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NFL Odds: Deshaun Watson Still a Top Tier NFL MVP Candidate in 2021

Deshaun Watson is still considered an upper tier MVP candidates, even with his situation for 2021 a complete unknown.
Deshaun Watson is still considered an upper tier MVP candidates, even with his situation for 2021 a complete unknown.
Photo by Eric Sauseda
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With all the news about Deshaun Watson the Civil Lawsuit Defendant this past month, we tend to forget that there is still Deshaun Watson the Football Player, and once we do remember that, we recall that he is still very good at American football. At various times in his first four seasons, he's been among the league's candidates for Most Valuable Player. It's been widely assumed that, if and when he plays for a relevant contender, he will win an MVP someday.

For now, we don't even know when or for whom Watson will play football again. He still wants out of Houston, and there is still the not-so-small matter of the now 23 lawsuits and the likelihood of suspension by the NFL. Still, the MVP odds board is long on names, and Watson is still among the most respected quarterbacks in the league, from a skill set standpoint.

With that said, the early MVP odds board for 2021 is out, and it includes Watson, fairly prominently.  Courtesy of betonline.ag, here are the odds for this coming season's NFL Most Valuable Player:

Patrick Mahomes 5/1
Aaron Rodgers 9/1
Josh Allen 10/1
Lamar Jackson 14/1
Matthew Stafford 14/1
Kyler Murray 16/1
Tom Brady 16/1
Dak Prescott 18/1
Deshaun Watson 22/1
Justin Herbert 22/1
Russell Wilson 22/1
Carson Wentz 25/1
Baker Mayfield 33/1
Joe Burrow 33/1
Ryan Tannehill 33/1
Derek Carr 40/1
Derrick Henry 40/1
Jalen Hurts 40/1
Matt Ryan 40/1
Cam Newton 50/1
Christian McCaffrey 50/1
Jameis Winston 50/1
Alvin Kamara 66/1
Ben Roethlisberger 66/1
Kirk Cousins 66/1
Trevor Lawrence 66/1
Tua Tagovailoa 66/1
Dalvin Cook 80/1
Daniel Jones 80/1
Jared Goff 80/1
Jimmy Garoppolo 80/1
Zach Wilson 80/1
Andy Dalton 100/1
Davante Adams 100/1
DeAndre Hopkins 100/1
Drew Lock 100/1
Ryan Fitzpatrick 100/1
Sam Darnold 100/1
Taysom Hill 100/1
Travis Kelce 100/1
Tyreek Hill 100/1
Justin Fields 150/1
Mac Jones 150/1
Stefon Diggs 150/1
Teddy Bridgewater 150/1
Trey Lance 150/1


A few observations on these odds:

Deshaun Watson is ninth on the odds board, even with all the drama right now
It says a lot about the respect level Watson is getting that he is ninth on the board and (a) we have no idea what team he is going to play for this season, and (b) we don't know if he is going to play at all, because of the suspension possibilities. A more interesting odds board might be "What is Watson doing in Week 1 this season?" or "What team's uniform does he wear next in an NFL game?" Strangely enough, the Texans probably have the highest probability just because it's almost impossible to trade him right now without doing it for 25 cents on the dollar. He is about as distressed a high level trade asset as you'll find anywhere.

Who are the best non-quarterback bets?
Like any MVP odds board for the NFL, the quarterback position dominates the top of the board. In fact, you don't get to your first non-quarterback until the 17th name on the list, and that's Tennessee RB Derrick Henry. While Henry is the highest non-QB on the board, I don't know that he is the non-QB that I would take. At some point, his heavy workload is going to catch up to him, and no running back has touched the football more than Henry the last two seasons. Christian McCaffrey might be a better bet. For what it's worth, DeAndre Hopkins, former Texan and centerpiece to the worst trade in Texans history, is the fourth rated non QB on the board. Let's move on.

There is a smattering of rookie quarterbacks at the bottom of the board
It is expected that five quarterbacks will be drafted among the top ten picks in the NFL Draft later this month. Unfortunately, the Texans, who might have been selecting one of them had Deshaun Watson not found himself in legal trouble and had the team been able to trade him, will not be in on that party. If you're looking to take a flyer on a rookie, certain number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence has the shortest odds at 66/1. I might wait and see who the 49ers take with the third overall pick, since their roster is much more ready to win than Jacksonville's or the Jets', who pick second overall.

Who fits the mold of MVPs from the last few seasons?
Prior to Aaron Rodgers winning in 2020, the league had gone through three straight season where a second year quarterback either won the MVP (Mahomes 2018, Jackson 2019) or was likely to win the MVP before getting injured late in the season (Wentz 2017). To that end, I gave out Josh Allen of Buffalo as the "template pick" last season (even though it was his third season, not his second), and he actually garnered some votes. If we are looking at a young (second or third year) QB who takes a BIG leap forward into the MVP mix, Kyler Murray of Arizona (heading into his third year) seems to be the obvious choice at 16/1, although 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert of the Chargers at 22/1 feels pretty nice, as well. Those would be the two that I would back.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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