Welcome to my NFL Awards betting guide / 2023 season preview all wrapped up in one. Professional football kicks off tomorrow. Is there really anything more that needs to be said?
Most Valuable Player
Trevor Lawrence (+1500)
Each of the past 10 recipients of the NFL’s nameless MVP trophy has been a quarterback -- it would be 16 straight if not for Adrian Peterson.
Those 10 quarterbacks all led their team to a first-round playoff bye -- Peterson is the only MVP of the past two decades to play for a sub-11-win team.
All 10 also finished top four in touchdown passes -- Steve McNair is the only MVP quarterback since 1987 who didn’t finish top five in the category.
This is the list of players who have odds lower than +4000 to lead the league in passing scores (13 total qualifiers) and play for a team with a win total above 9 (15 total qualifiers):
Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Jared Goff, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Geno Smith, and Tua Tagovailoa.
Allen, Burrow, and Mahomes are priced lower than +850, i.e., implied probabilities north of 10%. The best value for this award would be on any of those other players listed. Of that group, only Goff and Lawrence are expected to win their respective divisions and have a clear shot at the No. 1 seed.
Goff has played admirably after being shipped to the NFC North two years ago, but he was originally traded because he didn’t show the ability to elevate an offense. That question no longer exists in regard to Lawrence. He performed as one of the best quarterbacks in the second half of last season as he led the Jaguars to its third Divisional Round game since 2000.
I wrote more about Lawrence’s ascension here. With Calvin Ridley now in the fold (read about his offseason here), Jacksonville’s third-year passer is primed to achieve capital “e” Elite status and lead his team to a bye. Lawrence quietly received MVP votes last season and has a real chance to win it this year. He’d join Dan Marino as the only players to earn the accolade while playing for a Florida team.
Honorable Mentions: Jalen Hurts (+1100), Dak Prescott (+2200), Jordan Love (+6000)
Offensive Player of the Year
Garrett Wilson (+2500)
10th overall pick Garrett Wilson finished 7th in targets, 16th in catches, and 14th in yards among all wide receivers last season. The 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year was just the fifth rookie since 2000 to eclipse 1,000 yards as a 22-year-old (per Graham Barfield) and he broke more tackles than anyone at his position not named Deebo Samuel (per PFF).
He did so catching passes from Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White, and Chris Streveler. With only four scores on the year despite a high number of endzone looks, Wilson was also a clear candidate for positive touchdown regression (per every fantasy site).
Then New York landed Aaron Rodgers. Four MVP trophies, 10 Pro Bowls, 59,000 yards, etc.
After producing with poor passers, and now getting to play with a future Hall of Famer, Wilson is one of few players with a true shot at the touchdown title. Though none of Rodgers’ former pass-catchers ever led the league in receiving yards, James Jones (2012), Jordy Nelson (2016), and Davante Adams (2020 and 2022) each led their position in scores.
After years of being simply attached to the MVP trophy, five of the past six seasons have seen OPOY status earned by a running back or wide receiver with boggling statistics.
HMs: Tony Pollard (+3500), Calvin Ridley (+7500), Rhamondre Stevenson (+15000)
Defensive Player of the Year
Nick Bosa (+1200)
Aaron Donald in 2017, 2018, and 2022 is the only defensive tackle to win DPOY since 2000. Luke Keuchly in 2013 and Stephon Gilmore in 2019 are the only non-linemen to win since 2010. The past 16 winners have played on a team with a winning record.
Micah Parsons (+500), Myles Garrett (+800), T.J. Watt (+850), and Nick Bosa (+1200), are rightfully the players with the lowest odds of winning DPOY. They each belong in the elite tier of NFL edge rushers and it wouldn’t be a shock to see one break the league’s all-time sack record. (Maxx Crosby (+2000) would also apply if he played on a better defense.)
Last year, Bosa led all players in quarterback hits and sacks to earn First-Team All-Pro and DPOY honors. He’d likely be the favorite to win this award again if not for a contract holdout.
