So we’ve got you prepared to bet on the preseason, but that’s still a couple weeks away and you’re growing impatient. All good, you can still throw some money down on NFL action right now in the form of futures bets.
Futures odds are available to those who think they know how certain teams and/or players will fare in 2018. Last week, we combed through those numbers to identify five particularly enticing teams that might be worth gambling on this summer. This week, we’re looking at player awards odds.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (+3300 to win MVP)
Merely reaching his prime at the age of 30, Stafford has played the best football of his career in the post-Calvin Johnson era. Now he’s about the same age as Matt Ryan was in Ryan’s MVP season in 2016, and Stafford is coming off the highest-rated campaign of his nine-year career.
That makes him a heck of an intriguing bet at +3300, odds that are lower than 15 other NFL quarterbacks including Jimmy Garoppolo (who has started seven NFL games), Deshaun Watson (who has started six and is coming off a torn ACL) and Andrew Luck (coming off a lost season due to a major shoulder injury).
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (+4000 to win MVP)
It’s a little silly that 17 quarterbacks have better MVP odds than the reigning offensive player of the year.
Gurley’s odds were never going to be high because he’s not a quarterback and quarterbacks have won MVP in 10 of the last 11 seasons. But the only non-quarterbacks to win the award this century were Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson, all of whom — you guessed it — played running back.
And Gurley is undoubtedly the most MVP-worthy back in the league entering 2018. He’s coming off a year in which he won offensive player of the year at the age of 23, and in that stacked Rams offense he could be in a position to build on a 2,093-scrimmage-yard, 19-touchdown campaign.
Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (+9000 to win MVP)
Obviously Trubisky is extremely unlikely to win MVP in his second season, but the 2017 No. 2 overall pick could certainly be in a position to break out with a Jared Goff-like 2018 campaign. He’s surrounded by new weapons and should benefit greatly from new head coach Matt Nagy, and there were signs he was coming around late in his quiet rookie campaign.
Considering that Jameis Winston is at +5000, Patrick Mahomes is at +5500 and Blake Bortles is at +6600, +9000 for Trubisky is worth at least a throwaway bet this summer.
Denver Broncos RB Royce Freeman (+1800 to win offensive rookie of the year)
Running backs have actually won three of the last five offensive rookie of the year awards, and it never hurts to look beyond first-round picks in this case. Neither 2013 winner Eddie Lacy nor 2017 winner Alvin Kamara were top-60 draft picks, and 2017 runner-up Kareem Hunt was a third-round selection.
Freeman could be this year’s Kamara or Hunt. The third-rounder out of Oregon is ready to make a huge impact after serving as a four-year starter in the Pac-12, where he went over 1,300 yards on three occasions and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He’s got the frame, the strength and the résumé, and the team’s decision to release C.J. Anderson in April indicates Freeman will have a shot at playing a substantial role right away.
Nine rookies have better OROY odds than he does.
New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (+1000 to win defensive rookie of the year)
It’s fair to wonder if Davenport is a bit of a raw project after recording a mere 8.5 sacks as a senior at Texas-San Antonio, which is why his defensive rookie of the year odds are lower than six first-year players including lower picks Tremaine Edmunds and Derwin James.
But the Saints performed magic in last year’s draft, which resulted in them becoming the first team in half a century to possess both the offensive and defensive player of the year. And they obviously believe Davenport can do big things right off the bat because they sacrificed two first-round picks for the guy.
Saints head coach Sean Payton has stated that he feels the 21-year-old can help the team “right now,” which could give him a chance to compile enough sacks opposite Cameron Jordan to make a strong run at DROY.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon