By Bryan Knowles and Andrew Potter
Andrew: Hello, and welcome to the final preseason Scramble for the Ball before the 2019 NFL season kicks off on Thursday night. The bloated preseason rosters have all now been pruned, some more savagely than others, and the final pieces of reshuffling -- or, uh, extreme landscape reengineering in the case of Bill O'Brien -- are almost complete.
Bryan: I hope no one paid too much attention to the Texans' preseason games, now that their entire roster has been re-kafoobled with extreme prejudice.
We have one last piece of housekeeping to get through before we're ready for some football, however. We've gone through each division and given you our over/under picks; now it's time to switch our focus to the individual players, giving our picks for the end-of-year awards and statistical leaders along the way. Last year, I put the vast majority of my chips on a dominant Le'Veon Bell campaign so, uh, there's nowhere to go but up from here.
Andrew: We also see the return of last year's Double Survival face-off, as well as our first Lock of the Week picks. We have a lot to get through, so we'll spare the "ados."
Bryan: Just one more reminder: for each prop, we'll be picking three names. The first is the player we think is most likely to win the category, regardless of their odds. The second is the player we think is the best bet -- the best value for your money. And the third is our favorite longshot; someone with long odds that we think could end up surprising people.
Player Stat Props
Most Passing Yards
|Patrick Mahomes||+300||Derek Carr||+4500||Joe Flacco||+13500|
|Matt Ryan||+500||Deshaun Watson||+4500||Mitch Trubisky||+15000|
|Ben Roethlisberger||+725||Jimmy Garoppolo||+4500||Marcus Mariota||+17500|
|Aaron Rodgers||+800||Kyler Murray||+4750||Case Keenum||+20000|
|Jameis Winston||+950||Matthew Stafford||+5000||Dwayne Haskins||+20000|
|Baker Mayfield||+1100||Russell Wilson||+7000||Eli Manning||+20000|
|Drew Brees||+1800||Andy Dalton||+10000||Josh Allen||+20000|
|Philip Rivers||+2000||Cam Newton||+10000||Lamar Jackson||+20000|
|Jared Goff||+2500||Nick Foles||+10000||Ryan Fitzpatrick||+20000|
|Tom Brady||+2500||Sam Darnold||+10000||Josh Rosen||+25000|
|Kirk Cousins||+3300||Dak Prescott||+12500||Daniel Jones||+50000|
Andrew: Last year, Tom Brady was the favorite for this category, whereas Patrick Mahomes was down at +1900. My, how times change. Given the atrocity that was the Chiefs defense in 2018, it's easy to see why the reigning MVP is the favorite. I won't disagree with that assessment. The really interesting name in the top five is Jameis Winston though. I drafted Winston in my fantasy league because KUBIAK really liked him, and he also has an atrocious defense helping necessitate the gaudy yardage totals.
Bryan: Oh no, don't let our lack of disagreement end up coming down to the player props, too. I also have Mahomes as my favorite, because yeah, betting against Patrick Mahomes on anything passing-related is folly based on what we saw last season. But I, too, have Winston as my best bet. I really like the pairing of Bruce Arians and Winston; Arians coached Carson Palmer to a 4,600-yard season and a pair of 4,200-yarders, and was half-coach for Andrew Luck on a 4,300-yard season. None of those would really stand a chance of topping the league in 2019's passing environment, but Arians knows how to get the most out of a big-armed quarterback. There's a chance Winston collapses and is on a new team next year, but 19/2 odds aren't too shabby for someone with Winston's arm strength and a very good receiving corps.
As for a longshot, part of me was tempted to grab Eli Manning (+20000) just in a "hah, counter-narrative!" pick.
Andrew: Honestly, I'll just be impressed if Manning is still starting in Week 17.
Bryan: You're likely right, but that's why he's a longshot. However, common sense did prevail in the end, so I'm going to look elsewhere in the division instead and say Carson Wentz takes a step forward in Year 3. Wentz hasn't played a full season since his rookie year and has never even topped 4,000 yards passing, so his odds are appropriately slim. However, he has seen his yards per game increase every season; he was on pace for nearly 4,500 yards last year. A healthy season in a division that does not impress me defensively, with another step forward, could see Wentz on top here.
Andrew: For my longshot, I'm repeating my pick from 2018. Matthew Stafford's value has lengthened massively, from 12-1 to 50-1, following a fairly pedestrian 2018, but he is often one of the league's high-volume passers and I like the look of his offense. I'm not sure the divisional environment is conducive to a league-leading total, but that is also why he is a longshot. And yes, I drafted Stafford because KUBIAK liked him, too. So if these picks bomb, you know how my fantasy season went.
|Andrew||Patrick Mahomes (+300)||Jameis Winston (+950)||Matthew Stafford (+5000)|
|Bryan||Patrick Mahomes (+300)||Jameis Winston (+950)||Carson Wentz (+4000)|
Most Passing Touchdowns
|Patrick Mahomes||+325||Kirk Cousins||+3300||Eli Manning||+15000|
|Matt Ryan||+400||Jimmy Garoppolo||+3500||Marcus Mariota||+15000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+900||Kyler Murray||+4500||Ryan Fitzpatrick||+15000|
|Baker Mayfield||+1200||Derek Carr||+6000||Ryan Tannehill||+15000|
|Jared Goff||+1500||Mitchell Trubisky||+7500||Case Keenum||+20000|
|Ben Roethlisberger||+1800||Sam Darnold||+7500||Josh Allen||+20000|
|Philip Rivers||+1800||Dak Prescott||+8500||Josh Rosen||+20000|
|Carson Wentz||+2000||Nick Foles||+8500||Lamar Jackson||+22500|
|Drew Brees||+2000||Andy Dalton||+10000||Drew Lock||+35000|
|Tom Brady||+2000||Cam Newton||+10000||Colt McCoy||+50000|
|Deshaun Watson||+2500||Matthew Stafford||+10000||Daniel Jones||+50000|
|Jameis Winston||+2500||Joe Flacco||+12500||Will Grier||+50000|
|Russell Wilson||+3000||Dwayne Haskins||+15000|
Bryan: Last year, you made a few waves by calling Patrick Mahomes your longshot to lead the league in passing touchdowns -- a real outsider, who might be able to lead the league in both touchdowns and interceptions as he slung the ball around the field with reckless abandon. Uh, yeah, good pick there. Mahomes is my favorite, again, and it's not even particularly close.
Andrew: For the record, Mahomes did not lead the league interceptions -- but he did lead the league in adjusted interceptions. If only those defenders could catch. Mahomes is likewise my clear favorite, but +325 is terrible value. My value pick here is also Jameis Winston, who still has absolutely no running game to speak of and no fewer than four viable big red-zone targets, plus a team that will offer him more garbage-time scoring opportunities than most other quarterbacks with big numbers.
Bryan: All in on Tampa Bay, huh? I can see it, but my best value pick instead goes to Baker Mayfield. Our projections aren't as high on the Browns as common wisdom is, but that's not because we doubt Mayfield's ability; that's more on his defense perhaps not being as good as expected. But that's great for Mayfield's touchdown opportunities! Mayfield tossed 27 touchdowns a year ago despite not starting for the first month of the season and not getting any first-team reps in training camp and having to deal with Hue Jackson and Todd Haley for half the year. And now he has OBJ to throw to, as well. The Browns are going to lose a lot of high-scoring games this year, and Mayfield will throw plenty of touchdowns.
Andrew: It's actually the opposite of all-in on Tampa Bay. I'm all the way out on them as a team. They're so bad that Winston is their only hope. That is ... not a lot of hope, admittedly, but it could mean big numbers.
My longshot's another NFC South guy: Cam Newton had a debatable MVP campaign in 2015, tossing a career-high 35 touchdowns. If the Panthers can recapture last year's pre-injury magic, given the quality of his receivers now, that number could well be even higher in 2019. I'm really surprised to see his odds as long as they are, too.
