2022 Award Predictions: Most Valuable Mahomes
NFL Preseason Week 3 - Bryan: Welcome to the last of our odds previews for the 2022 preseason. We have picked each team's over/unders and predicted the individual leaders in a plethora of stats. Now we come on to the big ones—the winners of the league's individual awards.
This year is actually more interesting than most, as we have traditionally just had the Scramble writers poking at things. This year, though, Aaron's here to help make his picks, and he actually has one of the AP's votes. That makes his opinion slightly more relevant than mine, perhaps.
Aaron: I hereby promise not to waste any of my votes in an effort to make my preseason picks seem more accurate.
Just like yesterday, we're picking three players for each prop. 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 DraftKings or Bovada, and were all correct as of time of writing.
Most Valuable Player
|Most Valuable Player|
|Josh Allen||+650||Mac Jones||+6000||Stefon Diggs||+15000|
|Tom Brady||+850||Jameis Winston||+8000||Keenan Allen||+15000|
|Patrick Mahomes||+900||Mitchell Trubisky||+8000||Michael Thomas||+15000|
|Justin Herbert||+900||Justin Fields||+8000||Sam Darnold||+15000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+1000||Trevor Lawrence||+8000||Tyreek Hill||+15000|
|Joe Burrow||+1200||Deshaun Watson||+8000||Aaron Donald||+15000|
|Russell Wilson||+1400||Baker Mayfield||+8000||Myles Garrett||+15000|
|Dak Prescott||+1600||Dalvin Cook||+10000||Davis Mills||+15000|
|Matthew Stafford||+1600||Jerry Jeudy||+10000||TJ Watt||+15000|
|Lamar Jackson||+2000||Carson Wentz||+10000||Kenny Pickett||+15000|
|Jalen Hurts||+2000||Nick Chubb||+10000||Teddy Bridgewater||+15000|
|Kyler Murray||+2000||Marcus Mariota||+10000||AJ Dillon||+15000|
|Derek Carr||+2800||Alvin Kamara||+10000||Jaylen Waddle||+15000|
|Matt Ryan||+3500||Christian McCaffrey||+10000||Justin Jefferson||+15000|
|Trey Lance||+4000||Ja'Marr Chase||+10000||D'Andre Swift||+15000|
|Derrick Henry||+5000||Ryan Tannehill||+10000||Najee Harris||+15000|
|Jonathan Taylor||+5000||Davante Adams||+10000||Joe Mixon||+15000|
|Tua Tagovailoa||+5000||Austin Ekeler||+10000||Javonte Williams||+15000|
|Kirk Cousins||+5000||Zach Wilson||+13000||Travis Kelce||+15000|
|Deebo Samuel||+6000||Micah Parsons||+13000||Jimmy Garoppolo||+15000|
|Cooper Kupp||+6000||Daniel Jones||+13000|
Bryan: It has been 10 years since a non-quarterback won MVP, when Adrian Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2012. Drew Brees was the league's leading passer, but the Saints had a losing record. Tom Brady was the leader in DVOA and DYAR, while Peyton Manning was the AP's first-team All-Pro quarterback, and none of the three were impressive enough to knock Peterson off his perch. And even then, it was reasonably close—Peterson got just 61% of the vote, with Manning picking up the rest of it.
It's difficult to imagine that happening today. Even the top running backs listed in Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor have longer odds than Trey Lance and his career 71 pass attempts. So while I'm taking Patrick Mahomes as my favorite as I believe he is still the best quarterback in football, the more interesting question might be if there's any situation where a quarterback doesn't win this award?
Aaron: I'm basically in agreement here. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in football. Therefore, he should be the favorite to win the MVP award every year until such time as he is not the best quarterback in football.
And no, at this point, I think that enough voters believe in the importance of quarterback value that this is a quarterback award. The Offensive Player of the Year award is effectively now the award for the best offensive non-quarterback, and of course defensive players have their own award as well.
Bryan: It does raise questions about whether they should change the name from "Most Valuable" Player to "Best" Player, but maybe I just want to see Justin Tucker win a dozen of these things.
My best value is Joe Burrow at +1200. When we did the quarterback tier list earlier this offseason, there was a little talk about whether Burrow should be in the A tier or high in the B+ tier. I wasn't on that podcast, or I would have argued for pushing him into the As; I think that now that Mahomes' contract extension has kicked in, Burrow is literally the most valuable player in football, as in the player with the most value for his actual cap hit. If he cleans up his sacks a little bit, he could very easily top DYAR, DVOA, EPA, whatever you want to use this season. The sky's the limit for him, and I'm a little surprised that his odds are not in triple-digit territory yet.
Aaron: My best value would have been Dak Prescott at +1600 until the Tyron Smith injury, but now I hesitate about whether the offense can be good enough for Prescott to put up MVP numbers. So I guess that I think Mahomes at +900 is still the best value, although you can probably talk me into Russell Wilson at +1400 since he'll get all the credit if the Broncos can somehow win the AFC West.
Bryan: Wilson at +1400 for a division-winning Broncos team makes a significant amount of sense, but his odds aren't long enough for me to pick him as a longshot. Instead, I'm going with Kirk Cousins. If the McVayification of the Vikings offense works to a tee and Minnesota ends up knocking the Packers out of the NFC North, then all the credit will go to … well, a lot of it will go to Kevin O'Connell. But some will go to Cousins, and at +5000, or a 2% implied probability, that's good enough for me! Better than throwing your money away at a running back, at any rate!
