Ah — we did it — the NFL season is here. After grinding through hours of snap count data, going through rumors from top NFL reporters, and watching preseason games; the time is now to release my NFL futures best bets. When sports betting, I consistently draw from past data to help tell the full story. In the past, we have learned that favorites — also known as chalk — are not as successful as you might expect.
Whether it is because voters prefer to vote for a fresh face or the known commodities are being outperformed, we have not had a repeat NFL MVP winner since 2009. Interestingly, only Calvin and Andre Johnson have repeated as leaders in receiving yards in consecutive seasons. Moreover, there has not been a consecutive sack king since Reggie White did it in the 80s.
This is all to say, most likely the winner of these awards has never done it before; especially when looking at the current trend of NFL MVP voting. We will talk about who can make that leap to greatness and what criteria it takes to predict it. All of these betting trends should help us with our NFL futures bets this upcoming season.
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How To Predict When Players Take That “Leap”
Analysts consistently talk about players taking a “leap”. When a player takes a leap they are making a move from a good to an elite player. This is not something that happens overnight. Patrick Mahomes did not go from backup one season to best quarterback in the league the next by himself. There was a set of circumstances that made him pop onto the scene and win the MVP in his first year as a starter.
The contributing factors that lead to players taking that leap are pretty simple and can be found below.
- Opportunity: Their team is leaning on them heavily to produce.
- Scheme Fit: The talent was already there, but was it showcased? Let’s be pragmatic here, NFL players are supremely talented. The scheme is what helps show that off. If we know the player is talented but the scheme is not showcasing it, a coaching change could be a big plus.
- Upgraded Talent Around Them: The talent upgrade cannot be overstated. Seeing where teams upgraded can help pinpoint where a player takes a leap and show off more of their skillset.
These are three of the most important criteria that go into making NFL futures bets. Lastly, I bet most of these futures already so make sure you are betting the number and not the name. I bet on Jameis Winston to lead the NFL in passing yards in June at 150:1. I will not be giving that play away here at its current price of 25:1.
Justin Herbert MVP +2000 (FanDuel)
Don’t bet chalk on MVP, rarely do the favorites — who are expected to win — perform well enough to truly win the award. Furthermore, the argument can be made for Herbert to have been in the discussion last year. Herbert threw for 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions while compiling 4,336 yards through the air. He did all of this with an injured Austin Ekeler and one of the worst offensive lines in football according to PFF.
The overhauling officially took place this offseason and they are trotting out four new starters on the offensive line including all-pro Corey Linsley. For comparison, Aaron Rodgers threw an incredible 48 touchdowns and 5 interceptions with 4,299 yards last season to win the MVP award. The yardage we know is there but if Herbert has more time to throw, one would think the interceptions would slow down as well
NFL players often make the biggest jump in performance between their 1st and 2nd season
One player who may be making that leap is Quez Watkins
The former 6th rd pick had 7 catches for 106 yards last season, but has ascended to PHI’s starting lineup and is in line for a big role
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) August 27, 2021
Justin Herbert appears to be every bit of a future MVP candidate. He was a science major in college with a 4.0 GPA so we know he is as smart as they come. With an incredibly skilled and powerful arm, massively offensive line, and returning healthier weapons — the sky is the limit for Justin Herbert. The question is not if, it is when with Justin Herbert.
NFL Futures Bets: Bet Najee Harris For Everything?
The Steelers were infatuated with Najee Harris predraft and Peter Schrager has said that love has only grown. He is the only running back in Pittsburgh and has a similar build to Derrick Henry (the favorite). Keep in mind what I said earlier, we are betting the number here. Najee Harris at +3300 to lead the league in rushing touchdowns is a bargain price. $10 to win $330 is excellent. However, if this line was +1000 I would not be touching it. We are playing the numbers and getting an edge here.
Myth : “Najee Harris is an up the gut power running back.”
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) May 5, 2021
Najee Harris Offensive Rookie Of The Year +1000 (BetMGM)
NEWSFLASH — quarterbacks don’t win rookie of the year every year. In fact, just 3 times in the past 8 years has a quarterback won offensive rookie of the year. This year there are 5 really good starting quarterbacks vying for the job. My only plays for this award are Harris and Justin Fields. I don’t necessarily believe Trevor Lawrence can save the terrible Jaguars and none of Trey Lance or Zach Wilson look ready to me.
Najee Harris Most Rushing Touchdowns +3300 (PointsBet)
The Steelers love running the ball inside the 20s and they only have one person who can truly do it. Harris is the big bruising running back that they have missed for years. The offensive line, while not great should be good enough with high volume to compete for this award at huge odds.
NFL Futures Bets: Chase Young Most Sacks +1800 (DraftKings)
Talked about this above but Chase Young is one of the best pass rushers we have seen. His speed/power combo is second to none and is truly a joy to watch. The defensive line is so powerful for Washington already that Young should be able to get enough single coverage from opposing offensive lines. DraftKings is giving phenomenal value on this line, jump on it before it moves!