2021 Award and Stat Predictions: Living in Patrick Mahomes' World
Andrew: Hello and welcome once again to Scramble for the Ball, where we resume normal scheduling with our traditional feature-length look at the odds we haven't already covered in our team-by-team over/under columns. Instead of picking the Chiefs to be really good and the Jets to be really bad, it's time to pick Patrick Mahomes for MVP, Derrick Henry to pile up the most rushing yards, and Adam Gase to be the first coach fi—wait, Gase isn't a head coach anymore? Well that complicates things.
Bryan: That's right, we're moving from team odds to individual player odds. If you thought we were bad at picking between one of two options, wait until we have 100 to choose from! We've been so successful at this historically that we're back doing it again, as opposed to sitting on a massive pile of our gambling winnings.
Andrew: If you're looking to us for actual NFL betting advice, you might want to check our Lock of the Week records over the past five years before you go any further. This column does not constitute financial advice.
Of course, the fact that we can pick from 100 options on some of these props is itself A) ridiculous and B) more evidence of why the house always wins. Why is Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback who has never had more than two rushing touchdowns in a single regular season, an individual option to lead the league in rushing touchdowns, and not just categorized under "the field?"
Bryan: Think of the story you'll have with that betting ticket! The story of, uh, ripping it up almost immediately now that you have thrown your money down the drain. At +50000, the betting sides will be happy to give you that bet, and equally happy to take your money when it's all over.
Andrew: For purposes of Vince's sanity and your page load times, we're restricting the tables in the nuttiest categories to roughly the top 20 or so names. Rest assured, if we pick some ludicrous longshot (Marquez Callaway to lead the league in receiving touchdowns!), we (a.k.a. Bryan) will link you to the full list so that you can confirm the craziness.
Bryan: As a reminder, for each prop, we're picking three players. The first is the player we think is most likely to win the category, regardless of the odds given. The second is the player we think is the best bet—the best value for your money. And our third is our favorite longshot, someone with long odds that we think could well end up surprising people, if the chips fall the right way.
Editors' Note: These lines fluctuate quite regularly, and can differ from site to site. These specific odds all come from either Draft Kings or Bovada, and were all correct as of time of writing.
Player Stat Props
MOST PASSING YARDS
|Patrick Mahomes||+350||Baker Mayfield||+4000||Jalen Hurts||+10000|
|Dak Prescott||+600||Derek Carr||+4000||Zach Wilson||+10000|
|Tom Brady||+650||Kyler Murray||+4000||Jimmy Garoppolo||+13000|
|Josh Allen||+850||Sam Darnold||+5000||Lamar Jackson||+15000|
|Matthew Stafford||+1200||Tua Tagovailoa||+5000||Trey Lance||+20000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+1400||Trevor Lawrence||+5000||Andy Dalton||+25000|
|Justin Herbert||+1400||Ben Roethlisberger||+5000||Cam Newton||+25000|
|Matt Ryan||+1400||Jared Goff||+5000||Justin Fields||+25000|
|Russell Wilson||+2000||Ryan Fitzpatrick||+5000||Mac Jones||+30000|
|Joe Burrow||+2500||Daniel Jones||+8000||Tyrod Taylor||+40000|
|Jameis Winston||+2500||Carson Wentz||+8000||Davis Mills||+50000|
|Ryan Tannehill||+2800||Teddy Bridgewater||+8000||Taysom Hill||+50000|
|Kirk Cousins||+2800||Drew Lock||+10000|
Bryan: And now, what will be a ritual for the rest of the decade: opening up this article by mentioning that Patrick Mahomes is very good at his job.
Andrew: You heard it here first, folks.
Bryan: Actually, you kind of did hear it here ... well, not first, but you're probably still riding high from picking Mahomes in a bunch of these categories back in 2018, his first season as a starter.
Andrew: That's true, and I'd like to thank you for reminding our audience of that, saving me the trouble. There's a wee interesting trend here, however, that I think is worth mentioning specifically in this category. Mahomes would, in fact, not be my pick here, and I don't think he's good value at all at +350.
Sure, from 2016 to 2018 the league leaders in this category were three of the best quarterbacks in recent football history (Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger). But Brees led the league in a playoff-less 7-9 season featuring one of the worst defenses in league history; Brady's 4,577 yards in 2017 were the lowest total to lead the league since 2006; Roethlisberger was hauling a less-than-stellar Steelers team to 9-6-1; and the past two leaders have come in the form of a 7-9 season from Jameis Winston and a 4-12 season from Deshaun Watson. This isn't Peyton Manning and the 2013 Broncos anymore. We're not looking for the best quarterback on the best team in the league; we're looking for somebody who'll be dragging the franchise on his back, and that's not quite what I expect from the Chiefs.
Bryan: I very much endorse this policy of overthinking things, and am curious as to who you do have as your favorite to lead the league. I am taking Mahomes; he's the only player our KUBIAK projections have cresting the 5,000-yard mark, but your argument is at the very least intriguing. Dragging a franchise, huh ... you're not going with Matthew Stafford, are you?
Andrew: Stafford won't need to drag the Rams anywhere. I would have considered him if he was still in Detroit, and I've touted him a few times in these columns, but I don't think he's good value in Los Angeles. Your question is a good one, though. I'm really not sure who my actual favorite would be. Prescott looks a decent bet, because that Cowboys defense was horrendous last year and he gets a few tasty matchups. Justin Herbert and Matt Ryan are very inviting down there at +1400 because both of those guys are on teams where defense is more aspirational than actual.
Bryan: Herbert is my pick for best value. The Chargers have sworn that they're going to implement a higher-pace, no-huddle type offense, which should give Herbert more opportunities to throw the ball. I know, I know, Brandon Staley is going to come in and fix the defense and it's all gonna be perfect after one year. Bah. They'll be involved in more of their fair share of shootouts, and Herbert has a real shot at hitting 5,000 yards.
Andrew: Russell Wilson would probably be my favorite if Pete Carroll would ever actually just let him do his thing, and Joe Burrow will be throwing a ton with a very decent receiver group on a very bad team. Then there's Trevor Lawrence. I've already expressed my high opinion of the potential receiving group there, and the Jaguars are very, very bad. If he wasn't a rookie, he'd be very high on my list of possibilities.
You're probably right, I'm probably overthinking things. Mahomes is the favorite, but Dak Prescott is my favorite. If you get Herbert for best value, I get Matt Ryan. And I'll snag Joe Burrow as my longshot, because the Bengals are going to be very bad indeed and his receivers are much better than I think most casual observers realize.
Bryan: I'm dipping a little further down the table for my longshot, though I'm sticking in the same division. He's a former league leader in this category! He's an extra year removed from extensive elbow surgery! He has been pushing the ball down the field in preseason! He's at +5000 odds! Let's give it up for Ben Roethlisberger! And I'll look like an idiot in October when his arm falls off.
|Andrew||Dak Prescott (+600)||Matt Ryan (+1400)||Joe Burrow (+2500)|
|Bryan||Patrick Mahomes (+350)||Justin Herbert (+1400)||Ben Roethlisberger (+5000)|
MOST PASSING TOUCHDOWNS
|Patrick Mahomes||+330||Ryan Tannehill||+2000||Zach Wilson||+6500|
|Tom Brady||+500||Derek Carr||+3500||Teddy Bridgewater||+6500|
|Josh Allen||+750||Kyler Murray||+3500||Jalen Hurts||+8000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+800||Trevor Lawrence||+3500||Jared Goff||+8000|
|Russell Wilson||+900||Jameis Winston||+3500||Justin Fields||+10000|
|Dak Prescott||+1200||Ben Roethlisberger||+4000||Tyrod Taylor||+10000|
|Matt Ryan||+1600||Lamar Jackson||+4000||Trey Lance||+15000|
|Justin Herbert||+1800||Carson Wentz||+5000||Cam Newton||+20000|
|Matthew Stafford||+1800||Daniel Jones||+5000||Drew Lock||+25000|
|Baker Mayfield||+2000||Ryan Fitzpatrick||+5000||Mac Jones||+25000|
|Kirk Cousins||+2000||Sam Darnold||+5000||Taysom Hill||+25000|
|Joe Burrow||+2000||Tua Tagovailoa||+5000|
Bryan: I am surprised Aaron Rodgers is so low on the list, comparatively speaking. He led the league with 48 touchdowns a year ago; no one else had more than 40. Some residual "maybe he won't play, and we don't want to update our rankings" fatigue? An acknowledgment that he's turning 38 years old and could see age hit him like a brick wall? Maybe, but he was a big enough leader last year that you'd have to really sell me on not having him as the favorite going in. It's not like his offense was disassembled this offseason or anything!
