While it’s only May and teams are just now starting to ramp up their offseason programs, the 2022 regular season will be here before you know it. With that in mind along with the NFL releasing its full slate for the upcoming year a week ago, now is as good of a time as ever to try and find value plays on the futures market.
To help with that, SportsLine has called on CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora to reveal his early leans for the full list of seasonal awards, which include a handful of sleepers highlighted by not one but TWO bets with a 50/1 payout. To read his full breakdown of every single futures pick, you’ll have to head over to SportsLine. In the meantime, La Canfora did reveal some of his favorite bets on CBS Sports HQ on Wednesday morning, which you can read below.
All NFL odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Most Valuable Player: Russell Wilson
The biggest blockbuster of the offseason came in Denver when the Broncos traded for quarterback Russell Wilson. This addition now has them as a dark horse to win the Super Bowl this season, giving them even better odds than the defending AFC champion Bengals. Meanwhile, everything else around Wilson is largely the same from the 7-10 team of a year ago, especially on offense. If Wilson can be plugged in and turns this offense into what many expect will be an elite unit, he could be on the fast track to his first-ever MVP award.
“This award is about numbers, but I feel like it’s also about the story,” said La Canfora. “I don’t see him failing [in Denver]. He’s someone who MVP voters have slighted in the past. We’re going to see a lot of Denver on national TV just by the virtue of who they are playing in that division. I think Russell Wilson is a strong value play here.”
Regular-season passing yards leader: Derek Carr
The Raiders have been busy this offseason. On top of hiring new leadership with head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler coming in from New England, they also injected a ton of talent into the roster. Offensively, they traded for star wideout Davante Adams — Derek Carr’s former college teammate — and added pass rusher Chandler Jones. Those two additions along with a philosophical change offensively under McDaniels has La Canfora looking at Carr as someone who could go over 5,000 yards passing.
“We know what Josh McDaniels can do,” La Canfora notes. “These are the best weapons he’s had to play with in forever. Tom Brady did not leave the football field blowout or not when he was in New England with Belichick and McDaniels. I expect Carr to be there whether they are blowing somebody out or getting blown out.
“I could see Derek Carr going for over 5,000 yards. … I like the overall totality to scheme, of personnel, of this quarterback who feels like he is turning the corner. Is he going to lead the league in touchdowns? No. But yardage can be kind of hollow.”
Before setting your 2022 Fantasy football draft strategy, be sure to check out the 2022 Fantasy football cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.
Regular season rushing yards leader: Najee Harris
Najee Harris led all rookies with 1,200 rushing yards last season and had 100 more rushing attempts (307) than the second-place finisher for first-year backs. He also led the NFL with 381 touches in 2021, so Pittsburgh clearly isn’t shy about utilizing their young running back, which has La Canfora looking at Harris to lead the league in rushing yards this coming season. With Ben Roethlisberger retired, La Canfora believes the Steelers are in a better position to run Matt Canada’s offense, which will feature plenty of Harris.
“The volume will be there,” said La Canfora. “They have no problems feeding that young man. … They wanted to run this offense through [Harris].”
Defensive Player of the Year: Chandler Jones
No player has registered more sacks than Chandler Jone since the pass rusher entered the league in 2012. The 32-year-old is entering a new situation with the Raiders where he’ll be reunited with the likes of head coach Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who he worked with during his early days in New England. That familiarity along with being in more high-profile situations has him as an ideal DPOY sleeper at 50/1.
“This was someone not that long ago that was seen as a viable Defensive Player of the Year-type candidate,” La Canfora said. “He’s going to be motivated as ever. I really believe Chandler Jones has at least one more big season in him. I think Chandler Jones could lead the league in sacks. I think Chandler Jones will have a chance to have more of a national spotlight shined on him.”
Coach of the Year: Kevin O’Connell
First-year head coaches are often spotlighted for this award and La Canfora believes new Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell could be the latest to win it. After helping the Rams have a top-10 passing offense en route to a Super Bowl LVI title as the offensive coordinator, O’Connell will now try to work his magic with a Vikings offseason that does possess several star weapons. If he can get that unit humming, he’ll garner a lot of attention for this award.
“This is another one that is production, but also storyline,” said La Canfora. “I think they can nip Green Bay in that division … I know it’s going to be a robust offense. I think Kirk Cousins is going to have the best season of his career. I like them being in the creature comforts of a dome cause they are now going to be a team that is led by their offense. He’s a really likable guy. I look at the rest of the field some of these guys — Andy Reid, Bill Belichick — what’s it going to take for them to win this award again?”