Aaron: I have been all over the Interwebs and the football podcast world talking about my "subjective case for the Jacksonville Jaguars." In case you have missed it, here it is. First, we have the entire AFC South projected to be down this year. Imagine that the other three teams end up with losing records. Now, think about the fact that many of us consider Urban Meyer possibly the worst head coach in NFL history. Think of the giant chasm of improvement going from Meyer to Doug Pederson. And remember what a transcendent prospect Trevor Lawrence was, the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. What if he puts it together in his second year, now that he has real NFL coaching? He could be really, really good. And maybe the Jaguars go 9-8 and sneak into a division title. And maybe if Lawrence is even better … he gets MVP votes? He's my longshot pick at +8000.
|Aaron||Patrick Mahomes (+900)||Patrick Mahomes (+900)||Trevor Lawrence (+8000)|
|Bryan||Patrick Mahomes (+900)||Joe Burrow (+1200)||Kirk Cousins (+5000)|
Coach of the Year
|Coach of the Year|
|Brandon Staley||+1400||Kyle Shanahan||+2000||Kliff Kingsbury||+2800|
|Dan Campbell||+1600||Sean McDermott||+2000||Andy Reid||+2800|
|Nathaniel Hackett||+1600||Kevin Stefanski||+2200||Mike Tomlin||+3000|
|Kevin O'Connell||+1600||Mike Vrabel||+2500||Dennis Allen||+3000|
|Mike McDaniel||+1600||John Harbaugh||+2500||Mike McCarthy||+3000|
|Brian Daboll||+1800||Zac Taylor||+2500||Matt Rhule||+4000|
|Nick Sirianni||+1800||Todd Bowles||+2500||Matt Eberflus||+4000|
|Doug Pederson||+1800||Matt Lafleur||+2500||Pete Carroll||+5000|
|Josh McDaniels||+1800||Sean McVay||+2500||Arthur Smith||+5000|
|Bill Belichick||+2000||Robert Saleh||+2800||Lovie Smith||+5000|
|Frank Reich||+2000||Ron Rivera||+2800|
Bryan: Again, trying to be contrary and not just take Brandon Staley seems like arguing for the sake of argument; there's a reason he has become the consensus choice. If the Chargers improve like everyone thinks they will and make the playoffs for the first time since 2018, Staley is going to get lots of love. Especially because he's a showy coach, in that a lot of attention gets paid to his fourth-down decision-making and general aggressiveness. That's not the most important part of coaching, necessarily, but it is one of the most visible, and having success in a visible way is a great way to garner attention and votes.
Aaron: Well, the Football Outsiders team projections narrowly put the Chargers over the Chiefs for the AFC West title and the Vikings over the Packers for the NFC North title. If either of those things happen, the head coach in question is a very good Coach of the Year candidate. However, I have a little more faith in the Chargers than the Vikings. So I too will go with Brandon Staley as my favorite here.
Bryan: I feel like if I explain why Nick Sirianni is my best bet, I'm going to be jumping all over your Philadelphia Eagles optimism. But, like the Chargers and Vikings, we have the Eagles at the top of their division, and knocking off the Cowboys with what's widely considered to be a lesser quarterback would draw a lot of attention Sirianni's way. If all three of the Chargers, Vikings, and Eagles win their divisions, I think Sirianni finishes third in that grouping, but he's right up there, maybe just a half-step behind your front-runners.
Aaron: I have given my "subjective case for the Jacksonville Jaguars," but you give the objective case for the Philadelphia Eagles and I think the objective case beats out my imagination about how Jacksonville can shock the world this season. I mean, we don't just have the Eagles on top of the NFC East. Our mean projection gives the Eagles the No. 1 seed in the NFC! Thanks in part to their schedule putting them ahead of better teams, but still, if they do that, Nick Sirianni is getting a lot of Coach of the Year support.
Bryan: Well, let's see if we can't split in our longshots, as I'm going alllll the way down the table to Dennis Allen at +3000. Our projections love the Saints' defense. If the Buccaneers slip, and a defense-led Saints team takes the division, Allen is going to get some credit for taking over from Sean Payton and finding a way to get back into the playoffs. This is even more true if all those question marks we mentioned for the Saints offense yesterday end up not working out; if Jameis Winston is more like Tampa Bay Winston and Michael Thomas is still injured and Chris Olave is a rookie. There's a world where Tom Brady is Old, the Saints offense is just OK, and the Saints still end up winning the division in style. A redemption arc for a retread coach!
Aaron: Every year, there's always the possibility of Patrick Mahomes just going completely HAM on the NFL. It will especially look like Mahomes is going nuts if he has a great season and the Chiefs manage to put an above-average defense on the field. Imagine that the Chiefs do that and maybe finish the regular season 15-2 after trading away Tyreek Hill. It would make Andy Reid an excellent Coach of the Year candidate and a good longshot at +2800.
