2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Odds, Picks: Bets on Tyreek Hill, Chris Olave

2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Odds, Picks: Bets on Tyreek Hill, Chris Olave article feature image

Pictured: Tyreek Hill. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

We're continuing our series digging into season-long awards bets for the 2023 NFL season.

I’m previewing each awards market for the year, and we'll be returning to these all season. Today, we're looking at Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY).

It's a tricky market, effectively asking us to predict a totally unpredictable statistical outlier, and it's often better to bet during the season once we get some numbers. Still, let's build a historical profile on recent winners, create an OPOY watch list, and nibble on a couple of long shots.

Be sure to check out all the other awards previews and picks:

Who Wins Offensive Player of the Year?

Check out the 10 most recent players to win OPOY and the numbers they put up in their winning seasons:

  • 2022 — WR Justin Jefferson: 128 catches, 1,809 yards, 8 TDs
  • 2021 — WR Cooper Kupp: 145 catches, 1,947 yards, 16 TDs
  • 2020 — RB Derrick Henry: 2,141 scrimmage yards, 17 TDs
  • 2019 — WR Michael Thomas: 149 catches, 1,725 yards, 9 TDs
  • 2018 — QB Patrick Mahomes: 5,097 yards, 50 TDs
  • 2017 — RB Todd Gurley: 2,083 scrimmage yards, 19 TDs
  • 2016 — QB Matt Ryan: 4,944 yards, 38 TDs
  • 2015 — QB Cam Newton: 4,473 pass/rush yards, 45 pass/rush TDs
  • 2014 — RB DeMarco Murray: 2,251 scrimmage yards, 13 TDs
  • 2013 — QB Peyton Manning: 5,477 yards, 55 TDs

1. The OPOY needs to put up outrageous, outlier, totally unpredictable stats.

This is the key takeaway. Just look at the average OPOY production by position:

  • QB: 4,600 yards and 44 TDs
  • RB: 350 carries for 1,800 yards and 14 TDs
  • WR: 140 catches for 1,800 yards and 11 TDs

That's some truly outrageous production — over 100 yards a game for running backs and wide receivers, and almost 300 yards and 3 TDs a game for quarterbacks.

And remember, most of the numbers above came in 16 games, so the stats will be even higher now. If you bet on a quarterback to win OPOY, you're effectively betting on him putting up 5,000 yards and pushing 50 TDs. Bet on a running back or a receiver and your guy better be pushing 2,000 yards.

They might as well just call it the Shockingly Great Stats Award, or maybe just the Fantasy Football League Winner Award.

That's why this award is tough to bet on right now, while we're just guessing at wild outlier stats. But what trends can we find outside the crazy numbers?

2. OPOY is not an MVP consolation prize.

That's the popular narrative, that we just give OPOY to whoever was really good, but not quite the MVP. It's what voters did with Drew Brees for years, but that hasn't been the case for a while now.

Actually, five of the past 11 OPOYs also won MVP — Adrian Peterson and all four QBs. There was only one MVP runner-up and one third-place winner.

You usually get a far better price on OPOY than MVP. If anything, you might consider OPOY as a better-priced MVP proxy for your favorite quarterback, but not a consolation prize.

3. OPOYs do win a lot of games.

This shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Offense wins, and these guys are putting up monster numbers. If you play well enough to rack up this many yards and TDs, your team will probably win a bunch of games.

Every OPOY over the past decade won 10 games, and all but one won 11. The average OPOY won 12 games. That's not shocking considering a bunch won MVP too, but it does help narrow the field a bit. We'll set our minimum at 11 wins with the extra game on the schedule.

4. The OPOY winning position might be shifting — to wide receiver.

Over just the past decade, we've seen four QBs, three RBs and three WRs win this award. Not particularly helpful. But zoom out and there's a hint of a pattern starting to emerge.

From 1996 through 2003, running backs swept all eight OPOY awards. Then, from 2007 through 2016, the award shifted toward quarterbacks as seven QBs won in 10 years.

Could this award be shifting toward wide receivers in the modern era? Before Michael Thomas won OPOY in 2019, no wideout had won the award since Jerry Rice in 1993. Now, we've had three WRs in four years.

Is this the era of the superstar WR winning OPOY? I believe it is, and we'll bet and handicap accordingly.

So what are we looking for in an Offensive Player of the Year?

