The latest 2018 NFL MVP odds are out from bet365, with Tom Brady (+400), Aaron Rodgers (+500), and Carson Wentz (+800) leading the way as the favorites. You can view the full odds here, but these are the players I believe are being undervalued as potential MVP candidates this season. They are all quarterbacks, as that’s the position that tends to win the award.
Matt Ryan (+1800)
The 2016 NFL MVP is tied for the seventh-best odds to win the award this year, which is probably too low. I believe the Falcons are up there with the Eagles as the best team in the NFC, and the team is in its second season with Steve Sarkisian, who is a lot more comfortable with a year under his belt, as the offensive coordinator. Atlanta added explosive Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley in the first round of the draft, boosting an already-potent attack. Behind Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo, I think Matt Ryan should be on a better team—and could put up better passing numbers—than the both of them.
Deshaun Watson (+2000)
I have liked Deshaun Watson as much as anyone, but to think he’ll keep up the scorching pace he was on as a rookie last season (21 total touchdowns in seven games; 9.3% TD percentage) might be asking for a bit much; and he’s coming off a torn ACL, which might give some pause (though he has no limitations to start training camp). Still, the second-year quarterback should probably be higher than ninth for MVP odds. Bill O’Brien is going to put a lot on Watson’s plate this season, so he’ll have opportunities to put up numbers that keep him near the top of the league-leaders—and the talent is obviously there.
Matthew Stafford (+3300)
It’s tough with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers putting up absurd numbers, but Matthew Stafford has had near-MVP-level numbers for a few years. If the Lions improve under new head coach Matt Patricia and are able to knock off both the Vikings and the Packers in the NFC North, Stafford would almost certainly be squarely in the MVP mix. The hope would be that a more balanced offense still allows Stafford to put up around 30 touchdowns with low turnover numbers on a division winner of one of the NFL’s toughest divisions.
Marcus Mariota (+3300) and Derek Carr (+3300)
Both Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr have the same odds as Matthew Stafford, but I’m grouping the two younger guys together. Heading into last season, Mariota and Carr were trendy MVP picks (more so Carr) coming off of broken legs suffered on Christmas Eve of 2016. However, because of injuries and some unideal situations on offense, neither Mariota nor Carr played as well as they are capable. Both teams now have new coaching staffs, with the Titans adding former Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleuer to the same position, and the Raiders getting Jon Gruden after a near-decade of him being able to craft an offense while picking up things around the NFL. Mariota and Carr both have tremendous upside as signal-callers.
Patrick Mahomes II (+6600)
Patrick Mahomes II made just one NFL start as a rookie, but the Chiefs showed extreme confidence in him by trading Alex Smith, who they loved, to the Redskins—that should tell you something about how Kansas City feels about Mahomes’ ability this year. The offense is stacked with talent like running backs Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware, tight end Travis Kelce, and a receiving corps (Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley) that could make up a star track team. If Mahomes is able to avoid mistakes and take Smith’s numbers from last season to another level, he’ll be a surefire MVP candidate.
Sam Bradford (+20000)
As usual, Sam Bradford is getting rave reviews this time of year—from Patrick Peterson, to Larry Fitzgerald, to Josh Rosen—and now the only question is whether he can stay healthy; if he can, the Cardinals have a good shot to surprise a lot of people this season under first-year head coach Steve Wilks. Arizona is planning to use a New England-like offensive attack, which fits Bradford’s strengths as a super-quick decision-maker with pinpoint accuracy. Bradford simply shouldn’t have far worse MVP odds than wide receivers and tight ends.