|Aaron||Brandon Staley (+1400)||Nick Sirianni (+1800)||Andy Reid (+2800)|
|Bryan||Brandon Staley (+1400)||Nick Sirianni (+1800)||Dennis Allen (+3000)|
First Coach to Permanently Leave Position
|Coach to Leave|
|Matt Rhule||+275||John Harbaugh||+1600||Kevin O'Connell||+6600|
|Mike McCarthy||+450||Mike Tomlin||+1800||Doug Pederson||+6600|
|Pete Carroll||+500||Nick Sirianni||+2500||Dennis Allen||+6600|
|Frank Reich||+700||Kyle Shanahan||+3300||Brian Daboll||+6600|
|Ron Rivera||+750||Lovie Smith||+4000||Matt Eberflus||+6600|
|Kevin Stefanski||+1000||Bill Belchick||+5000||Matt LaFleur||+8000|
|Dan Campbell||+1000||Todd Bowles||+5000||Sean McDermott||+10000|
|Mike Vrabel||+1200||Brandon Staley||+6600||Josh McDaniels||+10000|
|Kliff Kingsbury||+1200||Nathaniel Hackett||+6600||Sean McVay||+10000|
|Robert Saleh||+1400||Mike McDaniel||+6600||Andy Reid||+10000|
|Arthur Smith||+1400||Zac Taylor||+6600|
Bryan: Not technically an award people vote on—at least, not anyone at the AP, mind you—but it feels like it makes sense to stick this one right after the Coach of the Year award. I also find it amusing how the name of this one has changed over the years—it went from First Coach Fired to First Coach to Lose Job and now First Coach to Permanently Leave, as sportsbooks try to find a polite way to allow people to spend money on coaches they think are very bad.
Also, it's Matt Rhule. Of course it's Matt Rhule; it has to be Matt Rhule. It's a little surprising he was brought back for 2022 to begin with, as the Panthers have had roughly zero success with him in charge. This year, he has bungled his quarterback situation quite badly, and he has the temporary replacement of Ben McAdoo right there in house already. Unless Baker Mayfield has the year of his life, it's hard to see Rhule making it back for 2023, and very, very easy to see a change happening at the bye week.
Aaron: Duh. The Panthers were still talking about starting Sam Darnold even after trading for Baker Mayfield. It's Rhule.
Bryan: And speaking of former (or soon to be former) Carolina coaches, I think we're reaching the end of the line for Ron Rivera in Washington. The greatest coach in Commanders history has at least made the playoffs in Washington, but that was as a 7-9 team in the year everyone in the NFC East stank, so there's not a long track record he has to lean back on. And now he has Carson Wentz as his starter, with both Indianapolis and Philadelphia celebrating as the quarterback was sent out of town. And Chase Young is hurt, and there's likely to be some regression on defense anyway, and … I just can't find room for optimism anywhere in Washington, no matter how hard I squint. Maybe the owner's too busy to fire someone midseason, but unless the Commanders are significantly more competent than I'm giving them credit for, it's probably time for a complete restart.
Aaron: I don't care that he has the lowest odds. The best bet is still Rhule. The Panthers are a mess.
Bryan: For the second year in a row, I'm picking Kliff Kingsbury as my longshot—and, in fact, I'm disappointed his odds have come down so low, as I'm clearly not the only one on this train. The Arizona offseason has been … contentious, to say the least, with new points of drama popping up nearly every week. The relationship between Kingsbury and Kyler Murray does appear strained, even as they do their best to assure everyone that no, everything's fine, really, it's great down here. And while Kingsbury did just sign a new extension, the Cardinals also made Murray the highest-paid quarterback in the league and, well, there's no salary cap for coaches. If the Cardinals fade down the stretch again, as Kingsbury's struggles in November onwards continue despite all logic and probability, the only move they really can make is moving on from Kingsbury. Plus, I think there's real "bottom falls out" potential on this team; it's entirely possible their collapse starts before Halloween this time around.
Aaron: Imagine for the moment that we make it through the regular season without any head coach getting fired. But the Houston Texans have a bad year, and when we get to the end of the season it becomes clear that the man they wanted as head coach all along was Josh McCown. So they get the jump on the other losing teams, becoming the first franchise to fire their head coach on Black Monday. Well, Black Sunday night, I guess. Goodbye, Lovie Smith (+4000). Hello McCown.
|Aaron||Matt Rhule (+275)||Matt Rhule (+275)||Lovie Smith (+4000)|
|Bryan||Matt Rhule (+275)||Ron Rivera (+750)||Kliff Kingsbury (+1200)|
Offensive Player of the Year
|Offensive Player of the Year|
|Jonathan Taylor||+1000||Ceedee Lamb||+4000||Alvin Kamara||+6000|
|Deebo Samuel||+1000||Aaron Jones||+4000||Michael Pittman Jr||+6000|
|Cooper Kupp||+1200||Stefon Diggs||+4500||Michael Thomas||+6000|
|Derrick Henry||+1400||Jerry Jeudy||+5000||Mark Andrews||+7000|
|Justin Jefferson||+1500||Javonte Williams||+5000||Mac Jones||+7000|
|Josh Allen||+1800||Derek Carr||+5000||Matt Ryan||+7000|
|Davante Adams||+1800||Tua Tagovailoa||+5000||Marquise Brown||+8000|
|Justin Herbert||+2000||Tom Brady||+5000||Leonard Fournette||+8000|
|Patrick Mahomes||+2000||Russell Wilson||+5000||Kirk Cousins||+8000|
|Nick Chubb||+2000||Austin Ekeler||+5000||James Conner||+8000|
|Lamar Jackson||+2200||Matthew Stafford||+5000||Jameis Winston||+8000|
|Joe Burrow||+2500||Ezekiel Elliott||+5500||Cordarrelle Patterson||+8000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+2500||Keenan Allen||+6000||Diontae Johnson||+8000|
|Kyler Murray||+2800||Joe Mixon||+6000||Terry McLaurin||+8000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+2800||Jaylen Waddle||+6000||Tee Higgins||+8000|
|Ja'Marr Chase||+3000||Hunter Renfrow||+6000||Cam Akers||+8000|
|Jalen Hurts||+3000||Deshaun Watson||+6000||Mike Williams||+8000|
|Dalvin Cook||+3000||Tyreek Hill||+6000||A.J. Brown||+8000|
|Travis Kelce||+4000||D'Andre Swift||+6000||Mike Evans||+8000|
|Trey Lance||+4000||Saquon Barkley||+6000||Mitchell Trubisky||+8000|
|Dak Prescott||+4000||Najee Harris||+6000|
Bryan: Well, I have Jonathan Taylor leading the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns on a team that is a little iffy at quarterback. And if this award is generally now reserved for the best non-quarterback skill position player, it's hard to go away from Taylor as the favorite. I would stay far away from co-favorite Deebo Samuel, not because he's not good, but because the expectation is that the 49ers' offense will operate deeper in the passing game this year, which should lead to Brandon Aiyuk eating into Samuel's volume a little bit.