Andrew: Aaron Rodgers is a great shout, and solid value at +800. He and Davante Adams will be my go-to pairing for passing/receiving touchdowns as long as they play together, whether in Green Bay or (cough) Denver next year. I also like Tom Brady in this category, because I think Giovani Bernard adds a dimension to that offense that they were missing last year. Honestly, I'm slightly surprised they didn't bring in James White instead, but Bernard is a good fit for that role. However, Rodgers is the better value and the better candidate.
Bryan: I'm going to be a little boring here by repeating my value and longshot bets from the passing yards category, going with Justin Herbert and Ben Roethlisberger, respectively. If they get enough volume to do well in passing yards, they should have similarly solid seasons in touchdowns. It's not like running backs or receivers, where you have goal-line specialists (quiet down, Kyle Shanahan, I hear you). If I like a player to put up volume passing, I like them here too.
Andrew: I certainly think that's reasonable. Really, I think the best value is all in the top five, so I'll nab Russell Wilson as best value even though he has only marginally longer odds than Rodgers. Sure, Pete Carroll's philosophy is to pound the rock as much as possible, but Wilson will end up having to bail him out a ton, and he has the targets to do so.
My longshot's also drawing from the same well as my yardage leaders: Joe Burrow will have to throw a ton, the receivers are good, and the line really isn't.
|Andrew||Aaron Rodgers (+800)||Russell Wilson (+900)||Joe Burrow (+2000)|
|Bryan||Aaron Rodgers (+800)||Justin Herbert (+1800)||Ben Roethlisberger (+4000)|
MOST RUSHING YARDS
|Derrick Henry||+350||David Montgomery||+3000||Jalen Hurts||+10000|
|Dalvin Cook||+550||Lamar Jackson||+3500||Melvin Gordon||+10000|
|Nick Chubb||+700||Darrell Henderson||+3500||Kyler Murray||+10000|
|Jonathan Taylor||+900||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||+3500||Tony Pollard||+10000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+1000||Miles Sanders||+3500||Kenyan Drake||+10000|
|Saquon Barkley||+1200||D'Andre Swift||+4000||Raheem Mostert||+10000|
|Ezekiel Elliott||+1600||Mike Davis||+4000||Phillip Lindsay||+10000|
|Antonio Gibson||+1800||Alvin Kamara||+4000||David Johnson||+10000|
|Gus Edwards||+2000||Damien Harris||+4000||Zack Moss||+10000|
|Joe Mixon||+2200||Austin Ekeler||+5000||Trey Sermon||+10000|
|Aaron Jones||+2200||Javonte Williams||+6000||Michael Carter||+10000|
|Chris Carson||+2500||Ronald Jones||+8000||Alexander Mattison||+10000|
|James Robinson||+2500||Kareem Hunt||+8000||A.J. Dillon||+10000|
|Najee Harris||+2800||Chase Edmonds||+8000||James Conner||+10000|
|Sony Michel||+3000||Myles Gaskin||+8000||Leonard Fournette||+10000|
Bryan: The question for me here isn't whether or not Derrick Henry is the favorite, it's whether anyone else has enough of a chance to be considered a value, and not just a pool of longshot odds. Only one other player is projected by KUBIAK to be within 70 carries of Henry in 2021, Dalvin Cook. Henry's projected volume is from a bygone age, Curse of 370 or no Curse of 370.
Andrew: Yeah, it's notable that in four of the past five seasons, the rushing yardage champion has also been the league leader in rushing attempts. The only argument against Henry is that he'll break down eventually. I won't be betting on that happening this year. Henry's the pick.
Bryan: Henry's my value pick as well, but I can't make him my longshot and go three-for-three; that's not how longshots work. Instead I'm going with someone who did not have odds when I first put together our tables last week: Gus Edwards. J.K. Dobbins is probably the biggest name to get injured this preseason, and while that's terrible news for him, the Ravens do have a solid replacement as a rusher ready to plug in. Edwards actually had more carries than Dobbins last year as it was, and I like him to keep a higher share of those carries splitting time with Ty'Son Williams or Justice Hill. Plus, having Lamar Jackson running RPOs is a cheat code for running back value. Edwards has averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in each of his three years in the league, and ranked seventh among running backs there last year. Opportunity knocks.
Andrew: I quite like Nick Chubb as a value pick, because I expect the Browns to be better than they were last year, and that should mean more second-half rushing. It's not just about record; in a lot of their wins last year, they didn't really have the option to just sit on a lead like the top teams can. Chubb can hurt teams whether grinding the clock or running the normal offense, and doubling up the odds compared to Henry is enough to swing me that way.
There are three running backs from last year's 1,000-yard club who can reasonably be described as longshots for this year: David Montgomery, James Robinson, and Josh Jacobs. Of those three, Jacobs had the lowest tally a year ago, but I give him the best chance to get the volume he needs to break into the top five this time around. I don't think the Raiders will do much more than exist in the standings, but that's better than I expect from the Bears and Jaguars. Jacobs will need to do a little more with his carries this season, but the opportunity is a little more open for him compared to the other longshots.
|Andrew||Derrick Henry (+350)||Nick Chubb (+700)||Josh Jacobs (+3000)|
|Bryan||Derrick Henry (+350)||Derrick Henry (+350)||Gus Edwards (+2000)|
MOST RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS
|Derrick Henry||+450||Sony Michel||+3500||Austin Ekeler||+6500|
|Dalvin Cook||+450||Jalen Hurts||+3500||Taysom Hill||+8000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+800||Damien Harris||+3500||Myles Gaskin||+10000|
|Johnathan Taylor||+800||Miles Sanders||+4000||Melvin Gordon||+10000|
|Nick Chubb||+800||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||+4000||Malcolm Brown||+10000|
|Alvin Kamara||+1400||Joe Mixon||+4000||Cam Newton||+10000|
|Ezekiel Elliott||+1400||D'Andre Swift||+4000||Zack Moss||+10000|
|Aaron Jones||+1800||Najee Harris||+4000||Leonard Fournette||+10000|
|Antonio Gibson||+1800||Josh Allen||+5000||Raheem Mostert||+10000|
|Saquon Barkley||+1800||David Montgomery||+5000||Latavius Murray||+10000|
|Gus Edwards||+2200||Chase Edmonds||+5000||Tua Tagovailoa||+10000|
|James Robinson||+2500||Javonte Williams||+5000||Trey Sermon||+10000|
|Josh Jacobs||+2800||Lamar Jackson||+5000||Jamaal Williams||+10000|
|Chris Carson||+2800||Ronald Jones||+6000||Phillip Lindsay||+10000|
|Kyler Murray||+2800||Kareem Hunt||+6000||Kenyan Drake||+10000|
|Darrell Henderson||+3000||James Conner||+6500||AJ Dillon||+10000|
Bryan: Henry also led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2020, but this is a much closer and more interesting race. Losing Jonnu Smith might affect some Titans red zone play calling in Henry's favor, but this is far from a walk.
Andrew: Looking at last year's top three, we can scratch Alvin Kamara right out of there. He's not getting another six-touchdown day against the Vikings, and he had 10 touchdowns across his other 14 games. That's good, but not league-leading good.
Bryan: Kamara did lead the league in rushing touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line with 11, but you're right; that was because of the Christmas Miracle, and isn't exactly likely to be repeated.
A lot of this boils down to opportunity, and to which coaches like tapping their backs when they get to the goal line. Last year, Dalvin Cook led all running backs with 26 carries inside the 5-yard line and had 10 touchdowns of his own, more than Henry managed at point-blank range. Considering the Vikings don't have three-wide packages to speak of, and Irv Smith just got hurt, and Alexander Mattison doesn't get a heck of a lot of work as Minnesota's RB2. I think Cook's my favorite here.
