You’re very welcome back to a special preseason edition of ‘Inside Slant’, a column normally reserved for the bumpy ride of the regular season dipping its foot into the comparatively calm waters of the offseason. As our football hibernation comes to a shuddering halt, it is about time to dust off our punters’ caps and turn our attention to the season ahead – and specifically, how we can get ahead of the pack with our wagers and mine some real value.
By the time training camp rolls around after a barren spell without football, it is easy – perhaps even understandable – to get caught up in the chatter.
‘This team will be better this year’, they prognosticate from their plush sets on television, adjusting their ties and shirt sleeves with self-assured sniffs.
‘With Player X back, expect this team to put together a deep playoff run.’ While one player can certainly make a difference, football is never that simple and often the more nuanced analysis is eschewed in this quick-fix world for a bite-size chunk of predictability.
Expectations and attempting to predict what will happen based on last year is, quite simply, folly.
Of course, we are under no illusions that everything we predict has its share of risk, but that is part of the fun. One of the lesser-tested betting markets is the awards circuit, including Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and many more. Professional handicapper Steve Fezzik likes to call these needle-in-a-haystack bets as they are non-binary and involve the gambler picking one option out of a plethora of them.
Not easy, right?
Certainly not, but it is still worth examining the contenders and picking out potential values that could net you a significant profit. Think of this way: hitting on just one of these bets could provide you with the same or more money as winning some of your week-to-week bets during the season.
Without further ado, let us examine the awards contenders for 2018.
Note: These odds were sourced from Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, but they remain consistent across markets and would be reflective of the overall picture.
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
Current award holder: RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Selected dark horses
Michael Gallup 50/1 - I have been doggedly banging the drum for Michael Gallup since I first laid eyes on his tape. The Dallas offense is, to be kind, devoid of quality playmakers right now. Yes, one could argue that Allen Hurns is a useful player with speed and solid route-running ability. Yes, Cole Beasley has the trust of his quarterback Dak Prescott, but he will never produce a wow play. Gallup can, and he should if provided the opportunity. A glimpse of his potential in the preseason has only hardened my resolve on his upside. A long shot this may be, but Gallup will be playing in a popular market where airtime is plentiful across all networks and is a bargain at 50/1.
Most Passing Yards
Current award holder: QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Selected dark horses
Drew Brees 5/1 – After recommending Michael Gallup for offensive rookie accolades, I have reverted to a more conservative tack with this one. Drew Brees has consistently been among the top passers in the league for a long time and has a team around him – offensive line, coaching, receiving weapons, a ground game – that could challenge for the Super Bowl. The Saints’ schedule features challenging match-ups against a slew of quality opponents, but Brees thrives in these conditions. He often puts up his gaudiest passing statistics in these games, in fact. The fact that he, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger top the market – all with the same odds – speaks to how tight this race can be. I would generally avoid this bet, but if you’re feeling lucky roll the dice with Drew.
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