Another season begins with the New England Patriots as the reigning champions and the oddsmakers’ choice to claim the Lombardi Trophy.
Optimism is plentiful in other markets, and investors looking to unearth this season’s underdog or team on the rise brings intrigue to the window for those playing the futures market.
With value plays in mind — read: we avoided favorites — Field Level Media analyzed 2019 prop bet odds and found these five most compelling:
–Carson Wentz, Comeback Player of the Year (+1000, PointsBet)
Wentz is fourth in line for the award and his injury history is enough to turn the light yellow for tepid investors. But Wentz, driven to prove his worth after signing a massive contract extension, is undoubtedly an upper-tier quarterback and played at an MVP level in 2017 before shredding his knee against the Rams and watching Nick Foles ascend to Super Bowl MVP two months later.
The Eagles are in the thick of a coin-flip division in the NFC East and Wentz has the skill-position support and offensive system to put up video game numbers, the kind of production it will take to garner such award notice.
Another reason to like Wentz: Consider Jets running back Le’Veon Bell (+400, PointsBet) and Devonta Freeman (+900), plus favorite Jimmy Garoppolo (+300) are ahead of Wentz in line and not true values at this point.
–Nick Chubb, NFL rushing champ (+1700, PointsBet)
Kareem Hunt looms at midseason as the only real threat to playing time to Chubb, who finished 10th in the NFL in rushing as a rookie despite averaging only 12 attempts per game. There’s some consideration to be given changes along the offensive line in Cleveland, but the majority of attention from defenses is going to be focused on stopping Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in the passing game orchestrated by Baker Mayfield.
On 192 carries, Chubb put up 996 rushing yards in 2018. If he hits 275 carries, even a conservative increase in his projected production means another 500 yards. If he produces on precise par with his rookie totals, we’re talking 431.6 additional rushing yards.
Consider Ezekiel Elliott claimed the 2018 rushing title with 1,434 yards and in 2017, Bell won with 1,291.
If Chubb hits 1,425 rushing yards, we love his chances to claim the rushing crown and cash at +1700.
On the topic of overlooked running backs, there’s every reason to like the over on Caesar’s Sportsbook offering of Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs’ rushing total of 879 1/2. If his offensive line remains sturdy, Jon Gruden will pound the rock.
–Chiefs TE Travis Kelce over 7.5 touchdowns (-110, Caesars)
Kelce can’t be covered by just any human in headgear and he finished 10th (tie) in the NFL last season with 10 TD catches.
He had four TD catches in AFC West games and that number is likely to rise with the Chargers operating minus Derwin James at safety and Oakland still trying to figure things out on the back end; Kelce had 17 catches for 270 yards and two scores against the Raiders last season.
If Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to repeat as MVP — he is, and no reason not to buy into a repeat — Kelce is sure to be on the receiving end of more than 100 of his passes again (103 last season). In an offense with West Coast roots, betting on tight end production is a no-brainer.
–Matt Nagy, NFL Coach of the Year (+1800, PointsBet)
Nine coaches are in front of Nagy in the COY futures at PointsBet and No. 1 is Frank Reich, who is presently the rudder of a team that just lost a franchise quarterback two weeks before opening kickoff. If you want to pound Reich at +1000 or his betting line equal, Browns rookie coach Freddie Kitchens, that’s your prerogative.
Consider the Bears should be in the driver’s seat in the NFC North and as reigning champions there’s every reason to believe they’ll finish first in the division, with an angle on a home game or two at Soldier Field. Coach of the Year often comes down to the underdog story, so those who aren’t ready to buy in on a Bear market could ride with Matt LaFleur (Packers, +1600) or Super Bowl coaches with longer odds in Pete Carroll of the Seahawks (+2500), John Harbaugh of the Ravens (+2500) or Panthers coach Ron Rivera (+2800).
–Jacksonville Jaguars, Super Bowl champions (+3300, PointsBet)
Remember, this is about value. As in, take on risk for higher reward. As in, why take the Patriots at +650 or the Chiefs (+800) right behind them when you can back a big dog with serious bite and five times greater odds (=payout)?
Foles has a ring to prove his worth, and that title came at the expense of the Patriots. We’re not in the Foles demigod camp but moving along from Blake Bortles could be a plus-2.5-win transaction for the Jaguars. It’s going to be up to the offense, and as much the health and motivation of running back Leonard Fournette, to play a supporting role to the championship-caliber defense already in place.
PointsBet puts the Houston Texans in the driver’s seat in the AFC South with Andrew Luck out of the picture in Indy. Jacksonville is +235 to Houston’s +140. Might as well double down, right?
Not able to bite on the men in turquoise?
We also fancy second-tier Super Bowl championship numbers for the Steelers (+2200), Ravens (+3500) and Broncos (+9000). Regarding Denver — that defense is going to be next level once again.
On the NFC side, the Rams are a reasonable play at +1100 and the Falcons (+3300) are intriguing.
–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media