NFL Rookie of the Year Pick: Why Eli’s Betting Chargers WR Ladd McConkey At Longshot Odds

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Written By Eli Hershkovich | Last Updated
Rookie of the Year Odds

The 2024 NFL Draft odds were accurate, with Caleb Williams as the odds-on favorite to go first overall. The Bears’ offense boasts a myriad of weapons in DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Cole Kmet, D’Andre Swift and Rome Odunze, the ninth-overall selection. Unsurprisingly, Williams is the favorite among NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year bets — priced near +200. However, there’s a longshot worth considering further down rookie of the year odds. Let’s dive in.

Click anywhere in this article to wager on rookie of the year oddsThe prices below are the best available in your state.

Offensive Rookie of the Year History

Although quarterbacks have collected NFL MVP hardware in each of the last 11 seasons, that same tradition doesn’t hold true for this market. Since 2003, just under one-fourth of the offensive ROY recipients have been wide receivers. The Jets’ Garrett Wilson (2022) and the Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase (2021) managed to go back to back — with preseason odds of +1800 or bigger. They were both first-round picks, yet neither was considered one of the favorites.

Trevor Lawrence (+350) possessed the shortest price two years ago. Meanwhile, Kenny Pickett and George Pickens were co-favorites (+900) in the ensuing campaign.

Last season, Rams wideout Puka Nacua nearly ripped away the award from Texans QB C.J. Stroud. Nacua compiled rookie records for receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,486) and added six touchdown receptions. He started in all 17 regular-season games, plus Los Angeles’ playoff loss at Detroit.

The Fit

On the surface, John Harbaugh and Greg Roman’s offensive vision isn’t very appetizing for this particular wager. They plan to run the ball with authority — behind one of the league’s most talented offensive fronts. But that game script should help fifth-year signal-caller Justin Herbert, whose completion percentage over expected (CPOE) regressed within a pass-heavy offense in 2023.

The Chargers first selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt. The 6-foot-7, 322-pounder started 33 consecutive games to close out his college career, surrendering only 13 pressures and one sack in his final 740 pass-blocking snaps. He will immediately assist Herbert’s odds of regaining his timing, as Los Angeles’ pass-block win rate (PBWR) ranked below the league average over the last two seasons.

An effective rushing attack didn’t make things any easier. Since Herbert took over under center in the 2020 campaign, the Chargers have compiled the second-fewest EPA per carry across the NFL.

With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams rushed out of town, McConkey could retain his outside role from his days in Georgia’s 12-personnel offense. But there’s a chance he’ll start in the slot, considering he’s arguably the best out-route runner in this draft class.

Even if McConkey fails to leapfrog fellow receivers Quentin Johnston or Joshua Palmer on the depth chart right away, he should have a chance to make an early dent. Johnston, the Chargers’ 2023 first-round pick, immediately struggled with drops, and Palmer battled knee and head injuries throughout the season, forcing him to miss seven games.

As noted, the Chargers’ offense will revolve around the ground game. Still, McConkey’s potential path to ascend to the top of their target share (especially in the intermediate passing game with Austin Ekler gone) makes his rookie of the year odds appealing.

McConkey’s Upside

In his final collegiate season, over 80% of the throws in McConkey’s vicinity were completions. They weren’t a bevy of underneath routes, either. His 12.2 average depth of target (aDOT) was the exact same as Malik Nabers, the No. 6 overall pick. In this draft class, McConkey also manufactured the fourth-most yards per route run (YPRR).

His ankle-breaking dexterity often forced inauspicious tackling in space — at a highly efficient rate. McConkey knifed through four more tackles than Marvin Harrison Jr., the first non-QB off the board, on 50 fewer catches. His deceptive footspeed churned out only five less than Rome Odunze, the No. 9 overall pick, on 62 fewer catches at Georgia.

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Rookie of the Year Odds Conclusion

Williams represents the (colossus) deterrent for McConkey’s longshot hopes. Nevertheless, Williams’ odds are set correctly across the board. Additionally, McConkey’s odds are more than double that of Malik Nabors and Xavier Worthy. With Nabors’ unproven commodity (Daniel Jones) at the helm and Worthy presumably fighting for targets in the Chiefs’ loaded offense, there’s reason to take a chance on McConkey’s high ceiling.

As of this publishing, McConkey’s best rookie of the year odds are +4000 at DraftKings Sportsbook.