NFL Odds

Is the Jonathan Taylor for NFL MVP Conversation Real?

Matt De Saro
Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in the NFL through 11 weeks but is getting no love in the MVP odds. What gives?
Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in the NFL through 11 weeks but is getting no love in the MVP odds. What gives? / Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY
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Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor leads the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, yet is 10th on the MVP odds board at WynnBET Sportsbook heading into Week 12. The only question remaining is why he isn’t being given more love.

Well, for one, he plays the wrong position. For whatever reason, MVP awards in football are dominated by quarterbacks.  The last eight AP NFL MVPs have all been quarterbacks and only four running backs have won the award since 2020. Those four are Marshall Faulk, Shaun Alexander, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Adrian Peterson.  Needless to say, it takes a lot for a running back to steal the award away.

One thing that all of those running back MVP seasons have in common is they came during years which records were broken or very nearly broken. In 2012, Adrian Peterson came eight yards of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. In 2005, Shaun Alexander tied Priest Holmes’ single-season record with 27 rushing touchdowns for the Seahawks. The following season, LaDanian Tomlinson broke that record with 28 rushing touchdowns for the Chargers. Marshall Faulk earned his MVP by beating Barry Sanders’ record with 2,429 yards from scrimmage.

All this is to say that whole Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in football right now, he should be viewed as a longshot to win the MVP. And the oddsmakers agree, having him behind nine quarterbacks. Most of whom lead the league in no meaningful metrics.

So, is Taylor worth a look at +1800?

Well, that depends. Do I think that he will break or nearly break any significant rushing records this season? Well, no. I don’t think so. I realize anything is possible but I cannot reasonably expect Taylor to score 15 touchdowns or rush for 983  yards in the next six games. 

If running backs had their own MVP category I think Taylor would be the favorite to win at this point. But, until that day we have to accept the fact that the AP doesn’t care as much about rushing stats.

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