of his passes for 1,779 yards and nine touchdowns to six interceptions. What’s impressive about that is that his completion percentage ranks fourth in the league while his passing yards place him ninth, which is great for a rookie QB.
The crazy thing is that we likely haven’t even seen the best that Jones has to offer. The 23-year-old has been knocked down the third-most times in the league (31) while also facing the second-most blitzes (83). He’s also made the eighth-fewest poor passes (29) out of quarterbacks who’ve played at least five games this season. Now that he has more confidence after his first seven games, Jones will likely look more comfortable and make a serious push to be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Najee Harris NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds
The Pittsburgh Steelers were infamous in the 2020 NFL season for their lack of a run game. Fortunately, they nabbed RB Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in this year’s draft and the rest is history.
Harris obviously has the talents to be an every-down back, as proven by him playing 86% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps after Week 7. On the ground, he has rushed the ball 102 times for 388 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While his 3.8 rushing yards per attempt may not look that great, it’s still impressive that he’s played that well considering how bad Pittsburgh’s offense has looked (19.5 PPG, 26th).
The truth is that Harris has been doing his damage through the air. The 23-year-old California averages 5.7 receptions per game on 7.7 targets for 244 yards and another pair of touchdowns. His receiving yards currently rank fourth among running backs while his 34 receptions on the year trail only D’Andre Swift (42). If Harris and the Steelers can find a way to improve their rushing game even more in the second half of the season, there’s no telling what the rookie RB could do.