NFL Betting Strategy: Individual Awards Markets

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NFL Betting Strategy: Individual Awards Markets

If you're interested in NFL betting, you've probably scoured every preview available. You've read the playbooks, listened to podcasts and still can't decide whether to back a heavy favourite or that outsider you fancy because they underperformed their DVOA last season. If that's proved too much on top of your NFL Fantasy draft, maybe you should consider making an NFL player market bet.

There are several types of player bets available, ranging from NFL MVP honours to Rookie of the Year awards. We're here to help you understand the trends to watch out for when looking at MVP betting and other individual awards.

If you are interested in checking out the odds and markets for a specific NFL player, make sure you check out our list of the best NFL betting sites to place your bet.

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How to Bet on the NFL MVP

There is no shortage of star players in the NFL, both veterans and rookies who make the game look easy. If you are a fan of the NFL, but you don’t have a favourite team to follow, then NFL MVP betting is certainly a market to consider. In fact, the leading NFL betting sites have several different markets falling into that category and this NFL betting preview will shine the light on those players expected to put up big numbers this season.

There will be the usual suspects who, year after year, lead their team to the play-offs and for the chosen few, the Super Bowl. The best MVP odds are available before the season starts and they will be found in the NFL MVP futures section on the the best NFL betting sites.

This is when the MVP odds are at their greatest because the odds will reduce after every game in which the leading candidates perform well. The MVP race can be just as thrilling as the race to the Super Bowl as the market will fluctuate a lot during the regular season, as and when the league's best players perform to the high levels expected of them by their head coach and fantasy football enthusiasts.

NFL MVP Betting

Other than winning the Super Bowl, being named NFL MVP is the next best thing. Anyone who picks up the MVP trophy at the prestigious NFL Honors Night would immediately swap it for the Super Bowl MVP award, usually given to a member of the winning team in the biggest game of them all.

It is often regarded as a consolation prize, as the last time the NFL’s MVP also won the Super Bowl was during the 1999 season, when quarterback Kurt Warner led the St Louis Rams and their ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV, beating the Tennessee Titans 28-24 in one of the most dramatic Super Bowls in NFL history.

Wondering who to back against the spread this season? Find out which teams were best against the spread last season here

In 2020, Aaron Rodgers picked up the award for the third time in his career following a second successive 13-3 record. Rodgers threw for 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions, but when it came to the NFC Conference game, the Packers opted to kick a field goal instead of allowing Rodgers one last chance to find the endzone in a 31-26 loss to the eventual champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL MVP Betting Tip: The last non-skill player to win this award was Giants’ linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who won the award in 1986 after recording 20.5 sacks. Typically, it’s a quarterback-driven award as the last six winners have all been quarterbacks.

The last five MVP winners:

  • 2020: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  • 2019: Lamar Jackson, Ravens
  • 2018: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
  • 2017: Tom Brady, Patriots
  • 2016: Matt Ryan, Falcons

This could be Rodgers’ last season as a Green Bay Packer and if it is, the 37-year-old will want to bring another Vince Lombardi trophy back to ‘Titletown’. The top betting sites have Rodgers near the top of their NFL MVP markets, with William Hill offering odds of 10/1 for the Packers QB to land the prestigious individual award for a second season running.

Tom Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl ring in his first season with the Buccaneers last season, will be there or thereabouts, especially considering Tampa Bay has managed to keep the majority of their title-winning roster together. Brady can be backed at 14/1 with bet365 to win his fourth MVP award.

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who won the NFL MVP award in 2018, has led his team to back-to-back Super Bowls. William Hill has Mahomes as 5/1 favourite to add a second MVP award to his already-impressive CV.

Quarterbacks have dominated this market in recent times. The last eight awards have gone to a play-caller since running-back Adrian Peterson won the award for his efforts with the 2012 Vikings. The last defensive player to be named the NFL MVP was Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who registered 20.5 sacks in their 1986 Super Bowl-winning season.

The MVP award is voted for at the conclusion of the regular season and before the playoffs get underway, although it is not officially announced until the eve of the Super Bowl.

