By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Wide receivers are finally getting respect for Offensive Player of the Year as NFL offenses are passing more than ever.
Hall of Famer Jerry Rice brought home the award in 1987 and 1993, then a quarterback or running back was victorious for the next 25 years. Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees all won twice while Marshall Faulk brought it home three times.
But star wide receivers have shined bright the last few years.
It also helps that FOX Bet appears to be taking a stance against receivers winning OPOY, which gives you a bigger payout if you pick the correct player.
“Jefferson should not be 40-1,” one professional bettor told FOX Sports. “Most shops are dealing him at 12-1 or 15-1 and that’s fair. He finished second in receiving yards last year and should be even more explosive in new head coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense.”
The former LSU star has raved at Vikings camp about the freedom and space he’s getting in the team’s new offense, which will certainly open him up for more opportunities to gain yardage after the catch.
“[Jefferson] is a threat to break the receiving record,” the bettor proclaimed. “You’ll see Minnesota call his number a lot more on deep balls. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes yard-for-yard with Kupp.
“He’s that dangerous.”
Another low-risk, high-reward option is Bengals wideout Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase and Joe Burrow didn’t have synergy early last season, but once they clicked, it was game over. Chase racked up five 100-yard games and ripped off 201 yards against Baltimore and 266 against Kansas City.
And you have to imagine he’ll get way more targets this year.
“I bet some Chase at 40-1 a month ago,” the bettor said. “The Bengals are the type of team that throws the ball no matter the situation. They throw when they’re up and throw when they’re down. That’s what the coaching staff believes in.
“Chase at 33-1 [at FOX Bet] is solid. There’s a lot of 20-1 in the market.”
It’s also impossible to ignore the nine-year run of quarterbacks winning the Most Valuable Player. In some roundabout way, it almost feels like the voters have basically morphed the MVP award into the best quarterback and the OPOY into the best skill position player.
I have my sights set on Chase [+3300] and Jefferson [+4000] to make some serious noise for Offensive Player of the Year. They both have solid rhythm with their quarterbacks, are the best offensive weapons on their teams and are proving to be almost impossible to contain.
Taking a flyer on a star receiver is the move to make.
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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Source: FOX Sports