Aaron: I think it's more likely that Cooper Kupp puts up another year of fantastic receiving numbers than it is that Jonathan Taylor can match last year's rushing numbers. The Rams offense should still be powerful, but like we wrote about yesterday, we're not sure how much faith we have in Van Jefferson or Tyler Higbee to put up big numbers. That means another year with a lot of passes going to Kupp.
Bryan: I have always been a little obsessed with the 1,000/1,000 season; nice, big, round numbers. For years, the only player who had ever picked up a thousand yards rushing and receiving in the same year was Roger Craig, who happened to play for my favorite team when I was a kid. That was matched 15 years later by Marshall Faulk, whom I think never gets enough credit in the "best running back of all time" discussion. So I admit to being a bit bedazzled by the third man to hit that mark, Christian McCaffrey, as I love his playstyle and his usage beyond the limits of rational thought. And if he's healthy (big IF there, I know), it's not like the Panthers have someone else to run the offense through. And because OPOY doesn't have the same sort of successful team requirements we see in the MVP race, I could see McCaffrey being the one bright spot in a long Panthers season, and getting some votes for success in suboptimal conditions.
Aaron: There has been a lot of talk about Justin Jefferson in the "Cooper Kupp role" with Kevin O'Connell bringing the Sean McVay offense over to Minnesota. Most observers would say Jefferson is a more talented receiver than Kupp, so imagine the numbers he could put up in that role! With slightly better odds than Kupp for Offensive Player of the Year, that makes Jefferson my best value.
Bryan: I'll side with your Vikings optimism here for my longshot. Dalvin Cook makes it three out of three running backs for my picks, which may be silly considering the actual guy with the vote just picked a bunch of wideouts, but you're right. A more successful offense in Minnesota should lift all the skill position players up. And if Cook has, say, a 1,600-rushing yard, 600-receiving yard, 20-touchdown year? Yeah, I could absolutely see him winning OPOY, and all those thresholds seem at least possible enough for +3000.
Aaron: I'm going to go three out of three on wide receivers. Imagine what Tyreek Hill (+6000) can do in the YAC-friendly Kyle Shanahan offense, which Mike McDaniel has brought with him to Miami. We know that Hill is probably the fastest player in the league. We know that opponents will also need to pay attention to Jaylen Waddle. Hill could put up extraordinary numbers, and maybe McDaniel uses him as a runner a bit too, which gives that little extra novelty that might get Hill some OPOY votes.
|Aaron||Cooper Kupp (+1200)||Justin Jefferson (+1500)||Tyreek Hill (+6000)|
|Bryan||Jonathan Taylor (+1000)||Christian McCaffrey (+2500)||Dalvin Cook (+3000)|
Defensive Player of the Year
|Defensive Player of the Year|
|Myles Garrett||+700||Trey Hendrickson||+4000||J.C. Jackson||+6500|
|T.J. Watt||+700||Shaquil Barrett||+5000||Demarcus Lawrence||+6500|
|Aaron Donald||+750||Devin White||+5000||Harold Landry||+6500|
|Micah Parsons||+1000||Brian Burns||+5000||AJ Terrell||+6500|
|Nick Bosa||+1500||Jalen Ramsey||+5000||Marlon Humphrey||+6500|
|Chase Young||+2000||Bobby Wagner||+5000||Cameron Jordan||+6500|
|Joey Bosa||+2000||Jaire Alexander||+5000||Marcus Davenport||+6500|
|Maxx Crosby||+2800||Matthew Judon||+5000||Jamal Adams||+7000|
|Khalil Mack||+3000||Chris Jones||+5000||Marcus Peters||+7000|
|Darius Leonard||+3000||Josh Allen||+5000||Trevon Diggs||+7000|
|Bradley Chubb||+3000||Stephon Gilmore||+5000||Budda Baker||+8000|
|Danielle Hunter||+3000||Jeffery Simmons||+6000||Odafe Oweh||+8000|
|Von Miller||+3000||Za'Darius Smith||+6000||Denzel Ward||+8000|
|Rashan Gary||+3500||Xavien Howard||+6000||DeForest Buckner||+8000|
|Derwin James Jr||+3500||Tyrann Mathieu||+6000||Yannick Ngakoue||+8000|
|Chandler Jones||+3500||Robert Quinn||+6500||Justin Simmons||+8000|
|Roquan Smith||+4000||Randy Gregory||+6500||Jessie Bates III||+8000|
|Fred Warner||+4000||Minkah Fitzpatrick||+6500|
Bryan: This award comes down to which defensive players, in any given season, are just about as good as Aaron Donald. Well, Aaron Donald is usually just about as good as Aaron Donald. He's going to be my favorite in this category until the moment he retires, and then maybe a good season or two after that.
