With NFL free agency in full swing and the draft just around the corner, plenty of NFL futures odds have hit the betting board.
We take a look at the odds to win the 2020 MVP award, break down the favorites and bring you some of our favorite value bets.
ODDS TO WIN NFL MVP
|Player||Odds to win (as of March 18)|
Patrick Mahomes +350
Mahomes took home the MVP trophy in 2018 after tossing 50 touchdowns. Although his numbers dipped last season he still played extremely well despite a mid-season knee injury that hampered him for a few games. Mahomes did ball out in the playoffs, throwing for 901 yards and 10 TDs in three games and capping it off with the Super Bowl MVP in Miami.
The Chiefs should be in for another big year in 2020 despite the big target that will be on their backs. Expect Mahomes to be back in the mix for MVP honors at the helm of a high-scoring offense featuring Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.
Lamar Jackson +500
Jackson ran away (hardy har har) with the MVP award last season after throwing for 3,127 yards and 36 TDs while piling up another 1206 yards and seven scores on the ground. Jackson became just the second unanimous MVP in NFL history garnering all 50 votes.
Jackson wasn’t at his best in the AFC Divisional Round when the Ravens got upset by the Tennessee Titans, but he still managed 508 total yards in that contest despite multiple drops from his butter-fingered wide receivers.
While detractors point out that defenses will gameplan how to stop Jackson this season, they sure didn’t seem to figure him out in the second half of last year. Others say it’s just a matter of time before he gets injured due to his usage in the run game. But the truth is any QB can get injured at any time and Jackson (unlike someone like Cam Newton) doesn’t seek out contact so defenders rarely get clean hits on him.
The Ravens should be one of the best teams in the NFL again in 2020 after adding Calais Campbell to their defense, but they have yet to upgrade their talent at WR while the retirement of eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda leaves a hole in the middle of their line. Still being able to grab the 23-year-old reigning MVP at +500 is pretty good value.
Russell Wilson +500
For the second year in a row Wilson put his team on the back and could have won MVP if not for a record-breaking campaign from the eventual winner. Over the last two seasons Wilson has thrown for 66 touchdown passes against just 12 interceptions while finishing with a passer rating over 106, despite average weapons and a subpar offensive line.
Don’t expect the Seahawks to be much better this season and although Wilson deserves to be in the MVP conversation I’m not sure he should have the same odds as Jackson.
BEST VALUE BETS
Aaron Rodgers +1,600
Rodgers had one of his worst statistical years in 2019, completing 62 percent of his passes for 4,002 yards. But he still had an impressive 26:4 touchdown to interception ratio and led the Packers to a 13-3 record.
The Green Bay QB is still one of the best players in the league and at 36 years of age should have a few more years at an elite level. The Packers do need to get Rodgers some help, because other than DeVante Adams they don’t seem to have a starting caliber receiver on their roster.
Green Bay might not have enough salary cap room to make a big splash in free agency but a depth WR would be nice and if they were to add a top wideout in a loaded draft class of receivers, Rodgers could return to his MVP days.
Kyler Murray +2,500
Lamar Jackson made it back-to-back years that a sophomore QB took home the MVP award. If you’re searching for who could be this season’s Jackson or Mahomes look no further than last year’s Rookie of the Year in Murray.
Murray is now in his second year in Kliff Kingsbury’s system and he should have plenty of weapons. The trade for DeAndre Hopkins was huge but the Cards also have reliable veteran Larry Fitzgerald along with promising youngsters Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella in their receiving corps. Out of the backfield, Kenyan Drake’s performance down the stretch indicated that he can be a No. 1 running back.
Michael Thomas +10,000
OK, I realize that no wide receiver has ever won MVP (including Jerry Rice) but hear me out. Thomas is a record-breaking WR entering the prime of his career, there is nobody else in New Orleans to steal targets from him and the Saints should once again be a Super Bowl contender.
There was even some chatter about him wining the MVP award last year, although he had to “settle” for the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award after catching 149 passes for 1,725 yards. Is he a long shot compared to some of the quarterbacks ahead of him on the list? Absolutely, but at +10,000 we think he’s worth taking a flier on.
UNDERSTANDING NFL MVP ODDS
Most sportsbooks will display odds in the American format as listed above. When separated from the MVP pack in the final month of the season, his odds had a minus (-) sign ahead of the number like this.
- Lamar Jackson -400
That means that a bettor in December had to wager $400 to win $100 by betting on Jackson. Since this year’s race hasn’t even begun yet, every candidate currently has a (+) sign in front of their number.
- Patrick Mahomes +350
With Mahomes’ current NFL MVP odds, a bettor stands to profit $150 for every $100 wagered on him.
If American odds aren’t your thing, simply use a tool like our odds converter to switch the odds to decimal or fractional format. Most online sportsbooks also give you the option to change the odds format that you see.
HOW TO BET FUTURES ODDS
Futures betting is different than betting on an individual game because you need to consider the long haul as opposed to a single event. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when betting futures odds.
Change your strategy at different points in the season
While some futures bets must be placed before the season begins and are then removed off the board (such as team win totals), other wagers will change odds as the season goes on.
If you are wagering money on a futures bet with changing odds keep in mind that there is less variance at the beginning of the season (when more players and teams are still in contention) and more variance as the season goes on (when teams and players at the top separate themselves from those at the bottom).
In the preseason and beginning of the season, betting on dark horses can prove very profitable. But as the season continues, expect to see odds tighten around the favorites. At that point it becomes wise to focus on the players near the top of the odds board and betting big underdogs is practically like giving your money away.
Look for value with underdogs
While the bigger names tend to be strong favorites, there are also live long shots that can provide tremendous value. Look at younger players on the verge of breaking out, or guys that have already been playing at a high level but could take the next step now that they are in an ideal situation with a new team, coach or system.
Other players that can give a great payout are established stars coming off under-performing years due to injuries or other factors. If you’re lucky you might be able to catch them in a bounce-back year.
Follow the narrative
When placing futures bets on individual awards, keep in mind that voters, not a scoreboard are often the deciding factor. Voters can be influenced by a variety of factors, including media coverage and public opinion. Consider what the media narrative is for a particular season and which players they seem to be rooting for and against.
For example in Lebron James’ first season in Miami he was viewed as a villain or heel by the media and Derrick Rose who ended up winning MVP was the perfect foil for that. When Ron Dayne won the Heisman trophy back in 1999 it was viewed by many as a well-deserved reward for his entire career at Wisconsin.
Research historical trends
Historical trends, especially recent ones, can give you a good idea of which way voters tend to lean.
The NBA MVP for example, almost always goes to a player on the best or second-best regular season team in the league. While the NFL MVP has been handed out to a quarterback in 12 of the last 13 seasons.
Identifying those trends is a good way to seperate the true contenders from the pretenders.