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NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Betting

Gone are the days when the best offensive rookies were made to bide their time before establishing themselves as starters in the NFL. The professionalism in the college game means that the step up to the pro game is not as drastic as it once was, with similar schemes deployed at both levels.

A team that has a great rookie talent at quarterback will have usually been poor the season before. Therefore, throwing them in at the deep end is often the best option. LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert took his opportunity last season after a medical mishap involving an errant injection to starting QB Tyrod Taylor. Herbert went on to win the league’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Betting Tip: When betting on the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, consider the draft position of each player. First-round picks, specifically big-names, always get more chances to play earlier in the year. That allows them to accumulate statistics and become better MVP candidates. The last three Offensive Rookies of the Year winners were all top-10 draft picks.

The last five Offensive Rookie of the Year winners:

  • 2020: QB Justin Herbert, Chargers
  • 2019: QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals
  • 2018: RB Saquon Barkley, Giants
  • 2017: RB Alvin Kamara, Saints
  • 2016: QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Trevor Lawrence has been named starting quarterback for the Jaguars’ opener against the Texans and the pressure will be on the number one overall draft pick to turn the Jaguars from, perennial underachievers to play-off contenders in the coming seasons. If Lawrence can take Jacksonville from a 1-15 record to 7-10, then he should be able to justify the price of 7/2 with MansionBet to win this award.

Justin Fields might have to wait for his opportunity in Chicago after getting limited playing time with the starters during his preseason action. Bears head coach Matt Nagy has confirmed veteran Andy Dalton will start the season under centre at the Rams. But many feel it’s only a matter of time before Fields leads the offense at Soldier Field and his odds of 13/2 with William Hill are generous.

The Jets seem to have been crying out for a franchise quarterback, ever since Joe Namath led them to their one and only Super Bowl in 1969. Can Zach Wilson be a star in the Big Apple? Wilson, 15/2 with bet365 to win offensive rookie of the year, is expected to start the Robert Saleh era at the Jets under center. Because he’s playing in New York, expectation levels will be cranked up. But he has shown he is mature enough to handle the demands of playing in the Big Apple.

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Betting

Defensive rookies are perhaps more likely to make an impact on the game quicker than their offensive counterparts. Their playbooks are considerably smaller and simpler to learn than for a quarterback, running-back or wide receiver, all of whom have different routes to learn before they can be trusted to play their part.

The goal for any defender at the line of scrimmage is to get to the quarterback or to stop the run. Watching a top-quality defender do their job is great to see and every so often a defender comes along that settles into the pro game with ease. Chase Young is one such player who exploded onto the scene for the Washington Football Team last season. He took the defensive rookie award after registering 7.5 sacks.

Defensive Rookie of the Year Betting Tip: Since 2002, the Defensive Rookie of the Year award winner was a first-round pick in 15 of the 19 seasons. The only non-first round picks to win the award in that time were DeMeco Ryans and Darius Leonard, both of whom were top-40 selections themselves.

The last five Defensive Rookie of the Year winners:

  • 2020: DE Chase Young, Washington Football Team
  • 2019: DE Nick Bosa, 49ers
  • 2018: LB Darius Leonard, Colts
  • 2017: CB Marshon Lattimore, Saints
  • 2016: DE Joey Bosa, Chargers

The Cowboys made Micah Parsons the 12th overall pick in this year’s Draft and the linebacker will hope to emulate what Young did. Dallas had one of the worst defences in the league last season - giving up 29.5 points per game - so it was no surprise that the Cowboys used their first six picks in this year’s Draft on defenders, in the hope they will improve that side of their game. Parsons, from Penn State, will hope to match or better Young’s total of 7.5 sacks. If he does, his odds of 11/2 with Betfair could be worth considering.

Betting on an NFL game? Check out our guide to moneyline, spread and totals betting

The Dolphins had one of the best defences in the NFL last season which helped them go from a 5-11 to a 10-6 record. The addition of UCLA linebacker Jaelan Phillips will make them stronger this season and with veterans around him, he could be good value at 10/1 with leading betting sites.