We need our OPOY to post wild, outlier stats and they need to win 11+ games. Additionally, we may be moving into the era of wide receivers winning OPOY and should bet accordingly.
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Pass on Running Backs and Quarterbacks for Now

RB Christian McCaffrey, 49ers (+1500)
RB Nick Chubb, Browns (+1800)
QB Justin Fields, Bears (+2800)
QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens (+2500)
QB Joe Burrow, Bengals (+3000)
QB Jalen Hurts, Eagles (+3000)
RB Derrick Henry, Titans (+3000)
QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (+3500)
QB Josh Allen, Bills (+3500)

It's too soon to know for sure if this is the era of the WR for OPOY, but that's the angle I'm playing until proven otherwise. So, I'll pass on the usual suspects at QB and RB.

If a quarterback has the stats to win OPOY, they'll almost certainly be in the mix for MVP and recent trends have seen this award go to non-QBs.

As for a running back, it's just really hard to guesstimate who might put together a season with close to 2,000 yards, and even that might not be enough.

I thought Christian McCaffrey was deserving of OPOY consideration last fall with a monster run in San Francisco after going 10-0 as a starter. He got 4.4% of the OPOY votes. The previous year, Jonathan Taylor ran 332 times for 1,811 yards and 18 TDs. He got 20% of the vote.

It's a passing league now, so we'll stick with the wide receiver theory.

Some of those guys are long shots to get to 11 wins too — I'm looking at you, Fields and Henry.

Let's Rule Out a Few Top WRs Too

WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings +1400
WR Cooper Kupp, Rams +3000
WR Davante Adams, Raiders +3000
TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs +5000

There's one more rule we didn't get to above — no RB or WR has won OPOY multiple times since Marshall Faulk won it three straight times from 1999 to 2001. Everyone else is one and done.

That's bad news for Jefferson and Kupp. It's not even that they can't get to the numbers again — it's that others will too, and voters seem to be spreading the love around.

Adams is the one superstar receiver who plays on too bad of a team to consider based on past criteria.

Kelce is included here just in case you try to get cute. No tight end has ever won OPOY and if Kelce can't even get a sniff with 110 catches for 1,338 yards and 12 TDs for the 1-seed Chiefs, it's not happening. It's a stats award, and he just can't measure up to these guys chasing 2,000 yards.

We're not going to go through every remaining option, but allow me to make the case for eight wide receivers we're officially putting on our 2023 OPOY watch list — and two I'm betting right now.

The 2023 OPOY Wide Receiver Watch List

WR Ja'Marr Chase, Bengals +1200 (BetRivers)

Chase is the betting favorite and makes a lot of sense as this year's Justin Jefferson. He was almost last year's Jefferson already.

Chase played only 12 games but was on pace for 123 catches for 1,479 yards and 13 TDs. He was every bit as good as his rookie season and much more stable. His yards per catch dropped as expected, but his receptions were way up with at least seven catches in all but three games.

I'd project Chase at around 120 catches for 1,500 yards and 13 TDs, a fantasy star on a winning team and certainly a contender for this award.

WR Garrett Wilson, Jets +3000 (DraftKings)

I scoffed when I saw that Wilson's odds were so short, but he's absolutely in play.

The Jets traded Elijah Moore only to see Corey Davis retire, so now Wilson is the only real receiver left on the roster who's not just one of Aaron Rodgers's merrymen.

Rodgers barely played in the preseason, but he played long enough to show clear timing and chemistry with Wilson on that deadly fade he's thrown to Davante Adams for years. That could mean a heap of TDs and targets for a guy Rodgers trusts, though Wilson's rookie production was a long way off.

He had only four games with over six catches and found the endzone in only two games. I can't get there with a bet right now, but the breakout potential is undeniable, so he's on our watch list.

WR Stefon Diggs, Bills +3500 (FanDuel)

Diggs was really good with the Vikings, but he's been consistently great with the Bills. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 2020: 127/1535/8
  • 2021: 103/1225/10
  • 2022: 108/1429/11

That's an average of almost 1,400 yards a season. But is there another level? That's the tough part, especially as Diggs turns 30 in November. He also enters the season a bit unhappy with his role on the team after a rough offseason. He's a no bet for me, but we'll keep an eye out.

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions +4000 (BetRivers)

St. Brown was last year's big breakout receiver, but the truth is that the breakout began toward the end of the previous season as OC Ben Johnson took over. Johnson knew what he had in St. Brown and made him the focal point of this passing attack.

Guy I want on every fantasy team in 2022:
Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Last 6g last fall under new OC proj to 145/1587/14 over full season, 8+ rec all 6.

Clear top 5 WR upside if massive targets continue, looks wildly underpriced with still not much competition in Detroit.

— Brandon Anderson (@wheatonbrando) September 2, 2022

Even though he missed a game last fall and needed a couple more to work his way back to health, St. Brown had 11 games with at least nine targets. He could easily approach 160 targets and 120+ receptions.