Andrew: This is the other place where Henry is my favorite, as the obvious pick. A new offensive coordinator with the best power back in the game will want to prove his boys can get that done. It's a boring pick, but it's the right one.
Bryan: My value pick is going to be Ezekiel Elliott, coming off of a career-low six touchdowns. It turns out that offenses are less effective when you have Andy Dalton under center (yes, I hear you Matt Nagy, we'll get to you later, too). Zeke still tied Cook with 26 carries inside the 5-yard line; they were just less effective because everyone and their brother knew that was all Dallas could do. Open up the threat of a pass or two, and lanes should become a little easier for Elliott to find.
Andrew: Value is way more interesting. It took Jonathan Taylor a wee while to establish himself as the top back in Indianapolis, even after they lost Marlon Mack. But those final four weeks of 2020 look very tasty indeed ahead of this season, and we also have a team that might not trust their current quarterbacks quite as much as they did Philip Rivers.
Bryan: Here is where I agree with your Josh Jacobs longshot, just in terms of getting into the red zone rather than churning up yards in general. Jacobs had 21 carries inside the 5-yard line, fourth-most among running backs. He only converted them into six touchdowns, but the volume is there. Kenyan Drake isn't exactly a goal-line thumper. If Jacobs can be a little more efficient, he can turn more of those carries into scores. And heck, he jumped from seven to 12 touchdowns last season; it's not like I'm taking someone with no track record of success. Get that 51% success rate up a few points and you could well have a league-leader.
Andrew: I'm torn between Jacobs and Mike Davis of the Falcons for my longshot pick, but ultimately I do think that volume wins out. That means I'm picking Jacobs again. Man, this is way more than I thought I would mention him in this article.
Bryan: It's OK, Andrew; you don't have to hide your eyepatch and spiky shoulder pads. This is a Raiders-accepting zone.
|Andrew||Derrick Henry (+450)||Jonathan Taylor (+800)||Josh Jacobs (+2800)|
|Bryan||Dalvin Cook (+450)||Ezekiel Elliott (+1400)||Josh Jacobs (+2800)|
MOST RECEIVING YARDS
|Calvin Ridley||+750||Kenny Golladay||+3500||Alvin Kamara||+10000|
|Justin Jefferson||+850||Darren Waller||+3500||Deebo Samuel||+10000|
|Stefon Diggs||+850||Tee Higgins||+3500||Parris Campbell||+10000|
|Tyreek Hill||+900||Ja'Marr Chase||+3500||Tyler Boyd||+10000|
|Davante Adams||+900||Robert Woods||+4000||DeVonta Smith||+10000|
|DeAndre Hopkins||+1000||Diontae Johnson||+4000||Jaylen Waddle||+10000|
|DK Metcalf||+1200||Will Fuller V||+4000||T.J Hockenson||+10000|
|Travis Kelce||+1300||Courtland Sutton||+5000||Darnell Mooney||+10000|
|A.J. Brown||+1500||Jerry Jeudy||+5000||Antonio Brown||+10000|
|DJ Moore||+1600||Tyler Lockett||+5000||Marvin Jones||+10000|
|Amari Cooper||+1800||George Kittle||+5000||Kyle Pitts||+10000|
|Terry McLaurin||+1900||Adam Thielen||+5000||Rashod Bateman||+10000|
|Allen Robinson||+2000||Robby Anderson||+5000||Emmanuel Sanders||+10000|
|Keenan Allen||+2200||Chase Claypool||+6500||Denzel Mims||+10000|
|Mike Evans||+2500||Brandin Cooks||+6500||Mecole Hardman||+10000|
|Michael Thomas||+2500||Michael Gallup||+8000||Hunter Henry||+10000|
|CeeDee Lamb||+2500||DJ Chark||+8000||Tre'Quan Smith||+10000|
|Chris Godwin||+2500||Jarvis Landry||+8000||Henry Ruggs III||+10000|
|Julio Jones||+2800||Corey Davis||+8000||Russell Gage||+10000|
|Odell Beckham||+3500||Brandon Aiyuk||+8000||A.J Green||+10000|
|Cooper Kupp||+3500||Mike Williams||+8000|
Andrew: I mentioned above that I would be betting on Rodgers and Davante Adams as long as they were playing together, and that applies here, even accounting for the players above them on the table. I don't expect either Stefon Diggs or Justin Jefferson to replicate their totals from a year ago, for slightly different reasons. Calvin Ridley's the house favorite purely because Julio Jones is no longer in town; it's oversimplifying things to say that Jones moving on automatically bumps Ridley to league-leading value. Adams is the clear and unquestioned best receiver on his own team, streets ahead of the other options, and his quarterback's best buddy. He's by far my favorite among the top five.
Bryan: I'm surprised neither of us even mentioned Josh Allen in the passing section, considering how much volume the Bills' offense generated last year. It turns out, if you always pass the ball, you get a lot of passing yards. That's the kind of advanced statistical analysis you have come to expect from Football Outsiders. I am going to side with Stefon Diggs as my favorite, even though he has been nursing a sore knee. He's obviously great, the Bills want to throw the ball a ton, and Diggs is the least likely Buffalo receiver to miss any time. Check, check, check.
But speaking of teams that throw the ball a ton, I'm going to go with Travis Kelce as my best value pick. Picking any tight end here is iffy, but by DYAR, Kelce was actually the league's top slot receiver in 2020. The Chiefs are also down a weapon in their passing attack with Sammy Watkins out of town. Patrick Mahomes is the kind of guy who could probably will a can of potato chips into a great offensive performance (hiya, Byron Pringle!), but Kelce was already second in the league in receiving yards with Watkins in the lineup. A tight end hasn't led the league in receiving yards since the 1970s, and that's only if you count Harold Carmichael, who was more of a wideout by 1973. Kelce could easily take home the honors here.
Andrew: I'm possibly going too homeristic with my next two picks, though homeristic in the London sense, not the Saints sense. Ex-Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson had another 1,000-yard season catching passes from dud quarterbacks last year, the third of his career so far. He hasn't quite scaled the heights of 2015 again, when he racked up 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns catching the wayward flings of Blake Bortles, but even a washed-up Andy Dalton can chuck the ball in the general direction of a good receiver, and Robinson might get to play with Justin Fields later in the year. A top-10 finish last year, with Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, only further enhances Robinson's resume.
Bryan: We have already mentioned my longshot pick, a new face in a new place—Julio Jones. He has been ramping up slowly as he returns from injury, both specific (a new leg problem) and general (a zillion things from 2020). With Jonnu Smith out of town, the Titans really only have two legitimate pass-catching options in Jones and A.J. Brown, and Brown is recovering from knee surgeries of his own. The chance for volume for Jones is there, if he's healthy, and a healthy Julio is one of the best wideouts in the league.
Andrew: My longest of longshot picks is a current Jaguars receiver, and by far the top target on the current roster. DJ Chark had 1,000 yards in 2019 as the favorite target of Gardner Minshew, but fell to 700 last time out with the calamitous cast under center. Now he gets to play with a legitimate starting quarterback for the first time as a professional, and I like this to be a proper breakout season for the former LSU wideout.
