The NFL MVP Award offers plenty of longshot opportunities. Just look back to 2019, when Lamar Jackson took home the honors after opening at 100/1! Last year, Aaron Rodgers was listed at 25/1 in the preseason before posting his MVP-winning season.
And recently, the NFL MVP has been a quarterback award. A passer has won the award in 13 of the last 14 seasons, with Adrian Peterson’s incredible 2012 season being the lone exception. Unfortunately, the oddsmakers know this too and bake history into their odds. However, plenty of players still offer a lot of value and are worth a flyer to win MVP.
Here are my top longshot plays for NFL MVP.
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All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Kyler Murray 20/1
I was pretty surprised to see Murray posted at 20/1. The second-year passer was en route to a spectacular season through the first 10 weeks and had thrown for 2,375 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 604 yards and 10 scores. Then, Murray suffered a shoulder injury in Week 11 against the Seahawks and clearly wasn’t the same. His arm seemed off, and he was much less willing to run.
Murray will presumably enter the 2021 season healthy, and I expect him to return to the form we saw from Weeks 1-10. The Cardinals will rely on him heavily, as their tailback tandem of James Conner and Chase Edmonds doesn’t inspire much confidence. Murray also has a strong supporting cast headlined by DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and rookie Rondale Moore.
What makes Murray an exciting longshot bet is his rushing ability. He still has some strides to make as a passer, and he needs to be particularly better in the red zone. But Murray is plenty capable of posting a season similar to Jackson’s 2019 campaign.
Justin Herbert 18/1
The reigning Rookie of the Year shockingly outplayed fellow draft class members Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Heading into his sophomore season, I’m expecting Herbert to take another leap.
Herbert threw for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns while adding 234 rushing yards and five scores. What’s exciting his Herbert only had a touchdown percentage of 5.2% on his pass attempts, which was league average. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, had a touchdown percentage of 9.1%.
With Anthony Lynn thankfully out of town, I expect more competent play-calling, especially in the red zone, leading to more scoring opportunities for Herbert. The Chargers also have a pretty strong weaponry headlined by Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Mike Williams.
Both Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won the MVP in their second professional season and first full year as the starter. I like Herbert’s chances of doing the same.
Matthew Stafford 16/1
Stafford is a popular pick now that he’s free from the clutches of the Detroit Lions. And while I don’t love him as much as Murray and Herbert, he’s absolutely worth mentioning.
Stafford’s put up massive numbers before. He’s thrown for at least 4,200 yards in all but two seasons since 2010 (and one of those years was an injury-shortened campaign). A change of scenery to Los Angeles could be just what Stafford needs to post a massive season.
Stafford should be a great fit in Sean McVay’s offense, and he’ll be much more willing to push the ball downfield than Jared Goff was. He’s got great weapons in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee. I prefer a little better value, but this could be a match made in heaven and a profitable wager.
Joe Burrow 40/1
Assuming Burrow is 100% recovered from his torn ACL to start the season, he’s a great longshot flyer to win MVP. He had completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 starts. He wasn’t as prolific as Herbert was, but he was pretty good.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Cincinnati’s offense could be really explosive. The Bengals drafted Burrow’s former teammate, receiver Ja’Marr Chase, to join an already pretty good receiving corps headlined by Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Joe Mixon is a really talented running back who may finally have the great season many have anticipated.
For Burrow, it might come down to his protection. The Bengals’ offensive line was horrific last season, and Burrow was sacked 32 times before being lost for the year. Cincinnati needs to protect Burrow better for this bet to have a shot. But if he’s kept upright, he could be in store for a huge year.
Saquon Barkley 100/1
I figured I’d throw in one non-QB. While Christian McCaffrey (40/1) and Derrick Henry (50/1) intrigue me, their odds are too short given how dominant quarterbacks have been in winning this award.
That led me to Barkley, who is arguably the league’s best running back when healthy. As a rookie, he put up over 2,000 total yards, caught 91 passes — I repeat, 91 passes — and scored 15 touchdowns. His three-down abilities give him a shot to put up a monstrous year for a Giants offense that will run through him.
But Barkley needs to stay healthy to have any shot. Coming off an ACL injury, I’m not totally optimistic that he’ll play all 16 games. But at 100/1, he’s worth a flyer.
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