Heisman Trophy Betting: Ignore the talking heads and back a Running Back
Who will succeed Derrick Henry as the Heisman Trophy winner? Our NCAA columnist Neil Monnery looks at some of the major runners and riders...
"Deshaun Watson is being tipped by every TV talking head to win the trophy. Yet very rarely do we see such an overwhelming favourite run the table without a wobble."
First things first, the Sportsbook have the three favourites spot on. Many people see the Heisman as a QB trophy and recent history supports that notion. If you take out Reggie Bush's vacated award then the last time a non Alabama RB won then it was still the 20th century. This makes it tough for two of the three favourites.
Christian McCaffrey is second favourite at 6/1 and he should be defending the award he won last year. Yet, despite being clearly the best player in college football last year, the writers were extremely lazy and just voted for the best player at Alabama. The fact some of these writers weren't staying up late to watch Stanford games out on the west coast really annoys me. He went for 3,864 all-purpose yards and was more dynamic than Henry. McCaffrey is likely to be the most dynamic player again this season but he needs Stanford to play more nationally televised games and be in the hunt for the College Football playoff.
The second running back is Leonard Fournette (8/1). Everyone said he had all but secured the Heisman Trophy after five weeks last year but when he got absolutely stuffed and bottled up in Alabama's comfortable beat down of LSU, his stock dropped faster than Gunner Kiel's (there is a reference for the true College Football fan). Many still think Fournette deserved to be in the running last time out but you can't suck in your team's biggest game and still be mentioned. That isn't how it works. Still many see him as a contender coming into this season but I'm highly dubious.
The third man is actually the favourite, Clemson's QB Deshaun Watson (5/1). Everyone loves this guy but my biggest issue with him is that he plays in the ACC and I quite simply do not respect the ACC Conference. Many see Clemson and Florida State as potential National Champions but there's no depth in that league. Watson had more than 5,000 all-purpose yards in 2015 and is the modern dual-threat QB that we see in the college game. If fully healthy this year then he could even better last year's figures. Clemson open with Auburn in a nationally televised game (and a rare outing for Brent Musburger on national TV) and if Watson excels in this game then he'd solidify his position as Heisman favourite.
The second tier
One thing we have learned about Hieisman voting is that you do not win it if your team isn't at least in the championship mix and if they don't play enough in nationally televised games. That sucks but - just like my old mate Bruce Hornsby would say, the way it is. Ohio State are expected to be in the mix and will play a lot in big games and they've finally decided on a QB after the joke of last year. JT Barrett (14/1) was excellent in 2014 and he provides real value in this market.
The other name to note is Nick Chubb (16/1). This is a player who missed the whole of last season due to injury but the previous season reeled off 13 straight 100 yard games. With the issues that running backs do have in winning this award then I'd struggle to think Chubb leapfrogs both McCaffrey and Fournette but he's a straight out baller who will be a massive part of the Georgia offense this season.
The back-to-lay opportunities
These are the players who won't win the trophy but who you can back early and then cash out in a few weeks. The first player is Saquon Barkley (50/1). The Penn State running back is going to be a genuine Heisman contender next year and was tipped by Kirk Herbstreit to be the breakout player of the season. If you haven't seen the sophomore play then try to catch him in nationally televised games against Pitt and Michigan in September. Two good performances in these two games and he'll be half his 50/1 opening price. Penn State beds in a new offensive coordinator in Joe Moorhead who should help Barkley reach even higher heights.
Also at 50/1 is Trevor Knight. The Texas A&M QB has transferred from Oklahoma and after losing his job to Baker Mayfield a year ago has a chance to put up huge numbers in the league that doesn't bother playing defense (otherwise known as the Big 12). I'm not exactly sold on him but I can't help but remember his outstanding performance at the 2014 Sugar Bowl where he threw for 348 yards and for four scores against Alabama. 50/1 is too long and his odds should come down as the season progresses.
Final thoughts and recommended bets
Deshaun Watson is being tipped by every TV talking head to win the trophy. Yet very rarely do we see such an overwhelming favourite run the table without a wobble. That game this weekend against Auburn will be a big indicator for me. If he comes through that with video game numbers then people will start saying we should give him the award now. But I'm still on Christian McCaffrey. He is the best player in the game and with Stanford playing USC on September 17 in prime time on ABC, he'll get an early chance to impress some of the lazy east coast voters.
I'll be back with my outright College Football preview later in the week...