Bryan: Newton's an interesting pick! I think he's hurt by how good he is with his legs, and they were sixth in the league in rushing touchdowns a year ago, but I liked what we saw out of Newton in Norv Turner's offense a year ago. If I were to pick someone that far down the order, I might go with Andy Dalton in Zac Taylor's new offense, but instead I'm going with Russell Wilson. I know the Seahawks regard the passing game as something to be used only when absolutely necessary, but they've also made noise about throwing the ball to running backs more. If those throws replace runs by the running backs, that could end up with a few more goal line dump-off touchdowns. Russ did lead the league in passing touchdowns the year before the Brian Schottenheimer era began, so he has the talent. His receiving corps was wrecked this offseason, but hey, that's why they're longshots.
|Andrew||Patrick Mahomes (+325)||Jameis Winston (+2500)||Cam Newton (+10000)|
|Bryan||Patrick Mahomes (+325)||Baker Mayfield (+1200)||Russell Wilson (+3000)|
Most Rushing Yards
|Ezekiel Elliott||+300||Miles Sanders||+4000||Peyton Barber||+10000|
|Saquon Barkley||+325||Phillip Lindsay||+4000||Rashaad Penny||+11500|
|Derrick Henry||+1300||David Montgomery||+4500||Carlos Hyde||+15000|
|Todd Gurley||+1400||Derrius Guice||+4500||Dion Lewis||+15000|
|Dalvin Cook||+1500||Alvin Kamara||+5000||DOnta Foreman||+15000|
|LeVeon Bell||+1600||Devonta Freeman||+5000||James White||+15000|
|Nick Chubb||+1600||Jordan Howard||+5000||Royce Freeman||+15000|
|Leonard Fournette||+1750||Josh Jacobs||+5000||Austin Ekeler||+17500|
|Chris Carson||+1800||Lamar Jackson||+5000||Frank Gore||+17500|
|James Connner||+2000||Mark Ingram||+5250||C.J. Anderson||+20000|
|Joe Mixon||+2000||Damien Williams||+5500||Chris Thompson||+20000|
|Marlon Mack||+2000||Adrian Peterson||+6600||Duke Johnson Jr.||+20000|
|Melvin Gordon||+2000||LeSean McCoy||+6600||Giovani Bernard||+20000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+3300||Latavius Murray||+7500||Ito Smith||+20000|
|David Johnson||+3300||Ronald Jones||+7500||Jalen Richard||+20000|
|Kerryon Johnson||+3300||Matt Breida||+8000||Nyheim Hines||+20000|
|Sony Michel||+3500||Tevin Coleman||+8000||Tarik Cohen||+20000|
|Aaron Jones||+4000||Jerick McKinnon||+8500||Theo Riddick||+20000|
Andrew: A rational man might surmise that to be the favorite to lead the league in rushing, a back might need to be the favorite to start his team's opening game. Every day that passes without a contract makes the latter of those less likely, and I won't be the one getting hit by this year's tolling Bell. Put me down for the other favorite, Saquon Barkley, and be done with it.
Bryan: I got slammed by Bell's holdout in multiple categories, so you think I would have learned my lesson, too. As of Monday afternoon, reports have Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys both close to a deal and as far apart as they were when they started, in a Schrödinger's contract standoff. So, I should go elsewhere on the board…
... except the last time a Cowboys star running back sat out all of preseason and into the regular season, back in 1993, he missed two games. The Cowboys lost both of those games, and Jerry Jones opened up his wallet and made Emmitt Smith the highest-paid running back in football. Smith then led the league in rushing, even missing those first two games. I think Jones blinks again, and while Elliott is no Smith, he could pull off the same trick.
Andrew: If the Cowboys lose at home to the Skins this weekend, it will be more than Jones' wallet that he's opening. My value pick's the rather interesting Marlon Mack. The Colts aren't likely to completely cave the way they did the last time twice their expected starter missed the season, and if they're any way decent I expect that offensive line will be a big chunk of the reason why. They'll play plenty of teams whose pass defense is better, relatively speaking, than run defense, making Mack a more appealing choice with Jacoby Brissett as the starter than he was with Andrew Luck.
Bryan: I can't call someone as low as Mack a value pick, because value picks have to have a decent shot at winning. Last season, only three players topped 1,200 yards rushing. One was Elliott. One was Todd Gurley, whose knees appear to be actively disintegrating as we speak. I'm left with Barkley as my best value pick, despite being nearly co-favorites with Elliott. Finding a team willing to ride one running back all year long is tough, and those are the guys you have to look towards for this category.
For a longshot, I was briefly tempted by Sony Michel, totally contradicting everything I just said, but I'll instead lean on James Conner. To lead the league, you need to run for about 90 or 95 yards per game; Conner was at 75 last season. With Antonio Brown out of town, the Steelers are likely to shift back towards the run a little bit -- not a ton, but maybe not the widest pass-run ratio split in the NFL. A couple of extra carries for Conner a game could give him those extra 15 yards.
Andrew: I like Conner's odds, but not as much as those of the man just below him. Christian McCaffrey is unlikely to replicate last season: only three players have ever rushed for 1,000 yards and had 100 catches in the same season, and neither LaDainian Tomlinson nor Matt Forte could repeat the feat. If something's going to give, it will be the receptions, but McCaffrey is the workhorse back in Carolina as the only established back on the roster. He should, in theory, have a good shot at a career-best tally even if his quarterback's health remains a question mark.
|Andrew||Saquon Barkley (+325)||Marlon Mack (+2000)||Christian McCaffrey (+3300)|
|Bryan||Ezekiel Elliott (+300)||Saquon Barkley (+325)||James Conner (+2000)|
Most Rushing Touchdowns
|Saquon Barkley||+710||Leonard Fournette||+2500||Peyton Barber||+6500|
|Ezekiel Elliott||+800||Aaron Jones||+3000||Ronald Jones||+6500|
|Chris Carson||+1000||Devonta Freeman||+3000||Deshaun Watson||+6600|
|Derrick Henry||+1000||Kyler Murray||+3300||Jerick McKinnon||+7500|
|Todd Gurley||+1000||Kerryon Johnson||+3500||Adrian Peterson||+10000|
|Nick Chubb||+1400||Dalvin Cook||+4000||Carlos Hyde||+10000|
|Alvin Kamara||+1500||Latavius Murray||+4500||Dak Prescott||+10000|
|Damien Williams||+1500||Phillip Lindsay||+4500||LeSean McCoy||+10000|
|James Conner||+1800||Josh Allen||+5000||Matt Breida||+10000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+2000||Josh Jacobs||+5000||Rashaad Penny||+10000|
|LeVeon Bell||+2000||Lamar Jackson||+5000||Tarik Cohen||+10000|
|Marlon Mack||+2000||Mark Ingram||+5000||Tevin Coleman||+10000|
|Melvin Gordon||+2000||Cam Newton||+5500||Chris Thompson||+15000|
|Sony Michel||+2200||Miles Sanders||+6000||DOnta Foreman||+15000|
|Darrell Henderson||+2500||Derrius Guice||+6500||Royce Freeman||+15000|
|David Johnson||+2500||Frank Gore||+6500||Dion Lewis||+25000|
|David Montgomery||+2500||Jordan Howard||+6500||Mitchell Trubisky||+25000|
|Joe Mixon||+2500||Kenyan Drake||+6500|
Andrew: I love the number of quarterbacks I see on this list. I'm not going to pick any of them, but just seeing Ravens starting quarterback Lamar Jackson with the same odds as starting running back Mark Ingram makes me giddy. And Jackson's odds aren't even the shortest among the quarterbacks!
Bryan: Crazy times we live in. The quarterbacks might be fun for a longshot pick, but I still have to imagine a running back will lead the league in rushing touchdowns, no matter how much that's becoming a role by committee. In fact, my favorite and best value bet are the same guy -- Todd Gurley. I know the Rams are likely to spell him more this season in an attempt to prevent last year's collapse, but surely, that won't extend to the goal line. They swear up and down that Gurley's healthy and looking fantastic, and I am apparently a sucker for Sean McVay's smile, so I'll grab the two-time defending champ Gurley not once, but twice.
Andrew: Once again, we are close but not quite in accord. My value pick is Derrick Henry, because I think the Titans will continue to be adequate and he will once again be the mainly adequate beneficiary of their adequacy. My favorite is Saquon Barkley though, because the Giants will not be adequate and Barkley will be the only thing keeping them semi-competitive.