Aaron: Just like picking Mahomes for MVP every year, I think you pick Aaron Donald as your favorite for DPOY every year.
Bryan: If the Chargers are as good as we think they're going to be, we're probably going to see a lot of awards headed their way. You said yesterday that you prefer Nick as your Bosa brother with the most sacks, but I actually like Joey. I think he has higher quality players around him as a pass-rusher—while San Francisco's depth is fantastic, they don't have someone like Khalil Mack to draw blockers away from Nick. That should give Joey easier matchups than Nick throughout the year, which should lead to larger numbers. And even if he doesn't catch the Watts and Garretts of the world in terms of sacks, a superior defensive performance from the Chargers with Bosa in charge would seem to be the way to get him votes.
Aaron: OK, you want to go with Joey Bosa? I'll go with Nick Bosa! After all, I did say he would be the Bosa brother with the most sacks, and if the 49ers manage to win the NFC West, the biggest reason will probably be their defensive front. The 49ers may not have Khalil Mack on the edge, but they do have Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw in the middle.
Bryan: Nothing wrong with that; Bosa these guys are pretty good.
You had Nick Bosa as your best bet for the most sacks yesterday; I had Cameron Jordan in the same spot. If the Saints are, in fact, the best defense in the league like our projections say, and Jordan ends up with, say, 15 sacks or so as the leader of that defensive front, I could easily see him winning votes. And +6500 is very long odds for someone who I think is one of the better pass-rushers in the league.
Aaron: What if AJ Terrell (+6500) puts together another year like last year, where he had the best cornerback charting stats since Darrelle Revis? And what if the other 49 voters who are not me actually pay attention to things like cornerback charting stats and even—gasp!—PFF grades and realize how good AJ Terrell is? And what if … OK, now you really have to imagine … what if the Atlanta Falcons win enough games for people to actually pay attention to how good AJ Terrell is? No? You don't see it? Well, that's why these are our longshot bets.
|Aaron||Aaron Donald (+750)||Joey Bosa (+2000)||AJ Terrell (+6500)|
|Bryan||Aaron Donald (+750)||Nick Bosa (+1500)||Cameron Jordan (+6500)|
Offensive Rookie of the Year
|Offensive Rookie of the Year|
|Breece Hall||+850||Isiah Pacheco||+3000||Jerrion Ealy||+10000|
|Kenny Pickett||+900||Alec Pierce||+3000||Jeremy Ruckert||+10000|
|George Pickens||+1000||Brian Robinson Jr||+3500||Khalil Shakir||+10000|
|Chris Olave||+1000||Rachaad White||+4000||Pierre Strong Jr||+10000|
|Skyy Moore||+1000||Kyren Williams||+4000||Hassan Haskins||+10000|
|Romeo Doubs||+1100||Isaiah Spiller||+4500||Dontario Drummond||+10000|
|Jalen Tolbert||+1200||Malik Willis||+5000||Jalen Wydermyer||+10000|
|Garrett Wilson||+1400||Tyrion Davis-Price||+5000||Kyle Philips||+10000|
|Drake London||+1400||Velus Jones Jr||+5000||Evan Neal||+10000|
|Kenneth Walker III||+1600||Wan'Dale Robinson||+5000||Charles Cross||+10000|
|Christian Watson||+1600||Tyler Allgeier||+5000||Cade Otton||+10000|
|Dameon Pierce||+1600||Zamir White||+6000||Calvin Austin III||+10000|
|James Cook||+1800||Isaiah Likely||+6000||Kaleb Eleby||+10000|
|Treylon Burks||+1800||Tyquan Thornton||+7500||Jerome Ford||+10000|
|Jahan Dotson||+2000||Trey McBride||+7500||Ikem Ekwonu||+10000|
|Jameson Williams||+2000||Sam Howell||+7500||Cole Turner||+10000|
|Desmond Ridder||+2000||Zonovan Knight||+10000||Tyler Goodson||+10000|
|David Bell||+2500||ZaQuandre White||+10000||Ty Chandler||+10000|
Bryan: I know reports out of Jets camp as we were writing these said that Breece Hall had not done enough to win the starting job from Michael Carter. And I know that Hall played with the second team during the Jets' preseason, while Carter got to rest with the starters. And it's disappointing that someone of his talent couldn't just take the job and run with it from Day 1. But I still think that, by the end of the year, Hall will be RB1 in New York and putting up enough highlight-reel plays to get noticed. I wouldn't touch the +850 line with how his preseason has gone, but without a rookie quarterback primed to take over from the start of the season, Hall seems like a more solid bet than any of the other rookies out there.
Aaron: I still think a rookie quarterback is the best pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year, barring some kind of crazy season like what Ja'Marr Chase did in 2021. Kenny Pickett (+900) isn't currently the starter in Pittsburgh, but the chances are strong enough that he'll start Week 1—or soon afterwards—to make him the favorite.
