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Is There Enough FitzMagic to Win 2018 NFL MVP?

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Caleb Benenoch of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate a touchdown
Ryan Fitzpatrick's 2018 season got off to a magical start. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the NFL with 819 passing yards through Week 2
  • Fitzpatrick now has 2018 NFL MVP odds, and they’re pretty short
  • Fitzmagic even has the Bucs entering the Super Bowl 53 outside contenders

He goes by many names the Amish Rifle, Fitzmagic, the Harvard guy.

I would suggest another nickname for Ryan Fitzpatrick: the McRib. He randomly shows up every year for a few weeks to much fanfare, but then he goes away and everyone forgets why they were so excited in the first place.

However, this year’s McRib news cycle has been especially thrilling. Not only has Fitzpatrick enjoyed the best two-game stretch of his career, but he’s lifted a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that seemed destined for a season of dysfunction to an early lead in the loaded NFC South.

Average Super Bowl 53 Odds for NFC South Teams

After Jameis Winston was suspended three games to start the year, many left the Buccaneers  for dead.  Instead, I guess we should’ve seen the opportunity for value.

Fitzpatrick has also quickly gone from off the board to a +3300 in NFL MVP odds, putting him ahead of guys like Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger.

2018 NFL MVP Odds

Rank Player Pos Team Odds
1 Aaron Rodgers QB GB +350
2 Patrick Mahomes QB KC +800
3 Todd Gurley RB LAR +800
4 Tom Brady QB NE +1000
5 Drew Brees QB NO +1400
T-11 Ryan Fitzpatrick QB TB +3300

*See the odds for each contender by following the link in the table

Fitzy has been known to have flashes of brilliance throughout his 14-year career that has spanned seven different franchises. (Remember that six touchdown game against Tennessee?) But is there any reason to believe the magic can last for a full season this time?

How long will Fitzpatrick be the Buccaneers Quarterback?

A +300 underdog to start in Week 4 last Thursday, Fitzpatrick is now a -1000 favorite to hold the starting job when Winston returns.

Conventional wisdom says the Buccaneers will roll with Fitzpatrick as long as they keep winning, and a quick peek at their schedule has to fill Tampa fans with optimism. This week, they get a struggling Steelers team that has snatched that once-Buccaneers crown for most dysfunctional.

Tampa will face a few tough defenses down the line in the Bears and Browns, but even if Fitzpatrick does have an off game or two, its likely he’ll still get a chance to retain the starting job. Winston is nearing the end of his rookie deal and management is clearly apprehensive to give the troubled QB a new deal.

Sitting him behind a 35-year-old journeyman for the season will make it easier for the Bucs to move on, rather than run the risk of him playing well and then having to offer him a Blake Bortles-type deal. (Although perhaps I shouldn’t judge, that seems to be working out so far).

Is Fitzpatrick worth a bet for 2018 NFL MVP?

Hmm… perhaps we should just let the numbers do the talking here.

Tom Brady (2017)
VS
Ryan Fitzpatrick (2018)

286.1 Passing Yards per Game 409.5
2 Passing TDs per Game 4
0.5 Interceptions per Game 0.5
66.3 Completion % 78.9
102.8 Passer Rating 151.5

It shouldn’t be that surprising that Fitzy is having early success in the Buccaneers offense. He had a strong season with the Jets in 2015, throwing to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.  He has an even better receiver duo in Tampa, with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, not to mention athletic tight end OJ Howard busting big gains over the middle.

That play helps explain why Fitzpatrick is putting up such great numbers: the Bucs are getting a ton of yards after the catch.

Todd Monken’s offense is putting these speedy receivers in open space, after years of underachieving in that area, and as long as the QB continues to be accurate, this team should keep scoring in bunches.

But when it comes to Fitzy’s accuracy, you never really know what to expect game to game.

Fitzpatrick’s inconsistency makes me hesitant to back him for MVP. But while a few bad weeks can sink an MVP campaign, they might not sink a team’s season.

The Buccaneers average Super Bowl 53 odds have gone from +8500 before Week 1, to +5700 after Week 1,  all the way down to +3300 after Week 2.

So if you believe in Fitzmagic, those may be the odds you want to go with.

Where is There MVP Value?

For that middle-tier of MVP odds, if you really want to bet on a quarterback we’ve long laughed at, but lately is overachieving, take a look at Andy Dalton or the aforementioned Bortles.

Both are entrenched as starters, in no danger of getting sat and going off at +5000. Not to mention they’re both leading 2-0 playoff contending teams (in an easier conference no less).

Of course, if you’d prefer to back this guy, I can’t really blame you.

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