In this field, I posit that the base requirement to truly be considered a longshot should be longer odds than Kyler Murray. That's a "me" rule, not a "we" rule, but it does lead me into the waiting arms of Dalvin Cook as my longshot pick. Cook has only four career touchdowns in 14 career starts, but all of the players who would have vultured those scores in years past have now moved on. Cook is the clear No. 1 in that backfield, and should be due a significant upturn in production ... if he can stay healthy, which is the major reason for only 14 games played in two years since he turned professional.
Bryan: If I was going for a longshot that long, I'd probably take Kerryon Johnson, who only had three rushing touchdowns as a rookie but looks to be a good fit, when healthy, in Detroit's attack. Instead, I'm going to try to see inside Bill Belichick's head -- always a frightening task -- and pick Sony Michel to not only start as the Patriots' top running back, but actually keep that role throughout the season. He had six touchdowns in the playoffs last year, after all. Maybe that momentum keeps up into the regular season.
Andrew: I really like Michel's odds too, but to me he just doesn't seem good enough value to be value or long enough odds to be longshot. Consider him my grey-area "mandatory agreement with Bryan" pick.
|Andrew||Saquon Barkley (+710)||Derrick Henry (+1000)||Dalvin Cook (+4000)|
|Bryan||Todd Gurley (+1000)||Todd Gurley (+1000)||Sony Michel (+2200)|
Most Receiving Yards
|Julio Jones||+375||Zach Ertz||+7500||A.J. Brown||+20000|
|DeAndre Hopkins||+700||N'Keal Harry||+8000||Courtland Sutton||+20000|
|Odell Beckham Jr||+750||Allen Robinson||+10000||Emmanuel Sanders||+20000|
|Michael Thomas||+1000||Christian Kirk||+10000||Geronimo Allison||+20000|
|Mike Evans||+1000||Demaryius Thomas||+10000||Hakeem Butler||+20000|
|Tyreek Hill||+1300||Keke Coutee||+10000||James Washington||+20000|
|Antonio Brown||+1600||Sammy Watkins||+10000||Jamison Crowder||+20000|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||+1600||D.K. Metcalf||+10500||Jared Cook||+20000|
|Adam Thielen||+2000||D.J. Moore||+12500||Larry Fitzgerald||+20000|
|Davante Adams||+2000||Dante Pettis||+12500||Marvin Jones Jr||+20000|
|T.Y. Hilton||+2000||Jarvis Landry||+12500||Tyrell Williams||+20000|
|Keenan Allen||+2500||Sterling Shepard||+12500||Will Fuller||+20000|
|A.J. Green||+3300||Tyler Lockett||+12500||Christian McCaffrey||+22500|
|Travis Kelce||+3300||Alshon Jeffery||+15000||Curtis Samuel||+22500|
|Amari Cooper||+4000||Antonio Callaway||+15000||Austin Hooper||+25000|
|Chris Godwin||+5000||Calvin Ridley||+15000||David Njoku||+25000|
|George Kittle||+5000||Cooper Kupp||+15000||Evan Engram||+25000|
|Josh Gordon||+5000||Dede Westbrook||+15000||Mike Williams||+25000|
|Kenny Golladay||+5000||Golden Tate||+15000||Mohamed Sanu||+25000|
|Tyler Boyd||+5000||Kenny Stills||+15000||O.J. Howard||+25000|
|Brandin Cooks||+6000||Marquise Brown||+15000||Tarik Cohen||+25000|
|DeSean Jackson||+7500||Robby Anderson||+15000||Corey Davis||+30000|
|Julian Edelman||+7500||Saquon Barkley||+15000||Eric Ebron||+30000|
|Robert Woods||+7500||Michael Gallup||+17500||Hunter Henry||+30000|
|Stefon Diggs||+7500||Todd Gurley||+17500||Alvin Kamara||+35000|
Andrew: This is Odell Beckham's to lose already, right? Jarvis Landry's going to eat up catches, but it will be Beckham who actually gains, ya know, yards for the Browns. Now that Beckham has a viable quarterback again, he looks tremendous value as the third member of the top three.
Bryan: No, I'm going for both of the other members of the top three over Beckham, as I'd like to see OBJ top 1,500 yards in a season before declaring him the runaway favorite. Only one player has even gone over 1,600 yards in the last three years, so I'm saying this is still Julio Jones' title to lose. Maybe Beckham will be really good with Baker Mayfield, but we already know Jones is really good with Matt Ryan; he has led this category in two of the past four seasons. My best value, then is DeAndre Hopkins, who was at the top of essentially every DVOA by route we looked at last year; he's the most versatile receiver in the game. And maybe Deshaun Watson will have a second to hold the ball now! And maybe teams will score ten million points against the Texans with Jadeveon Clowney out of town, and they'll be forced to throw the ball more!
Andrew: Value for me is No. 4 on the list. The No. 2 receiver position remains less than clear in New Orleans, and Michael Thomas has proven that he can bear basically the entire load himself. It's tough to see how his usage could get any higher than it was last year, but a slight reduction in volume could be paired with an upward regression in yards per reception and still come out as a league-leading season. That four-figure value is enticing.
Bryan: For a longshot, I'm tempted to go with an ex-Saint in Brandin Cooks; any deep threat is a tough buy here because of their boom/bust nature, but when Cooks booms, he booms. But instead, I'll go across town and take Keenan Allen, whose value is being a bit depressed by his ankle injury. I am still quite heavily on board the Chargers' train this season, even as their customary patina of bad luck begins to form. The return of Hunter Henry might cut down on Allen's targets, but it might also open additional room in the secondary for him, and the ongoing Melvin Gordon contract dispute might entice Los Angeles to throw more often. Air it out, Phil!
Andrew: There are a lot of appealing longshots, with all manner of reasons for their long odds. These include the likes of A.J. Green and Josh Gordon -- two players who might, in a slightly different timeline, be among the favorites. The longshot I really like is Travis Kelce, because I'm still not sure Tyreek Hill is completely in the clear off the field and I've long considered Kelce the most important piece of the Chiefs offense regardless (now surpassed, of course, by Patrick Mahomes). Not many tight ends have the speed and ability after the catch that Kelce does, and though it would be a surprise for him to win this, it also isn't completely out of the question
|Andrew||Odell Beckham Jr (+750)||Michael Thomas (+1000)||Travis Kelce (+3300)|
|Bryan||Julio Jones (+375)||DeAndre Hopkins (+700)||Keenan Allen (+2500)|
Most Receiving Touchdowns
|Davante Adams||+600||Jimmy Graham||+5000||Geronimo Allison||+10000|
|DeAndre Hopkins||+850||Kenny Stills||+5000||Golden Tate||+10000|
|Travis Kelce||+1200||Mecole Hardman||+5000||Jack Doyle||+10000|
|Mike Evans||+1250||O.J. Howard||+5000||James White||+10000|
|Antonio Brown||+1600||Julian Edelman||+5500||Jarvis Landry||+10000|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||+1600||Sammy Watkins||+5500||Larry Fitzgerald||+10000|
|Julio Jones||+1600||D.J. Moore||+6000||Marquise Brown||+10000|
|Odell Beckham Jr||+1600||Marvin Jones Jr||+6000||Marquise Goodwin||+10000|
|Tyreek Hill||+1750||N'Keal Harry||+6000||Saquon Barkley||+10000|
|Michael Thomas||+1800||Robby Anderson||+6000||Sterling Shepard||+10000|
|Eric Ebron||+2500||Will Fuller||+6000||Trey Burton||+10000|
|A.J. Green||+2800||Hunter Henry||+6500||Tyler Boyd||+10000|
|Amari Cooper||+2800||Kenny Golladay||+6500||Dede Westbrook||+12500|
|Adam Thielen||+3000||Robert Woods||+6500||DeVante Parker||+12500|
|Tyler Lockett||+3000||Vance McDonald||+6600||Mohamed Sanu||+12500|
|Alshon Jeffery||+3300||Allen Robinson||+7500||Quincy Enunwa||+12500|
|Calvin Ridley||+3300||David Njoku||+7500||Adam Humphries||+15000|
|Keenan Allen||+3300||Tyrell Williams||+7500||Christian Kirk||+15000|
|T.Y. Hilton||+3300||Christian McCaffrey||+8000||Corey Davis||+15000|
|Stefon Diggs||+4000||Demaryius Thomas||+8000||Greg Olsen||+15000|
|Zach Ertz||+4000||Devin Funchess||+8000||John Brown||+15000|
|Austin Hooper||+4500||Courtland Sutton||+8500||Jordan Reed||+15000|
|Mike Williams||+4750||Albert Wilson||+10000||Paul Richardson||+15000|
|Brandin Cooks||+5000||D.K. Metcalf||+10000||Robert Foster||+15000|
|Chris Godwin||+5000||Dante Pettis||+10000||Travis Benjamin||+15000|
|Cooper Kupp||+5000||DeSean Jackson||+10000||Zay Jones||+15000|
|George Kittle||+5000||Emmanuel Sanders||+10000||Josh Doctson||+20000|
|Jared Cook||+5000||Evan Engram||+10000|
Andrew: This is where I think Hopkins comes into the frame. He is, as you point out, the most versatile No. 1 receiver in the sport, and that versatility is exceptionally valuable as an end zone target. Hopkins is my favorite to lead the league in receiving scores.
