NFL Offensive Player of the Year betting: 3 positions, 3 valuable plays
All it takes to win the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year is to be historically excellent. Piece of cake, right?
Patrick Mahomes won the MVP last season because his team had the best record in the NFL. The Chiefs had great stats despite the preseason assumption that the offence might take a step back. He had qualitative value beyond his quantitative production.
Mahomes had nine fewer touchdowns and fewer yards per game than in his previous MVP season in 2018 - when he also won Offensive Player of the Year. Justin Jefferson swooped in to win the latter award last year, combining spectacular highlight catches with the sixth-most receiving yards in NFL history.
Offensive Player of the Year odds
|Amon-Ra St. Brown
Players listed +5000 or longer are not listed
Odds provided by theScore bet
Jefferson is co-favored, but no one's accomplished an OPOY repeat since 2001 - a reason why a 2,000-yard capable receiver entering his prime with a veteran quarterback is still priced as long as +1100.
Christian McCaffrey (+1500)
A running back wins the OPOY about every three seasons.
- 2009 - Chris Johnson
- 2012 - Adrian Peterson
- 2014 - DeMarco Murray
- 2017 - Todd Gurley
- 2020 - Derrick Henry
Sharp NFL teams now devalue running backs, so it's the one position where some - but not all - teams have a high-usage tailback. That makes it easier for a star like Christian McCaffrey to stand out amongst positional peers.
He's also capable of standing out historically. In 2019, he came up just 117 yards short of Johnson's scrimmage yards record. The 49ers didn't invest in McCaffrey to not use him, as evidenced by his 1,210 combined rushing and receiving yards in just 11 games in San Francisco last season - even with a slow start in his first game after the midseason trade.
Fully ensconced in Kyle Shanahan's offense for 17 games, McCaffrey could very well make a run at 150 scrimmage yards per game. Even if he's shy of that stat - which would give him a 2,200-yard, 17-touchdown season - there's a better than 6.3% chance (implied probability of +1500) that he'll win the MVP title, especially when compared to others at the position.
Justin Fields (+2500)
If you like the Bears, why not skip the bets relying on Chicago's team success and hone in on Justin Fields' electric talent?
There's recent history of a run-centric quarterback contending for this award - Cam Newton won it in 2015, Lamar Jackson finished second in 2019, and Jalen Hurts finished third in voting last season despite missing two games. Here are their numbers alongside Fields' 2022 stats.
|Cam Newton (2015)
|Lamar Jackson (2019)
|Jalen Hurts (2022)
|Justin Fields (2022)
*Both Hurts and Fields played in 15 games, while 2015 and 2019 were 16-game seasons.
Fields' rushing ability is, like Jackson's, stunning on paper and on the field. He ran for six touchdowns in his last eight games, compared to two in his first eight, so he'll probably get to double-digit touchdowns on the ground this season.
The key will be increasing Fields' production with his arm. Adding a high-end receiver in DJ Moore helps and, like Fields' rushing numbers, his completion percentage and touchdowns went up - with one less interception - finishing the year with a 10-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 1,043 yards despite playing five games in Chicago in November and December.
While 4,000 yards is a big ask, even something in the mid-3,000s with 20+ touchdowns would be enough to accompany his rushing production - on a team getting attention for being better than expected - and to get OPOY recognition, with the hopes that no one has a 2019 Michael Thomas or Jefferson-type of season.
CeeDee Lamb (+4000)
As long as he's priced in the 40-1 range, I might be on my deathbed still betting on CeeDee Lamb to win OPOY.
The Cowboys finally moved on from giving Ezekiel Elliott wasteful carries and should be expected to loosen their offense even further. That should help Lamb continue his upward-moving statistics.
Lamb's usage jump filled the void Amari Cooper left despite only averaging 76 yards in the five games when Cooper Rush was at the helm. With Dak Prescott back, Lamb averaged 90 yards per game from Week 7 to Week 17. That production would add up to 1,526 receiving yards without any implied improvement in his game. He also had just 52 yards when Dallas went through the motions against Washington in Week 18.
It may feel like Lamb's been around a while, but he just turned 24 this offseason, making him younger than Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Lamb's still learning to be great and talked about how much veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore has taught him in camp this summer. A jump toward 100 yards per game isn't out of the question, and Lamb should grab a handful of the 18 touchdowns left in Dallas by Elliott and Dalton Schultz.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.