The NFL MVP race does not always go according to plan. Guys have career years. Great stories emerge. And yes, voters have some fatigue over guys that just won the award. All MVP picks are in essence long-shot picks; even the top two or three guys in a given year have less than a 20% chance of winning.
Here is a list of the betting odds for MVP. Our list is ranking which of those odds are most appealing, trying to account for value. That’s why you won’t see us plopping down our hypothetical money on Carson Wentz, who is the 2nd favorite, because he may not even be healthy enough to start the season. That’s why we don’t have 41-year-old Tom Brady listed at his price (we haven’t seen a repeat MVP besides Peyton Manning in the last 20 years). MVP Odds are listed in parentheses and represent the amount of money you would win if you risked $100. Here are the picks we would target.
#1 MATTHEW STAFFORD (+4000)
Yes, Matthew Stafford is a relative longshot. But after a decade where MVP awards were dominated by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, we’ve seen about half of the recent MVPs (Matt Ryan at +7000, Cam Newton at +2000, and Adrian Peterson in 2012 as a running back) come from outside the handful of favorites.
We are in an era with lots of older quarterbacks, and you never know when the end will come for those big names. Meanwhile, Stafford is in his prime, just turning 30. He set a career high with 7.9 yards per attempt last year, while throwing 29 touchdowns. He fits the profile of guys who had unexpected MVPs around the same age like Matt Ryan, Brian Sipe, Boomer Esiason, and Kurt Warner. He’s got a new head coach in Matt Patricia, a new running back in Kerryon Johnson and an exciting young 2nd year receiver in Kenny Golladay to go with veterans Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. I know risking things on the Lions’ success is not appetizing, and this would need a playoff appearance to have a chance of cashing. But if the Lions can make a run and Stafford can continue his YPA and TD rates, he’ll be in the MVP mix at great long-shot value.