The NFL has long been trending toward being a league that is dominated by dual-threat quarterbacks, and it now seems as though the only real path to winning the league’s MVP award is to be a QB that can both chuck it downfield and run it down opponents’ throats.
Lamar Jackson – who dashed for 1,206 yards in 2019 – was last year’s winner. The year prior it was Patrick Mahomes, who scampered for 272 yards total. Cam Newton (2015 MVP) and Aaron Rodgers (2011 and 2014 MVP) were also elite rushing quarterbacks during their career seasons. And now Kyler Murray – who racked up 544 yards on the ground in his rookie year and ran for 91 yards in a surprise win over the 49ers this past Sunday – has become the trendy early pick for 2020 MVP.
Murray is currently +1400 to win the award at DraftKings Sportsbook and is getting the largest percentage of handle (13%) and percentage of bets (10%) at DK.
“The top 12 selections in MVP proposition right now are all QBs, which dictates the importance of the position,” DraftKings Sportsbook Director Johnny Avello told TheLines. “The NFL QB position isn’t just about what the arm can do anymore, but what can also be achieved with legs. The days of an exclusive pure drop-back passer are over.”
NFL MVP betting
This season’s early MVP candidate list is littered with quarterbacks that can multi-task either extremely well, or reasonably well (DraftKings Sportsbook odds):
- Patrick Mahomes +300
- Lamar Jackson +500
- Russell Wilson +600
- Kyler Murray +1400
- Aaron Rodgers +1400
- Cam Newton +2000
- Dak Prescott +2200
- Josh Allen +2800
- Deshaun Watson +2800
- Carson Wentz +4000
At PointsBet, Wilson is accounting for a whopping 45% of the total MVP handle, and the top four players to receive the most bets in the MVP market this week at FanDuel Sportsbook were: Wilson, Rodgers, Murray and Newton.
Below is a look at the MVP betting splits at DraftKings. Of note, Wilson did not even crack the top 10 here on Sept. 9 – the day before the start of 2020 season. Wilson has now received 6% of the handle and 6% of the bets placed at DK.
|Player||Odds||% of Handle||% of Bets|
QBs run wild in Week 1
Stats and wins matter most when voters fill out their MVP ballots, and there were plenty of winning QBs filling up the stat sheet in Week 1.
- Wilson led his team in rushing in a 38-25 Seattle win over Atlanta.
- Allen led the Bills in yards on the ground in a 27-17 win over the Jets.
- Newton racked up 75 yards and found the end zone twice in a 21-11 Patriots victory over Miami.
- Jackson led the Ravens in rushing yards as well in a 38-6 win over Cleveland.
- Murray ran all over the 49ers in a 24-20 Cardinals win.
And while Giants QB Daniel Jones did not grab a win over the Steelers on Monday night, he did lead his team in rushing with 22 yards on four carries. Jones ran for 279 yards in 13 games last season.
QBs need only apply
Quarterbacks are a near-lock to win NFL MVP each year. Since 2001, there have been only three non-QBs to capture the award: Shaun Alexander (2005), LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) and Adrian Peterson (2012).
Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning are three somewhat-recent examples of quarterbacks that won MVPs in the traditional drop-back passer mold. Ryan, who won MVP in 2016, was and is more mobile than Brady and Manning. But Ryan never ran for more than 150 yards in a full season.
The last opportunity for a traditional passer to win MVP might be this season, with Brady (+3000) and Drew Brees (+2000) potentially getting some sentimental votes. One week into the season, however , both Brady and Brees are relative longshots compared to Mahomes, Jackson and Wilson.