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NFL futures: Buying in before the prime-time lights shine in Week 3

Greg Nelson / Sports Illustrated / Getty

With Week 2 wrapped up, we have more data points for each team in the NFL. After assessing shifts in perception and performance throughout the league, we can look at the various futures and season-long player props markets to create positions that will hopefully be profitable.

The goal is to avoid overreacting to the headlines in the way the MVP markets have with quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. History is littered with examples of players starting hot only to fizzle out. If you already have a ticket on either, kudos to you, but if you don't, it's not worth trying to jump on a moving train.

Last week, we pointed out that there was still value on Justin Jefferson to lead the NFL in receiving yards. Even though he struggled to shake a handsy Darius Slay on Monday night, his odds actually shortened to +450. We also explored a Defensive Player of the Year long shot as a low-investment play.

This week, it's time to get serious about that market before it becomes too obvious that one player is a cut above the rest, especially given he has all the visibility you could want for voters.

Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons (+450)

Micah Parsons +450
Myles Garrett +450
Nick Bosa +1000
Aaron Donald +1200
Joey Bosa +2000
Von Miller +2000
T.J. Watt +2500
Khalil Mack +3000
Minkah Fitzpatrick +3000

We're listing the top end of the oddsboard here to illustrate why Parsons has value as a co-favorite. Firstly, I've seen enough from the Browns' defense to know that it'll collectively hurt Garrett's chances. Jadeveon Clowney is already injured, which will allow opposition players to double-team Garrett on the edge and prevent Cleveland from running special action on the defensive line with those two.

We already have a ticket on Nick Bosa from before the season, and there's not enough interest in his brother, Joey, Aaron Donald, or Von Miller to lead their teams' success. Watt's injury means he'll miss too many games to get the DPOY nod, and while Fitzpatrick continues to make plays, we've already noted that Trevon Diggs did the same throughout last year yet couldn't get near the award.

That leaves Parsons, who's taken the early lead in sacks and shown that the Cowboys will be competitive regardless of who plays quarterback. The 23-year-old is Dallas' one indispensable player and will repeatedly show his value in the upcoming Monday Night Football game. Now's the time to back Parsons, who'll get the credit for keeping the Cowboys in playoff contention.

Here's how your DPOY portfolio should look:

Micah Parsons +450 1
T.J. Watt +650* 1
Nick Bosa +1000* .5
Devin White +5000 .1
Brian Burns +5000* .1

*Bet made before the season

Comeback Player of the Year: Saquon Barkley (+550)

Whether it's wear and tear or a fundamental flaw in the Titans' offense, Derrick Henry's 13 carries for 25 yards Monday night don't bode well for him. The day prior, Jonathan Taylor had nine carries. The lesson? The rushing title is up for grabs.

Barkley will get prime-time attention across Parson this Monday night. He's the same price to win Comeback Player of the Year as he is to win the rushing title, and I'd rather back him over the other perceived nominees in the former category.

Barkley looks to be back in his prime, and even a top-five finish in rushing yardage would be more impressive than anything those around him on the oddsboard should be able to achieve. The only challenger might be Christian McCaffrey, who we already have a ticket on from before the season.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kenny Pickett (+1300)

Pickett was a co-favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year during the preseason, but losing out to Mitch Trubisky lengthened his odds. However, Trubisky has a 59.2% pass completion rate, and those passes have only gone for 5.1 yards per attempt (32nd in the league).

The Steelers won't make a change yet, but a loss to the Browns would provide Mike Tomlin more than enough reason to give Pickett a chance against the Jets, especially since they'll have a week and a half of preparation. Maybe this was the plan all along. With none of the other rookies leaping out, the top-drafted rookie quarterback can get back atop the oddsboard very soon if he gets the starting job.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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