The NFL season is fast approaching, which means it’s the perfect time to start thinking of your futures wagers. And some of the best futures wagers to be had can be found within the realm of awards for individual players. With that in mind, we’re here to preview the awards for NFL Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year from a betting perspective.
Everyone is holding their collective breaths to some extent in the hope that the NFL season will be able to start on time and that a full season can be played. While that is far from a sure thing, it’s still looking right now that we will see football action this fall. And, if there is football action, betting action can’t be far behind.
Early NFL Futures Betting Action
If you’re anxious to get started now, you can find some potentially lucrative futures wagers available at top betting sites. These bets allow you to speculate on what is going to happen once the games actually take place. And you’re not limited to betting on entire teams.
Last week, we gave you a preview of the future bets for NFL Rookie of the Year awards on both sides of the ball. Today we’ll take a look at the odds for both the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. Top betting sites are already taking wagers on who bettors think will come home with these awards.
As always when it comes to futures wagering, the bets you make will probably be based on what you’re looking to get out of them. For example, if you’re concerned about securing a definite profit, you’ll be looking for the players who seem like the surest things for awards consideration. These might not pay off as much as others on the odds list, but they give you the best chance of walking away with something in return from your wager.
But if you’re the type hoping to score a big payback for a small wager, you’ll want to focus on some of the long shots on the board. You can consider these to be your lottery tickets. Even though they not seem plausible, if they do come in, you’d be looking at a major score.
You can also play a combination of favorites and long shots if you’re trying to cover your bets in every possible manner. The bottom line is that you will never get better odds on these individual awards hopefuls than right now. That’s why it’s important to strike now for the best possible payback later.
In the following article, we’ll give you a preview of the possible winners of the 2020 NFL Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. We’ll take a look at the favorites as well as parsing through some of the best value plays. And, finally, we’ll let you know who we think your bets should be at any possible wagering level.
2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year – Top 10
QB Pat Mahomes, Kansas City (+650)
Mahomes is not the type to rest on his laurels now that he has the richest contract in pro sports history. After his regular season numbers sagged a bit last year following his monstrous 2018, he turned it on in the playoffs and walked away with a Super Bowl title. He is nothing less than the face of the league right now, so it’s understandable that he’d be the favorite.
The Chiefs are still loaded with weapons; if anything, they’ve added to the mix with rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Short of injury, it’s hard to imagine him having anything less than a stellar season. But there’s always the possibility that someone further down the list presents a crazy statistical year that knocks him out of the top spot.
QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (+900)
It is almost inconceivable that Jackson didn’t win this award a year ago. (He was knocked off by Michael Thomas.) All Jackson did was go from major question mark at the beginning of the year to record-breaker for his ridiculous dual threat ability.
There are some concerns that the Titans gave the league a bit of a blueprint to slow down Jackson in the playoffs a year ago. And how much exposure will Jackson get in the running game now that he has proved his value? Those questions make him a less appealing play this year, especially at the relatively low odds.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle (+1200)
Wilson has been so amazingly consistent in his career that it almost works against him in the context of awards. He has never been named Offensive Player of the Year despite starting every game of his seven-year career and averaging 32 touchdown passes to just 10 interceptions per year. And although he doesn’t run nearly as much as he once did, he remains a major threat in that area.
Pete Carroll loves to run the ball, which also means that Wilson isn’t likely to dash off an eye-opening 5,000-yard passing season. And if he did throw more, you might have to wonder if the efficiency would dip. Most likely, Wilson will put up another season similar to all the brilliant ones he’s offered before, and it won’t be enough for this award.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina (+1400)
McCaffrey’s 1,000-yard season rushing and receiving came in the context of a lousy 5-11 season, which probably doomed his chances. Others were able to put up gaudy numbers on good teams. As a result, McCaffrey probably needs the Panthers to be better if he is going to sneak up for the award.
On the one hand, nobody will touch the ball as much out of the backfield (unless Saquon Barkley enjoys a resurgence.) And new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is more the dump-off type, which means the short passes will once again be coming McCaffrey’s way. But another last-place season will probably doom his chances.
RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (+1400)
Barkley missed three games and most of a fourth with an injury a year ago. But even when he was on the field, he was nowhere near the weapon that he was as a rookie. The injury probably had something to do with that, but he was a bit off even before he got hurt.
Barkley certainly has the potential to match what Christian McCaffrey did a year ago. And you can’t call him injury-prone based on one injury, although his frame puts at more risk than McCaffrey. Nonetheless, Barkley needs top draft pick Andrew Thomas to lead a revamped offensive line to much better play for him to have a good shot here.
WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans (+1600)
The biggest thing working against Thomas is the fact that he won this award a year ago. That means that voters are likely going to need to see more from him to give him their votes again. Of course, Thomas’ stats have gone up in all four of his seasons, so maybe that’s not out of the question.
Thomas is aided by the fact that the Saints just haven’t brought in a solid #2 to siphon away some receptions. Emanuel Sanders might be that guy this year if he can stay healthy. If that happens, Thomas’ numbers might dip to just stupendous from otherworldly, which means he isn’t a likely candidate for this award this time around.
RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee (+1800)
It took a few seasons for Tennessee to realize that they needed to go against the grain of committee backfields and simply feed Henry early and often. Once they figured that out, it helped to transform their team. Riding Henry like a back from the 70s, the Titans came just shy of a shocking Super Bowl appearance.
It’s fair to wonder if Henry can continue to do what he’s done for the last year-and-a-half with defenses lining eight men up in the box. If Ryan Tannehill can keep safeties out of the box, Henry will continue to put up serious numbers. But he has to do it mostly on the ground, because he’s rarely on the field I passing situations.
QB Deshaun Watson, Houston (+1800)
There are two ways to view the Watson narrative this year. On the one hand, you could say that he’ll suffer without the security blanker that DeAndre Hopkins has provided. But you could also make the case that, if he puts up similar numbers this year without him, the voters will take more notice.
Watson is certainly an injury risk because most of his running comes on scrambles, where the risk is greater than it is on designed runs. And he’ll need the new receiving corps, which seems deep but is a bit all over the place, to gel. But his talent level is such that he is always a threat in this category.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (+2000)
Elliott’s production level in his four years in the league is undeniable. He is as sure a thing for 1,300 to 1,400 rushing yards as anyone in the league. And his 14 TD scores a year ago were the most since his rookie season.
The big concern from a year ago was how his receiving stats tumbled after the 2018 season, when he had a breakthrough in that area. Dallas has a lot more skill position weapons than they did back in ’18, so it’s not likely that Elliott’s receptions will rebound to those ’18 levels. But he’s still the go-to guy on one of the best offenses in football, which means he can win this award if all breaks right.
QB Kyler Murray, Arizona (+2000)
The belief is that DeAndre Hopkins’ presence will grease the wheels for Kliff Kingsbury to sport an offense more akin to his college squads. Last year the team lacked a go-to threat on the outside. And Hopkins is certainly that, arguably the best receiver in football for the past half-decade.
What all that means is that Kyler Murray will have every opportunity to take a Lamar Jackson-type leap in his second year. The question is whether the Cardinals themselves can take a leap out of the basement of the NFC West. That will need to happen, but it could, and Murray’s breakout could come right along with it.
Long Shots to Win Offensive Player of the Year
RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland (+2500)
Even in the tire fire that was the 2019 Browns season, Chubb was outstanding. If the team straightens things out a bit, those big numbers could become more noticeable. One concern could be Kareem Hunt stealing away some touches.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (+3000)
Awards voters often vote on the story as much as the performance. And Rodgers rising up to have a stellar year in the face of seeming indifference from his team towards him would make a wonderful story. Avid NFL football bettors know not to count him out.
QB Dak Prescott, Dallas (+3000)
Who knows if the Cowboys will give Prescott what he wants in a new contract? What we do know is that he leads the team that led the NFL in total offense and has added some impressive part. The stats should be there.
WR Julio Jones, Atlanta (+3300)
One of these seasons, all the negative touchdown luck that Jones has endured is going to turn around all at once. If it happens this year, before he leaves his prime, the voters could get on board. Certainly, the Falcons will feed him the ball as always.
QB Cam Newton, New England (+4000)
The entire NFL world will be watching if the chemistry between Newton and Bill Belichick gels or combusts. And there is no certainty that Newton will ever get back to where he once was health-wise. But if he can, a repeat win of this award (he did it in 2015) could be in the cards.
2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year – Top 10
DT Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (+700)
There tends to be a lot more constancy in this award compared to the offensive side of the ball. That’s why a guy like Donald, who took this trophy home in both 2017 and 2018, has to be high on the list. Last year, he had a “down” year and still churned out 12.5 sacks.
Donald has always stood out because of his ability to put up gaudy, defensive end-type numbers from the defensive tackle position. Plus, he’s durable, with only six games missed in six seasons. He’s understandably the favorite.
DE Nick Bosa, San Francisco (+900)
Bosa’s rookie year was everything the Niners could have hoped and more. The fact that they ended up in the Super Bowl can probably be traced to his impact on the defense. And you would think that he’d be even better in Year 2, especially considering he was banged up throughout his preseason last year.
There could be more attention on Bosa now that DeForest Buckner is out of the picture. But there are enough threats around him that he shouldn’t get overly crowded by offensive linemen. Besides, he has the talent to overcome double-teams and get his.
DE J.J. Watt, Houston (+1100)
On the one hand, it’s tempting to completely write Watt off because of his age (now 31) and the spate of injuries he’s suffered. In 2018 he played 16 games; in ’16, ’17 and ’19, he played 16 games combined. And there isn’t a great threat on the other side of the line to take pressure off him.
That said, two years ago a healthy Watt reached back for a 16-sack season. Imagining that performance might give you the idea that a fourth Defensive Player of the Year award, which would break the record, isn’t out of the question. Keep an eye on those injury reports.
LB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh (+1100)
Because of his famous older brother, T.J. Watt gets overlooked somewhat on the national scene. That’s too bad, because he has churned out 13 and 14.5 sacks the past two years. His presence has also inspired a breakout from Bud Dupree on the other side of the pass rush, meaning Watt won’t be overly scrutinized by offensive lines.