The problem is he's scored only 11 times on 196 catches over the past two seasons and averaged a meager 10.6 YPA. He's not making the big plays downfield the others on this list are. St. Brown would probably have to break the receptions record to draw attention, and even that might leave him around 1,600 yards.

WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys +5000 (BetRivers)

Lamb has shown steady progress in three NFL seasons, with an annual increase in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Could he take another big leap forward?

The offense could skew pass-heavy with Mike McCarthy calling the plays, meaning more target opportunities for Lamb. He'll also play in an offense designed by OC Brian Schottenheimer, who typically likes to get the ball to receivers on the move, which plays to Lamb's excellent YAC abilities.

There's a world where Lamb gets more work than ever and sees yet another increase in all three receiving stats with Brandin Cooks opposite him to provide some easier matchups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Jaguars +10000 (BetRivers)

This number is way too long for a player of Ridley's caliber, even if he's barely played in two seasons. Jacksonville is super pass-heavy and could end up in a number of shootouts with its poor defense, and Ridley has the talent to step right into a WR1 role on this team.

Christian Kirk and Zay Jones had 133 and 121 targets for the Jaguars last fall. With Ridley far more talented than either, and with Trevor Lawrence taking another step forward, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ridley get 150 targets. That could mean something like 100 catches for 1,300 yards and double-digit scores. From there, you just hope for the outlier upside.

Ridley is a must-target guy in fantasy drafts, and I absolutely love his over 69.5 receptions and over 875.5 receiving yards regular season lines.
Pick: Calvin Ridley Over 69.5 Receptions
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But part of the reason this number is so long is Ridley needs more than just numbers. He'd have to win over voters as he's coming off a gambling suspension, and that's a pretty tough sell.

That leaves me with two names to bet right now for OPOY.

The Two OPOY Bets to Make Right Now

WR Tyreek Hill, Dolphins +2000 (FanDuel)

If you followed along last season, we grabbed Hill at +1600 for OPOY in October and had the odds-on favorite in December before injuries caught up to the Dolphins. I swear he would've cashed our ticket if Tua Tagovailoa had finished the season healthy, and I can't help but go back to the well.

The numbers from last season are just silly. Hill had 10 games with at least seven catches. He had seven 100-yard receiving games, including four with at least 160 yards. To put that in perspective, the entire NFL had 16 games all season with a 160-yard receiver — and Hill was four of the 16!

Hill led all players in yards per route run last season at almost three, absolutely dwarfing the competition. The next closest player was Justin Jefferson, who was under 2.5! And that was despite Hill playing with second- and third-string QBs for much of the season and himself playing through a late injury.

Through nine games last season, Hill was on pace for 146 catches and 2,085 yards. Heck, he was on pace for 1,850 yards — more than Jefferson — with two games left before Miami stumbled to the finish line with QB Skylar Thompson.

It's hard to repeat outlier performances, and Miami's schedule is tough. Maybe we won't catch lightning in a bottle again — or maybe last season wasn't even his best yet.
Pick: Tyreek Hill to Win Offensive Player of the Year

WR Chris Olave, Saints +6500 (Caesars)

Olave is probably my favorite deep long shot for any awards pick this preseason, and this number is just silly. He's this year's breakout sophomore WR and could be in for a huge season.

We mentioned yards per route run and noted that Hill and Jefferson led the way last fall. Well, nine receivers had a healthy lead on the rest of the league, and it's basically a who's who of WR greats: Hill, Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle, A.J. Brown, Davante Adams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb — and Olave.

Olave isn't just on that list either. He was fifth, ahead of the final four names, and he did that as a rookie for a Saints team that shuffled through Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill at QB. That won't be a problem this year as Derek Carr should stabilize things in New Orleans.

Carr's favorite pass in recent seasons is that seam route Darren Waller loves to run, and that's the exact route Olave excelled most at as a rookie. His 14.5 YPC is great, and the Saints should be more pass-heavy with more confidence in their quarterback.

Carr has a history of heavily favoring his top pass catcher. Davante Adams had 100/1,516/14 last fall. Hunter Renfrow had 103/1,038/9 the prior season and Waller was at 107/1,196/9 the year before that. That's three straight seasons with a 100-catch receiver, plus previous 1,000-yard seasons for Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Carr loves his top weapon, and Olave is his top weapon in New Orleans.

Olave could be this year's breakout receiver, and he's worth a long-shot play at +6500.

Pay attention to this OPOY watch list as we get some new stats this fall and start to identify outliers. For now, let's start our portfolio with bets on Tyreek Hill +2000 and Chris Olave +6500.

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