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Herbert edges ahead in NFL rookie race

By Jason Weingarten  ( 

The Dodgers are down 2-0 to the Braves in the NLCS while the Rays hold a 3-0 lead on the Astros and look like they will be wrapping up the ALCS soon. Baseball futures are surprisingly boring right now, so after one quick bet, we will shift our attention to NFL futures. For the purpose of this column, one unit is equal to $500.  

MLB adjusted series prices 

With the Dodgers trailing in the series, I’m tempted to add a Dodgers series bet at + 200 or better. They will be favored in Game 4, and the Dodgers would likely still be the favorites if Games 5 through 7 happen. I found a + 200 series price at DraftKings and will bet it, risking one unit. 


DraftKings (last week’s number in parentheses)

Wilson + 100 (+ 175)

Rodgers + 300 (+ 300)

Mahomes + 600 (+ 300)

Allen + 1600 (+ 1100)

Jackson + 1600 (+ 1400)

Roethlisberger + 2500 (+ 2500)

Brady + 3300 (+ 2500)

Circa doesn’t have MVP odds up right now or I’d include those numbers as well. I like using Circa’s odds as a baseline for where the market should be. Unfortunately, these are the only numbers I have to work with this week. 

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is still the MVP favorite and has dropped to even money. Seattle almost lost to the Vikings on Sunday night, and a loss would have dropped Wilson’s odds a bit. DraftKings has gone so far as to offer Wilson + 100 vs. the field -155. If I wanted to take a shot against Wilson, I’d pick players individually instead of laying -155 against, but I don’t see anyone I’m dying to bet right now. Patrick Mahomes took a step back with the Chiefs’ home loss to the Raiders, and Bills QB Josh Allen practically eliminated himself from contention in Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Titans.

I would expect to see Tom Brady’s odds cut in half if the Bucs beat the Packers this weekend, but I’d also expect to see Aaron Rodgers’ odds cut to about + 200 with another strong performance and a win. 

After declaring Fernando Tatis Jr. the NL MVP winner a month early, only to see Freddie Freeman pass him, I won’t call any NFL races early, no matter how far in front the leader looks. Rodgers and Mahomes have the best chances to overtake Wilson, but this remains Wilson’s award to lose. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year


Herbert + 120 (+ 700)

Burrow + 175 (-110)

Edwards-Helaire + 700 (+ 250)

Taylor + 1600 (+ 1200)

Lamb + 1600 (+ 1600)

Robinson  + 2000 (+ 1000)

Claypool + 2500 (+ 5000)

Jefferson + 2500 (+ 1300)

Gibson + 5000 (+ 2500)

A new favorite has emerged for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. He is still looking for his first win, but Herbert has made his presence felt in the box score. He is the first rookie to throw four touchdown passes on “Monday Night Football” and has thrown nine TD passes against three interceptions this season. Herbert’s main opponents are Joe Burrow and staying healthy. I project a healthy Herbert to throw for over 3,500 yards and about 25 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. If he starts 15 games and reaches those numbers, he’ll have the easiest path to winning the award. With games against the Jaguars, Jets, Broncos and Falcons at home, the wins should come.

Burrow is the second favorite now, and I project him to throw for over 4,000 yards. But I project him for under 20 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. One major difference is that Burrow has already been sacked 22 times compared with only nine for Herbert. Those hits add up, and I expect Burrow to wear down if the Bengals can’t keep him upright. If Burrow drifts much higher — say, to + 400 — I’d be interested in betting him again.

I’m not interested in any of the running backs. Washington’s Antonio GIbson was a sleeper pick but hasn’t come close to putting up the numbers needed to be a contender. James Robinson plays on an awful Jaguars team, and no running back on a five- or six-win team will win this award. The Colts’ Jonathan Taylor and the Chiefs’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire aren’t big enough parts of their teams’ offenses to warrant more serious consideration, but I’d be tempted to add a small bet on Edwards-Helaire if he drifts above + 1000.

A couple of receivers are making cases, mainly CeeDee Lamb and Chase Claypool. Through five games, the Cowboys’ Lamb has 433 yards receiving on 29 receptions for an average of 86.6 yards per game. The downside is Dak Prescott is being replaced by Andy Dalton, and Lamb has scored only two touchdowns. Lamb has emerged as one of the best rookie wide receivers in fantasy and real football, but he’ll need to improve his touchdown numbers significantly before his odds drop. I’d expect to be able to get any wide receiver contenders at 25-1 or better in a few weeks. 

Claypool scored four touchdowns Sunday for the Steelers, and any rookie with a four-touchdown day will see his odds drop. Claypool’s target numbers have gone up every week, but he will need to draw double-digit targets every week for the rest of the season to come close to the numbers receivers have historically needed to contend for this award. Claypool now has four receiving touchdowns and one rushing TD and will need 10 to 12 for serious consideration. I’m interested in Claypool at + 2500 this week if only as a hedge against the quarterbacks. I bet $200 on Claypool at + 2500 this week.

All that is to say this award is Herbert vs. Burrow vs. staying healthy. The winner will be the rookie quarterback who misses the fewest games, and right now Herbert has the inside track. The next four weeks the Chargers host the Jaguars, visit the Broncos, host the Raiders and visit the Dolphins. The Bengals are at the Colts, then host the Browns and the Titans before visiting the Steelers. I’m going to wait at least a week before I shop for prices on other guys. 

Defensive Player of the Year

It’s a two-horse race between the Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Browns’ Myles Garrett right now. I bet Garrett last week at + 850, and this week I’m going to make a one-unit bet on Aaron Donald at + 300. I’m just going with the two favorites. I will fade T.J. Watt, Khalil Mack and Za’Darius Smith and hope Donald and Garrett end up on playoff teams. 

This Week’s Bets Recap


$500 to win $1,000 on Dodgers series price against Braves


$200 to win $5,000 on Chase Claypool Offensive Rookie of the Year

$500 to win $1,500 on Aaron Donald Defensive Player of the Year

I’m still sitting on about $14,000 of MLB futures. I lost $640 more last week betting on the Yankees’ series price and am now down $3,265 on MLB futures. Hopefully the awards voting in a few weeks will help me dig out of that hole.

This week I bet $700 in new NFL futures and currently have $3,450 in NFL futures. I am a huge Justin Herbert fan, as I’d stand to win about $18,000 if he wins Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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