But Bosa is likely to suit up for the Niners -- he remains the favorite on DraftKings to lead all players in sacks at +550 odds -- and a contract year push could counter voter fatigue. Past winners have been popular anyway with Donald plus J.J. Watt in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
HMs: Quinnen Williams (+3000), Fred Warner (+4500), Danielle Hunter (+10000)
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Jordan Addison (+1700)
Jordan Addison was drafted directly after Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+2000), Quintin Johnston (+2200), and Zay Flowers (+1800). But he’s likely the most pro-ready receiver in the class, landed in the best short-term situation, and has the easiest path to early targets.
In Minnesota, Addison will replace 33-year-old wide receiver Adam Thielen and Alexander Mattison will replace Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook. It’s not unreasonable to forecast Kevin O’Connell calling another fast, pass-happy attack in his second season as head coach.
The Vikings ranked second in wide receiver fantasy usage, third in pass attempts, fourth in neutral pace, and eighth in neutral pass rate last year (per Hayden Winks). Minnesota also finished third in pass rate over expected in the red zone (per Establish The Run).
Thielen had a special red zone connection with Kirk Cousins; only Rodgers/Adams and Mahomes/Kelce scored more touchdowns since Cousins arrived in the Twin Cities in 2018. Last season, Thielen tied for seventh in targets inside the 10-yard line and was second in routes run behind only his teammate Justin Jefferson.
As evidenced by their first-round selection, Minnesota brass didn’t trust just T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn behind Jefferson after Thielen was cut (cap casualty). If Addison is soon able to claim a full-time role and establish chemistry with Cousins like the Vikings hope, he’ll have a strong chance to be the most productive 2023 offensive rookie.
Addison would be the third consecutive receiver to win OPOY after Ja’Marr Chase in 2021 and Wilson in 2022. Just three receivers won the award from 2000 to 2020, and only four running backs have won over the past 15 years. The trophy typically goes to a quarterback if one plays enough as a rookie to qualify.
Rather than guestimate which top-5-pick passer will perform best or eat Bijan Robinon’s price tag (+275), I’ll follow recent wide receiver trends and bet on the quickest route to early production.
HMs: Anthony Richardson (+600), Dalton Kincaid (+4000), Marvin Mims (+7500)
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Will Anderson Jr. (+400)
Like Defensive Player of the Year, DROY is often captured by pass rushers. Though three of the past eight winners have been cornerbacks, they’re also the only defensive backs to take the title since Charles Woodson in 1998. The only off-ball linebacker to win in the past decade was Shaquille Leonard in 2018.
Since 1995, each DROY was drafted top-40, and each edge player to win was drafted top-16.
Will Anderson Jr. has the best pedigree, path, and profile for early production among any defender in his draft class. April’s third overall pick and first non-quarterback selected is the only pass-rushing prospect in his class who’s projected to be a full-time, three-down starter from day one. According to PFF’s draft guide, “His 207 career pressures are 55 more than the next closest defender over the past three years, and his 37 sacks are 10 more.”
I’d prefer to hold a bet slip on Anderson Jr. and have someone to watch on the Texans than guestimate which cornerback will have the most pass deflections. The rookie awards go to first-rounders consistently and seven of the past 11 DROYs had odds no higher than +900.
HMs: Christian Gonzelez (+950), Brian Branch (+3000), Myles Murphy (+3500)
Coach of the Year
Matt LeFleur (+1600)
This award is almost always given to either a new head coach or a head coach with a new quarterback. The winner’s team is usually one of the most improved in the league rather than one of the best. That said, in the past 30 years, the only coaches to win single-digit games and receive COY honors are Bruce Arians in 2012 and Brian Daboll in 2022.
I really like the cases for Matt LeFleur and each honorable mention listed below, but I’m choosing the Packers coach because I have the most faith in Green Bay’s playoff chances.
LeFleur happens to rank first among active coaches and fifth all-time in regular season win percentage. There’s a revenge narrative too, sort of, as LeFleur was snubbed from COY in his first season as head coach in 2019. The award could be as good as his this year if he guides the Pack to its first postseason berth sans Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre since 1982.