|Andrew||Davante Adams (+900)||Allen Robinson (+2000)||DJ Chark (+8000)|
|Bryan||Stefon Diggs (+850)||Travis Kelce (+1300)||Julio Jones (+2800)|
MOST RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS
|Davante Adams||+700||Robert Woods||+4000||Marquise Brown||+6500|
|Tyreek Hill||+800||Robert Tonyan||+4000||T.J. Hockenson||+6500|
|Calvin Ridley||+900||Diontae Johnson||+4000||Brandon Aiyuk||+6500|
|Travis Kelce||+1000||Tee Higgins||+4000||Jerry Jeudy||+6500|
|Adam Thielen||+1200||Keenan Allen||+4000||Deebo Samuel||+8000|
|Mike Evans||+1400||Antonio Brown||+4000||Dawson Knox||+8000|
|DK Metcalf||+1400||Cooper Kupp||+4000||Mecole Hardman||+8000|
|Justin Jefferson||+1400||Odell Beckham||+5000||Robby Anderson||+8000|
|DeAndre Hopkins||+1600||D.J. Moore||+5000||Mike Gesicki||+8000|
|Stefon Diggs||+1600||Courtland Sutton||+5000||Brandin Cooks||+8000|
|Amari Cooper||+2000||Marvin Jones||+5000||Sterling Shepherd||+10000|
|A.J. Brown||+2000||Michael Gallup||+5000||T.Y. Hilton||+10000|
|Tyler Lockett||+2000||Chase Claypool||+5000||Jarvis Landry||+10000|
|Darren Waller||+2800||Kenny Golladay||+5000||Zach Ertz||+10000|
|Chris Godwin||+2800||Mike Williams||+5000||Blake Jarwin||+10000|
|Ceedee Lamb||+3000||Will Fuller||+5000||Jaylen Waddle||+10000|
|Julio Jones||+3500||Tyler Higbee||+6500||Michael Pittman||+10000|
|Michael Thomas||+3500||Rob Gronkowski||+6500||Hunter Henry||+10000|
|Allen Robinson||+3500||George Kittle||+6500||Jonnu Smith||+10000|
|Kyle Pitts||+3500||Gabriel Davis||+6500||Marquez Valdes-Scantling||+10000|
|Ja'Marr Chase||+3500||DJ Chark||+6500||Irv Smith||+10000|
|Terry McLaurin||+4000||Juju Smith-Schuster||+6500||Nelson Agholor||+10000|
|Mark Andrews||+4000||Devonta Smith||+6500||Cole Beasley||+10000|
Andrew: Again, I've already given the game away here, but the favorite is the incumbent title holder: Davante Adams is the clear top option on his own team, and his league-leading total was 20% higher than second-placed Tyreek Hill. The value isn't great, but he's the favorite for good reason.
Bryan: Firmly seconded. Davante Adams is your favorite here, and really should be getting higher odds than +700. I'm not saying he's my value pick or anything crazy like that, but there's a gap between what he should produce and what the rest of the league is doing.
Andrew: For value, I kinda like DeAndre Hopkins. Despite the impressive yardage, I don't think the Cardinals truly figured out what to do with him after bringing him in last year. Another season with both Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury will see them develop more of a rapport, and he'll become more of a threat at the goal line as a result. Hopkins led the league with 13 touchdowns (admittedly a relatively low league-leading total) in 2017, and that's the kind of threat he brings if he's used correctly.
Bryan: I'm sticking with Travis Kelce as my value pick, for most of the reasons outlined above. Now, Kelce's 11 touchdowns last year were a career high, and I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that the leader here is going to have a few more than 11 touchdowns. But of all the people with four-digit odds, I think he has the biggest potential for going off on a monster year inside the red zone.
Andrew: I don't even really know where to go for a longshot pick. The guys with the strong track records are naturally near the top of the table, and no, my Marquez Callaway pick earlier was not exactly serious. A.J. Brown may be a bit undervalued due to the presence of Jones; Jones has never really been a touchdown machine, and Brown is the one with the established rapport with his quarterback. Is +2000 even a longshot though, when my value pick is +1600? Give me something from deeper in the pool, and let's double down on a guy I really like in a situation I really don't. Allen Robinson at +3500 is definitely a longshot, but at least he could be one with a slight chance of coming through.
Bryan: My longshot is going to be Keenan Allen. He's the potential beneficiary of all that increased volume from the rumored up-tempo Chargers offense, and he doesn't really have any competition on Los Angeles' roster on intermediate targets. Hunter Henry's departure also means that someone is going to have to make up for those touches, and who better than Allen, arguably the most consistently productive receiver over the past four years? Besides, at least one of us should creep into the second column for our longshot, and I'll bite that proverbial bullet.
|Andrew||Davante Adams (+700)||DeAndre Hopkins (+1600)||Allen Robinson (+3500)|
|Bryan||Davante Adams (+700)||Travis Kelce (+1000)||Keenan Allen (+4000)|
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
|Most Valuable Player|
|Patrick Mahomes||+500||Jameis Winston||+4000||TJ Watt||+10000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+1000||Joe Burrow||+4000||Jacoby Brissett||+10000|
|Josh Allen||+1200||Christian McCaffrey||+4000||Saquon Barkley||+10000|
|Russell Wilson||+1400||Derrick Henry||+5000||Nick Chubb||+10000|
|Tom Brady||+1400||Carson Wentz||+5000||Jonathan Taylor||+10000|
|Lamar Jackson||+1600||Jalen Hurts||+6500||Raheem Mostert||+10000|
|Kyler Murray||+1600||Derek Carr||+6500||Daniel Jones||+10000|
|Dak Prescott||+1800||D'Andre Swift||+6500||Trevor Lawrence||+10000|
|Matthew Stafford||+1800||Drew Lock||+6500||Davante Adams||+10000|
|Justin Herbert||+1800||Jimmy Garoppolo||+6500||Jared Goff||+10000|
|Ryan Tannehill||+2800||Dalvin Cook||+6500||DeAndre Hopkins||+10000|
|DeShaun Watson||+3500||Cam Newton||+6500||Trey Lance||+10000|
|Matt Ryan||+3500||Sam Darnold||+6500||Taysom Hill||+10000|
|Baker Mayfield||+3500||Ben Roethlisberger||+8000||Michael Thomas||+10000|
|Kirk Cousins||+3500||Alvin Kamara||+8000||Ezekiel Elliott||+10000|
|Tua Tagovailoa||+4000||Antonio Gibson||+8000||Aaron Donald||+10000|
Bryan: The last 10 years have seen nine quarterbacks win this award. The one exception was Adrian Peterson back in 2012, oh so long ago. Is it even worth our time to consider anyone but a passer for this award, even at the longest of longshots? If a 2,000-yard season from Derrick Henry isn't enough to win this award, is there anything a running back can do nowadays? Never mind a receiver, or the monster season a T.J. Watt or Aaron Donald would need to even garner consideration.
Andrew: It's easy to lose sight of just how monstrous that Peterson season was. Peterson averaged over 130 yards per game in dragging an offense quarterbacked by Christian Ponder (totaling under 3,000 yards passing all year), with Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins as its starting receivers, to the postseason. Derrick Henry had a great season last year, but making the playoffs with Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith isn't quite the same level of achievement. What Peterson did would be more like a running back carrying last year's Eagles to 10-6. Yes, I think that running back would still win MVP.
Bryan: Even then, I imagine the voters today will get wowed by a 5,000-yard season and go in that general direction, but I suppose we shouldn't slam the door entirely on the possibility of a back running his way into contention. I'd be very, very surprised, mind you, but it's not impossible. I guess!
For me, the favorite here is Patrick Mahomes, and then I have to decide if he's at least two times as likely to win the award as Aaron Rodgers. I don't think I can safely say that about anyone, so I'll take Mahomes for my favorite and Rodgers for my value. Battle of two of the last three MVPs! ... Sorry, Lamar.
Andrew: For me, the Chiefs are the team most likely to finish with the NFL's best record at the end of the year, and the quarterback of the team with the best record is always likely to be in the conversation. Again, Mahomes is the runaway favorite for a reason. I like the value on Rodgers, but I like him a little less as the incumbent on a Packers team that may decline a bit this year. Whereas I think some of last February's shine will linger around one Thomas E. Brady, especially if the Buccaneers perform as expected and run away with their first NFC South title since the (G.W.) Bush administration.
Bryan: I like the Brady pick. I'd argue there might be some Brady fatigue there but, well, Rodgers has also won the dang thing three times now, so that argument doesn't really hold water!
My longshot is Dak Prescott. We'll talk about him more in a later award, but I think Prescott's case would be pretty clear. If the Cowboys are as good this year as we thought they would be in 2020 before Prescott's injury, then the argument isn't hard to make—Cowboys bad without Prescott, good with him. Hard to concoct a more telling depiction of value than missing time and watching everything catch on fire. It's a longshot because there's no guarantee that Prescott will be back to his normal self in 2021, and there's no guarantee the Cowboys will be good even if he is, but it's a logical story you could tell, and stories do end up winning awards a lot of the time.