Bryan: Hopkins is one of only two players to have double-digit receiving touchdowns in each of the last two seasons, so he's a great pick for a favorite. The only problem is, Davante Adams is the other guy to do it, and he has had double-digit scores in each of the last three seasons. As three is a larger number than two, I shall take Adams.
Andrew: Fie on you and your new-fangled mathemathicals! For best value, look to none other than Antonio Brown's replacement as the No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh. Juju Smith-Schuster picked up seven touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, while Ben Roethlisberger was still trying to placate Mr. Brown. Brown had double-digit scores in four of his six seasons -- including a league-leading 15 last year -- in the role now occupied by Smith-Schuster.
Bryan: My best bets have, so far, all been fairly high up the list -- it turns out, good players get low odds? Whoda thunk it? -- but I'll stretch further down than I have to this point to pick out Tyreek Hill as my best bet. He was splashy hit-and-miss last season, being held without a touchdown in over half of his games, but he tended to grab them in bunches when he did end up finding the end zone. He was fourth in the league with 12 receiving touchdowns a year ago, and the Chiefs probably won't throw 13 touchdown passes to their running backs again in 2019. Give me Hill to take up the lion's share of that work.
Andrew: My favorite longshot is the result of some offseason attrition affecting one of the teams we both like to be involved in the playoff hunt. Tyler Lockett is the best receiver remaining in Seattle with Doug Baldwin having retired, and his value gets a further boost with the uncertainty over the immediate health of DK Metcalf. Russell Wilson is the best quarterback in that division, and Lockett is by far his best target.
Bryan: Jinx! Lockett's my longshot, too, for all the reasons you stated and more. It seems highly unlikely Lockett can repeat his efficiency numbers from last season, but his volume should go up, up, up, assuming Seattle remembers the forward pass is legal. If I had to make a unique pick, I might go with Mike Williams and his newfound WR2 role. There's no sense disagreeing for just disagreement's sake, however; I like Lockett to top last season's career-high 10 touchdowns.
|Andrew||DeAndre Hopkins (+850)||JuJu Smith-Schuster (+1600)||Tyler Lockett (+3000)|
|Bryan||Davante Adams (+600)||Tyreek Hill (+1750)||Tyler Lockett (+3000)|
Most Valuable Player
|Patrick Mahomes||+500||Sam Darnold||+10000||Joe Mixon||+22500|
|Baker Mayfield||+1150||Josh Allen (BUF)||+12500||Adam Thielen||+25000|
|Aaron Rodgers||+1200||Michael Thomas||+12500||Andy Dalton||+25000|
|Carson Wentz||+1300||Dalvin Cook||+15000||Antonio Brown||+25000|
|Philip Rivers||+1500||Khalil Mack||+15000||Brandin Cooks||+25000|
|Tom Brady||+1500||Leonard Fournette||+15000||Cooper Kupp||+25000|
|Deshaun Watson||+1800||Matthew Stafford||+15000||Corey Davis||+25000|
|Drew Brees||+1800||Mike Evans||+15000||Davante Adams||+25000|
|Cam Newton||+2500||Nick Bosa||+15000||Demaryius Thomas||+25000|
|Matt Ryan||+2500||Nick Chubb||+15000||Desean Jackson||+25000|
|Ben Roethlisberger||+3250||Sony Michel||+15000||Drew Lock||+25000|
|Russell Wilson||+3300||Kerryon Johnson||+17500||Eli Manning||+25000|
|Kirk Cousins||+3500||Jacoby Brissett||+17500||Josh Jacobs||+25000|
|Jared Goff||+4000||A.J. Green||+20000||Josh Rosen||+25000|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||+4000||Allen Robinson||+20000||Kenny Golladay||+25000|
|Lamar Jackson||+4000||Alshon Jeffrey||+20000||Marcus Mariota||+25000|
|Amari Cooper||+5000||DeAndre Hopkins||+20000||Mark Ingram||+25000|
|Mitchell Trubisky||+5000||Derrick Henry||+20000||Marvin Jones||+25000|
|Dak Prescott||+6000||Devonta Freeman||+20000||Phillip Lindsay||+25000|
|Alvin Kamara||+6600||Dwayne Haskins||+20000||Stefon Diggs||+25000|
|Christian McCaffrey||+6600||Emmanuel Sanders||+20000||Tarik Cohen||+25000|
|LeVeon Bell||+6600||Jarvis Landry||+20000||Tevin Coleman||+25000|
|Saquon Barkley||+6600||JJ Watt||+20000||Von Miller||+25000|
|Jameis Winston||+7500||Juju Smith-Schuster||+20000||Courtland Sutton||+30000|
|Todd Gurley||+7500||Julio Jones||+20000||Joe Flacco||+30000|
|Aaron Donald||+8000||Keenan Allen||+20000||Joey Bosa||+30000|
|Kyler Murray||+8000||LeSean McCoy||+20000||John Brown||+30000|
|Nick Foles||+8000||Marlon Mack||+20000||Julian Edelman||+30000|
|Ezekiel Elliot||+8500||Melvin Gordon||+20000||Travis Kelce||+30000|
|James Conner||+8500||Odell Beckham Jr||+20000||Zach Ertz||+30000|
|David Johnson||+10000||T.Y. Hilton||+20000||Daniel Jones||+75000|
|Derek Carr||+10000||Tyreek Hill||+20000|
Andrew: Patrick Mahomes is the favorite here, but my oh my is that unlikely. Mahomes would, if triumphant, be only the second player since 1996 to win back-to-back MVP crowns. Only four people have ever done it: Earl Campbell, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning. We'd basically be certifying him as a first-ballot Hall of Fame player in his second year as a starter. That's not impossible, but it is wild.
Bryan: Unlikely, yes, but Mahomes ran away with the award last year -- 41 out of the 50 votes went to him. It wasn't a close race, and it's not like he only won it because another superstar was out with an injury or something of that nature. I think Mahomes remains the favorite until proven otherwise.
Andrew: Mahomes' success was down to some other factors too though, including the dreadful Chiefs defense and a relatively down year for some of the other usual contenders. I agree that he's justifiably the favorite, but it would be truly astonishing for him to repeat.
This is another occasion in which I'm not really sure of what constitutes a longshot. I don't really see a non-quarterback winning it, but every quarterback I think has a chance is in the top 12 of the table. Given that, I think my value pick is Drew Brees -- he was a distant second to Mahomes last year, and quarterbacks our Super Bowl favorites. Brees may well get the lifetime achievement award if the Saints are as good as advertised. That leaves probably Russell Wilson as my longshot, because Seattle could easily contend for that division and if they do a lot of the credit will go Wilson's way. I like Newton too as an outsider, but his odds are just too short for me to really consider him a longshot.
