Tua Tagovailoa, NFL MVP? Why Dolphins’ QB is new co-favorite in betting odds

Tua Tagovailoa is the No. 1 fantasy football quarterback to open the 2023 NFL season, but after passing for 466 yards and three TDs in Sunday’s 36-34 shootout victory over the Chargers, he’s also become the co-favorite to win league MVP.

DraftKings Sportsbook has pushed Tagovailoa’s odds up to +700, or even with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and ahead of Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow (+750) and Buffalo’s Josh Allen (+850). In the preseason, most books had Tagovailoa at +1600, or even with Trevor Lawrence, Dak Prescott, and Aaron Rodgers.

So, why the jump after only one game? After all, Tagovailoa has had some big games in the past for Miami’s high-powered offense under Mike McDaniel. Here’s the breakdown of Tagovailoa’s odds jump and whether he offers value in the MVP futures market.

Why is Tua Tagovailoa now an NFL MVP favorite?

There were plenty of underwhelming QB performances by top passers in Week 1. Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert all had disappointing performances in losses. Brock Purdy, Jordan Love, and Matthew Stafford all were terrific in victories, but they are still considered long shots.

Tagovailoa, who completed 28-of-45 attempts for a gaudy 10.4 yards per attempt and a 110.0 passer rating, made some spectacular throws. Many went to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who caught 11 passes for 215 yards and two TDs. Hill (+5000) has moved up in MVP odds in his personal quest for the first-ever 2,000-yard receiving season.

The Dolphins have a high upside as a returning playoff team. Their pass-oriented offense is simple but spectacular. Their defense should get better in time under Vic Fangio.

Mahomes won his two MVPs in his two 5,000-yard passing seasons that also had 40-plus TDs. It’s only one game, but Tagovailoa is on a ridiculous pace of 7,922 yards and 51 TDs. For now, Tagovailoa has the best MVP credentials in the league.

Should you bet on Tua Tagovailoa for NFL MVP?

The worries surrounding Tua can be summed up in one word: Health. Tagovailoa has missed four of 17 games in each of the past two seasons. That’s more than enough missed games to lose MVP — just ask Jalen Hurts, who missed two games in 2022. Tagovailoa’s concern with concussions has been well documented, but he’s also had several other injuries. Going back to 2018 when he was at Alabama, iTagovailoa has dealt with ailments to his throwing hand, knee, quad, ankle, hip, thumb, chest, finger, and head.

He’s a high risk for injury, which is why he was faded in many fantasy drafts despite his ceiling. It’s also why there are tempered expectations for the Dolphins. 

There also have been only three lefthanded quarterbacks to win MVP: Ken Stabler (1974), Boomer Esiason (1988), and Steve Young (1992, 1994). Tagovailoa would need to end a 28-year drought.

The season is early, and now that Tagovailoa is up there with Mahomes on odds boards, there’s not enough reward associated with the risk, which is significant. The MVP is headed for a potential surprise, but Tagovailoa isn’t the twist to take.

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