Andrew: Prescott and Stafford are about the longest odds that I think are in any way realistic, and of those you definitely state the superior case. It's pretty clear that a healthy Cowboys squad should be the best team in that division, and if that isn't the case then the coach is likely to get plenty of blame. There's also a case to be made for Ryan Tannehill's chances in the event of an injury to Derrick Henry, but I'm not one for betting on injury outcomes. It's boring when we agree, but Dak Prescott is the correct choice.
|Andrew||Patrick Mahomes (+500)||Tom Brady (+1400)||Dak Prescott (+1800)|
|Bryan||Patrick Mahomes (+500)||Aaron Rodgers (+1000)||Dak Prescott (+1800)|
COACH OF THE YEAR
|Coach of the Year|
|Brandon Staley||+1000||Sean McVay||+1800||Mike Vrabel||+3000|
|Bill Belichick||+1200||Matt LaFleur||+1800||Mike Zimmer||+3500|
|Urban Meyer||+1400||Mike McCarthy||+2000||Jon Gruden||+3500|
|Arthur Smith||+1400||Robert Saleh||+2000||John Harbaugh||+3500|
|Kyle Shanahan||+1400||Ron Rivera||+2000||Nick Sirianni||+3500|
|Matt Rhule||+1600||Kevin Stefanski||+2000||Mike Tomlin||+4000|
|Brian Flores||+1600||Joe Judge||+2200||Pete Carroll||+4000|
|Vic Fangio||+1600||Matt Nagy||+2200||Zac Taylor||+4000|
|Kliff Kingsbury||+1800||Frank Reich||+2500||Dan Campbell||+4000|
|Sean Payton||+1800||Andy Reid||+2800||David Culley||+6500|
|Sean McDermott||+1800||Bruce Arians||+3000|
Andrew: Which bad team from last year is likely to be half-decent this year? Hoo boy, I do not like the top of this list.
Bryan: Giving Brandon Staley the best odds is a little like putting the cart before the horse; we don't know if the Chargers will be good yet. Giving Urban Meyer the third-best odds is a little like putting the cart before a second, equally immobile cart.
Andrew: Right. If the Jaguars are any good, the credit will go to Trevor Lawrence, not Meyer. Meyer is already attracting a degree of criticism for the way the Jaguars are operating under his stewardship, and I suspect success for Lawrence will be seen as a can't-miss talent overcoming Meyer, not Meyer himself doing a good job. I don't see how Arthur Smith can have the sort of results with the Falcons that will earn him the award either, and a Matt Rhule winning bet relies entirely too much on Sam Darnold for my liking.
Bryan: Why not, then, go with the consensus best coach in the league? If this award truly went to the best coach every year, then Bill Belichick would have way more than his three awards, the last of which came in 2010. There was voter fatigue after a while; things got too easy for the Patriots, and it made other choices far more tempting for much of the last decade.
Andrew: A first winning season without Brady would seem to provide that extra impetus Belichick might need. That was true even before news broke that he would be trying to achieve that with a rookie quarterback. I don't know that I'd make Belichick my favorite, but he's my favorite among the bookies' favorites, and the Mac Jones news only makes me like that pick more. In a similar vein, my value pick is one of the many Seans that pad out the +1800 odds. If the Saints can somehow compete with the Buccaneers for the NFC South title, or even make a strong play at a wild-card berth to begin the post-Drew Brees era, and Payton can make a legitimate success out of Jameis Winston, all the pieces are in place for a coach of the year award to follow.
Bryan: I, too, glanced at the Sean Zone for quite some time. And then I, too, made the homer pick for my best bet. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two drives in the 49ers-Raiders preseason game, with Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance rotating and steamrolling over the outmatched Las Vegas backups. Ending the drives with two rushing touchdowns from two different quarterbacks? I'm all in on the 1927 San Francisco 49ers, thank you very much. If that offense takes off, is fun and successful all year long, and the 49ers win the division, I think Kyle Shanahan gets a lot of credit for managing the quarterback situation. Assuming, of course, he's alive at the end of the season, which no one can guarantee. At the least, it's more attention-grabbing than sending out Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers and winning football games!
My longshot is John Harbaugh, completing my trifecta of established coaches. The AFC North is considered a hell of a slugfest between last year's champion Steelers, the up-and-coming Browns, and the Ravens. If Harbaugh and Baltimore come through there, they have a real shot—especially if they're flirting with perfection. After all, we said that the Ravens were one of the few teams with a chance in every game, with their hardest matchups on the road. If they're 14-3, 15-2, 16-1 ... well, it's a longshot, but his chances are better than anyone else in that third column.
Andrew: My longshot is Bruce Arians. I don't quite understand how a Super Bowl champion that didn't win their division last year, and should steamroll that division this year, isn't among the favorites. Sure, there would be a little bit of too-late amends for 2020 coming into play, but that's exactly why I like the value. A potential 13-4 Buccaneers team coming off a Super Bowl year would make the popular Arians a very, very strong candidate.
|Andrew||Bill Belichick (+1200)||Sean Payton (+1800)||Bruce Arians (+3000)|
|Bryan||Bill Belichick (+1200)||Kyle Shanahan (+1400)||John Harbaugh (+3500)|
FIRST COACH TO LOSE JOB
|First Coach to Lose Job|
|Matt Nagy||+700||Frank Reich||+2000||Brandon Staley||+5000|
|Mike Zimmer||+700||John Harbaugh||+2000||Mike Tomlin||+6600|
|Zac Taylor||+800||Brian Flores||+2000||Nick Sirianni||+6600|
|Vic Fangio||+900||Sean McVay||+2500||Urban Meyer||+6600|
|Jon Gruden||+1000||Sean Payton||+2500||Robert Saleh||+8000|
|Mike McCarthy||+1200||Kyle Shanahan||+2500||Kevin Stefanski||+8000|
|David Culley||+1400||Pete Carroll||+2500||Sean McDermott||+10000|
|Kliff Kingsbury||+1400||Ron Rivera||+2800||Bill Belichick||+10000|
|Matt LaFleur||+1600||Dan Campbell||+2800||Bruce Arians||+10000|
|Matt Rhule||+1600||Arthur Smith||+3300||Andy Reid||+10000|
|Mike Vrabel||+1600||Joe Judge||+3300|
Andrew: Can I just pick Matt Nagy in all three categories? I know he's not a longshot, but this is the only thing he's winning this season.
Bryan: I'm with you on Nagy being the favorite, and by a wide, wide margin. And I could even get behind you on taking him as the best value at +700, though I think there are at least some other names who could come into play.
Andrew: His price isn't great, so I'm not entirely serious on that, but he is going to be the first coach to leave his post and that is kinda' an important measure of value in this category. My actual, serious value pick is Zac Taylor. Most head coaches who are any good show something in their first couple of seasons, bad situation or not. Taylor has shown absolutely no reason to believe that he is any kind of long-term solution for the Bengals. The only reason I don't have him as my favorite is I believe they'll wait until after the season to relieve him of his duties, but it's absurd that he's below Mike Zimmer on the board.
Bryan: There is one other name I'd consider strong in the value category. I keep banging on about Jon Gruden here every year as the Raiders continue to baffle me with pretty much every decision they make, off-field and on. I still think it would be more likely for Gruden to quietly retire rather than be fired, but it is first coach to lose job, not first coach to be fired. Still, no, I agree with your Taylor pick as well. Burrow's injury gave him a second chance; he won't get a third if the Bengals don't deliver.
My longshot is Kliff Kingsbury as the much-promised offensive revolution brought in by his Air Raid hasn't really developed. There's a strong argument he's the worst coach in the NFC West. If the Cardinals aren't in contention for a playoff berth this year, his 13-18-1 record up to this point isn't enough to really give him anything to fall back on.
