Most Valuable Players to the Spread in NFL Conference Championship Games

Most Valuable Players to the Spread in NFL Conference Championship Games article feature image
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Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes.

  • Just three games remain in the NFL season and key players are worth their maximum point-spread values.
  • Mark reached out to representatives at a few books to rank the most valuable players on the four remaining teams.

One of my favorite articles each year is ESPN’s piece ranking every player in the Super Bowl from 1-106. I like lists. I think many folks do. Unfortunately, if I did that from a gambling perspective next week, there’d be about five players on it.

With that in mind, I reached out to odds consultants Scott Cooley and William Bernanke. They’ve been a great help to me in the past for player spread values and were able to provide the most valuable players to the spread for the four remaining NFL teams.

These aren’t quite the same as the regular season player values, though.

Cooley says, “As I like to point out before the assignment of any player values, much of determining the value depends on the opponent. But since we have the top four teams remaining in the tournament, values are at a maximum this week and on Feb. 3.”

Bernanke echoed him, stating, “Certainly makes key players more valuable with everything on the line.”

I think we can all agree that a conference championship game with a spread around a field goal is a little more important than a Week 16 or 17 game with a double-digit spread.

Keep in mind that these are flexible depending on how the market reacts. If Tyreek Hill gets hurt in practice and the line immediately moves a point, it’s possible that bettors can continue to move it at their discretion.

Most Valuable Players to the Spread

If you switch over to the Cooley tab, you’ll see that Patrick Mahomes is all alone at 7-8 points. At the beginning of the season, he was worth just 1-2 points …

“I know some will disagree, but I’m going with Pat Mahomes as the player with the most value to a line. The Chiefs’ offensive execution would be greatly impacted with a quarterback, such as Chad Henne, that is immobile and has less arm strength,” said Cooley.

Bernanke did not have Mahomes quite as high, but almost included Jared Goff on the same tier. Per Bernanke, “We were close to rating each QB 6-7 points but held off on Goff (5-6 pts) because of his mediocre play down the stretch of the regular season.”

You’ll notice that Cooley’s list is about half as long and features zero running backs. When I spoke to Cooley in Week 17 about player values, he said, “Running backs these days are largely interchangeable so they don’t have any value.”

I asked Bernanke to give his thoughts on some of the backs he included since this was the biggest disparity between the two lists.

“As far as Sony Michel, we feel he is not interchangeable with the other running backs. If he were to miss the conference championship, we feel the Chiefs should be -4 especially after his big first half against the Chargers which is fresh on the minds of bettors.”

“Kamara and Ingram complement each other so their values could even be underestimated by us. Damien Williams has done a fine job replacing Hunt. We feel Spencer Ware (health) is a significant drop from Williams to the Chiefs attack,” Bernanke added.

Like other humans, oddsmakers are entitled to their own opinions. Maybe you agree with Cooley, maybe you agree with Bernanke.

From a personal standpoint, I was curious about Rob Gronkowski. As a Patriots fan, I’ve watched his production drop off significantly this season, as he hasn’t looked quite right. However, Bernanke still felt he was worth one point.

“Gronk is a combo of his blocking in their revamped run game, still have to account for him on passing plays and of course his public perception,” Bernanke told me.

There you have it. Hopefully, none of these big names get hurt over the next few weeks and these values won’t come into play, but in case they do, these values give you a good idea of what’ll happen to betting lines.