If you look at the top of the list of MVP favorites heading into the 2022 NFL season, there's no surprises to speak of.
Josh Allen is the favorite again (+700 consensus), followed by Patrick Mahomes (+800), Tom Brady (+830), and Aaron Rodgers (+980). All but Allen have already won it, and every one of them is one of the top quarterbacks in the league. That's pretty much how the award works.
If you scroll down just a little bit farther though, there's a couple of names that may not be talked about as much, but bring some serious value in this market -- Justin Herbert (+1020) and Russell Wilson (+1440).
It may be more of a boom or bust scenario with them, but the potential return should be intriguing.
The Case For Russell Wilson
I get it. We've had this conversation with Wilson for years. Whether it's the fact that he just never gets any votes, or more recently, his team continues to regress, his numbers have gotten him into the conversation, but not much more past that.
He's always made the most of what he's had in Seattle though. According to ESPN, during six of his 10 seasons with the Seahawks, the team ranked in the top six of run percentage in the league. During Wilson's time there, the Seahawks ran on 46.4 percent of their snaps. Only the Baltimore Ravens ran more often.
Now though, he has a fresh start with a talented and potentially Super Bowl-ready squad in Denver after one of the most notable trades in NFL history, and a chance to reclaim that MVP-caliber status. With talent like Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and a ton of other playmakers, this offense should at least on paper, be elite.
The biggest questions though have to do with whether or not we see a rejuvenated Wilson, or regression. Wilson was back in the MVP conversation early last season, but after missing three games with an injury, the ups and downs were glaring at times.
Fresh starts tend to bring new life to careers in pro sports though. We've seen it time and time again, and Wilson could very well be the next, and would be worthy of a more long-shot MVP bet.
The Case For Justin Herbert
Herbert is in a different boat given his age and "next guy up" status. Like Wilson, Herbert plays in the QB-loaded AFC West, but the Chargers have the second-best odds to win it (+238), while the Broncos sit third (+260).
Herbert and the Chargers were on the outside of the playoffs looking in last year, but an aggressive offseason has only led to heightened expectations.
Herbert also threw for 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns last year, which, even with the added game, certainly come in already as MVP numbers.
If he can lead Los Angeles to a division title that could at this point go any direction, it would be hard not to see Herbert coming away with his first MVP award, making him another potential winner you might want to consider.