Freedman: Odell Beckham Jr. Has No Chance to Be the 2019 NFL MVP

Freedman: Odell Beckham Jr. Has No Chance to Be the 2019 NFL MVP article feature image

Bill Streicher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Odell Beckham Jr.

  • With the addition of WR Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns have jumped to +1400 to win Super Bowl 54.
  • Matthew Freedman breaks down Beckham's odds to win the 2019 NFL MVP Award.

Early in the frenzy of free agency, the Browns traded for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

After opening at +3000 to win Super Bowl 54, the Browns are now +1400 at many sportsbooks.

I like Beckham to have a strong season: I’m thinking 85-95 receptions, 1,200-1,300 yards receiving and 9-10 touchdowns. And given that OBJ now has Baker Mayfield at quarterback instead of Eli Manning, it’s very possible that he could exceed expectations.

If the Browns have a strong season and Beckham emerges as the clear top receiver in the league, could he win the MVP award?

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Will Odell Beckham Jr. Win the Regular Season MVP?

  • Yes: +2000
  • No: -5000

No. OBJ will not be the 2019 MVP.

With -5000 odds, there’s a 98.0% implied probability that OBJ won’t win the MVP Award, but I think the true odds are closer to 99.9%.

If the Browns have a great season, especially with their passing offense, OBJ will likely get a lot of credit for that. But he still won’t be the MVP.

If the Browns ball out and Beckham does well enough to merit strong consideration, that will almost certainly mean that Mayfield has had a good season. And if that’s the case, he will be much likelier than his receiver to win the award.

Since 1957, the Associated Press has named an MVP for the NFL regular season, and over that 62-year period not once has a wide receiver won the award, and that makes sense: The MVP Award typically goes to the most important player on one of the best teams in the league.

If an offense on a top team is distinguished by its passing game, that almost certainly means that the quarterback is the team’s most important player. If the team relies on the running game, then a case could be made for the running back.

And if the team wins games because of a strong defense, it’s possible a linebacker or lineman could win the award with an all-time great campaign.

And that’s what we see. The MVP Award has been won by 43 quarterbacks (67.2%), 18 running backs (28.1%), one linebacker (1.6%), one defensive tackle (1.6%) and even a kicker (1.6%) in 1982, when the league had a strike-impacted nine-game season and no skill-position players stood out.

And as the league has become progressively friendlier to offenses in general and quarterbacks in particular, we’ve seen more quarterbacks win the award.

Over the past 25 years, 21 quarterbacks (77.8%) and five running backs (22.2%) have claimed the prize. And in the last decade, nine quarterbacks (90%) have won.

Given the primacy of the quarterback position in today’s NFL, it’s almost impossible for a wide receiver on a top-tier team to have an MVP-caliber season without also having a quarterback who can win the award.

In 1987, Jerry Rice had perhaps the most dominant receiving season of all time with 65 receptions, 1078 yards and a then-record 22 touchdowns receiving in a strike-shortened 12-game campaign. He also chipped in eight rushes for 51 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers scored a league-high 459 points and had the best record in the league at 13-2-0.

And yet Rice didn’t win the award. Instead, it went to John Elway, who was objectively maybe the fourth-best quarterback that year.

Even if Beckham has a record-breaking campaign, he has effectively no chance to win the award.

Given the -5000 odds, I’m not going to invest a lot of money in this prop, especially because it won’t pay out till the end of the 2019 NFL season, but I’ll still put a little action on it: It’s hard for me to pass up any sort of bet with positive expected value.

The Pick: No (-5000)

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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