L.A. Rams Puka Nacua Makes Strong Case for Rookie of the Year

Posted on: October 4, 2023, 06:08h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2023, 11:46h.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua is now +425 odds to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after a sensational start for the fifth-round draft pick.

Puka Nacua Rookie Rams
Los Angeles Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, seen here celebrating a game-winning touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Field, is now one of the betting favorites to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud is the only player who has better odds (+175) than Nacua to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OPOY).

Stroud, the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft from Ohio State, stands out as the top quarterback in his rookie class. He has completed 62.3% of his passes for 1,212 yards and six touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception in four starts.

2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds

Rookie  Odds
CJ Stroud (Texans) +175
Puka Nacua (Rams) +425
Bijan Robinson (Falcons) +450
Antony Richardson (Colts) +550
De’Von Achane (Dolphins) +600
Zay Flowers (Ravens) +1800
Jordan Addison (Vikings) +2500
Jahmyr Gibbs (Lions) +3000

The Rams selected Nacua in the fifth round out of BYU, and he was pick #177 in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Nacua seemed like he came out of nowhere, especially to fantasy football players, and few non-BYU fans knew about his ability to make huge plays downfield until he stepped up in the first game of the season.

Nacua Thrives with Kupp on the IR

The Rams didn’t freak out when Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp headed to the IR with a hamstring injury to start the season because Nacua showed flashes of brilliance in training camp and during the preseason.

I thought that he would be a great pro, and that everybody that passed on him would regret it,” said BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. “And looks like I’m right.”

Nacua made an explosive debut in Week 1 with 10 catches for 119 yards in a victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

In Week 2, quarterback Matthew Stafford targeted Nacua 20 times, and the rookie hauled in 15 receptions for 147 yards.

In Week 3, the Rams lost a 19-16 defensive struggle against the Cincinnati Bengals. Nacua caught five passes out of seven targets for 72 yards. He snatched 30 receptions through three games, but had yet to score a touchdown.

Nacua finally reached the end zone in Week 4. Out of 10 targets, Nacua caught nine passes for 163 yards. He also scored a game-winning, walk-off touchdown in overtime to defeat the Indianapolis Colts.

“Clutch production performance,” said head coach Sean McVay. “Making big plays over the middle and helping close out the game.”

Nacua set a rookie record with 39 receptions in his first four games. He currently holds the record for most receiving yards (501) by any wide receiver through the first four games of the season.

After making a huge splash, Nacua jumped to the top of DraftKings’ NFL awards board, and he’s now +425 odds to win the Rookie of the Year.

Stroud Top QB in Rookie Class

Three rookies started at quarterback in Week 1, including Stroud for the Texans, Bryce Young for the Carolina Panthers, and Anthony Richardson for the Indianapolis Colts.

In Week 4, a fourth rookie quarterback made his debut this season. Aidan O’Connell from Purdue started for the Las Vegas Raiders against the Los Angeles Chargers because Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a concussion in Week 3.

After a strong start, Stroud is clearly the top quarterback in his rookie class. He completed 62.3% of his passes for 1,212 yards and six touchdowns for the Texans. He hasn’t thrown an interception in four starts.

The Carolina Panthers needed a quarterback and traded up in the draft to acquire the #1 pick from the Chicago Bears. The Panthers were all-in on Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and were willing to trade away four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Bears.

Young struggled in his first three games and missed one game with a sprained ankle. He’s a long shot to win Rookie of the Year at +7500 odds.

Young is currently 0-3 as a starting quarterback for the winless Panthers. In 27 games at Alabama, Young went 24-3 as a starter. He lost just three games in college and equaled that loss total in the first three games as a pro.