Bryan: I'll get to Pickett soon enough, have no fear, but for my best bet, I want someone who is starting from Week 1. Somewhat shockingly, that's Dameon Pierce, the fourth-round pick out of Florida who has just blown Texans camp away, to the point where Houston started holding him out of preseason games because they had honestly seen enough. Insert all the usual talk about running back draft value and such here. Usually, the winners of these awards are highly drafted players because they get more opportunities and start with the higher name recognition, but Pierce looks like he'll be a solid contributor right from the word go, draft position be damned. I will note that BackCAST didn't like him at all, but BackCAST isn't coaching the Houston Texans. Yet.
Aaron: Playmaker Score liked Treylon Burks the best out of this year's receivers, but Burks has had issues in training camp with the Tennessee Titans. That scares me away from picking him. Garrett Wilson (+1400) was second in Playmaker Score and should have plenty of opportunity as WR1 for the New York Jets. Zach Wilson can make big plays; his problem is that he makes bad plays instead of checking down when the big play isn't there. Nobody's going to blame Garrett Wilson for that, so he could put up some nice, big numbers as a rookie. I understand why hype puts receivers such as George Pickens and Skyy Moore ahead of Wilson, but those guys won't be the focal point of their teams' passing games the way Wilson should be.
Bryan: You're right when you say that rookie quarterbacks are the best choices for rookie of the year, when they play. And with Pickett's odds too short for me, that leaves one rookie passer with the chance to play significant time this year: Desmond Ridder. I was moderately impressed by Ridder's performance so far in the preseason, and I'm still gobsmacked by Derrick Klassen's never-ending love for the guy. Marcus Mariota has looked solid enough, but there's very little reason for the Falcons not to see what they have in Ridder at some point early this season. He'll get opportunities for sure, and he looks put together enough to take advantage of them from the beginning.
Aaron: For +1000, I'm not falling for the Isaiah Likely hype. For +2000, I'm not falling for the Isaiah Likely hype. For +6000, however, I'm willing to put a little bit of longshot money on the Isaiah Likely hype. Hey, somebody has to catch the ball in Baltimore besides Mark Andrews. Maybe 800 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for a No. 2 tight end gets some OROY votes?
|Aaron||Kenny Pickett (+900)||Garrett Wilson (+1400)||Isaiah Likely (+6000)|
|Bryan||Breece Hall (+850)||Dameon Pierce (+1600)||Desmond Ridder (+2000)|
Defensive Rookie of the Year
|Defensive Rookie of the Year|
|Aidan Hutchinson||+450||Lewis Cine||+3500||Jack Sanborn||+10000|
|Kayvon Thibodeaux||+600||Roger McCreary||+4000||Haskell Garrett||+10000|
|Travon Walker||+800||Leo Chenal||+4000||Derion Kendrick||+10000|
|Kyle Hamilton||+800||Jalen Pitre||+4000||DeAngelo Malone||+10000|
|Ahmad Gardner||+1000||Jaquan Brisker||+5000||Darrian Beavers||+10000|
|Quay Walker||+1000||Christian Harris||+5000||Channing Tindall||+10000|
|Derek Stingley Jr||+1200||Chad Muma||+5000||Coby Bryant||+10000|
|Nakobe Dean||+1200||Brian Asamoah||+5000||Cam Taylor-Britt||+10000|
|Jermaine Johnson II||+1200||Boye Mafe||+5000||Bryan Cook||+10000|
|Jordan Davis||+1400||Arnold Ebiketie||+5000||Tariq Woolen||+10000|
|Devin Lloyd||+1500||Troy Andersen||+5000||Perrion Winfrey||+10000|
|George Karlaftis||+1600||Nik Bonitto||+5000||Martin Emerson||+10000|
|Trent McDuffie||+1600||Malcolm Rodriguez||+5000||Nick Cross||+10000|
|Kaiir Elam||+2000||DeMarvin Leal||+6500||Mykael Wright||+10000|
|Devonte Wyatt||+2500||Cameron Thomas||+6500||Marcus Jones||+10000|
|Andrew Booth Jr||+2500||Travis Jones||+6500||Mario Goodrich||+10000|
|Drake Jackson||+3000||Logan Hall||+6500||Kerby Joseph||+10000|
|Kyler Gordon||+3000||Brandon Smith||+8000||Josh Paschal||+10000|
|Daxton Hill||+3500||Myjai Sanders||+8000||Josh Jobe||+10000|
|Sam Williams||+3500||Kingsley Enagbare||+8000|
Bryan: What was a somewhat difficult choice got made a lot easier when Kayvon Thibodeaux sprained his MCL; although it looks like he'll avoid missing serious time, he's getting second opinions on it as we speak. With Thibodeaux's early-season effectiveness thus at least somewhat in question, I think Aidan Hutchinson becomes the clear favorite. He was my favorite guy coming out of the draft, I think he fits really well for Dan Campbell, and he's going to produce a lot of highlight-reel plays very quickly—a lead that Thibodeaux may not be able to claw back by the time he's back up to speed.
Aaron: Agreed, Hutchinson is the favorite here. He had the college production and great measurables and he's in a good situation where he can be the top pass-rusher and get plenty of snaps.
Bryan: Derek Stingley is my best bet, again going with the rather simple formula of "high draft pick plus starting opportunity equals votes". It's harder to go with a cornerback than an edge rusher because of issues with forcing yourself into plays; it's easier for a good cornerback to blend in a little bit as other players are targeted. But if Stingley is really fully healthy and anywhere near where he was a couple years ago, the Texans may have grabbed the best player in this year's class.
