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Stay, Play, or Protect: NFL futures portfolio midseason analysis

Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

We've reached the sweet spot in the NFL season for futures betting. With nine or 10 games in the books for each team, it can feel like awards and statistical leaders are set in stone.

However, with eight weeks remaining, we're only slightly past the halfway mark. You could argue that the remaining games count for more since recency bias is a significant element for voted-on awards.

Before the season, we made bets in each of the futures markets. It's time to review how those are going (via the charts below) to determine whether to ride out a promising position (stay), add an interesting long shot (play), or hedge a great bet (protect).

Most Valuable Player

Jalen Hurts +1000 +300
Trevor Lawrence +1600 +4000


Hurts is now the co-favorite for MVP and has a showdown with the other top choice, Patrick Mahomes, on Monday night. There are still too many other contenders to bet on someone else in order to "protect" a profit. So, keeping this valuable ticket in cross-fingered hands is the move.


Dak Prescott: MVP (+2500)
Bonus: Cowboys to be top seed in NFC (+900)

It's not a hedge, per se, but the one player listed longer than 10-1 that can still win MVP also resides in the NFC East. Don't look now, but Prescott is less than 200 yards behind Tua Tagovailoa. Thanks to 1354 yards and 12 touchdowns in his last four games, the Cowboys quarterback has a comparable TD-to-INT ratio and a better QBR than the favorites for the award. He just hasn't won the big games yet. He'll have more chances for that while also continuing to rack up big stats:

11 @CAR 12
12 WAS 28
13 SEA 11
14 PHI 14
15 @BUF 18
16 @MIA 17
17 DET 15
18 @WAS 28

There isn't a top-10 pass defense in the group, but there are a lot of good opposing offenses that should create high-scoring games.

With matchups at home against the Lions (7-2) and Eagles (8-1), the 6-3 Cowboys will be favored to beat their NFC rivals, giving them a chance to win the NFC East and potentially the top seed in the NFC playoffs - two things that put Prescott in position to take home his first MVP.

Offensive Player of the Year

Christian McCaffrey +1500 +125
Justin Fields +2500 +20000
CeeDee Lamb +4000 +2000


If you think it's funny that we have a Fields ticket here (and it is), I submit to you the people who bet him to win MVP.

We'll happily be wrong about one pick if it means we get this kind of equity on our other bets.

You can add Tyreek Hill (+125) and A.J. Brown (+550) to your OPOY bets and be almost sure to profit.

"Stay" and "Play"

CeeDee Lamb: Offensive Player of the Year (+2000)

Alongside Prescott, Lamb is cooking with 617 receiving yards in his last four games. The Cowboys made small but significant changes to their passing attack after getting crushed in San Francisco, and it's working. If it stays that way, at 20-1, Lamb is still a good long-shot bet. However, if you think three big receiver seasons devalue each other, "staying" with McCaffrey tickets at incredible value is understandable.

Defensive Player of the Year

Nick Bosa +1000 +2000
Quinnen Williams +2500 +20000
Roquan Smith +5000 +8000


Maxx Crosby: Defensive Player of the Year (+2200)

Our preseason long shots don't seem to have panned out, but let's try one more.

It's probably better to wait a week or two since Crosby and the Raiders play the Dolphins and Chiefs coming up, but if Vegas can find itself in the playoff hunt and Crosby can make up the 1.5 sacks that he trails the league leader by, he'll get interest from voters as the main reason Las Vegas didn't go away quietly.

Comeback Player of the Year

Cooper Kupp +3500 +8000
Odell Beckham +3500 +15000


Aaron Rodgers: Comeback Player of the Year (+2200)

Damar Hamlin started as the overwhelming favorite for this award and, despite playing very little, remains that way since no one else has emerged with a big season. However, back when Hamlin was installed atop the oddsboard, the big comeback story that everyone could be talking about come December didn't exist yet.

You don't have to like him or his prime-time pregame throwing routine, but if Rodgers comes back in less than four months from an Achilles tear and plays well in front of the New York media, what do you think voters will do?

At 22-1, there's very little downside in betting on a Rodgers comeback that would grip the NFL world if it happens.

Coach of the Year

Matt Lafleur +1200 +15000
Mike Tomlin +2000 +1400


Sean Payton: Coach of the Year (+15000)

It appears the preseason favorite, Dan Campbell (now +150), will likely win Coach of the Year, but if the Lions slip up a little, who can get the credit for a big turnaround?

How about the preseason second choice?

The Broncos have winnable games against the Vikings, Browns, Texans, and Chargers next on the schedule. What if they run those and are 8-5 going to Detroit for Week 14?

With a win over the Lions, Payton gets credit for saving Russell Wilson and overseeing the turnaround of a defense that gave up 70 points earlier this year. For a couple of bucks, that's worth a "play."

Player yardage and TD markets

Passing yards Dak Prescott +1500 +1800
Tua Tagovailoa +1800 +350
Passing TDs Dak Prescott +1800 +1200
Lamar Jackson +3000 +7500
Receiving yards Tyreek Hill +850 -120
CeeDee Lamb +2000 +500
Receiving TDs Cooper Kupp +1100 +6000
CeeDee Lamb +1600 +4000
Mark Andrews +2800 +1200
Rushing yards Josh Jacobs +1800 +900
Dameon Pierce +4000 +5000
Rushing TDs Isiah Pacheco +2800 +8000
David Montgomery +6000 +1000

Players in bold are previous futures wagers that are referenced below.


Receiving yardage

We've got improved positions in each of the six statistical categories, but no one has an insurmountable lead, what with injuries always a looming possibility. However, with tickets on both Hill and Lamb to lead in receiving yards, adding A.J. Brown at +350 should be enough to corner that market.


Passing yardage

The passing categories always come down to the season's final weeks, so we'll take our chances that Tagovailoa and Prescott stay hot.

Rushing yardage

Josh Jacobs has 26 more carries than the next busiest 'back, and he's only getting stronger under Antonio Pierce, with his two best games coming with the Raiders' interim head coach. If he keeps getting the volume while running the plays he likes, he can track down McCaffrey.


Brock Purdy: Most passing touchdowns (+2800)

Passing touchdowns are far more random than yardage. Purdy is +2800 but only four scores behind Tagovailoa. With defenses keyed on McCaffrey handoffs, Purdy could spread the ball to his now-healthy outside weapons in the second half, making him a valuable addition to Prescott and giving us two live long shots in this market.

Mike Evans: Most receiving touchdowns (+1400)

Mark Andrews is quietly at six touchdowns as Lamar Jackson's big-bodied red-zone target, but so is Evans as Baker Mayfield's. Evans had 13-plus touchdowns in 2020 and 2021, so he could reach that number, and at +1400, he's a good bet to lead the league if he does.

Kareem Hunt: Most rushing touchdowns (+3300)

I knew the Browns tailback replacing Nick Chubb would make a run at a statistical category. I should have known it would be Hunt.

We'll need McCaffrey's TD pace to fall off and Raheem Mostert to get back to sharing the backfield with De'Von Achane, but Hunt has six touchdowns in only seven games. With Deshaun Watson out for the season, it's all about the ground game in Cleveland.

Fifteen touchdowns is an attainable target number with eight games to go, so we'll add Hunt to our valuable David Montgomery ticket, giving us two long-shot horses to chase down McCaffrey and Mostert.

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.

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