Bryan: I'm with you with Brees as the value pick. With Mahomes winning last year, he probably has a disadvantage in a close race, and if Brees and the Saints dominate the NFC South on the way to the top seed in the conference, he's going to have a very strong argument (especially if there are hints that 2019 might be his last year, which is always a possibility for the aging quarterback elite). For a longshot, I'm tempted to go with Ezekiel Elliott under that "miss two games, come back, lead the league in rushing" scenario mentioned all the way back up in the rushing leader section, but I think if I proclaimed a running back the most valuable player in football, I'd have to turn in my analytics card. Instead, I'll go with Ben Roethlisberger as my longshot. If he can continue to produce his normal kind of numbers, now with both Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell out of the picture, and if he can hold off the expected Cleveland Browns resurgence (and that is STILL an odd sentence to type), he might get some consideration here.
|Andrew||Patrick Mahomes (+500)||Drew Brees (+1800)||Russell Wilson (+3300)|
|Bryan||Patrick Mahomes (+500)||Drew Brees (+1800)||Ben Roethlisberger (+3250)|
Coach of the Year
|Bruce Arians||+950||Dan Quinn||+2000||Jason Garrett||+3000|
|Kyle Shanahan||+1000||Matt LaFleur||+2000||Kliff Kingsbury||+3300|
|Freddie Kitchens||+1100||Matt Nagy||+2000||Mike Vrabel||+3300|
|Andy Reid||+1400||Vic Fangio||+2000||Ron Rivera||+3300|
|Bill Belichick||+1400||Pete Carroll||+2200||Brian Flores||+3500|
|Frank Reich||+1400||Sean McDermott||+2500||Jon Gruden||+4000|
|Sean McVay||+1400||Adam Gase||+2800||Zac Taylor||+4000|
|Sean Payton||+1400||Bill O'Brien||+2800||Jay Gruden||+5000|
|Doug Marrone||+1500||John Harbaugh||+2800||Matt Patricia||+5000|
|Doug Pederson||+1600||Mike Tomlin||+2800||Pat Shurmur||+5000|
|Anthony Lynn||+2000||Mike Zimmer||+2800|
Andrew: I freely admit, I have absolutely no idea why Bruce Arians is the bookies' favorite here. Sure, if the Buccaneers shock the world and win the NFC South, he'll win it, but I don't see a non-playoff coach winning this thing and I don't see this Buccaneers team sniffing the playoffs. Is he really going to win Coach of the Year for the Buccaneers going 7-9 instead of 5-11? Really bizarre odds.
Bryan: I think it's in part that everyone kind of likes Bruce Arians; he's a really cool guy, coming out of retirement, and I think a lot of voters would like to give him this award. But as a favorite? No, I can't see it; the last coach to win this without double-digit victories was Jimmy Johnson of the 7-9 Dallas Cowboys in 1990, the only coach ever to win this award with a losing record. And last year's Bucs weren't as bad as the 1989 Dallas Cowboys.
Andrew: Now if a non-playoff coach were to win this award, then there's only one case I could see, and that is Frank Reich making a competitive stab at the division in the wake of Andrew Luck's retirement. I actually have Reich as my value pick for that reason: he has the widest available criteria for a successful season, as anything from 8-8 up will see people making the argument for him. My favorite, however, is Sean Payton, for the same reason we just discussed above for Drew Brees.
Bryan: Wait, your favorite and best bet have the same odds?
Andrew: I know. It's just one of the many things I find weird about you guys' gambling system in general and this list of odds in particular.
Bryan: I'm just proud you're continuing Scramble's history of questionable mathematics.
Andrew: I believe the technical term is "hedging my bets."
Bryan: I am going to slip into homerism mode here, and call Kyle Shanahan my favorite for this award. I think the media has been looking to crown him an offensive genius for the last couple years, but the 49ers' ongoing struggles at the quarterback position have prevented a coronation. If a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo helps lead the 49ers from a 4-12 record to a playoff berth -- or maybe, maybe even an 8-8 record -- I think Shanahan takes it. NFL writers love reward teams that shoot up the rankings, and few teams have more room to shoot up than the 49ers do.
For the same reason, my value pick is Doug Pederson. The Eagles' off-year in 2018 was more due to injuries than a loss of talent, and the return of everyone all healthy-like could provide a significant boost to Philadelphia's record. If the Eagles run away with the NFC East and earn a first-round bye, I could see the voters giving Pederson the award, almost as a mea culpa for not giving him it during Philly's Super Bowl run.
But if you want a longshot? I'll give you a longshot. Go all the way down to the bottom of the table ... wait, no, that's one too far. Come back up, there you go, to Matt. Freaking. Patricia. 50-to-1 underdog! But we give the Lions the second-best chance of winning the NFC North, something most of the media world doesn't believe has a chance in hell of happening. If the Lions do take home a division crown, the sheer shock of it could give Patricia votes.
Andrew: If the Panthers are anywhere close to as good as I really believe they could be, then Ron Rivera will get strong consideration. I can hardly believe that he's in the bottom third of this table. It's a longshot due to a wide variety of factors, but to me Rivera would be the least surprising win from that end of the table.
|Andrew||Sean Payton (+1400)||Frank Reich (+1400)||Ron Rivera (+3300)|
|Bryan||Kyle Shanahan (+1000)||Doug Pederson (+1600)||Matt Patricia (+5000)|
First Coach to Lose Job
|Jay Gruden||+333||Ron Rivera||+2000||John Harbaugh||+5000|
|Pat Shurmur||+850||Kliff Kingsbury||+2500||Jon Gruden||+5000|
|Matt Patricia||+900||Sean McDermott||+2500||Zac Taylor||+5000|
|Bill O'Brien||+1200||Anthony Lynn||+3000||Frank Reich||+7500|
|Dan Quinn||+1200||Freddie Kitchens||+3000||Matt Nagy||+7500|
|Doug Marrone||+1200||Mike Vrabel||+3000||Sean Payton||+10000|
|Jason Garrett||+1500||Kyle Shanahan||+3500||Andy Reid||+10000|
|Mike Zimmer||+1500||Matt LaFleur||+3500||Doug Pederson||+10000|
|Adam Gase||+2000||Pete Carroll||+4000||Sean McVay||+10000|
|Brian Flores||+2000||Vic Fangio||+5000||Bill Belichick||+15000|
|Mike Tomlin||+2000||Bruce Arians||+5000|
Andrew: I thought Jay Gruden was a solid value pick last year, but in the end he was probably spared by a catastrophic injury situation. This year, he's the favorite for good reason. Nobody lasts this long under Daniel Snyder, and certainly not after the sort of season I expect Washington to have this year. Sorry, Jay.
Bryan: Yeah, I'm with you on Gruden. Washington might only be topped by Miami for worst team in the league this year, and Miami's at least intentionally tanking ... err, "rebuilding." It's going to get ugly early in Washington, and Snyder is not a patient man.
Andrew: For a value pick, it pains me to say it, but I look back at what we wrote about the Jaguars last week and wince. If Jacksonville does get off to a 1-5 start, which is far from impossible, not even a relative revival in the second half will be enough for Doug Marrone. That early schedule is brutal, and there's every chance the London game continues its tradition of costing coaches jobs.
Bryan: Once again, I defer to my honorable friend from across the sea. The Jaguars are expecting Nick Foles to get them back into playoff contention; if that doesn't happen, Marrone is going to shoulder a fair percentage of the blame. Shahid Khan is less likely to cut ties with his new expensive Super Bowl MVP quarterback than he is with a coach who currently has a 31-35 record.
Now, it should be noted that the bet specifically here is "first coach to leave his post." That could be a mid-season firing or a Black Monday casualty, but it could also be a retirement. With that in mind, my longshot, the longest of longshots, is Jon Gruden. Coaching a losing team can't be fun. If this year's Raiders are as dysfunctional as last year's group, I could imagine ESPN whispering to him that the color commentary position on Monday Night Football is still open for him, if he wanted to return. Maybe, just maybe, Gruden takes a bow. After all, he said that if he "couldn't get it done,'' he wouldn't take the Raiders' money.
... OK, it's a longshot for a reason, right?
Andrew: You aren't going to like my longshot pick.
Bryan: I'm not, but it's fair.
