The New York Giants used the second overall pick to draft Saquon Barkley in the 2018 NFL draft. With Eli Manning nearing the end of his career, they passed on the opportunity to draft a quarterback because they felt Barkley was a generational talent at the running back position. His college career at Penn State certainly supported that hypothesis.
The first few seasons were good for Barkley. He eclipsed 1000 rushing yards in both of his first two seasons. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year for his 2018 season. However, the Giants weren't very good. He was one of the few exciting parts of a bad team. Unfortunately, the last few seasons haven't been good to either Barkley or the Giants. He played just two games in 2020 due to injury. Last season, he missed a few games and when he did play, he was woefully ineffective.
The talent has always been there, but it's been hard to trust Barkley due to his health and the team he plays for. However, he certainly flashed what he's capable of in New York's win over Tennessee on Sunday. Barkley rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown. He added another 30 yards through the air on six receptions. He converted a two-point attempt on a tremendous individual effort.
Last season, Barkley had just one game where he rushed for over 100 yards. In his first game of the season this year, he went wild. He was a focal point of a new offense with an aggressive, offensive-minded head coach. Oddsmakers certainly took notice of Barkley's season debut.
Saquon's now the favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year
It's Week 1, so talking about end-of-season awards at this point is probably not necessary. However, Saquon Barkley didn't even have odds available to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year during the offseason. He was off the board. After Week 1, he's now the betting favorite to win the award at +500.
Barkley is coming off a year where he struggled on the field, finishing with under 600 yards over 13 games. A lot of those struggles probably had to do with the fact he played through an ankle injury. In 2020, Barkley missed all but two games with a torn ACL. It's been a rough few years for Barkley, so he's certainly got the narrative to win the award.
Derrick Henry entered the season as the betting favorite to win the award. He now has the third best odds at +650. Saints' quarterback Jameis Winston has the second best odds at +550.
Offensive Player of the Year odds move as well
Saquon Barkley opened the season with 80-to-1 odds to win Offensive Player of the Year. He was an extreme long shot to win the award, but after just one week, that has changed.
Saquon is now just 16-to-1 to win the award this season. Those are the fifth-best odds in the league behind only Justin Jefferson, Jonathan Taylor, Ja'Marr Chase and Cooper Kupp. Barkley has better odds than players like Davante Adams, Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry and Deebo Samuel.
Barkley certainly has the talent to win the award, but this feels a little too high, a little too quickly for Barkley. With that being said, bettors who got Barkley at 80-to-1 last week are certainly feeling good.
What other awards have changed?
Let's take a look at the odds for the other awards in the league after Week 1:
MVP: Three familiar names remain near the top in Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. However, all of their odds have come down. Allen has gone from +700 to +450. Mahomes dropped from +800 to +550. Herbert has gone from +850 to +750.
Defensive Player of the Year: Unfortunately, it looks like T.J. Watt has suffered a serious pectoral injury. He was the co-favorite to win the award alongside Myles Garrett. Garrett is now the sole favorite at +500 after he sacked his former quarterback twice on Sunday. Aaron Donald at +700 and Micah Parsons at +800 round out the top three.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: George Pickens entered the week as the favorite to win the award and he remains at the top with +850 odds. However, he now has a co-favorite alongside him in Washington receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson had two touchdowns in Week 1and his odds moved from 20-to-1 to +850.
Coach of the Year: After solid wins in their head coaching debuts, Mike McDaniel and Kevin O'Connell are now the co-favorites to win NFL Coach of the Year at +800. Brian Daboll and Brandon Staley have the next best odds at +900.