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Patrick Mahomes Heavily Favored in Opening NFL Offensive Player of the Year Odds

Patrick Mahomes 2018
Patrick Mahomes won the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. Photo from @BBQChiefs (Twitter).
  • Patrick Mahomes has opened as a +550 favorite to win 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year 
  • Lamar Jackson, runner-up in 2019, is second on the odds board of a loaded field
  • Get all the odds and insight on this strange award below

A familiar face was at the top of the list for the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Patrick Mahomes, just about everybody’s favorite including your mother, is also getting the shortest odds for this oft overlooked award.

As it turns out, the OPOY isn’t always a duplicate for the league’s MVP,  meaning there’s some nice value for betting this honor if you know what to look for.

AP Offensive Player of the Year Odds

Player Odds
Patrick Mahomes (QB) +550
Lamar Jackson (QB) +950
Russell Wilson (QB) +1200
Tom Brady (QB) +1200
Christian McCaffrey (RB) +1400
Saquon Barkley (RB) +1600
Michael Thomas (WR) +1800
Kyler Murray (QB) +1800
Drew Brees (QB) +2000
Derrick Henry (RB) +2200
Ezekiel Elliot (RB) +2800
Deshaun Watson (QB) +2800
Aaron Rodgers (QB) +2800
Dak Prescott (QB) +2800
Dalvin Cook (RB) +3000
Carson Wentz (QB) +3500
Nick Chubb (RB) +4500
Aaron Jones (RB) +4500
DeAndre Hopkins (WR) +5000
Julio Jones (WR) +5000

Odds taken March 27.

History of the OPOY

Of course Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to win the award — he’s the best offensive player in football! He would’ve won the damn thing last year had he not gotten injured! Instead, Lamar Jackson… wait, what? Jackson didn’t win?

Who did?

Turns out the OPOY isn’t just a side dish for the MVP. Half of the time, the award is given to outstanding skill position players or MVP runner-ups that voters wanted to acknowledge in some way (see Drew Brees).

MVP and OPOY Winners

Year MVP Winner OPOY Winner
2019 Lamar Jackson (QB) Michael Thomas (WR)
2018 Patrick Mahomes (QB) Patrick Mahomes (QB)
2017 Tom Brady (QB) Todd Gurley (RB)
2016 Matt Ryan (QB) Matt Ryan (QB)
2015 Cam Newton (QB) Cam Newton (QB)
2014 Aaron Rodgers (QB) DeMarco Murray (RB)
2013 Peyton Manning (QB) Peyton Manning (QB)
2012 Adrian Peterson (RB) Adrian Peterson (RB)
2011 Aaron Rodgers (QB) Drew Brees (QB)
2010 Tom Brady (QB) Tom Brady (QB)
2009 Peyton Manning (QB) Chris Johnson (RB)
2008 Peyton Manning (QB) Drew Brees (QB)

While MVP has historically gone only to quarterbacks, running backs have a real shot at the OPOY, winning 11 of the last 20. However, that halfback dominance came earlier in the century: as the NFL transitioned to more of a passing league, the path for RBs to win the award has become more murky.

For example, viewed side by side, Gurley’s 2017 season and Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season are nearly identical. But because of the strength of the field this year, McCaffrey came third with 12 votes, while Gurley netted 37 votes and the win two years ago.

Is Mahomes a Worthwhile Favorite?

The favorite for MVP, it’s only natural that Mahomes also top this oddsboard. But given how vast the field for this honor is and how unpredictable voters can be, I’m less enthusiastic of his chances to put up the stats needed to win this in 2020.

With Demarcus Robinson hitting free agency and Sammy Watkins likely to leave soon too, the Chiefs’ receiver depth is sure to be worse heading into next year. The team will also be looking to stave off a Super Bowl hangover, while 30-year-old Travis Kelce might still be battling regular hangovers.

Mahomes is the best in the biz and should have an efficient year for a Chiefs team that figures to be at the top of the AFC, but I don’t foresee the kind of statistical season that demands both awards. I’d stick to betting him for MVP.

Are WRs a Good Play?

Even though Thomas is the current holder, this is not an honor that favors pass catchers. He is the first receiver to win since Jerry Rice in 1993. (That season didn’t even end up ranking in the top-3 for Rice’s best years.)

Since then, voters have snubbed the likes of Calvin Johnson (who set the single-season receiving yards record in 2012), Randy Moss (set the single-season receiving TD record in 2007) and Marvin Harrison (whose 143 catches in 2002 stood as a record until Thomas broke it).

It’s not just that Thomas had a record season, he was also historically efficient, catching over 80% of his targets in 2019. And he still only won the award by two votes.

So if you think DeAndre Hopkins or Chris Godwin (+5000) could have sexy stats catching balls from new QBs, just know that raw receiving numbers aren’t enough to win this.

Wilson’s Time for a Win?

Though he’s been a consensus top-five QB in the NFL for years now, Russell Wilson still has never won a major individual award. He lost out on Rookie of the Year to Robert Griffin III in 2012 and has been shutout of accolades ever since. Last year, another outstanding season ended with just one vote for OPOY.

The Seahawks are trying to bolster that offensive line for Wilson this offseason, but even if there’s no improvement, he’s consistently shown he can still be one of the NFL’s best back there.

Heading into his ninth season, I’m expecting a groundswell of “he’s due for a win” support for Wilson to come. There’s a decent chance he gets one of those Brees-esque OPOY wins if he falls short of MVP again.

Throw in the uncertainty COVID-19 casts over offseason activities and there looks to be a real advantage to backing players that are staying in the same offense. There’s a lot of great options to bet for OPOY in 2020, but I would be sure to include Wilson at +1200 as one of them.

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