6 min read

Looking Back at the 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year Race

Betting in an NFL awards market is different from betting in other futures markets because voters determine the winner.

In most futures markets, you’re betting on or, in some cases, against a definitive outcome. For instance, if you bet on the Super Bowl winner this year, there will not be any questions about which team wins that game.

That’s not how things work in awards markets.

In awards markets, who wins is determined by who 50 individuals vote for. What you’re betting on in an awards market is who someone else thinks should win. It requires an entirely different process from any other betting market.

That’s why we’re going to look back at each awards race from last season, so we can try to see things more from a voter’s perspective than from our own. 

>> READ: Looking Back at the 2022 CPOY Race

Offensive Rookie of the Year Race

Last year, only one quarterback was drafted in the first round, Kenny Pickett (+900), and he wasn’t expected to start on opening day. This gave all relevant skill position players a clearer path to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY).

First-round wide receivers Chris Olave (+1000), Drake London (+1400), Treylon Burks (+1800), Garrett Wilson (+2000) and Jahan Dotson (+2500) were strong candidates as opening day approached. 

Breece Hall (+1100) was the primary contender at running back, while Dameon Pierce (+1600) moved from a 60-1 longshot when OROY markets first opened to a fringe contender. 

Wide receivers like Skyy Moore (+1200), George Pickens (+1050), Romeo Doubs (+1500) and Jalen Tolbert (+1600) were each overpriced heading into the opener.

Kenny Pickett Steelers

Early Season

Pickett didn’t see his first game action until Oct. 2, and Hall had 21 carries through the season’s first three games. Lack of use early on pushed both players into the mid-range, long-shot territory.

Pickens and Dotson got off to solid starts, putting them in the early lead through the first few weeks. That was an overreaction by the market. 

Olave saw exceptional usage through the first three weeks and had several strong matchups coming in the near future. By the start of Week 4, Olave had closed the gap on Pickens and Dotson.


Pickett struggled through the first half of the season, entering the midseason point with far more interceptions than passing touchdowns. It would have taken an epic second-half run for Pickett to return to contention.

On the other hand, Hall went on a multi-game rampage in October, catapulting the Jets’ running back to the front of the race. Unfortunately, in Week 7, Hall suffered a season-ending knee injury.

With Hall out of contention and Pickett just about off the board, the door was wide open for new contenders.

At the midseason point, five of our six panelists would have voted for Kenneth Walker III. Pierce took the other vote. 

Through those nine weeks, Pierce was sixth in the league with 678 yards rushing for the 1-6-1 Texans. Walker III was 13th in yards rushing with 570, but he was fourth in the league with seven rushing touchdowns. Walker was also surging after only 23 carries through the first five weeks.

Olave rounded out the top three contenders in this race at the midway point, as he was ninth in the league in yards receiving (618) and 17th in receptions (43).

Through the first nine weeks, Wilson was 23rd in yards receiving (521) and receptions (42).

Second Half of the Season

After a five-game run that saw Walker III breach 88 yards rushing four times, he failed to exceed 50 in his next four games. Pierce had a similar second-half fall-off that included four missed games and two more where he didn’t breach 10 yards rushing.

Olave was solid but unspectacular in the second half, with only a single 100-yard output. He also missed a game in late December, which pushed his OROY odds into long-shot territory down the stretch.

Packers wide receiver Christian Watson went nuclear to open the second half of the season, breaching 100 yards receiving twice with six total touchdowns in those three games. Watson’s surge put him in the OROY conversation through the rest of the year, but his injury-riddled first half put him in an insurmountable hole.

Pickett improved as the season went on, but he still finished the year with more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (7).

Then there’s Brock Purdy, who did some things that just don’t happen in the NFL., After taking over for injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13, Purdy’s 49ers scored at least 30 points in five of their last six games, winning them all.

Including the last two weeks of the first half of the season, Wilson breached 90 yards receiving in five of seven games. Wilson was a -200 OROY favorite until he had a total of 48 yards receiving in Weeks 16 and 17.

Last Week of the Regular Season

With one week to go, the OPOY race had three contenders:

  • Kenneth Walker III -110
  • Garrett Wilson +200
  • Brock Purdy +450

After a muddy start to the second half, Walker went on a three-game tear of 100-yard rushing performances to finish the year. He ended up with the 11th most yards rushing (1,050) and the ninth most rushing touchdowns (9) in the league. Walker didn’t see primary back usage until the middle of October.

After two poor outputs, Wilson finished the year with 89 scoreless yards against the Dolphins in the season finale. He finished 15th in yards receiving (1,103) and 18th in receptions (83).

Purdy’s 49ers blew out the Cardinals 38-13 in Week 18, but Purdy only had 178 yards passing. Purdy did not breach 300 yards passing in any of his six appearances.

The Vote 

Wilson ultimately took the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year award behind a good but not quite memorable campaign for a rookie wide receiver. That said, Wilson managed to put up impressive numbers despite Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson and Mike White all seeing significant time at quarterback.

As Ari states, Walker received one more first-place vote than Wilson, but Walker was ultimately the runner-up in the new scoring system. If Walker was the Seattle Seahawks' primary runner to start the season, there is little doubt he would have edged out Wilson.

There is absolutely no doubt Purdy benefited greatly from his situation with the San Francisco 49ers, but you also can’t deny he outperformed Garoppolo. You could argue Purdy had the most impactful rookie season, but ultimately he only saw meaningful playing time in six games. That clearly wasn’t enough for voters.

Despite missing two games, Olave had a comparable year to Wilson on several fronts. That said, Olave’s best performances came early, while Wilson’s came in the second half. Otherwise, the divide between both players in late-season betting markets and by voters was surprising.

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