What are the oddsmakers saying?
William Hill, America’s largest sportsbook operator, recently released its opening odds on which player will bring home the NFL MVP award next season. At 40/1, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is tied with Titans running back Derrick Henry for 13th among the top betting options. The field consists of quarterbacks in the first 10 betting options before New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley appears at No. 11 at odds of 30/1.
Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVI MVP Patrick Mahomes tops the list at +350, followed by Baltimore’s reigning regular season MVP Lamar Jackson at odds of 6/1. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (8/1), Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (14/1) and new Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (16/1) round out the top five overall betting choices.
Can McCaffrey break the drought?
The NFL has not witnessed a running back garner the honor since Adrian Peterson took home the award back in 2012 after rushing for 2,097 yards as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
McCaffrey is coming off one of the most prolific seasons in history for a running back. He led the NFL with 2,392 all-purpose yards (the third-highest mark in NFL history), becoming just the third player in NFL history to record 1,000+ receiving and 1,000+ rushing yards in the same year.
The third-year back was so good that he made First Team All-Pro at two positions, easily distinguishing himself as the league’s most versatile running back. McCaffrey is just 23 years old and has his best years ahead of him. It’s not often you find a dual-threat offensive playmaker that can keep moving the chains so effortlessly both on the ground and through the air.
Consensus No. 1 overall fantasy football selection?
Christian McCaffrey was the NFL’s best fantasy player in PPR leagues after having the second-best fantasy season in NFL history. McCaffrey posted 471.2 fantasy points via 1,387 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 total touchdowns. Just how good was he as a receiver? In finishing only behind the prolific MVP season of Lamar Jackson in overall fantasy points, his 116 receptions ranked second in the entire league only to Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (149). McCaffrey outscored the next-closest running back (Aaron Jones, Packers) by 156.4 PPR fantasy points last season.
As we all know, the Panthers have moved on from former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton after a nine-year run with the club that saw one Super Bowl appearance. Following the news, McCaffrey took to social media to thank Newton:
McCaffrey will now have Teddy Bridgewater under center. Bridgewater, who has never thrown for more than 3,300 yards or more than 15 touchdowns in a single season, will now have Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and McCaffrey at his disposal. New Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is offensive-minded and new offensive coordinator Joe Brady just helped orchestrate the superb 2019 National Champion LSU Tigers attack.
McCaffrey has seen his targets increase every year in the league: 113, 124 and 142. Does that mean that 150-plus targets are in store for 2020? My model does not see that happening. However, McCaffrey has a high probability of repeating as the league’s best running back because of his versatility. The former Stanford standout is a threat to take it the distance as a receiver, between the tackles or on any stretch outside run. He has shown tremendous durability throughout his three-year career, playing in every game.
Strength off the field during pandemic
The star running back recently announced that he has partnered with both North and South Carolina Hospital Associations to raise funds for healthcare workers impacted by COVID-19.
In a press release on Friday, McCaffrey announced a campaign called, “22 and You,” to support frontline medical workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic in hospitals throughout the Carolinas.
Donations are being collected online here and all gifts will directly support the needs of healthcare workers in both states.
HOME: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals
AWAY: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington
Imagine McCaffrey playing with an elite quarterback, a stout offensive line, and other big weapons around him delivering consistent results? It will take Bridgewater and Anderson time to become familiar with their new teammates and the pandemic is taking away precious OTAs to build that foundation. It may be awhile before we know whether or not Bridgwater can have more success in Carolina than Newton.
McCaffrey is easily my RB1 as well as my overall top ranked player in fantasy football in 2020, but I will take a pass on investing in his MVP market. I realize his odds of 40/1 are extremely attractive, but I just don’t see how he can overtake Mahomes or Jackson. It would take a 2,000-plus rushing season and 1,000-plus receiving campaign to take away an award that has clearly become the “Most Valuable Quarterback” award.
MORE FROM SI GAMBLING: