NFL nut Kyle Robins (@AhhYeahKyleYeah) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available in the award markets.
NFL 2017: Defensive Player of the Year
The bookies don’t often get this market wrong, and in my personal experience, one of the four pre-season favourites tends to take the award home come season's end.
The obvious favourite is JJ Watt, best priced at 3/1. Having not played in almost a yea – coming off back surgery – he still remains one of the most destructive defensive players in the league. But with the emergence of Jadeveon Clowney towards the end of last season, plus lingering health issues, he doesn’t warrant such a short price.
Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack took home the award last year and is best priced 7/2 to take clinch back-to-back DPOTY awards, but with Mack’s award arriving off the base of the Raiders stellar regular season, I think there’s much more value at 9/1 (William Hill) with him to lead the league in Sacks.
Given the fact he tied for second most quarterback rushes last year, if he can manage to convert just a few more of those into sacks he shouldn’t be too far away.
The smarter money for DPOTY, well, my money at least, will be on another of the leagues elite outside linebackers.
Von Miller came within just one vote of beating out Mack to the award last year, and after the work he’s been putting in this offseason, looks to have his sights set on claiming back what he believes is rightfully his.
After being described as ‘going to hell and back’ this summer, Miller looks extremely focused on achieving his goals, and his teammates have been suffering the consequences during training camp. The man is quite simply put, ‘on a mission’.
As part of what some people see as the strongest defensive unit in the NFL, Miller reeks havoc on opposing offenses, and worryingly looks like he may be an even better player than just a season ago. 10/1 (Coral) for a player who single handily led the Broncos to the Superbowl in 2016 with an MVP performance.
The bookies might look back on this price with some regret in February.
NFL 2017: Offensive Rookie of the Year
Throughout the years, this award has been dominated by quarterbacks and running backs. With only three wide receivers taking home the award since the turn of the millennium, and with the amount of talent at running back coming out of this year’s draft, I can’t see that trend changing too much this year.
With DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and DeShaun Watson leading the way for the quarterbacks in this market. With the exception of Watson (who’s still even yet to win the starting job) I don’t see them leading franchises with such historically bad records over the past few years, to immediate success, hence why I’m leaning more towards the running backs in this market.
Despite only Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey going in the first round of this past draft, there’s been plenty of other later round running backs lighting it up throughout training camp, and the market seems to reflect that. Five of the top seven ante-post favourites for this award work out of the backfield.
Obvious favourite Leonard Fournette, best price 5/1, has impressed so far, all be it against backups and second string defences. After being quoted as saying the NFL is ‘really easy’, he might be regretting those words week 1, when Watt and Clowney are lining up staring him down at the line of scrimmage.
Other running backs Joe Mixon (14/1) and Chiefs standout Kareem Hunt (16/1), have impressed throughout this off season and warrant respect, whist Dalvin Cook (10/1) looks another decent price, after reportedly beating out offseason acquisition Latavius Murray for the starting job in Minnesota.
My pick, however, goes to a player who’s been turning heads since day one in Charlotte this summer. Christian McCaffery (13/2 Paddy Power) quite simply put, looks the real deal.
Described as the most dynamic and explosive player from this year’s draft, who can line up in the backfield as well as in the slot, he looks set to flourish in a re-vamped Carolina Panthers offense. The former Stanford standout has been dazzling throughout training camp, even juking out and at times embarrassing Luke Kuechly, one of the elite linebackers in the league.
The only thing seemingly holding McCaffery back, is he still figures behind Jonathan Stewart in the Panthers depth chart. But with his versatility and Stewart not getting any younger, it’ll just be a matter of time before the changing of the guard takes place in North Carolina.
One thousand rushing yards and 500 receiving yards doesn’t at all look too unrealistic, especially considering his ability to catch balls out of the backfield. If he can get close to those numbers and lead the Panthers to a winning record, he will certainly be in and amongst the top contenders come next February.
Now if, like myself, you too are a fan of extravagant outsider bets. My #YourOdds NFL bet has been priced up on William Hill. Combining these two award winners together along with MVP favourite Tom Brady taking home the trophy, and his Patriots lifting the Lombardy yet again, gets you a hefty 500/1.
Certainly getting £5 from me.
NFL 2017 – Von Miller to be Defensive Player of the Year (10/1 Coral)
NFL 2017 – Khalil Mack to have Most Regular Season Sacks (9/1 William Hill)
NFL 2017 – Christian McCaffery to be Offensive Rookie of the Year (13/2 PaddyPower)
NFL 2017 – Christian McCaffery ROTY, Von Miller DPOTY, Tom Brady MVP & Patriots to win the Superbowl (500/1 William Hill)