Aaron: Voters like numbers when it comes to defensive players, and linebackers get numbers. Since Nakobe Dean may not start, that leaves me with Devin Lloyd of the Jacksonville Jaguars as the best value on the board at +1500. It's hard to know if he can take tackles away from Foyesade Oluokun, but if he can, he could put up big (somewhat empty, but big) tackle numbers.
Bryan: I have been looking for odds on Sammy Womack everywhere, because if I don't get one homer pick in these things, I start to break out in hives. With few people wanting to offer odds on fifth-round nickel cornerbacks, I'm instead going with Nick Cross, who looks to have won the starting safety job in Indianapolis. Everyone gets praise in training camp—it's a praise-generating machine—but the level to which everyone around the Colts stops to point out Cross' success seems to go above and beyond mere preseason hype. And, at +10000, he's about as long of a longshot as you can get. Other than Womack, at any rate.
Aaron: Yes, Cross is the clear longshot pick. Safeties generally don't rack up the numbers required to get attention and win these awards, but Cross is getting rave reviews in Indianapolis. He's way, way ahead of any of the other options that are above +5000.
|Aaron||Aidan Hutchinson (+450)||Devin Lloyd (+1500)||Nick Cross (+10000)|
|Bryan||Aidan Hutchinson (+450)||Derek Stingley (+1200)||Nick Cross (+10000)|
Comeback Player of the Year
|Comeback Player of the Year|
|Derrick Henry||+400||Cam Akers||+2500||Will Fuller V||+5000|
|Jameis Winston||+550||Danielle Hunter||+3000||Carl Lawson||+6000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+750||Khalil Mack||+4000||D.J Chark||+8000|
|Baker Mayfield||+800||Drew Lock||+4000||DeAndre Hopkins||+8000|
|Michael Thomas||+800||Chris Godwin||+4000||Blake Martinez||+8000|
|Daniel Jones||+800||Tre'Davious White||+5000||Brandon Graham||+10000|
|Mitchell Trubisky||+1200||Jeff Okudah||+5000||Darrell Henderson||+10000|
|J.K Dobbins||+1400||Raheem Mostert||+5000||Dan Arnold||+10000|
|Saquon Barkley||+1600||Deshaun Watson||+5000||Maxx Williams||+10000|
|Marcus Mariota||+1600||Robert Woods||+5000||Marlon Humphrey||+10000|
|Chase Young||+1600||Marcus Peters||+5000||Ronnie Stanley||+10000|
|Travis Etienne||+2000||Odell Beckham Jr||+5000||Jaycee Horn||+10000|
|Allen Robinson||+2500||Trey Lance||+5000||Gus Edwards||+10000|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||+2500||JJ Watt||+5000|
Bryan: Every year, I have to ask these questions—what, exactly, are some of these people coming back from? Allen Robinson and Mitchell Trubisky are apparently getting credit for coming back from being associated with the Chicago Bears. Daniel Jones can't come back to somewhere he never was. I get that not all the voters might think this way, but there are some low odds here for players whom I would never, ever vote for, regardless of how good of a season they put up.
I picked Christian McCaffrey as my offensive player of the year, and if he's anywhere near that conversation, surely, he's the comeback player as well.
Aaron: My favorite "what is he coming back from?" would have to be Trey Lance, who was neither injured nor bad last year. He's coming back from being a rookie?
Bryan: Lance did at least have a hurt thumb for a couple weeks. Such tenacity.
Aaron: Anyway, we said yesterday that I'm driving the Jameis Winston bandwagon, so let's go with Winston here as well. If he has a strong season and the Saints do as well as Football Outsiders is predicting, he should be a shoo-in. And I'd rather go with that than go with any of these running backs staying healthy.
Bryan: But speaking of running backs staying healthy, you had J.K. Dobbins as your best bet to lead the league in rushing yards this season. I think it's safe to say if he comes anywhere near that, he'll be a strong contender for comeback player as well. In fact, can we just pencil the entire Baltimore Ravens team here? With all their injuries last season, it feels like they have a half-dozen guys who could claim this one.
Aaron: Well, Dobbins was my best longshot bet, anyway. So I think he's a good choice for Comeback Player of the Year. But I think Travis Etienne and Cam Akers are also good choices for CPOY, given that each of those players will also be RB1. Akers may share time with Darrell Henderson, but it's going to be a very good offense. He's going to come back not only from injury but from last year's dismal playoff performance. That was a small sample size there, and he's better than that. So let's go with Akers at +2500 as my best value.
Bryan: My longshot pick is Khalil Mack, only because there are enough skill position players who are going to put up gaudy fantasy numbers that Mack might get a little lost in the shuffle—especially if he ends up playing second fiddle to Joey Bosa on a strong Chargers team. But Mack certainly fits the profile of a comeback player: a double-digit sack guy coming back from missing half the year from an injury which theoretically shouldn't slow him down too much this season. He just might need a little help elsewhere to get noticed.
