Are you ready for some football?! After what can only be described as the strangest off-season in NFL history, we slowly inch our way towards the start of the 2020-21 campaign, albeit with some very strict rules in place, not to mention the reduced capacity at most NFL stadiums, and in some cases no fan attendance at all will be permitted. Now, whilst I feel the lack of fan attendance will have a fairly large impact on the outcome of games, mainly due to the lack of ‘home field advantage’, it certainly won’t impact my favourite market, and the one that I shall be providing you guys throughout the rest of the season, which is those extremely profitable ‘anytime touchdown scorers’.
However, with the start of the season still a couple of weeks away I thought I would wet everyone’s appetite with some season long ante-post picks. The eagled eyed amongst you may notice that unfortunately due to threat Covid-19 possesses on the NFL season, bookmakers are currently not offering each-way payouts, seemingly to reduce their exposure if the season is cut-short or players miss significant time through positive tests, etc.
That being said, lets dive right in!
Russell Wilson @ 8/1 with William Hill
Clearly Lamar Jackson had a season for the ages, but you can’t tell me that the Ravens wouldn’t have won more games without him in the line-up, than the Seahawks would have done without Wilson under centre. As with most things in the NFL, the MVP award is more a popularity vote than anything else and quite simply Lamar was great entertainment. The Seahawks know that the window is closing on Wilson’s career so have made some moves this off-season to try and make another run at the Lombardi trophy. The addition of Jamal Adams should help shore up the back-end, with veteran tight-end Greg Olson providing a nice security blanket for Wilson, especially in two tight-end packages. Once again they will be a run first offence, but that doesn’t mean that Wilson won’t be able to put up some monster numbers, especially in terms of touchdown passes, with D.K. Metcalf looking even better than advertised, alongside the underrated Tyler Lockett. Yes, Pat Mahomes is the clear favourite for this award, but if the Seahawks can take the NFC West from the 49ers, then Wilson’s name will certainly be getting talked about.
DeShaun Watson @ 25/1 with Unibet
Now, I’m not sure if this is situation where the heart overrules the head (as I’m a Texans fan), but I can’t help seeing a great deal of value in these odds. Entering his 4th season Watson is looking every bit of a franchise quarterback, and if it wasn’t for the very quick success of Patrick Mahomes he would be getting talked about even more. Some people may see the departure of DeAndre Hopkins as a huge loss, but I believe the Texan actually look more balanced heading into this season, with DW4 having more weapons than ever, Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, if (and that’s a big if) they can all stay healthy. For me, a 4,500 yard and 35 touchdown season doesn’t look out of reach, and should he hit those numbers you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be in the running for MVP.
Jamal Adams @ 40/1 with Will Hill
If you’re going to give up two 1st round picks for a safety, they best be one helluva safety! Which you would have to say that Jamal Adams has the potential to be, but maybe hasn’t quite reached his ceiling. He had a tremendous season last year in terms of getting to the quarterback, registering 6.5 sacks, but just 1 interception (and 2 in 2 years) isn’t going to cut it. Although I feel the change in scenery, and the change in scheme can help Adams reach the next level. Just look at what Pete Carroll managed to do with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Yes, it’s very rare that a safety gets give the defensive MVP award, but with All-pro linebacker Bobby Wagner in front of him, Adams will be free to roam and you know he will be getting the best pre-snap signals from the aforementioned Wagner. If Adams can register 6+ sacks and 5/6 interceptions he will hard to ignore when it comes to voting time.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Patrick Queen @ 12/1 with Paddy Power
So, you go straight from that LSU defence the Baltimore Ravens, not bad going. With Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams, and Calais Campbell in front of him eating up blockers, it will allow the speedy Queen to make plays all over the field. The Ravens have excelled in developing young linebackers, and probably can’t wait to get their hands on this guy. Clearly Chase Young is the hot favourite to claim this award, but with the Ravens being in the national spotlight most weeks it should help Queen to become a household name. Don’t forget that a linebacker has been named defensive rookie of the year 12 times in the past 20 seasons.
Most Receiving Yards
Adam Thielen @ 33/1 with Paddy Power
I mean, who else is going to be catching balls other than this guy in the Vikings offence?! With Stefon Diggs in Buffalo that’s a whole lot of extra targets heading Thielen’s way, and it’s not like he was short on them in the first place, racking up 296 in 2017 and 2018. The Vikings will of course be a run first team, but I do question whether the defence will be quite as solid this season, meaning they may have to play a little more catch-up in games, leading to more yardage for the aforementioned Thielen.
Brandin Cooks @ 80/1 with Bet Victor
If history tells us anything, Will Fuller is definitely not going to play 16 games in a season, which means the much traded for Brandin Cooks should be the recipient of all those balls that flew towards DeAndre Hopkins. Whilst Brandin Cooks has been traded 3 times in the last 4 seasons it has rarely affected his production registering over 1,000 yards each season. For me, 80/1 looks a big price when you consider just what Hopkins did in this offence, even when DeShaun Watson wasn’t part of the equation.
Robert Woods @ 100/1 with V-Bet
The rumour mill is that the Rams may wind up signing Leonard Fournette, but as it stands right now they have no real ground game to speak of, meaning that if the offence is going to make its way down the field it’s going to be through the air, enter Robert Woods, who has already logged back to back seasons over 1,100 yards since joining the Rams from the Bills. Obviously he has to compete for targets with Cooper Kupp, but Woods offers much more of a downfield presence, so can pick up yardage in chunks, not to mention that Kupp’s odds are under half at 33/1. I would love to have been able to get some money ‘each-way’ on this selection, but I still like it’s worth a small bet at odds averaging around 66/1.
Most Rushing Yards
Ezekiel Elliott @ 10/1 with V-Bet
Having already led the NFL in rushing twice in his first 4 seasons, what’s to say he won’t do it again? The Cowboys look absolutely stacked on offence, with potentially three superstar wide-outs, and one of, if not the nest offensive line in football. As long as Zeke can keep his nose clean and stay injury free then there’s no way he doesn’t finish this season inside the top 3 in rushing yards. Throughout his career the Ohio State superstar has averaged 96.51 yards per game, which would equate to 1,544 yards in a season, which would have claimed the rushing title 4 times in the last 5 seasons.
Saquon Barkley @ 11/1 with Bet365
After a sensational rookie campaign, old ‘quadzilla’ had the brakes well and truly slammed on last season, as throughout an injury hit sophomore season he only managed 1,003 yards. Having had the entire off-season to rest and recover the Penn State star looks set for a career year, especially with Daniel Jones now more at ease with the offence, and some weapons on the outside that should help Barley to see less 8 (sometimes 9) men boxes. The additions of Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart in the draft also help solidify and offensive line that prove more adept in the run game than the pass.