Andrew: The time is now for San Francisco. They've invested too much in the ongoing rebuild, and should finally have the pieces in place to contend this year. Except they don't. Not really. If Jimmy Garoppolo can finally play more than five games in a season and is actually good, that could cover for a lot of deficiencies elsewhere -- but it will need to, because there are a lot of deficiencies elsewhere. If Garoppolo does not live up to his billing, then it's tough to see where real progress will come from on the current roster. The 49ers, for all the building, really don't look that great, and another disappointment -- even a 7-9 disappointment -- could be enough to persuade ownership that Kyle Shanahan, while a terrific offensive coordinator, isn't going to get the job done as a head coach. I'm not saying it's likely, but it's not entirely unlikely either, unlike most of the other people in the bottom half of the table.
|Andrew||Jay Gruden (+333)||Doug Marrone (+1200)||Kyle Shanahan (+3500)|
|Bryan||Jay Gruden (+333)||Doug Marrone (+1200)||Jon Gruden (+5000)|
Offensive Player of the Year
Bryan: No odds are available for this award, as it doesn't make any sense. As the MVP award has become, essentially, the award for the best quarterback (or possibly running back) in the NFL, shouldn't that person also be the offensive player of the year? They did vote for Mahomes for both awards last season, but they often split the two up, in a vote that makes no sense. As such, no one dares offer odds on this strange, strange award.
I'll pick Mahomes to win it again, however, either doubling it up or in an MVP split with Brees, and I'll leave it at that.
Andrew: This, to me, is better thought of as the "Most Valuable Non-Quarterback" Award, Offense Edition. They really ought to formally split it.
Bryan: Quarterbacks have won six of the last 10 OPOY awards, in what observers are calling "some bullshit."
Andrew: So yeah, let's formally make this a non-QB award to avoid rendering it utterly pointless. In that vein, I'll pick Saquon Barkley, even though the Giants suck.
Defensive Player of the Year
|Aaron Donald||+150||Calais Campbell||+6600||TJ Watt||+10000|
|Khalil Mack||+300||Danielle Hunter||+6600||Tre'Davious White||+10000|
|JJ Watt||+700||Chris Jones||+6600||Tyrann Mathieu||+10000|
|Myles Garrett||+1000||Deion Jones||+6600||Akiem Hicks||+12500|
|Von Miller||+1000||Earl Thomas||+6600||Blake Martinez||+12500|
|Joey Bosa||+2000||Jalen Ramsey||+6600||Casey Hayward||+12500|
|Demarcus Lawrence||+2500||Kwon Alexander||+6600||Denzel Ward||+12500|
|Chandler Jones||+3300||Landon Collins||+7500||Devin Bush||+12500|
|Darius Leonard||+3300||CJ Mosley||+8000||Devin White||+12500|
|Leighton Vander Esch||+3300||Eddie Jackson||+8000||Geno Atkins||+12500|
|Bobby Wagner||+4000||Harrison Smith||+8000||Marshon Lattimore||+12500|
|Cameron Jordan||+4000||Jadeveon Clowney||+8000||Myles Jack||+12500|
|Jaylon Smith||+4000||Jamal Adams||+8000||Patrick Peterson||+12500|
|Luke Kuechly||+4000||Lavonte David||+8000||Telvin Smith||+12500|
|Melvin Ingram||+4000||Roquan Smith||+8000||Trey Flowers||+12500|
|Bradley Chubb||+4500||Stephon Gilmore||+8000||Anthony Barr||+15000|
|Brandon Graham||+5000||Cameron Heyward||+10000||Nick Bosa||+15000|
|Fletcher Cox||+5000||Dee Ford||+10000||Sheldon Richardson||+15000|
|Frank Clark||+5000||DeForest Buckner||+10000||Yannick Ngakoue||+15000|
|Jurrell Casey||+5000||Everson Griffen||+10000||Quinnen Williams||+20000|
|Justin Houston||+5000||Leonard Williams||+10000||Richard Sherman||+20000|
Andrew: This one, at least, is interesting. Or would be, if Aaron Donald wasn't the consensus best defender in the league. Donald's the prohibitive favorite, even if his odds are so absurdly short as to completely rule out any prospect of ever betting on him.
Bryan: Donald is the favorite. Donald is my best value pick. Donald will be on the All-Decade team. Assuming the league does an All-Century team, Donald may have already done enough in his career to be on that. You say his odds are so short to rule out the prospect of ever betting on him; +150 implies he wins this award 40 percent of the time. That seems low to me. Anyone else winning this award would be at least a minor shock.
Andrew: There is another ... I mean ... there has to be ... och. There is no value pick. There is only Aaron Donald, and a league's worth of longshots. Of those longshots, give me Myles Garrett despite his short odds, but it's Donald all the way.
Bryan: I can slide a little further down the table to find my longshot. Cameron Jordan has had back-to-back years of double-digit sacks, and has routinely been one of the most under-appreciated players in the NFL Only Donald had more pass pressures than Jordan did a year ago; if Donald gets hurt or otherwise slows down, I'd have Jordan as the most likely to take his crown.
|Andrew||Aaron Donald (+150)||Aaron Donald (+150)||Myles Garrett (+1000)|
|Bryan||Aaron Donald (+150)||Aaron Donald (+150)||Cameron Jordan (+4000)|
Offensive Rookie of the Year
|Kyler Murray||+150||Drew Lock||+3500||Ryan Finley||+7500|
|Josh Jacobs||+650||Noah Fant||+3500||Bryce Love||+8000|
|Dwayne Haskins||+750||Hakeem Butler||+4000||Dawson Knox||+10000|
|David Montgomery||+1250||Miles Boykin||+4000||Diontae Johnson||+10000|
|Deebo Samuel||+1650||Justice Hill||+4250||Drew Sample||+10000|
|Mecole Hardman||+1800||Alexander Mattison||+4500||Jace Sternberger||+10000|
|Miles Sanders||+1800||Terry McLaurin||+4500||Jarrett Stidham||+10000|
|Devin Singletary||+2000||Andy Isabella||+5000||Josh Oliver||+10000|
|A.J. Brown||+2500||Damien Harris||+5000||Kahale Warring||+10000|
|Daniel Jones||+2500||Darius Slayton||+5000||Andre Dillard||+15000|
|Marquise Brown||+2500||Hunter Renfrow||+5000||Jawaan Taylor||+15000|
|N'Keal Harry||+2500||Jalen Hurd||+5000||Jonah Williams||+15000|
|T.J. Hockenson||+2500||Will Grier||+5000||Kaleb McGary||+15000|
|Parris Campbell||+2650||JJ Arcega-Whiteside||+6000||Tytus Howard||+15000|
|Darrell Henderson||+3000||Gary Jennings||+6600||Chris Lindstrom||+20000|
|D.K. Metcalf||+3300||Irv Smith Jr.||+7500||Garrett Bradbury||+20000|
Andrew: Kyler Murray is an odd bookies' favorite, because although he's the top pick the Cardinals are widely expected to be dreadful. Murray might be the only rookie quarterback to start every game, but he's no Saquon Barkley as an automatic choice. One of the running backs could easily take this away from him. I think Murray's still my favorite, but it's nowhere near as automatic as last year.
Bryan: I do think that Murray is the favorite, simply because "quarterback who starts 16 games" is kind of your default winner for this sort of award, but yeah, +150 is way too high for him. I'll instead pin Josh Jacobs as my best value pick. It is true that Gruden and the Raiders are making noises about him having to earn his role and whatnot, in the way that old school football coaches seem determined not to put their best players on the field at any given time, but Jacobs has to be the best option the Raiders have, on all three downs. What, were they going to start Doug Martin over him? Please.
Andrew: Totally agreed, which leaves only the longshot for potential disagreement. The fact that two of the top receiver prospects, N'Keal Harry and D.K. Metcalf, already have health concerns -- Harry is now on injured reserve -- doesn't help. That pushes me all the way down to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who has garnered a ton of hype in Philadelphia as a prospective target for Carson Wentz. Arcega-Whiteside has a tough path to playing time given the reputation of those ahead of him, but I trust Doug Pederson and company to give him the opportunities, and everything I've heard suggests that he will take them.