Andrew: Joe Judge won't be back next year, but like Taylor, that will happen after the season rather than during it. He won't be the first to go. I can see Ron Rivera as a possibility to retire, but the reason is a bit grim to use as justification for a bet. David Culley won't walk and he won't be fired, even though he might not be back in 2022. Really, Kingsbury is the closest thing to a longshot that might happen midseason. The Cardinals took a severe swoon last year; another dropoff like that might make for a very short December in the desert.
|Andrew||Matt Nagy (+700)||Zac Taylor (+800)||Kliff Kingsbury (+1400)|
|Bryan||Matt Nagy (+700)||Zac Taylor (+800)||Kliff Kingsbury (+1400)|
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
|Offensive Player of the Year|
|Patrick Mahomes||+700||Antonio Gibson||+3500||Kareem Hunt||+6500|
|Derrick Henry||+700||Najee Harris||+3500||Cooper Kupp||+6500|
|Christian McCaffrey||+1000||Chris Carson||+3500||Mike Davis||+6500|
|Aaron Rodgers||+1200||Joe Mixon||+4000||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||+6500|
|Dalvin Cook||+1400||Kirk Cousins||+4000||Josh Jacobs||+6500|
|Josh Allen||+1500||Aaron Jones||+4000||Melvin Gordon||+6500|
|Nick Chubb||+1600||J.K. Dobbins||+4000||Ceedee Lamb||+8000|
|Alvin Kamara||+1600||Ryan Tannehill||+5000||Odell Beckham||+8000|
|Davante Adams||+1600||DK Metcalf||+5000||Tua Tagovailoa||+8000|
|George Kittle||+1600||Matt Ryan||+5000||D'Andre Swift||+8000|
|Lamar Jackson||+1800||Joe Burrow||+5000||Mike Evans||+8000|
|Travis Kelce||+1800||DeShaun Watson||+5000||Chris Godwin||+8000|
|Tom Brady||+1800||Baker Mayfield||+5000||Robert Woods||+8000|
|Saquon Barkley||+1800||Leonard Fournette||+5000||Will Fuller V||+10000|
|Russell Wilson||+2000||Kyle Pitts||+5000||Ryan Fitzpatrick||+10000|
|Kyler Murray||+2000||Damien Harris||+5000||Cam Newton||+10000|
|Stefon Diggs||+2000||Jalen Hurts||+5000||DeVante Parker||+10000|
|Matthew Stafford||+2200||Julio Jones||+5000||Jimmy Garoppolo||+10000|
|Tyreek Hill||+2200||Carson Wentz||+6500||Jerry Jeudy||+10000|
|Jonathan Taylor||+2500||David Montgomery||+6500||Ben Roethlisberger||+10000|
|Calvin Ridley||+2500||Amari Cooper||+6500||Derek Carr||+10000|
|DeAndre Hopkins||+2500||Allen Robinson||+6500||Trey Sermon||+10000|
|Dak Prescott||+2500||Darren Waller||+6500||Jarvis Landry||+10000|
|Ezekiel Elliott||+2500||Adam Thielen||+6500||Trevor Lawrence||+10000|
|Justin Herbert||+2800||Miles Sanders||+6500||Kenny Golladay||+10000|
|Justin Jefferson||+3000||Jameis Winston||+6500||Ja'Marr Chase||+10000|
|Taysom Hill||+3000||Terry McLaurin||+6500||Courtland Sutton||+10000|
|Michael Thomas||+3000||A.J. Brown||+6500||Sam Darnold||+10000|
|Raheem Mostert||+3500||Keenan Allen||+6500||Chase Claypool||+10000|
Bryan: Ah, the runt of the awards. With quarterbacks basically always winning the MVP award, no one really has come to an agreement on what this award actually signifies. Should it always be a double, like Patrick Mahomes in 2018? Should it go to the best non-quarterback, like Derrick Henry in 2020? Is it for fantasy volume as opposed to general MVPness, like Drew Brees in 2011? Nobody knows!
Andrew: I like just going with the best non-quarterback, even though that's not how it actually works. For that, I like Dalvin Cook a little better than Derrick Henry. Cook's a little more diverse, and a little less likely to succumb to cumulative wear. Henry has staved off that regression so far, but the only person to defeat Father Time doesn't play in Tennessee.
Bryan: Great minds thinking alike and all that. Henry should probably have more rushing yards, but I picked Cook to have more touchdowns, and he's actually useful in the receiving game. Plus, he plays on a team that's generally considered less potent offensively, which is a plus.
Travis Kelce, who I had all over the receiving props, is my best value at +1800; as much as I love George Kittle (and I really, really love George Kittle), it's hard to argue that Kelce shouldn't be the favorite for this award in the minds of the voters, as he's going to have the better fantasy numbers.
Andrew: I like Saquon Barkley as a possible comeback player, though not as much as I like Dak Prescott. Neither's getting a sniff here though. Alvin Kamara is my value pick, as the most likely focus of both the Saints passing and running game while Michael Thomas isn't around. Kamara could even be a dark horse MVP candidate if things break his way. He's very solid value here.
Bryan: Ezekiel Elliott is my longshot, to round off "players I already talked about, like, 10 awards ago." If the Cowboys offense runs smoothly, but Prescott doesn't win MVP, then Elliott for OPOY might be a way of throwing some acknowledgement to the offense.
Andrew: My longshot's another running back, because I'm a little boring like that. I already discussed some reasons to like Jonathan Taylor earlier in the article. Taylor could very well be the focus of the Colts offense for much of the year, for a broad variety of different reasons. We give the Colts the best odds to win that division. If Carson Wentz lands somewhere between his two extremes, and Taylor has an impressive season as the Colts ground-and-pound their way to a division title, he could easily earn some votes in a similar vein to his aforementioned division rival.
|Andrew||Dalvin Cook (+1400)||Alvin Kamara (+1600)||Jonathan Taylor (+2500)|
|Bryan||Dalvin Cook (+1400)||Travis Kelce (+1800)||Ezekiel Elliott (+2500)|
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
|Defensive Player of the Year|
|Aaron Donald||+500||Matt Judon||+3500||Trey Hendrickson||+5000|
|Myles Garrett||+500||Shaquil Barrett||+3500||J.C. Jackson||+5000|
|T.J. Watt||+800||Von Miller||+3500||Leighton Vander Esch||+5000|
|Chase Young||+850||Kenneth Murray||+3500||Lavonte David||+5000|
|Joey Bosa||+1000||Jeremy Chinn||+3500||Arik Armstead||+5000|
|Nick Bosa||+1600||Vita Vea||+3500||Stephon Gilmore||+5000|
|Derwin James||+1600||DeForest Buckner||+3500||Cameron Jordan||+5000|
|Khalil Mack||+1600||Jerry Tillery||+3500||Myles Jack||+5000|
|Devin White||+1800||L'Jarius Sneed||+3500||Za'Darius Smith||+5000|
|Jamal Adams||+2000||Anthony Harris||+4000||Shaq Lawson||+5000|
|Darius Leonard||+2000||James Bradberry||+4000||Cole Holcomb||+5000|
|Xavien Howard||+2000||Brian Burns||+4000||Leonard Floyd||+5000|
|J.J. Watt||+2000||Uchenna Nwosu||+4000||Isaiah Simmons||+5000|
|Demarcus Lawrence||+2500||Marlon Humphrey||+4000||Adrian Amos||+5000|
|Bradley Chubb||+2500||Anthony Barr||+4000||Patrick Queen||+5000|
|Devin Bush||+2500||Tre'Davious White||+4000||Mario Edwards||+5000|
|Bobby Wagner||+2500||Jerry Hughes||+4000||Donta Hightower||+5000|
|Jessie Bates||+2500||Andrew Van Ginkel||+4000||Denzel Ward||+5000|
|Montez Sweat||+2500||Danielle Hunter||+4000||John Johnson||+5000|
|Marcus Peters||+2800||Eric Kendricks||+4000||Jamel Dean||+5000|
|Chandler Jones||+2800||Roquan Smith||+4000||Brandon Graham||+5000|
|Budda Baker||+3000||Justin Simmons||+4000||Eddie Jackson||+5000|
|Tyrann Mathieu||+3000||Minkah Fitzpatrick||+4000||Marcus Davenport||+5000|
|Jalen Ramsey||+3500||Antoine Winfield||+4000||Fletcher Cox||+5000|
|Carlos Dunlap||+3500||Jaire Alexander||+4000|
Andrew: This is your annual reminder that Aaron Donald owns this award until further notice.
Bryan: Winning the award three times in four years will do that; anyone who doesn't have Donald as their favorite is trying too hard to be contrary. I will go for a better value pick, though, as Donald's odds have gotten very, very low. Chase Young had a very good rookie season; he's on a line with a lot of talent around him and is playing in one of the softer divisions in the league. I could see him getting 13, 14, 15 sacks, being a nightmare on a division-winning team, and earning the award that way. Just to provide some variety from Donald, Donald, Donald.