If you look even closer at his stats, you can see that Watt’s 2019 season was by far his best season to date. His quarterback hits jumped from 21 to 36. Another jump like that, which is possible on a rising defense, could mean joining his brother as a winner of this award.
OLB Khalil Mack, Chicago (+1200)
A defensive lineman in all but name only, Mack’s second season in Chicago was a big drop-off from the splash he made in 2018. But it wasn’t all his fault. A return to health by his bookend Akeem Hicks and the addition of Robert Quinn should make the Bears pass rush much less one-sided.
There is a concern that the absence of Vic Fangio, who seemed to tap into Mack’s abilities like no other coach, was a big reason for his weaker stats. Yet this Bears defense seems stacked once again heading into this year. Whether that gets Mack back to his game-wrecking ways of two years ago remains to be seen.
CB Stephon Gilmore, New England (+1600)
It can be difficult to star on a Bill Belichick defense, where it’s all about the schemes, which are ever-shifting to handle the particular offense they’re playing. But Gilmore has managed to do that in a big way. He is an outstanding shutdown guy with the ability to make plays on the ball.
Gilmore isn’t the self-promoter that a lot of standout cornerbacks have been in the past. But, without Tom Brady on the scene, other might get a little bit more notice, especially if the Pats manage to upend expectations and retain their stranglehold on the AFC East. At 16 to 1, his value isn’t the best, but he won this award a year ago, so there is precedent.
OLB Chandler Jones, Arizona (+1800)
Always a premier quarterback harasser, Jones hit new peaks a year ago. His 19 sacks were a career-high and came up just short of Shaq Barrett for the league lead. What’s amazing is that he did it with little pass-rushing help; no other Cardinal posted more than 5.5 sacks.
Now entering his ninth year, it’s fair to winder if Jones can keep playing at such a high level. It’s also concerning that the Cardinals are picked at the bottom of the NFC West by many prognosticators. That means that good stats might get overshadowed by the team’s performance.
DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland (+1800)
There is a prevailing notion among fans that Garrett has somehow underperformed. Yet you look at his stats and you see that he posted 35 sacks in 37 career games, which is quite impressive. What is true is that he hasn’t been able to transform the Browns defense in the same way that, for example, Khalil Mack did for Chicago two years ago.
Garrett is coming off his suspension for his helmet-wielding incident against Pittsburgh last year. The Browns hope he can maintain his mental focus through what’s sure to be a lot press scrutiny. But that’s a lot to overcome for him to reach award-winning level.
S Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers (+2000)
The fact that the Chargers flailed with James out with injury for much of last year is no big difference. As a rookie, he showed the kind of playmaking that helped transform their defense. With returned health this year, he could easily make that kind of impact again.
It’s been a decade since a safety won this award (Troy Polamalu in 2010.) And Stephon Gilmore’s win last year was the first by a defensive back of any kind since that year. In other words, James has to overcome position bias to have a chance to win here.
DE Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (+2000)
So far the pattern in Bosa’s career has been to follow up a season where he’s banged up with one where he is completely healthy. If that trend holds, this, his fifth season, could be rocky. And any chances of winning an award like this would go right out the window with any missed time.
Bosa set a career-high in quarterback hits a year ago, and the presence of Melvin Ingram on the defense’s other flank ensures him single-blocking most of the time. Although he has always played at an All-Pro level, it remains to be seen whether Nick’s older brother can be transcendent. That’s usually what it takes to win an award like this.
Long Shots to Win Defensive Player of the Year
DE Danielle Hunter, Minnesota (+2500)
Hunter will have to make his impact without Everson Griffen on the other side of the ball. But there are few defensive ends that are quite the completion that Hunter has been in his time in Minnesota. And, having started his career at such a young age, he is still only 25.
LB Darius Leonard, Indianapolis (+3300)
Even in a banged-up sophomore season, Leonard still flashed. He picked off five passes in just 13 games, an amazing total for a linebacker. No one will stuff the stat sheet like him.
DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh (+3300)
Fitzpatrick went from being a forgotten man in Miami to a ball-hawking difference-maker in Pittsburgh. And, with an offseason in place to fully learn the system, he could be even better this time around. He’ll make the flashy plays to get noticed.
DE Bradley Chubb, Denver (+4000)
Early reports are that Chubb’s knee injury is completely mended and he is showing his old explosion in workouts. The difficulty for him, in winning this award, is playing well enough to overshadow his teammate Von Miller. But a 20-sack season isn’t out of the question here.
DE Calais Campbell, Baltimore (+5000)
He is now 34 and has posted double-digit sacks only twice in his career. But he completely transformed the Jaguars defense a few years back upon arrival. A 50 to 1 bet at top NFL betting sites that he can do the same for Baltimore might be worth it.
2020 NFL Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Picks
2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Best Bet: Pat Mahomes
Best Value: Kyler Murray
Best Long Shot: Dak Prescott
2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Best Bet: T.J. Watt
Best Value: Joey Bosa
Best Long Shot: Darius Leonard
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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