Bryan: My longshot is based on a tried-and-true trend throughout the years: me being an idiot. I am on record, multiple times, saying that Daniel Jones was a terrible pick at No. 6 in the draft, and that I would rather have a flotilla of other quarterbacks ahead of him. So, of course Jones goes out and balls in preseason. I still think he'll be bad; I still think that his preseason success won't translate to regular success; and I still remind people of the famous 1998 New York Times headline from preseason: "Leaf Outduels Manning." Still. You certainly would prefer your rookie quarterback looking great in preseason than the alternative, so I'll grab Jones for a longshot.
|Andrew||Kyler Murray (+150)||Josh Jacobs (+650)||J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (+6000)|
|Bryan||Kyler Murray (+150)||Josh Jacobs (+650)||Daniel Jones (+2500)|
Defensive Rookie of the Year
|Devin Bush||+500||Christian Wilkins||+4000||Dre'mont Jones||+6600|
|Nick Bosa||+750||Deionte Thompson||+4000||Drue Tranquill||+6600|
|Devin White||+800||Greedy Williams||+4000||Mack Wilson||+6600|
|Quinnen Williams||+1000||Marquise Blair||+4000||Renell Wren||+6600|
|Josh Allen||+1350||Sione Takitaki||+4000||Sean Bunting||+6600|
|Ed Oliver||+1500||Byron Murphy||+4500||Trysten Hill||+6600|
|Montez Sweat||+1500||Jachai Polite||+4500||Vosean Joseph||+6600|
|Brian Burns||+2050||Nasir Adderley||+4500||Cody Barton||+8000|
|Clelin Ferrell||+2050||Ben Banogu||+5000||Julian Love||+8000|
|Chase Winovich||+2500||Chauncey Gardner-Johnson||+5000||Oshane Ximines||+8000|
|Rashan Gary||+2500||David Long (LAR)||+5000||Blake Cashman||+9000|
|Taylor Rapp||+2500||Dexter Lawrence||+5000||Amani Hooker||+10000|
|Bobby Okereke||+3000||Germaine Pratt||+5000||Dandre Walker||+10000|
|Jerry Tillery||+3050||Jaylon Ferguson||+5000||Joe Jackson||+10000|
|Darnell Savage||+3300||Joejuan Williams||+5000||Khalen Saunders||+10000|
|Rock Ya-Sin||+3300||Justin Layne||+5000||Ryan Connelly||+10000|
|Jahlani Tavai||+3500||L.J. Collier||+5000||David Long Jr (TEN)||+15000|
|Juan Thornhill||+3500||Lonnie Johnson Jr||+5000||Jefferey Simmons||+15000|
|Deandre Baker||+3550||Trayvon Mullen||+5000||Blessuan Austin||+20000|
|Johnathan Abram||+3550||Zach Allen||+5000|
Bryan: That Jachai Polite bet is in fact still on the board, despite his release from the Jets. What a fall from someone projected to be a top-10 pick before the combine.
It's always a little difficult to figure out which defensive rookies will make a splash, as it's all about opportunity. For my favorite, I'll just go with the combined powers of homerism, nepotism, and highest drafted player available and take Nick Bosa, who has returned to practice and gets to rush the passer across from Dee Ford. Since he missed all of preseason, however, I can't call him the best value. That has to go to Josh Allen (no, not that one), who seemed to be making plays whenever I turned my head during the preseason.
Andrew: If the 49ers defense is good this year, Nick Bosa has a great chance. They won't be, but it's a nice thought.
Bryan: I'm recording all of these for the December article we write after the 49ers clinch the NFC West.
Andrew: If the Buccaneers defense is good this year, Devin White has a great chance. They won't be, but it's a nice thought.
(If the Buccaneers win the NFC South, I think we can safely cancel our December articles.)
I think my favorite for this actually has an outsider's odds. Buffalo could have a very good defense this year, and Ed Oliver could be a huge part of their success. He has the profile and pedigree that make him likely to get credit if that happens, and sometimes that's what makes the difference for these things.
My value pick's only slightly below Oliver on the list. Brian Burns fills a vital need on the edge for the Panthers defense, and if that front is back to its usual effectiveness this year he is also likely to get a lot of the credit. That's enough to count as good value for me.
Bryan: I, too, was saying Boo-urns. He's my longshot rather than my value pick, because that's how the numbers worked out, but he had four sacks this preseason and looks ready to start strongly.
Andrew: Here's a philosophical question for you: is there a longer longshot in these odds than a second-round defensive back on the Patriots? No, I'm not picking Joejuan Williams, I'm just amused by the question.
Bryan: There are a couple of Longshots, and if you word your bet right, your bookie won't know if you've picked the Rams' David Long or the Titans' David Long. That's called thinking outside the box, there.
Andrew: My actual longshot pick is a second-round defensive back, but this time for the Colts. Rock Ya-Sin has a truly awesome name, the kind of moniker that births legends and etches itself firmly into people's minds. He has an important role in the secondary of a team that is suddenly likely to rely much more on its defense than anybody expected. If he holds up as an improved Colts squad makes a playoff push, that could be enough. Again, not entirely likely, but an intriguing outside prospect.
|Andrew||Ed Oliver (+1500)||Brian Burns (+2050)||Rock Ya-Sin (+3300)|
|Bryan||Nick Bosa (+750)||Josh Allen (+1350)||Brian Burns (+2050)|
Comeback Player of the Year
|Jimmy Garoppolo||+250||Everson Griffen||+2000||Eli Manning||+3300|
|Le'Veon Bell||+400||Greg Olsen||+2000||Joe Flacco||+3300|
|Devonta Freeman||+800||Antonio Brown||+2500||Keanu Neal||+3300|
|Cam Newton||+1100||Hunter Henry||+2500||Carl Lawson||+5000|
|Carson Wentz||+1200||Jerick McKinnon||+2500||Delanie Walker||+5000|
|Derrius Guice||+1400||Leonard Fournette||+2500||Jake Butt||+5000|
|Earl Thomas||+1400||Marcus Mariota||+2500||Marqise Lee||+5000|
|Cooper Kupp||+1450||Josh Rosen||+2800||Tyler Eifert||+5000|
|Jason Witten||+1500||Travis Frederick||+3000||Dez Bryant||+6000|
|A.J. Green||+1600||Deion Jones||+3300||LeSean McCoy||+6600|
|David Johnson||+1600||Derek Carr||+3300||Vontaze Burfict||+10000|
Bryan: Alright, serious question here for a moment: should Le'Veon Bell be eligible to win this award? After all, what he's "coming back" from is a contract dispute. Most winners of this award have either come back from significant injury, or from being bad football players. Bell doesn't fall into either category; his statless 2018 was self-inflicted, whether you think he was in the right or not.
Andrew: Agreed. Let's bilaterally disqualify him, as revenge for what he did to your predictions record last year. Similarly, I'm not really sure what Leonard Fournette is meant to be coming back from. He had a bad second year, but at least some of that was self-inflicted.
Bryan: A little bit of being banged up, a little bit of being ineffective, and a little bit of being suspended by the team. At least he has a chance for his 2019 to be better than his previous season; that seems unlikely for Bell.
Andrew: Travis Frederick would be a great shout if he wasn't an offensive lineman. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a very serious condition, and recovery often takes years. It's not quite your typical "injured or sucked" scenario.
Bryan: Frederick coming back is a feel-good story, and one of my favorite stories of the year. But for this award, I'm not picking a feel-good story. I'm picking a story of revenge.
One of the indelible images I have of the 2018 season is Earl Thomas being taken off on a cart, flipping the bird to the Seahawks' sideline after his broken leg ended his season. That also ended any hopes that the Seahawks would re-sign Thomas, as they had been playing coy about re-signing him up until that point. With a new big contract in Baltimore, I think Thomas plays with a fire in him to prove Seattle wrong. He's my best best and my favorite.
Andrew: Thomas is my value pick, but my favorite is Cam Newton. Last season was a tale of gradual decline for Newton as his shoulder deteriorated throughout October and November. This year, if things go better, he could be in the MVP conversation. Even if he isn't, a return to his previous level coupled with an improved supporting cast could mean his best season in years, and that would be enough to snag this award.
My longshot is LeSean McCoy, because coming back from being cut by the Buffalo Bills deserves every bit of praise it gets. McCoy is in an ideal situation in the Chiefs offense, and while I don't think he'll quite get back to his previous level, I trust Andy Reid to squeeze out every last drop that McCoy has left in the tank. If that's anything close to what the contract offer suggests Reid thinks it is, it's Comeback Player of the Year material.