Andrew: I'm not sure why Myles Garrett is ahead of T.J. Watt in the list, but like you, I like the value of Chase Young better than both. I already mentioned in our NFC East article that I think Washington will surprise some people this year. A defense-led tilt at a division title will bring Young into contention here.
Bryan: Za'Darius Smith is my longshot here, in part because I don't know how much he can actually build on back-to-back seasons with a dozen or more sacks, and he didn't earn a ton of DPOY talk with those years. He did finally reach the second-team All-Pro squad last year, though, so his name is popping up more among the voters. Of all the people at +5000, he's likely to put up the best numbers. A career year from him could have him well in the running.
Andrew: The other player I really like to break out this year on a great defense that could propel an unfancied team into the postseason is Bradley Chubb. For a long time, this was Von Miller's team. That torch may have already passed, and this season could provide the evidence. I suspect Denver's defense will be very good indeed, and Chubb's pass rush will be one of the simplest explanations given.
|Andrew||Aaron Donald (+500)||Chase Young (+850)||Bradley Chubb (+2500)|
|Bryan||Aaron Donald (+500)||Chase Young (+850)||Za'Darius Smith (+5000)|
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
|Offensive Rookie of the Year|
|Trevor Lawrence||+350||Davis Mills||+3500||Kellen Mond||+6500|
|Justin Fields||+600||Michael Carter||+3500||Sam Ehlinger||+6500|
|Zach Wilson||+750||Kadarius Toney||+4000||Amon-Ra St. Brown||+8000|
|Trey Lance||+750||Rashod Bateman||+5000||Khalil Herbert||+8000|
|Najee Harris||+800||Rondale Moore||+5000||Chris Evans||+8000|
|Kyle Pitts||+1000||Kenneth Gainwell||+5000||Jamie Newman||+8000|
|Mac Jones||+1000||Pat Freiermuth||+5000||Cade Johnson||+10000|
|Ja'Marr Chase||+1600||Dynami Brown||+6500||Jaelon Darden||+10000|
|Javonte Williams||+1600||Josh Palmer||+6500||Tylan Wallace||+10000|
|Jaylen Waddle||+2000||Dyami Brown||+6500||Tommy Tremble||+10000|
|Devonta Smith||+2200||Penei Sewell||+6500||Hunter Long||+10000|
|Trey Sermon||+2500||Rashawn Slater||+6500||Brevin Jordan||+10000|
|Elijah Moore||+3000||Kyle Trask||+6500||Alijah Vera-Tucker||+10000|
Bryan: I am annoyed, because for months, I was ready to say that if Trey Lance started at least a dozen games, he would win this award. Now he's splitting time with Jimmy Garoppolo, and who knows what that will mean for his numbers and his opinion among the voters and so on and so forth. Part of the argument would have been if Lance started 12 games, he would almost certainly have to do better than the competent baseline Garoppolo sets, but now he'll have a role from Week 1, ready or not, and some awkward growing pains early might impact the voters, no matter what Lance turns into. Thanks for making my job harder, Shanahan.
And yes, as of press time, Draft Kings lets you bet on both Dynami Brown and Dyami Brown. I did not know that Washington has a pair of identical twins disguised as one person, Prestige style.
Andrew: Trevor Lawrence is the favorite for good reason. If the Jaguars win more than, ooh, three games this year, Lawrence will get most of the credit for that. He's the unquestioned top prospect on a bad team, but with decent targets in a defensively challenged division. That's a recipe for OROY if ever I saw one.
Bryan: I agree with you on Lawrence, and I'll take that logic a step further. If there is a rookie quarterback who has a solid season on a winning team, they will always win this award. With five first-round passers joining the league this year, the odds that one will win this title has to be very high. And for that reason, I'm taking Mac Jones as my value pick—one of the five, with a significant amount of receiving talent around him, and the starting job after the surprise Cam Newton cut. Jones could game-manager his way to a strong winning season and a playoff berth, and get a perhaps over-heavy share of the plaudits.
Andrew: That breaking news from New England, which came the day after we originally wrote this article, completely turned this pick on its head for me. The one problem with Lawrence is those miniscule odds, which had originally led me to Najee Harris as a value pick. Harris has much better odds, and again is the unquestioned starter on a team that could make some noise this winter. I even originally wrote that don't think he'll win, because I believe it'll be one of the quarterbacks. The news that Jones will be the starter in New England means I'm joining you in that camp. I doubt you'll see odds of +1000 on Jones for long, so get them while they're hot if you can.
Bryan: My longshot is a running back as well, but I'm going down to Javonte Williams. It looks like Denver is going to do a lot of ball-control offense, trying not to screw things up for their defense. Williams has really shined in preseason while Melvin Gordon has been bothered by a bad groin, to the point where Williams got to sit the last preseason game out while Gordon had to play to try to get some work in. I could see him getting the starting nod sooner rather than later, and turning that into a productive year on the ground.
Andrew: Amon-Ra St. Brown should win it for his name alone, but that's not one of the usual judging criteria. Your justification for Javonte Williams is a good one, but I'll take Ja'Marr Chase from the same section of the table. I really like the Bengals receiving group, and they're likely to throw a ton of passes this year. There will be opportunities for volume in that offense, and Chase will grow into the role as the season progresses. He'll be firmly in voters' minds by the time winter comes.
|Andrew||Trevor Lawrence (+350)||Mac Jones (+1000)||Ja'Marr Chase (+1600)|
|Bryan||Trevor Lawrence (+350)||Mac Jones (+1000)||Javonte Williams (+1600)|
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
|Defensive Rookie of the Year|
|Micah Parsons||+600||Asante Samuel||+3500||Tommy Togiai||+6500|
|Jamin Davis||+800||Payton Turner||+3500||Bobby Brown||+6500|
|Jaelen Phillips||+1000||Milton Williams||+4000||Osa Odighizuwa||+6500|
|Patrick Surtain||+1200||Elijah Molden||+4000||Daviyon Nixon||+6500|
|Kwity Paye||+1200||Derrick Barnes||+4000||Ar'Darius Washington||+6500|
|Zaven Collins||+1400||Ronnie Perkins||+4000||Kelvin Joseph||+6500|
|Jaycee Horn||+1400||Richie Grant||+4000||Tay Gowan||+6500|
|Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa||+1400||Jevon Holland||+4000||Ifeatu Melifonwu||+6500|
|Jayson Oweh||+1600||Pete Werner||+5000||Marvin Wilson||+8000|
|Azeez Ojulari||+1600||Alim McNeil||+5000||Thomas Graham||+10000|
|Gregory Rousseau||+2000||Levi Onwuzurike||+5000||Benjamin St-Juste||+10000|
|Tre'von Moehrig||+2200||Baron Browning||+5000||Tre Brown||+10000|
|Nick Bolton||+2500||Justin Hilliard||+5000||Tyson Campbell||+10000|
|Caleb Farley||+2500||Jamar Johnson||+5000||Tyler Shelvin||+10000|
|Joe Tryon||+2500||Carlos Basham||+5000||Andre Cisco||+10000|
|Greg Newsome||+2800||Joseph Ossai||+5000||Hamsah Nasirildeen||+10000|
|Eric Stokes||+3500||Rashad Weaver||+5000||Divine Deablo||+10000|
|Jabril Cox||+3500||Aaron Robinson||+5000||Dayo Odeyingbo||+10000|
|Christian Barmore||+3500||Chazz Surratt||+6500||Cameron Sample||+10000|
Bryan: No defender was taken in the first seven picks of this year's draft, so this award is a little more up in the air than normal. No Chase Young, no Nick Bosa, no Denzel Ward—the field is more wide open than it has been in years.
Andrew: There are two picks here that I really, really like, and they're separated by just one spot in the odds, so I'm going to order them that way even though it's not quite how I'd pick them. Patrick Surtain could be the final piece in Vic Fangio's Broncos jigsaw, a puzzle that I think can be one of the toughest in the league for quarterbacks to solve. It may be too early for Surtain to assume top billing there, but a key component of a top defense will get votes, and Surtain should fit that bill.
Bryan: I'm going to go chalk with my favorite (surprise, surprise!) and go with Micah Parsons. I was concerned a little bit with the fact that he sat out 2020, but he has looked like lightning in the preseason—rushing the passer, clogging the run, covering receivers. The Cowboys have been looking for a solid, consistent linebacker for ages (no, Sean Lee doesn't count, he was always hurt) and Parsons might be the guy.
