NFL MVP Smart Picks
The beginning of the 2018 NFL season signals the beginning of prop bets on football. Whether it is on who will be MVP, which coach will be the next to be canned, or stat leaders, there is money to be made. But to maximize the money won, sometimes low odds can be your best bet. Entering the 2018 NFL season, there are obvious picks to make a run at the Most Valuable Player award. These favorites have won the trophy multiple times, while there are youngsters who look to win their first.
To begin the MVP conversation, it starts with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Between them, Brady and Rodgers have combined for five MVP’s, Brady accounting for three of those. Rodgers and Brady top the list for odds to win with Rodgers starting at 5-1 on scoresandodds.com, a nice profit for a player who is the obvious favorite for the award. Brady isn’t far off at 6-1. It isn’t unfathomable for one of these two to bring home another piece of hardware since they have won five of the last 11 MVP’s and another three of those went to a player who is retired, Peyton Manning. And other than Adrian Peterson winning in 2012, the winner has come from a player who was at the top of lists.
Some past winners stand a solid chance with Cam Newton (20-1) and Matt Ryan (25-1). Carson Wentz has the third highest odds of winning at 7-1, which is not surprising after receiving votes in 2017 after missing the last three games of the season. If Wentz can return for the whole season and continue where he left off a season ago, those odds seem like a bargain. There are 12 quarterbacks listed before a skill-position player makes an appearance. At 35-1, Todd Gurley is the first non-quarterback. Gurley finished second in voting last season, only behind Brady. With over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, Gurley is the perfect example of how difficult it is for a running back to win the MVP in a quarterback-driven league.
To win the MVP as a running back, it has taken historical performances. The last to do so was Peterson where all he did was rush for 2,097 yards, only eight yards behind the all-time record in a season. The two times before that were Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson, who in back-to-back years broke the record for rushing touchdowns in a season.
As difficult as it can be for running backs to win MVP, it is even more of a long shot for anyone else to win the award. There are only three times a player other than quarterback or running back have been named MVP. A defensive tackle (Alan Page, 1971), placekicker (Mark Moseley, 1982), and linebacker (Lawrence Taylor, 1986) were those three instances. The likelihood of a non-quarterback winning is low, but that just means there is more money to be won if it happens. But to make smart bets, there needs to be a balance between likelihood and value. Which players have odds that are too sweet to pass up?
5 MVP Picks That Can Win Loads of Cash
1. Todd Gurley
Though I stated that winning MVP is difficult at running back, the value Todd Gurley has is just so difficult to pass up. At 35-1, there is a lot of money to be made on a player who finished second in voting last season. With the addition of Brandin Cooks to the offense and Jared Goff making a gigantic improvement since his rookie season, defenses can’t crowd the box. It would take a historic season for a running back to win MVP, but if the Los Angeles Rams back can stay healthy for the whole season, he can do things that only a hand full of other players in the league can do. Just over 200 receiving yards away from a historic 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving, that alone would give him a great chance if he could pull that off.
Gurley ran for 1,305 yards in 2017, which combined with 788 receiving yards, is impressive. He also scored 13 touchdowns on the ground as well as catching six more touchdowns. Goff’s improvement could hurt Gurley’s chances by leading to the Ram’s offense becoming more balanced, leaning less on Gurley. Goff becoming a better player also gives the Rams a better chance of winning games, which is vital to an MVP candidacy. It is difficult for players to win an MVP if they are on a team that can’t win. But the quarterback takes the spotlight and is seen as the main catalyst of a successful season, which leads me to…
2. Jared Goff
After a great sophomore campaign that ended with 3,804 passing yards and 28 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions, Goff has given prop betters something to think about. Though Gurley is still the face of the offense, Goff is the guy who runs the show.If the L.A. quarterback can make another off-season improvement like ahead of last season, 50-1 seems like a steal. The addition of Cooks will give Goff a big-play threat. He also still has his top-three receivers from last season, Cooper Kupp, Gurley, and Robert Woods.
Goff also enters his second season in the Sean McVay era in Los Angeles, giving him more experience in the offense that took giant leaps from 2016.It’s unlikely that both Goff and Gurley will be MVP candidates, but either could have a great season. It’s tough to find a quarterback with odds like his and the stats to possibly give him a good chance.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
Not only does Big Ben have the best receiver in football at his disposal, but he may also have the best number-two option with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Oh, and just one of the best all-around backs in Le’Veon Bell.With odds of 35-1 for a quarterback who has proven he can put up enormous stats, that feels comfortable. The only problem he may have is if Bell remains sidelined due to contract disputes.
It would take a career year for Roethlisberger to win MVP, but knowing he is towards the end of his long career may drive him more to go out on a high note.But this also relies on Roethlisberger staying healthy for the full season. He hasn’t played in all 16 games since 2014. Ben put up some of his best numbers with 4,952 passing yards. If his offensive-line can keep him off his back, he could put up huge statistics with the players around him and make people loads of money in the process.
4. Alvin Kamara
The reigning offensive rookie of the year took the league by storm last season and he could definitely do it again. 65-1 odds put him as a long shot, but he also has the opportunity to be the feature back for the beginning of the season, putting up big numbers out of the gate. With 728 yards on the ground and 826 yards receiving, he had an insane rookie season. He was also a threat in the return game. Kamara averaged 31.5 yards per kick return, bringing one back 106 yards for a touchdown.
Those numbers are impressive, but most of it took place after the first three games. With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games of the season, Kamara can definitely get going from game one. Drew Brees leads an offense that always puts up huge numbers. So Kamara possibly being the focal point could make for a historic season. Rushing and receiving yards could each go above 1,000 yards since he will be touching the ball so frequently.
5. Case Keenum
Keenum is the only player on this list to join a new team. His odds reflect there isn’t much faith in his ability to replicate last season in Minnesota.At 75-1, the new Denver Broncos quarterback looks to build off his best season. Keenum took over as the starting quarterback last season in week two and demolished expectations. With 3,537 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, Keenum ended up having a great season.
It will take an improvement to even be in consideration for the award. There are worse scenarios to join as a quarterback though. The Broncos have a good defense and receivers. A full 16 game schedule could give him the chance to put up numbers.Keenum is a huge underdog to win the award, but the odds make a small bet worth the risk. There are few quarterbacks who have played at a high level and have odds like Keenum does.
When it comes down to it, a top quarterback will likely take the trophy home. If there were odds on Brady/Rodgers against the field, I would take Brady or Rodgers. They have each won the award multiple times for a reason. They each added new weapons over the off-season, but also lost key receivers too. But before Brady winning last season, there was a run of two surprise winners with Newton and Ryan. And Wentz looked like he was on his way to winning in 2017.
At 6-1 though, Brady just seems like the right pick. He is coming off a loss in the Super Bowl and his revenge tours always take the league by storm. And in a division where each team seems to stay at mediocre at best, he continues to amaze. It has been almost a decade since a player repeated as MVP. Brady has a great chance to do so.