Bryan: Hunter Henry is my longshot, in part because the media last year did not seem to be aware he was actually missing the season. If he's a top-five tight end -- and he showed the ability to do that -- and a key cog in a Los Angeles playoff run with, say, 70 catches? That sounds like a CPOY to me.
|Andrew||Cam Newton (+1100)||Earl Thomas (+1400)||LeSean McCoy (+6600)|
|Bryan||Earl Thomas (+1400)||Earl Thomas (+1400)||Hunter Henry (+2500)|
Super Bowl Winner
|New England Patriots||+750||Dallas Cowboys||+2700||New York Jets||+8000|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+825||Seattle Seahawks||+3000||Tennessee Titans||+8000|
|New Orleans Saints||+1075||Atlanta Falcons||+3300||Buffalo Bills||+10000|
|Philadelphia Eagles||+1200||Baltimore Ravens||+3300||New York Giants||+10000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+1250||San Francisco 49ers||+3500||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+10000|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+1400||Houston Texans||+4000||Detroit Lions||+13000|
|Cleveland Browns||+1800||Jacksonville Jaguars||+4500||Cincinnati Bengals||+20000|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||+1800||Carolina Panthers||+5000||Arizona Cardinals||+25000|
|Chicago Bears||+2000||Indianapolis Colts||+6000||Washington Redskins||+25000|
|Green Bay Packers||+2000||Denver Broncos||+7000||Miami Dolphins||+40000|
|Minnesota Vikings||+2500||Oakland Raiders||+7500|
Andrew: Which leaves only the big one; the one that really matters. Our full set of staff predictions will cover this on Wednesday, but we have the chance to get in ahead of the pack (or, if we're feeling very bold, to actually go with the Pack). Tell us, Bryan: who gets your money for the only pick that really matters?
Bryan: As I mentioned in the NFC South Over/Unders, I'm going with the Saints. I do feel like this is their year; they've been at or near the top of the league time after time. I think they cruise through their division. I think the Eagles are a clear rung down as their biggest rivals in the NFC; I think the Rams, Bears, and Packers are not going to be as good as people think they will. I see them with the smoothest path to the big game, and I like them head-to-head against anyone on a neutral field. They're my favorites.
Andrew: The Saints are my value pick; the depth of the NFC is just enough to keep me from picking them overall. Sadly, overall my favorite is the Patriots. I think this year's Patriots team is a rung down from most recent Patriots teams, but I said the same about last year's and look where that ended up. Nobody else in the AFC has shown the consistent ability to take that conference away from Bill Belichick and company. Eventually, somebody else will, but until they do, the Patriots remain the deserved favorite.
Bryan: I do have the Patriots reaching the Super Bowl, but my value pick goes to the Chargers, who I am still on despite everything that goes hand-in-hand with placing money on the Los Angeles Chargers to do anything related to football. They were, originally, my Super Bowl losers, before the Derwin James injury news broke and I had to quickly e-mail Vince Verhei to change my picks for said staff predictions. I still have them going quite far, and perhaps James will come back and they'll settle with Melvin Gordon and things will go so well that a few people in Los Angeles might notice they have two football teams!
Andrew: As many of my picks here have probably given away, my longshot pick is the Carolina Panthers. Last year was the worst Panthers defense since 2012, with a quarterback who couldn't throw the ball 25 yards in the second half of the season, and they still finished one game short of breaking even. This year, the defense will be better, the quarterback should be healthier, the receiving group is deeper, and everything that made them so exciting after eight games last year is still around. Injuries could quickly derail this, as the Panthers are extremely shallow in a lot of spots, but a healthy Panthers team is a contender in the NFC.
Bryan: I, too, am sticking with a team down South for my longshot, but I'm headed over to the AFC. Yes, even after Bill O'Brien became something of a laughingstock this weekend after trading Jadeveon Clowney away for pennies on the dollar and then trading a zillion picks to the Dolphins for a mid-tier offensive tackle, I still think the Texans have a shot to be Super Bowl-bound. Afterall, someone has to win the AFC South, and the Texans still have the best quarterback, best wide receiver, and best defender in the division, which counts for something. The Laremy Tunsil trade was an attempt to shore up their greatest weakness by far. It's a gamble I don't think will work out, but if it does, the Texans might have something here. It's not likely, but again, that's why it's a longshot.
|Andrew||New England Patriots (+750)||New Orleans Saints (+1075)||Carolina Panthers (+5000)|
|Bryan||New Orleans Saints (+1075)||LA Chargers (+1400)||Houston Texans (+4000)|
Bryan: And that should do it! When Sony Michel is running his nth touchdown of the year in against defensive player of the year Cam Jordan in the Super Bowl, you can remember that you read it here first! And if that doesn't happen, you can be sure we'll have plenty of time to mock one another for these picks when January rolls around.
Money-Back Guarantee Lock of the Week
Bryan: Oakland (pick'em) vs. Denver. This started as a Raiders -3 line, but has been creeping down, down, down as the betters put their money on Denver. No, no, no, and no. These aren't exactly the two titans in the AFC West, mind you, but putting the Raiders and Broncos nearly even on Oakland's home field seems unnecessarily harsh for Gruden's Grinders. Don't get me wrong, I think the Raiders are a double-digit-loss team this year, but they didn't downgrade their quarterback this offseason. The Raiders' offseason plan, as wild and internally inconsistent as it was, was to get talent to compete. The Broncos' offensive plan was generally more about improving for 2020 or 2021; their young players will need time to gel. I'm fully on board with the Vic Fangio era, but I think he's going to open his ledger with a loss on Monday night.
Andrew: People much smarter than myself often point out that football is all about matchups. Strengths, weaknesses, and the ability of each team to take advantage of those. Atlanta's premier strength is its receiving corps; Minnesota's greatest strength is cornerback depth. That should make for a fascinating matchup when the Falcons are on offense, assuming the Falcons line can give Matt Ryan time against a formidable Vikings rush. On the other side, Minnesota certainly has the receivers to take advantage of Atlanta's uncertain secondary, whereas the Falcons don't look to have the pass rush to overwhelm even Minnesota's perennially questionable offensive line. In Minneapolis, the Vikings should have enough to see off Atlanta by more than the four-point line. Minnesota (-4) over Atlanta.
Double Survival League
Each week, Bryan and Andrew pick two winners, straight-up. The catch? They can only pick each team once per season. They must pick every team once. The goal? To go 32-0. The winner? The one who screws up the least.
Bryan: This competition was a nail-biter last year, as Andrew led most of the way, but I pipped him at the line to earn the inaugural Double Survival crown. Did we succeed in our goal of going 32-0? Not even close; I won with a final score of 23-9. But, together, did we combine to find wins for all 32 teams? Again, no; the Cardinals and Jaguars slipped through our fingers. Ah well. Another year, another chance for glory.
I'll open up the picks this year by taking Philadelphia over Washington and the LA Chargers over Indianapolis. Both teams start the year with arguably their easiest matchups, regardless of the old saws about divisional rivalries and whatnot. For the Eagles, this is mostly about picking against Washington while they're still running Case Keenum under center. I'm not sure Dwayne Haskins will be the real deal, but we're fairly sure that Keenum isn't. There would be plenty of time to pick Philly later, but getting a win on the board early is rarely a bad thing; this is the game I'm most sure about this week. Los Angeles handling Indianapolis is my second favorite game of the week, though it's not the game I think the Chargers are most likely to win (that would be against Denver in Week 5). The Colts should still be a little bit reeling from the Andrew Luck retirement, so let's hit them early before they can rally around Jacoby Brissett.
Editor's Note: If you read this article early Tuesday afternoon, you might have seen Bryan taking Oakland over Denver instead. That is a dirty, dirty lie caused by swamp gas bouncing off of Venus, and certainly NOT caused by Bryan forgetting that Week 17 doesn't count for Double Survival, heck no.
Andrew: I preferred to shy away from picking road teams last year, because even good NFL teams tend to be more vulnerable on the road. However, it's hard to resist the allure of opening the season by picking against what looks to be the two least talented teams in the league -- especially when we aren't yet sure of the quality of this week's opponents. Baltimore has a wide range of possible season outcomes depending on the progress of their young quarterback, but even if Lamar Jackson struggles they should easily have enough to dispose of this year's tankful of Dolphins.
Similarly, our numbers expect Detroit to be better than their general perception. That starts with a visit to a Cardinals squad whose coach and quarterback are both making their professional debuts, whose top cornerback is suspended, and whose current secondary consequently bears a striking resemblance to Barringer Crater. Neither of this week's road picks is a sure thing, but this is a good chance to get some potentially awkward teams off the board early.