With the football preseason starting in two weeks, we will look at NFL team or player futures betting odds each Monday leading up to the regular season. In all likelihood, the MVP winner will be a quarterback. The last six MVP awards were won by a QB and 11 of the last 12, however, there is still an outside chance we get an MVP from another position. Here are some of the big names and their path to winning the MVP.
Note: All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
TODD GURLEY (+3300)I was a bit surprised to see Gurley with the best MVP odds of all the non-quarterbacks. This is likely a bit of recency bias on my part because of how last season ended with an injury and a reduced role in the Super Bowl. Gurley was terrific for most of the regular season and finished with the third-best odds to win the MVP. In 2018, he finished as the runner up to Tom Brady in the MVP voting. If everything breaks right for Gurley, then it’s easy to see how he could end up in the mix.
The biggest question with Gurley is what will his workload look like? We don’t know exactly what happened to him during the Rams’ playoff run, but it was clear that he was not fully healthy. The Rams committed a long-term contract and a massive amount of money to their star running back, leading me to believe he is the guy, however, Gurley’s regular season workload could be eased to make sure he’s healthy for the playoffs. After drafting Darrell Henderson in the third round, the Rams have a backup plan in case Gurley is either hurt or needs to be rested. This leads me to believe his best fantasy days are behind him. The ceiling is obvious, but his chances of reaching it are slim under the assumption the Rams will pivot from how Gurley was used the last couple of seasons.
SAQUON BARKLEY (+4000)Despite the odds, I think Barkley has a better shot to win MVP than Gurley. The only path to the Giants pulling themselves out of the basement of the NFC East is a massive season from Barkley. With Odell Beckham gone, the entire offense is going to be centered around Saquon. Without Beckham in the final three games of the season, Barkley was targeted 25 times in the passing game. He should be more involved through the air and should be a workhorse on the ground after getting 261 carries in his rookie season. Even though he played behind a poor offensive line, Barkley averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Almost every running back in football is dependent on offensive line play and he’s one of the rare talents who can succeed without strong blocking, although New York improved its line in the offseason. Eli Manning is way past his prime and could cede the starting gig to Daniel Jones during the season. If the Giants can exceed the expectations of their 5.5 win total and make the playoffs, MVP voters will likely look at Barkley as the driving force.
AARON DONALD (+6600)/KAHLIL MACK (+6600)With the same odds, I grouped these stud defensive players together. The last time a defensive player won the MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. He won the award with 20.5 sacks, which at the time, was the NFL record. It didn’t stand for long and Reggie White registered 21 sacks in the next season. For either Mack or Donald to win the MVP, they are probably going to need to break Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks. It is a big number, but not impossible to overcome. Donald had 20.5 sacks last season and could have set the record with a three-sack game in the final week of the season. With the Rams playoff spot already clinched, Donald saw decreased snaps to gear up for the playoffs. Mack has had as many as 15 sacks in a season although last season may have been his best yet. He’s registered double-digit sacks in four consecutive seasons and could have had massive counting last season if not for missing a couple of games. Mack finished with 12.5 sacks despite the missed games and a late trade causing him to start the season with a lack of familiarity with the Bears. He should be even better his second season in Chicago.
ANTONIO BROWN (+10000)The Raiders hired Jon Gruden to run their operations prior to last season and everything quickly went south. Overhauling the entire team, he traded away cornerstone players in Kahlil Mack and Amari Cooper. Oakland became the laughingstock of the league and finished with a 4-12 record. The Raiders were bad on both sides of the ball, ranking 25th in offense DVOA and 30th in defense DVOA. They added a handful of players in the draft, but bringing in AB was easily the highest profile move.
While the Raiders are unlikely to be good this season, any improvements will likely be credited to Brown through the eyes of the public. After Derek Carr has regressed in recent seasons, a bounce back would come through added production courtesy of his new star receiver. Brown has six consecutive seasons of at least 1,250 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. I have little doubt that his counting stats will look good this season as he figures to be a target monster in the Raiders’ offense. The team should be improved, but as bad as they were last season, it seems unlikely they can make a big enough leap for Brown to warrant MVP consideration.
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