Aaron: I'm going to go with Robert Woods at +5000 as my longshot. He should be the clear WR1 in Tennessee with the problems Treylon Burks is having right now, and he could put up excellent numbers if Ryan Tannehill concentrates on throwing to him. We already know he's one of KUBIAK's favorite underrated players this season.
|Aaron||Jameis Winston (+550)||Cam Akers (+2500)||Robert Woods (+5000)|
|Bryan||Christian McCaffrey (+750)||J.K. Dobbins (+1400)||Khalil Mack (+4000)|
Super Bowl Winner
|Super Bowl Winner|
|Buffalo Bills||+550||Philadelphia Eagles||+2200||Pittsburgh Steelers||+9000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+750||Indianapolis Colts||+2500||New York Giants||+13000|
|Green Bay Packers||+900||Minnesota Vikings||+3500||Carolina Panthers||+13000|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+1000||Arizona Cardinals||+4000||Jacksonville Jaguars||+13000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+1200||Cleveland Browns||+4000||New York Jets||+13000|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+1400||New Orleans Saints||+4000||Seattle Seahawks||+15000|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1600||Las Vegas Raiders||+4000||Chicago Bears||+15000|
|Denver Broncos||+1700||Miami Dolphins||+4000||Detroit Lions||+15000|
|Dallas Cowboys||+2000||Tennessee Titans||+4000||Atlanta Falcons||+20000|
|Baltimore Ravens||+2000||New England Patriots||+5000||Houston Texans||+25000|
|Cincinnati Bengals||+2200||Washington Commanders||+7000|
Bryan: I feel like I owe it to the city of Buffalo to pick the Bills as my favorites, after not giving the K-Gun era Bills credit for being the best heartbreak dynasty of all time this offseason. I have questions about the Bills' ability to be consistently great week-in and week-out, and questions about whether or not that inconsistency will cost them the bye week, home-field advantage, and an easier path to the Super Bowl. But on paper, at least, they seem to be the best put-together team in the league. They're our simulation's favorite, they're the sportsbook's favorite, and they're mine, too. Very fun at parties, I swear.
Aaron: Well, I have been on all kinds of radio shows and podcasts and even Good Morning Football talking about how the Buffalo Bills are the Super Bowl favorites. Top-five DVOA projection in all three phases. They're the team to beat.
Bryan: You have also been going around talking about your favorite bird team to reach the Super Bowl as well, drawing shock and surprise as you go. So yes, I'm with you with the Baltimore Ravens as my best bet. I think they're getting undervalued because of underestimation of just how badly all the injuries hurt them last season. I think Lamar Jackson is still an MVP-caliber player, and even if the receiver corps isn't world-class, the rushing attack and Jackson's dual-threat abilities make them one of the hardest teams to game-plan against. John Harbaugh is on the short list of the best coaches in the league. If the Bills slip up, I really like the Ravens to come out of the AFC with the bye week, as the AFC West continues to murderize each other throughout the year. They're a good, logical pick for best value.
… what, you weren't talking about the Ravens?
Aaron: We'll get to my favorite bird team in a moment. I'm saving them for my longshot pick.
Instead, for best value, I'll go with the team that's currently No. 3 in the DVOA projections, and that's the Los Angeles Chargers at +1400. Yes, we have the Chargers slightly ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs this year. We know that Justin Herbert is the kind of quality quarterback who can win a Super Bowl title. The defense should be much improved with all the talent they have added this offseason, from J.C. Jackson to Khalil Mack to Sebastian Joseph-Day. I believe in Brandon Staley's coaching style. At a certain point, the Chargers curse is going to go away. I mean, the Patriots were the most cursed team in the NFL throughout the 1980s and 1990s. That went away just fine starting in 2001. It can go away for the Chargers too.
Bryan: OK, not the Ravens, I get it. You want to pick the team from Pennsylvania who we expect to do well. So I'll agree with you and take the Pittsburgh Steelers at +9000—that's what I call a longshot! What if Kenny Pickett is good? And not just "runs a two-minute drill in the preseason like a veteran" good, but actually, factually, top-10 good? You pair him with a very solid group of skill position players and Pickett-to-Pickens sweeps the nation. The front seven plays at a great level with Watt and Cam Heyward and company destroying offensive lines. The division struggles—Cincinnati is more like they were in the regular season than the playoffs; Jackson doesn't find his 2019 form in Baltimore; Cleveland, is, well, Cleveland. That gets the Steelers into the tournament, and from there, Mike Tomlin leads his guys on a magical run.
Likely? No. But +9000 is a 1.1% chance of things happening. I think the Steelers are more at, like, 2% or 3%. Double your odds!
Aaron: See, now I feel pressure to go with a really big longshot. Is this where I give my big Jacksonville Jaguars speech again?
Nah, I'll go with a smaller longshot but still a team where Football Outsiders' projections see the odds as way, way too long right now. That's the Philadelphia Eagles at +2200. Our model loves, loves, loves the Eagles this year. They have a top-seven projection on both offense and defense! That defensive one is a surprise given that they were 25th last year, but look at the additions: Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, Kyzir White, two good rookies, Brandon Graham coming back from injury. The Eagles also have the easiest projected schedule in the league, and that's before we attempt to account for the Tyron Smith injury and what it will probably do to the Dallas offense through at least December. The numbers don't necessarily say that the Eagles will win the NFC. Tampa Bay and Los Angeles have better DVOA projections. But I think the Eagles have a shockingly good chance of winning the No. 1 seed thanks to that schedule, and from there … who knows? If Jimmy Garoppolo can lead a team to the Super Bowl, Jalen Hurts can lead a team to the Super Bowl. You know, so he can lose to a better quarterback such as Josh Allen or Justin Herbert or even Patrick Mahomes.
Bryan: Or Kenny Pickett. I'll look forward to the Keystone State Bowl this February, after which it will show that all of our picks are, as always, 100% correct.
|Aaron||Buffalo Bills (+550)||Los Angeles Chargers (+1400)||Philadelphia Eagles (+2200)|
|Bryan||Buffalo Bills (+550)||Baltimore Ravens (+2000)||Pittsburgh Steelers (+9000)|