The Colts made the playoffs last season but lost in the first round. With their first pick, Indianapolis selected Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye, in the hope that he can help them win more games this season and go further in the playoffs. The Colts have a difficult start, but if Paye, 12/1, can start fast, the Colts’ draft strategy could pay off big time.

Offensive Player of the Year Betting

Along with the NFL MVP award, the league hands out another award for the league’s most outstanding player. While in the past the NFL MVP has won this award as well, there's been a shift in the award's market meaning there's value in betting on a non-QB. In fact, only two players in the last five years have won the "double" and that was Patrick Mahomes, who deservedly won everything in sight for his phenomenal 2018 season, and Matt Ryan, who lead the Falcons to their second Super Bowl appearance in 2016.

Offensive Player of the Year Betting Tip: While it's challenging to get a good grasp of what exactly makes these awards different, it is important to note what kind of players win this award. Over the last five years, each winning player's team won at least 12 games. It's not too often you will see a non-playoff player win this award.

The last five Offensive Player of the Year award winners:

  • 2020: RB Derrick Henry, Titans
  • 2019: WR Michael Thomas, Saints
  • 2018: QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
  • 2017: RB Todd Gurley, Rams
  • 2016: QB Matt Ryan, Falcons

All eyes will be on the running game for this year's Offensive Player of the Year. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be a running back, as dual-threat QBs such as Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen could take home this hardware without winning MVP.

Exciting second-year Chargers QB Herbert could be worth a cheeky punt, but we like the look of Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey here. Returning from injury, the Panthers' (however faint) playoff hopes will rest on CMC's shoulders.

Bucking the trend we've outlined, McCaffrey should be one to watch here as the last time he played a full season he eclipsed 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving while accounting for 52% of offensive touches that season. If he can come close to replicating that production, he's the one to watch. Available with Unibet at 8/1, he's too impactful a player to ignore at that price.

Defensive Player of the Year Betting

Finally, there is the Defensive Player of the Year award that is handed out to the league’s top defender, an award recently dominated by pass-rushers. Pass-rushers do well with this award as they can have the most impact from a game-to-game basis, and their stats are easier to read in comparison to a defensive back, who'll only get consideration if they create a high number of turnovers while playing for a competitor, like Stephon Gilmore in 2019 with the Patriots.

Defensive Player of the Year Betting Tip: Similar to the Offensive Player of the Year award, this honour rarely tends to go to a player whose team doesn't make the playoffs. Be sure to check out each team's projected win total before betting on the Defensive Player of the Year award.

The last five Defensive Player of the Year winners:

  • 2020: DT Aaron Donald, Rams
  • 2019: CB Stephon Gilmore, Patriots
  • 2018: DT Aaron Donald, Rams
  • 2017: DT Aaron Donald, Rams
  • 2016: DE Khalil Mack, Raiders

While it's easy to make a case for Aaron Donald winning this award for the fourth time in five years, you'll struggle to find many betting sites offering good value on the Rams phenom. That's why reigning DPOTY, Chase Young of the Washington Football Team is worth a look.

Coming off an impressive rookie season where he frequently dominated the line of scrimmage, the Ohio State alum leads an impressive defensive line in D.C. and could see his sack numbers increase enough to take this year's award. At 9/1 odds with bet365, you have to like that value. Other names to consider include the Browns behemoth Myles Garrett, Nick and Joey Bosa and the tackling machine that is Devin White of the Buccaneers.

NFL Individual Awards Betting

When betting on NFL awards with trusted online sportsbooks, be sure you apply certain knowledge to your bet. More often than not, the winner of any award will likely come from a team that has achieved some type of success.

If a player has a great season, but his team finishes bottom of their division, then his achievements will go unrewarded. If a rookie has helped a team make the playoffs a year after his team missed out on them, and his efforts have made that happen, then he will be in the NFL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Of course, injuries will play a part in all NFL markets during this 2021-22 NFL season. A preseason bet on one player could turn sour if the chosen player suffers one of the many season-ending injuries that often occur during the course of an NFL season.

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