The 2011 NFL season is only one week away, and yet you can still find 11/2 odds on Mark Ingram winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, which seems like great value.
We are now less than one week away from the start of the 2011 NFL season, which kicks off on Thursday night, September 8, and one of the best future values on the board right now has nothing to do with a conventional NFL pick, but rather with Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
In fact, Saints’ rookie running back from Alabama is currently the co-favorite for the award at Bodog, where his current odds are at what we feel is an inflated 11/2,.the exact same price as Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton and just a shade lower than Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones, who is at 5/1.
We will discuss these players in more detail in a moment, but we are not high on Newton as an NFL quarterback and certainly not high on his prospects in his rookie year while playing for a bad team with so little talent around him. Jones will be a great receiver in this league, but with the notable exceptions of Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, wide receivers rarely make immediate impacts in their rookie campaigns.
On the other hand, Ingram will be the Saints’ go-to guy and he should finish with double-digit touchdowns, which should virtually guarantee him the award. Besides Ingram, we do not feel that any other players listed at single-digit odds offer any value since we feel that Ingram towers over all of them, but among the longer shots, Stevan Ridley of the New England Patriots is an intriguing possibility at 16/1 odds.
We also like running back Delone Carter of the Indianapolis Colts, but he is not listed individually at Bodog and would lose value if he gets lumped in with “The Field”, which would cover all players not listed specifically.
Here is a closer look at the candidates.
Mark Ingram (11/2): The Saints may have stolen Ingram with the 28th overall selection in the draft, and they apparently know what they have as evidenced by them shipping Reggie Bush away to the Miami Dolphins. Ingram was projected by most to be a Top 15 pick, so to say that the Saints got great value when he somehow fell to 28 is a big understatement. He is already listed first on the Saints’ depth chart, although he will undoubtedly split time with Pierre Thomas in the early going. Still, Ingram has looked great in his first training camp while Thomas is coming off of an injury plagued season, and we look for the rookie to distance himself from the veteran fairly quickly. We do not think that at least 1000 rushing yards and a minimum of 10 touchdowns are unrealistic for Ingram, so we feel that 11/2 odds at this late stage is excellent value.
Cam Newton (11/2): Newton was the top pick in the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, he is a great athlete with good speed for his large size, but we simply do no feel he will ever be a good enough passer to be a successful NFL quarterback. There was even some question publicly about whether Newton would begin the season as the starting quarterback over Jimmy Clausen before Coach Ron Rivera finally named Newton as the starter just yesterday. He was sub-par and woefully inaccurate during preseason, and like many expected, he was at his best when running the football, either by design or when scrambling on busted plays. Newton’s work ethic has been good, but completing six-of 19 passes vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and then having almost as many rushing yards (19) as passing yards (25) vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers in the last two preseason games is not a good sign. Avoid Newton at this cheap price.
Julio Jones (5/1): Jones, who was Alabama’s best receiver last year, and fellow SEC alumnus A.J, Green out of Georgia were the two best receivers in this year’s draft, and really very little separates them athletically. Jones could potentially flourish with Matt Ryan as his quarterback, and he will serve as a nice compliment to Roddy White with the Atlanta Falcons. Still, as mentioned, rookie wide receivers are slower to develop than running backs, and with Jones not even being the go-to guy, we feel that the best case scenario has Jones putting up solid number two receiver stats this year. While that would be a major accomplishment and a nice stepping stone toward Jones becoming the number one guy in the future like most expect, we still feel his stats will pale when compared to Mark Ingram’s by season’s end. Yes, Jones is immensely talented and has enormous upside, but we recommend passing on him for this award as he looks like an underlay at these odds.
A.J. Green (7/1): The good news is that unlike Jones, Green has the potential to be the leading receiver in Cincinnati in his inaugural season, especially with the Bengals’ two ancient receivers from last season Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens both gone. The bad news is that Green is working with a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton out of TCU, and that is the primary reason why Green’s odds are a tad higher than Jones’s. We still do not feel Green’s odds are high enough to warrant a play on him though. Yes, he is gifted physically and can do great things after he catches a football, but the problem will be getting him that ball. Dalton has looked shaky in preseason and we are not convinced he will ever be a star quarterback in this league. Another problem for Green is that the Bengals have some good pass catching tight ends, most notably Jermaine Gresham, and Dalton appeared to have a better rapport with those tight ends than he did with his wide outs at the end of preseason.
Daniel Thomas (8/1): Thomas may be the biggest bust of all among the 2011 rookie class. The Dolphins were counting in Thomas to be an all-purpose back ala Reggie Bush, as he showed all the tools in college while at Kansas State. Instead, the Dolphins became so tiresome of Thomas’s lack of assertion that they actually went out and acquired Reggie Bush Classic! Now Thomas did start the preseason finale and rushed for 36 yards on eight carries, but that was vs. a backup Dallas Cowboys’ defense that is just not very good, and Thomas was awful in the first three preseason games when going up against starting defenses. He may still play a big role in the offense this year, but with Bush now in the fold, Thomas will probably not put up the monster numbers that were expected after he was drafted, and he is certainly not worth single-digit odds.
Stevan Ridley (16/1): The Patriots actually selected fellow running back Shane Vereen in the second round of the draft this year before selecting Ridley in the third round. Well, Vereen has been injured all preseason while Riley has been impressive. Granted, he will share playing time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead at the start of the year, but neither of those players are standouts and Ridley can easily move up the depth chart if he plays as well as he did in the first two preseason games. Being surrounded by the potent New England offense is a plus, and Ridley may become a touchdown vulture, as his bruising style makes him the prototypical goal line back. Do not be surprised that while other backs may take the Patriots downfield, Ridley may be the one finishing off drives. Thus, he could conceivably reach 10 touchdowns on an offense that seemingly lives in the red zone, making Ridley a nice flier at beefy odds.
Delone Carter (Field?): We think that it is a shame that Carter is not listed at Bodog, although it does specifically say on their site that they can add other players upon request if the demand is high enough. Well, Carter is now listed second on the Indianapolis Colts’ running back depth chart, and yes he has been that good during training camp and preseason. The fact that the only player listed ahead of him is the often brittle Joseph Addai makes Carter more appealing, and he should see lots of action this season regardless. He would be worth a ROY investment in the 16/1-25/1 range. If Bodog puts up a Field without listing Carter, pass unless the Field is at least 16/1, which we doubt as something like 8/1 would be more probable.
Our recommended plays are 2.5 units on Ingram at 11/2 and 1 unit on Ridley at 16/1