HMs: Sean Payton (+900), Arthur Smith (+1400), Frank Reich (+2500)
Assistant Coach of the Year
There are no odds listed for this award, but since you asked, I’d bet on Ejiro Evero if I could. He’s a hot name for future head coach listings after coordinating Nate Hackett’s defense to a top-10 finish last year and accepting play-call duties for a talented Panthers unit in 2023.
HMs: Ben Johnson, Ken Dorsey, Lou Anarumo
Comeback Player of the Year
Damar Hamlin (-285)
If you know why Alex Smith got 49/50 votes and won CPOY in 2020 then you already know why Bills backup safety Damar Hamlin will win in 2023. Voters focus on health developments over statistical improvements, or else Trevor Lawrence would’ve been a favorite last year.
Hamlin is all but guaranteed to be rightfully recognized for his miraculous comeback story.
HMs: John Metchie III (+2800), Chase Young (+5000), Darren Waller (+7500)
SB LVIII winner
Baltimore Ravens (+1800)
Though it’s not part of the NFL Honors presentation like the awards above, my pick to win the 2023-24 Super Bowl is the Ravens.
In the three seasons after Lamar Jackson’s 2019 unanimous MVP campaign, Baltimore’s offense ranked sixth in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play with him on the field and 31st with him off (per Sheil Kapadia). In April, the Ravens extended Jackson’s contract through 2027, paid Odell Beckham Jr. $15 million guaranteed, and drafted Zay Flowers 22nd overall.
Beckham Jr. and Flowers will join Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews and 2021 first-round receiver Rashod Bateman to create the best pass-catching unit of Jackson’s career. They’ll run behind an offensive line ranked top-5 by ESPN and PFF projections and in a system tailored by Todd Monken (hired in February as OC) that will bring pace and space to a formerly outdated passing game.
Roquan Smith is almost as valuable to the defense as Jackson is to the offense. After acquiring the All-Pro middle linebacker last Halloween, Baltimore ranked top-three in points per game, yards per game, and defensive DVOA to finish the season. The Ravens were tied for first in EPA per play allowed with Smith on the field and 31st with him off (per Ben Solak).
In just his first season as an NFL playcaller, Mike Macdonald showed the ability to make up for a limited pass rush and game plan against elite quarterbacks. His rotating coverages and simulated pressures helped limit Joe Burrow to 641 yards and 3 touchdowns across three games last year.
Baltimore is led by John Harbaugh, who ranks third in playoff wins among active NFL coaches behind Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. This is one of few teams with the coaching, playcalling, quarterback, and remaining roster talent to qualify as a true contender.
I originally chose the Ravens to win the Super Bowl on a spring episode of the JaguarReport Podcast. Shipley wouldn’t let me change my pick all summer, but despite a best-case offseason in Baltimore, its DraftKings odds have only shifted from +2000 in February to +1800 today. The Ravens also moved from the seventh-lowest odds to eighth-lowest after the Jets traded for Rodgers.
There’s still time to buy low on one of the league’s winningest organizations.
HMs: Jaguars (+3000), Seahawks (+3000), Packers (+6500)
- MVP Trevor Lawrence (+1500)
- OPOY Garrett Wilson (+2500)
- DPOY Nick Bosa (+1200)
- OROY Jordan Addison (+1700)
- DROY Will Anderson Jr. (+400)
- COY Mike LeFleur (+1600)
- ACOY Ejiro Evero (n/a)
- CPOY Damar Hamlin (-285)
- Super Bowl winner Ravens (+1800)
Jags fans, I appreciate you for sticking with me through a spew of leaguewide takes. Here are some of my favorite Jaguars-specific season-long bets.
- Trevor Lawrence over 26.5 passing TDs (-110)
- Calvin Ridley over 1,500 receiving yards (+1500)
- Travis Etienne over 150 rushing yards in any regular season game (+180)
- Travis Etienne to lead the league in rushing (+3000)
- Jaguars over 11.5 wins (+220)
- Jaguars to win the Super Bowl (+3000)
All I’m saying is those could be the longest Jaguars title odds you see for a very long time.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your own favorite DraftKings futures in the comments. And don’t forget to check out my 2023 fantasy players to target -- trade for these guys!
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