Betting

How to Bet 2022 NFL Award Futures at Midseason

From a sports betting perspective, I’m very plugged into NFL awards markets. I have written on the subject extensively at Establish the Run for several years now. An important part of my process when analyzing this market is realizing that who you think is going to win an awards race doesn’t matter because you don’t have a vote. So when making a bet in this market, you have to consider who awards bettors are going to vote for and why. Six of our NFL contributors have a vote on official league awards. They discussed their midseason stances in this fantastic article.

I’m going to take a deep dive into that article from a sports betting perspective.

MVP

I have a 40:1 Jalen Hurts MVP ticket that I bought shortly after the A.J. Brown trade last spring. After the Bills’ loss to the Jets and the Chiefs’ narrow victory over the Titans last week, I was hoping that the presently undefeated Jalen Hurts would end up as the new frontrunner in the MVP race. So I was thrilled to see that our panel is currently leaning in that direction.

Traditionally, recent MVP winners have primarily been high-performing quarterbacks that play for one of the two top seeds in their respective conferences. However, team success paired with being in the top three in touchdowns, QBR, and rating have been consistent commonalities amongst MVP-winning quarterbacks over the past decade.

In the betting markets, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts both leapfrogged Josh Allen, who is now dealing with an injury to his throwing elbow. Tua Tagovailoa has made a major surge over the last couple of weeks, making him a contender despite missing multiple games. If Allen ends up missing time, that improves Tua’s path in this race, as the Dolphins will then have a clearer path to winning their division. Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow both have a path, but the team success component of this race is getting narrow for both players.

Offensive Player of the Year

Of all the major awards markets, this is the one that I avoid the most, as the conditions for contention are far less clear here than in other awards markets. Sometimes the league MVP double dips on this award. Drew Brees won this award in 2008 and 2011 but didn’t win the MVP in either of those seasons. Then sometimes, the best skill position player that season wins the Offensive Player of the Year like Cooper Kupp did last year.

Our panelists’ current stances reflect that bit of uncertainty, as they are currently split on Tyreek Hill and Josh Allen. Vic Carucci’s reasoning for going with Allen over Mahomes is the type of decision that I’ve expected award voters to make in situations like that one, but now the winner of a heads-up meeting can serve as a potential tie-breaker in a close race.

Betting markets have Hill and Jalen Hurts as the two current favorites in the Offensive Player of the Year market, while Josh Allen is currently ninth at +1400 on DraftKings. If it wasn’t for Allen’s injury uncertainty, Allen would be a strong value bet, as three actual voters in this race would vote for him to win at the midseason point.

For me, I tend to use this market when I want to bet on the best skill position player. I already have a Hill ticket that I bought a few weeks ago, so I’m not looking to bet on him as the current favorite at significantly worse odds. Team success is becoming a negative factor for Cooper Kupp, and if Josh Allen misses time, that’s a major negative for Stefon Diggs. Justin Jefferson was the only Offensive Player of the Year ticket I bought before the season, which I got at 40:1 odds when this market opened in May. If Hill was the only ticket that I currently have, I’d be looking to buy a Jefferson ticket in the +1100 range if Josh Allen’s injury is going to limit him or cause him to miss time because that will also hurt Diggs in this race.

Defensive Player of the Year

Micah Parsons is a unanimous selection among our six panelists, and he’s a -225 level favorite in the betting markets (that line came from DraftKings).

Team success has played a role in this award, as it is effectively the defensive MVP. Since Dallas is 6-2 on the season and Parsons is already an icon in the league in just his second season, there is no reason to get involved in this race from a betting perspective at this time.

For those wondering, I will never recommend sub-even money options in awards markets. Especially not this far out when an injury could completely change this race.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Five of our panelists voted for Seattle’s Kenneth Walker III, while one voted for Houston’s Dameon Pierce. In betting markets, Walker III (+110 on DraftKings) and Pierce (+190) are the two primary favorites, with Saints wide receiver Chris Olave (+600) still within striking distance.

I’ve been treating the Offensive Rookie of the Year race as one between these three players for weeks now. From a sports betting perspective, all of these players are well-priced. The aspect of Walker playing on a playoff contender while our panelists currently favor him 5-to-1 makes him the man to beat going forward. At current odds, I have no interest in betting on any of these options.

Week 7 fantasy football rankings Kenneth Walker
Oct 9, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (9) rushes for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Rookie of the Year 

Top-of-the-draft pass rushers primarily win this race, but our panelists favor Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner 5-to-1, with Jaguars Edge Travon Walker getting a vote.

Betting markets have Gardner as a -110 level favorite. Gardner has played extremely well for a Jets team that has blown expectations out of the water, so he probably belongs on top of this race. Since one of our panelists would vote for Travon Walker, an edge rusher taken with the first overall pick, he’s a nice value bet at +3000 on DraftKings.

Lions Edge Aidan Hutchinson (+1000 on DraftKings) and Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen (+300) both have a realistic path to victory in this race. I have a Hutchinson ticket, as he currently leads rookies in sacks and fits the profile of a traditional Defensive Rookie of the Year winner.

Comeback Player of the Year

Five of our panelists would vote for Geno Smith, and the other would vote for Saquon Barkley in this race right now. Bill Polian also suggested keeping an eye on Daniel Jones as a Comeback Player of the Year contender.

The betting markets currently have Geno Smith as a slight favorite over Saquon Barkley.

This is an interesting race, as Garrison Hearst is the last running back to win this award back in 2001. I’ve been looking for a quarterback option since odds in this market were released last spring because they win this award more often than anyone else in recent years. I was not expecting Geno Smith to be that quarterback, who I bet a couple of weeks ago at +1000 odds.

This quote from Rich Gannon says it all about Geno Smith: “I never thought I would see the day,” Gannon said. “When you consider the struggles he had in New York with ball security and decision-making. But he’s made a believer out of me. Geno is a different player, especially with respect to accuracy and completion percentage.”

If Smith keeps this up and the Seahawks make the playoffs, he’s going to take down this award. Keep in mind that Seattle blew out the Giants a couple of weeks ago, giving him a tiebreaker of sorts for some awards voters.

From a value standpoint, Daniel Jones at +10000 on DraftKings is a good bet considering what Bill Polian said. I don’t think Jones is going to win this award, but he also shouldn’t be 100:1.

Coach of the Year

Among our panelists, Giants coach Brian Daboll received two votes, while Nick Sirianni, Pete Carrol, Mike Vrabel, and Kevin O’Connell each received one.

Using DraftKings sportsbook as a baseline, betting markets have Nick Sirianni (-115), Kevin O’Connell (+650), Brian Daboll (+800), Pete Carroll (+800), Robert Saleh (+900), and Mike McDaniel (+1200) as the contenders. Vrabel is +13000 on DraftKings currently.

The Coach of the Year award is an exceeds expectations award. Daboll, Carroll, and Saleh are traditional contenders in this race, as their teams were all sub-.500 last season. O’Connell and McDaniel also fit the general profile of a few previous Coach of the Year winners, as their teams were expected to improve, but not by this much. The Eagles made the playoffs last year, so Sirianni is more of an untraditional contender, as he’s leading this race because Philadelphia is undefeated. Vrabel won this award last year despite his team making the playoffs the previous season.

Since this race has a clear favorite with five other contenders in a pretty tight cluster, I have limited interest in entering this race right now.

 

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