For years, fans and media have joked that the NFL MVP has become a quarterback award. They have a point, as each of the last nine went to signal-callers and, since the start of the 2000 season, only four haven’t. But while running backs have lost prominence in recent years, they stand the best chance historically of stealing the honor away from the QB position.
This year, a few running backs have garnered MVP bets on DraftKings. All of them have earned All-Pro honors within the last three years. However, only one of the backs remains on his rookie deal, an important consideration given how the position tends to decline by the second contract.
2022 NFL MVP running-back bets
- Jonathan Taylor (3% of bets)
- Derrick Henry (2%)
- Christian McCaffrey (1%)
Betting on a non-quarterback to win the MVP involves significant risk, but at least running backs have taken home the award in the semi-recent past. Adrian Peterson did so during his Herculean 2012 campaign and LaDainian Tomlinson did so six seasons before that. Running backs don’t hold nearly the same stature in the league as they did a decade ago, but the path conceivably still exists.
With that in mind, Jonathan Taylor probably makes the most sense for this sort of longshot wager. He has already produced a monster season but remains young (he has played just two years in the NFL). Furthermore, the Indianapolis Colts offense should improve with the arrival of Matt Ryan, giving Taylor more opportunities to produce. Both Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey have more seasons and wear on their bodies, and both missed chunks of 2021 with injuries. That gives Taylor the edge among the top backs.
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