Andrew: In a very similar vein to Surtain, I absolutely love the fit of Jaycee Horn in Carolina. The Panthers want to play more man defense. To do that, they have to play better man defense. That's exactly what they drafted Horn to do, and he's entirely capable of doing it. The Panthers may not be playoff-ready just yet, but I expect their defense to take another big stride forward this year, and Horn will be a major reason why.
Bryan: Kwity Paye is my best value as I really like the idea of him pairing with DeForest Buckner on that Indianapolis line. Paye won't be Nick Bosa, but Buckner drawing attention might help him in a similar way to how Bosa was helped in 2019. He picked up a couple sacks in the preseason and looks explosive. He's a little further down than Parsons because of some historical issues with finishing his sacks, but he looks good so far.
Andrew: I would have loved to go with Joseph Ossai as my longshot, but Ossai tore his meniscus in preseason and will miss the entire year, so that's not happening. Instead, I'm going with Joe Tryon of the Buccaneers. One of the very few concerns I had for the Bucs heading into the draft was the age and lack of depth among their edge rushers; Tryon solves that and then some. He won't start right away, but he will leap straight into the rotation as a pin-your-ears-back edge rusher, likely against teams that are forced to pass, in a role that's perfect to get attention.
Bryan: Tre'von Moehrig is my longshot; he'll be starting from Week 1 and that's crucial for awards like this. The consensus top safety in the class fell into the second round due to a back injury, but that seems to be nicely cleaned up. The Raiders have been moving him to multiple positions, but he's the starting free safety, and one who should make an impact early.
|Andrew||Patrick Surtain (+1200)||Jaycee Horn (+1400)||Joe Tryon (+2500)|
|Bryan||Micah Parsons (+600)||Kwity Paye (+1200)||Tre'von Moehrig (+2200)|
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
|Comeback Player of the Year|
|Dak Prescott||+210||Michael Thomas||+1200||Julio Jones||+2500|
|Joe Burrow||+700||Odell Beckham||+1400||Anthony Barr||+3000|
|Saquon Barkley||+700||Courtland Sutton||+1400||Devin Bush||+3000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+800||Sam Darnold||+1600||Melvin Ingram||+3500|
|Jameis Winston||+1000||Derwin James||+1600||James Conner||+3500|
|Nick Bosa||+1000||Chandler Jones||+2500||O.J. Howard||+3500|
|Carson Wentz||+1000||Von Miller||+2500||Leighton Vander Esch||+4000|
|George Kittle||+1000||Danielle Hunter||+2500||Richard Sherman||+5000|
Andrew: If he comes back anywhere close to his previous level, this is Dak Prescott's award to lose. We all remember the condition his ankle was in the last time we saw him.
Bryan: I've tried very hard to forget the condition his ankle was in the last time we saw him.
Andrew: That too. He was on track to obliterate Cowboys franchise records at the time. Even a solid season in line with his career average will probably do that for him this time out.
In a very similar vein, if not Prescott, then Joe Burrow making his return from a multi-ligament knee injury has a very strong chance to generate a win here. Especially if, as seems likely, Burrow looks better than he did a year ago. He's my value pick.
Bryan: I'm confident enough in Prescott's return and talent level that I'm taking him both as my favorite and best bet, though Burrow is a very solid shout.
If I wanted a real longshot, I'd go O.J. Howard here, finally seeing what he can do in that Buccaneers offense ... but, no, I'm going with Christian McCaffrey. +800 isn't exactly a huge longshot by any stretch of the imagination (hence why I made sure to mention Howard!), but McCaffrey was one of my favorite players in 2019, and it will be good to have him back at full speed.
Andrew: Derwin James is a good longshot pick, too James is one of the best safeties in the game when healthy—which is, sadly, all too rare an event. I'm not totally sure what Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, and especially Sam Darnold are coming back from. Darnold's still trying to break out; him coming back to his previous peak still means he'd be a really bad player.
Bryan: The Ryan Tannehill Memorial "Coming Back From Not Being Good at Football" award! Or, for Darnold, the "We Apologize For Adam Gase" award!
Andrew: I like a few of the receiver and edge rusher "injury return" picks a whole lot better. Courtland Sutton is the clear top receiver on that Broncos team, and him coming back from a torn ACL to go straight back into production as the No. 1 wideout would make him a solid contender. At seven times the favorite's odds, and twice my value pick's, that's good enough for me to make him my longshot. But really, this is Prescott all the way.
|Andrew||Dak Prescott (+210)||Joe Burrow (+700)||Courtland Sutton (+1400)|
|Bryan||Dak Prescott (+210)||Dak Prescott (+210)||Christian McCaffrey (+800)|
SUPER BOWL WINNER
|Super Bowl Winner|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+500||Tennessee Titans||+3000||Atlanta Falcons||+8000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+600||Indianapolis Colts||+3500||New York Giants||+8000|
|Buffalo Bills||+1000||New England Patriots||+3500||Carolina Panthers||+9000|
|Green Bay Packers||+1300||Dallas Cowboys||+3500||Las Vegas Raiders||+10000|
|Baltimore Ravens||+1400||Miami Dolphins||+3500||Philadelphia Eagles||+10000|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1400||Denver Broncos||+4500||Jacksonville Jaguars||+13000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+1400||Arizona Cardinals||+4500||New York Jets||+15000|
|Cleveland Browns||+1600||Pittsburgh Steelers||+4500||Cincinnati Bengals||+15000|
|Seattle Seahawks||+2000||Minnesota Vikings||+5000||Detroit Lions||+20000|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+3000||Washington Football Team||+5000||Houston Texans||+30000|
|New Orleans Saints||+3000||Chicago Bears||+6500|
Bryan: Last, but most certainly not least, we get to go on record with our Super Bowl champs. Historically, whichever team I pick here is doomed, so my condolences to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last year's champions bring back their entire starting lineup—unheard of in an era of mass turnover, and not really a thing in the days before free agency either. I believe Tampa Bay's postseason form is more the true skill of their team than their regular season record would indicate, and I have spent too long waiting for Tom Brady to turn into a pumpkin to count on it now. I'm double-dipping my Creamsicles and bringing the party back to Tampa again.
Andrew: I wouldn't bet against Mahomes and the Chiefs, but really the Buccaneers have the most complete roster in the league and a division that's unlikely to stand in their way for a postseason appearance. They're the favorites.
Bryan: For value, most pundits have a three-way race in the AFC between the Chiefs, Bills, and Ravens. Of the three, the Ravens have the longest odds, and therefore the most value if you really think they're in the same tier. It's hard to pick a team that has been stymied by both the Chiefs and the Bills in the past, but they weren't that far off the pack—seventh in DVOA with solid performances on both sides of the ball. If they can expand their passing game to exist outside the numbers, look out.
Andrew: For value, I'm going with your homer pick. I really like the chances of the 49ers if that offense clicks. I wouldn't normally like the chances of a team starting Jimmy Garoppolo with a rookie backup, but this time the plan looks solid even when Garoppolo gets hurt. We've heard comparisons all year to Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn, but this looks to me more like Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. That ended in a Super Bowl appearance, and this may well head the same way
In the longshot column, it's horrifying to say it, but a Bill Belichick team bringing back a heap of defensive talent and importing a whole new array of targets for their pro-ready first-round quarterback should not be getting +3500 odds. The AFC doesn't have enough elite teams to fill out a playoff field, and the Patriots are tough enough to make some noise if they can get there. I hate myself for making this pick, but no way can I miss out on those odds.
Bryan: I'm afraid I'm with you, Andrew. The Monsters at the End of the Book may have had their head lopped off (and surgically attached to a pirate ship down south), but we haven't seen their body stop twitching just yet. Was last year the firm and final end of a two-decade long dynasty in Foxborough, or a false sense of security before the rest of the league has to try to keep up with the Joneses? At +3500, I'm not betting against it. Give me the Patriots as a longshot, and may the football gods have mercy on us.
|Andrew||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600)||San Francisco 49ers (+1400)||New England Patriots (+3500)|
|Bryan||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600)||Baltimore Ravens (+1400)||New England Patriots (+3500)|