The combination of big names, big stakes and low odds make season-long NFL Awards some of the most fun futures to bet on. Throw in the incredible amount of overall talent in the NFL entering the 2021 season, and sports bettors have a lot of different options to bet on for MVP, defensive player of the year, offensive and defensive rookie of the year and more.
Using PFF’s fantasy projections and player grades, we can identify value bets to make on NFL Awards futures.
Editor's note: All odds have been sourced from DraftKings Sportsbook.
The NFL hasn’t had a back-to-back MVP since Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009, and Manning is the only player to do it since Brett Favre in 1997. Not a great pattern if you’re Favre’s successor and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, who currently has the second-best odds at +1000, sitting behind 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes at +500.
Allen had one of the greatest single-season improvements in NFL history in 2020, seeing his PFF passing grade jump from 60.8 to 87.9 and finishing second in MVP voting.
With the Bills returning essentially their entire offense from 2020, Allen’s MVP odds sitting at +1200 is good value, even after accounting for some logical regression. PFF projects Allen to finish top-five among all quarterbacks in passing yards (4737.8), passing touchdowns (31.2) and rushing yards (572.4) while leading the NFL with 8.1 rushing touchdowns. Those are MVP numbers for a Bills team that is playing in a relatively weak division and should once again compete for the top seed in the AFC.
Tom Brady currently has the fifth-best odds for MVP, but after winning his seventh Super Bowl and re-signing all of his top free agent weapons in the offseason in Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin, Brady is a great value bet for MVP.
PFF’s projections for Brady in 2020: an NFL-best and near career-high 5,296.7 passing yards and an NFL second-best 37.3 touchdowns. If the Buccaneers finish with the best record in the NFC and Brady puts up those numbers, there’s no doubt Brady will be walking home with his sixth MVP trophy. Not bad for a 44-year-old.
Super long shot: Aaron Donald (+10,000)
I wouldn’t recommend betting on any non-quarterback, given that the last non-signal-caller to win MVP was Adrian Peterson in 2012, and the last time a player other than a QB or a running back won MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
It’s a quarterback’s league for a reason, and that’s even more so the case in 2021 when previously unprecedented passing records like 5000 yards are now practically an expectation for the top-tier quarterbacks given the way teams attack downfield.
That being said, if there’s one player who could buck the trend, it’s gotta be Aaron Donald, right? You can get him at +10000, and if you need any convincing, well, just keep reading.
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DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Defensive Player of the Year award is a lot more “sticky” year-over-year than MVP, especially recently: Over the last decade, two players have won three trophies in a four-year stretch (Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt).
This means the best value bets are gonna be chalky, even given the obvious lower max potential return on investment.