There is a significant opportunity for someone to take control of the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, even if one of them has made a strong case early on. Defensive Rookie of the Year is going according to plan and it favors a handful of players.
Here are the five favorites, via Caesars Sportsbook, as I see them, plus a few other notable performances:
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. RB Bijan Robinson, Falcons (+210)
Atlanta had 45 runs against 32 throws. They have a clear offensive identity that allows Robinson to thrive even alongside second-year running back Tyler Allgeier, who had 16 carries last week. Robinson also added four receptions to bring his season total to 10. At this rate, the stats needed will be there for a running back to win the award.
2. QB Anthony Richardson, Colts (+220)
Richardson went out early with an injury, but he was effective in this window. In two games, he has four touchdowns, including two on the ground. The key to his viability as a candidate is availability, as quarterbacks will always have a built-in advantage to win the prize.
3. WR Puka Nacua, Rams (+600)
Nacuas has 25 receptions, which is the third most through two games and the most of any player in their first two career games. The BYU product even accounted for two of the team’s 22 carries. Los Angeles is the opposite of Atlanta in run-to-pass ratio (5:2). Even when Cooper Kupp returns, Nacua’s production should be sustainable. He has clearly established himself as this team’s primary passing threat.
If this level of production continues, the fifth-round pick likely poses the biggest threat to Robinson if Richardson can’t stay healthy.
4. QB CJ Stroud, Texans (+1400)
Stroud is averaging 313 passing yards and one touchdown per game without throwing any interceptions. The lack of interceptions is particularly impressive as he has been sacked 11 times in two games. He is on pace for 93.5 sacks, which would break the record (76) previously set by Texans quarterback David Carr in 2002. According to TruMedia, he ranks sixth in quarterback pressure percentage ( 42.3%).
5. WR Jordan Addison, Vikings (+1200)
Addison scored a touchdown in each of his first two games. With Justin Jefferson getting so much attention, the USC product should get an opportunity to play after the catch all season.
Other notable performances
WR Zay Flowers, Crows (+1200): A wide receiver needs targets to win the award. Even though Flowers caught 86.7 percent of his targets, it’s concerning that his targets were cut in half when tight end Mark Andrews returned from injury.
QB Bryce Young, Panthers (+1600): It doesn’t appear Young will have any team success to add to his resume as the Panthers fell to 0-2. Young’s stats are more in line with a single game performance rather than two games. He needs to be better but Carolina had a chance to win late.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. DT Jalen Carter, Eagles (+225)
The race for defensive rookie of the year essentially goes like this. Carter is fourth in the NFL with 11 pressures, according to TruMedia. The stats aren’t overwhelming but that’s the reality of being an interior defender. There is a growing appreciation for real play on the field and the Georgia rookie has been breaking down left and right.
2. EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Texans (+450)
Anderson ranks 34th on the same pressure list, hovering around names like Josh Allen, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. Players capable of reaching more than nine sacks will always be in the conversation to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Head coach Demeco Ryans has the pedigree and the blueprint to help him thrive.
3. CB Christian Gonzalez, Patriots (+750)
Gonzalez has one interception and two pass deflections this season. Head coach Bill Belichick is comfortable putting him on an island and teams haven’t hesitated to avoid him. As the pace of the game becomes more natural for him, Gonzalez is the cornerback who could take off.
4. CB Emmanuel Forbes, commanders (+1500)
Forbes has one interception and three pass deflections this year. He was a personal favorite entering the season due to his collegiate ball production and the likelihood of that trait translating to the professional game. According to TruMedia, quarterbacks have a passer rating of 25.0 compared to Forbes, which is No. 12 in the league. By comparison, Gonzalez is No. 27.
5. Branch S Brian, Lions (+1600)
Branch ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and that’s likely why he feels in the 2023 NFL Draft. The film showed a player who was always in the right place at the right time regardless of his clocked speed. The teams set up guardrails to protect themselves, but they thought too much about Branch. He already has an interception and should add more turnover-worthy plays throughout the year.
Other notable performances
EDGE Byron Young, Rams (+5000): Young leads all rookies with 1.5 sacks this season. He’s tied for 21st in pressures, according to TruMedia, which is just behind Carter among rookies.
EDGE Félix Anudike-Uzomah (+3000): Anudike-Uzomah had 0.5 sacks and a forced fumble in Sunday’s win over fellow Jacksonville.