When betting on futures, it’s never fun (or profitable) taking the favorites. Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers will garner most of the public votes, but the sharps will be targeting some juicier odds on less-appreciated players to rake in some money come next winter. With that, I think it’s worthwhile we take a look at three sleeper picks to win MVP.
A quarterback has won each of the last eight years, and in 13 of the last 14, so it’s probably smart to target that position. By now, you’re well aware of how great Matt Stafford can be on a football field. He’s led the league in completions and attempts before and is coming off his eighth-career 4,000-yard season. Despite having the deck stacked against him in 2020, Stafford managed to sneak into the top 13 in total yards and touchdowns, and had a respectable 1.9 interception rate. He was also fifth in yards per completion, at 12 on average.
All that’s to say, he has the talent and he doesn’t stink at this point in his career. That talent is going to be important, because he’s walking into perhaps the best situation in the league. The Rams had the league’s third-best offensive line by season’s end, according to Pro Football Focus, they have one of the game’s best coaches in Sean McVay, and their defense will give Stafford the chance to win almost every game.
On top of all this, talented wideout Van Jefferson will be entering year two, Cam Akers is quickly emerging as one of the top running backs in the NFL, and trusty receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are both under contract for at least the next three years. This is a win-now situation, and getting longshot odds on a guy who’s almost certainly leading his team to the playoffs, who has elite talent, is a chance you can’t pass up.
Speaking of talent, and quarterbacks, Prescott will certainly be worth a stab before the season begins. This price reflects (deserved) skepticism over his health and how he’ll look in his first games back from injury, but when healthy the talent this young quarterback possesses has been undeniable. The talent around him, too, is incredible. A stacked offense got even stronger last spring when Dallas drafted CeeDee Lamb, and the team showed that it could win games down the stretch despite having Andy Dalton under center. Prescott’s return will light a fire under the talented Cowboys and he should have no issues leading this team to the postseason.
It’s worth noting that before the injury, Prescott already had nearly 2,000 yards in just five games, and was on pace for nearly 6,000, which would have been insane. He also added three rushing touchdowns to his nine passing touchdowns, which came against four interceptions.
There’s also the added bonus here that Prescott will likely still be playing for a new contract, so he should be playing incredibly inspired football, hungry to earn the deal he’s worth.
I feel silly talking about someone who’s such a longshot and coming off the season he had, but back in his lone Pro Bowl season in 2017, Wentz led the league with a 7.5% touchdown rate, and a 78.5 QBR. That was four years and several injuries ago, but Wentz did come back to have an okay season in 2019, given hardly any talent around him to work with. His offensive line failed him that season, and so too did the health of the team. Everyone around him crumbled, yet he found a way to get the Eagles to the playoffs with guys like Boston Scott and Greg Ward as his top targets.
Then came 2020, which was weird, because he was constantly looking over his shoulder at Jalen Hurts, who was ready to take his job. The talent around Wentz didn’t get any better, so naturally his weakened mental state meant disaster.
Indianapolis had the seventh-best line last year, according to PFF, an upgrade over the Eagles 19th-ranked line. The Colts also have a team that was pretty close to knocking off the Bills in the postseason and making a run to the AFC Championship game on the arm of Philip Rivers. With a talented offense that includes youngster Michael Pittman, Jr. as well as play-making backs in Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor, this offense should be ready to capitalize on the opportunities the Colts’ elite defense gives it. On top of that, Indy’s got over $50 million in cap space to give Wentz some additional help, so this offense could look mighty come the fall. I don’t think it’s the craziest thing to think someone with the talent that Wentz has could step into a good situation, surrounded by coaches he knows as well, and revitalize his career, returning to the top-five form he’s flashed.