There is significant opportunity for someone to take control the Offensive Rookie of the Year race despite one making a strong case early. Defensive Rookie of the Year is playing out as expected and that favors a handful of players.
Here are the five favorites, via Caesars Sportsbook, as I see them, as well as some other performances of note:
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. RB Bijan Robinson, Falcons (+210)
Atlanta had 45 rushes compared to 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 added four receptions to bring his season total up to 10, as well. At this rate, the necessary statistics will be there for a running back to win the award.
2. QB Anthony Richardson, Colts (+220)
Richardson exited with an injury pretty early but he was effective in that window. Through two games, he has four total touchdowns, including two on the ground. The key to his viability as a candidate is availability because quarterbacks will always have a built-in advantage to win the award.
3. WR Puka Nacua, Rams (+600)
Nacuas has 25 receptions, which is the third most through two games and the most by any player in their first two career games. The BYU product even had two of the team's 22 carries. Los Angeles is the opposite of Atlanta in regards to run-pass ratio (5:2). Even when Cooper Kupp returns, Nacua's production should be sustainable. He has clearly asserted himself as the top pass-catching threat on that team.
If this level of production continues, the fifth-round pick is probably the biggest threat to Robinson if Richardson cannot stay healthy.
4. QB C.J. 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 because he has been sacked 11 times through 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 has a touchdown in each of his first two games. With Justin Jefferson occupying so much attention, the USC product should have opportunities to make plays after the catch all season.
Other notable performances
WR Zay Flowers, Ravens (+1200): A wide receiver needs targets to win the award. Even though Flowers has caught 86.7% of his intended targets, it is concerning that his targets were cut in half when tight end Mark Andrews returned from injury.
QB Bryce Young, Panthers (+1600): It does not appear that Young will have team success to add to his resume as the Panthers have fallen to 0-2. Young's statistics 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 Defensive Rookie of the Year race is essentially playing out as NFL with 11 pressures, according to TruMedia. The statistics are not overwhelming but that is the reality of being an interior defender. There is a growing appreciation for actual play on the field and the rookie from Georgia has been collapsing pockets left and right.. Carter is fourth in the
2. EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Texans (+450)
Anderson ranks No. 34 on the same list of pressures, hovering around names like Josh Allen, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. Players able to reach nine-plus sacks will always be in the conversation to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Head coach Demeco Ryans has the pedigree and scheme 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 have not shied away from 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 on the year. He was a personal favorite coming into the season because of his collegiate ball production and the likelihood of that trait translating to the professional game. According to TruMedia, quarterbacks have a 25.0 passer rating against Forbes, which is No. 12 in the league. By comparison, Gonzalez is No. 27.
5. S Brian Branch, Lions (+1600)
Branch ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and that is likely why he feel in the 2023 NFL Draft. The film showed a player who was always in the right place at the right time regardless of his timed speed. Teams have guardrails in place to protect themselves but they overthought Branch. He has one interception already 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 is tied for No. 21 in pressures, according to TruMedia, which is second only to Carter among rookies.
EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah (+3000): Anudike-Uzomah had 0.5 sacks and a forced fumble in Sunday's win over fellow AFC contender Jacksonville.