The College Football season is underway, and that means the race for the Heisman Trophy is as well. We have seen a quarterback run for this award, as Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Baker Mayfield have won the last three years. Since 2007, ten of the winners have been quarterbacks, and two have been Alabama running backs. Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram are those names. On the DraftKings Sportsbook, the odds are already pointing towards another quarterback taking home the award, although there are a few names that could upset the play callers at Clemson and Alabama.
Trevor Lawrence (+250)
The Clemson Tigers are a legit powerhouse, and have rivaled Alabama over the last few seasons. Trevor Lawrence blossomed in his freshman year, and really thrived in the playoff last season against Notre Dame and Alabama. Lawrence has a ton of playmakers, as they always have had top end wideouts to go with NFL ready quarterbacks. Lawrence is now on the national map after that last playoff, going undefeated and torching an Alabama defense in the final. Overall in 2018, Lawrence completed 65% of his passes, threw for over 3,000 yards, and had 30 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Given the most recent quarterback run, the odds are certainly in favor of Lawrence and Tagovailoa. It is easy to see why, as most of the other contenders are also at the quarterback position, but not quite on the same level.
The Tigers are expected to run the table this year and be a front runner for another national title. Lawrence will be a big factor in that run, and this offense is going to be one of the leading teams in points per game.
Tua Tagovailoa (+250)
If you see fans tweeting #tankfortua it is because he will be one of the highly sought after quarterbacks in the draft. He is very close to Lawrence in the Heisman race, and is coming off a stellar season. He completed 69% of his passes last season, just fell short of 4,000 yards, and had 43 touchdowns. Tagovailoa is efficient and of course has a great supporting cast around him. Health will be crucial for Tagovailoa but of course this offensive line is going to give him plenty of protection. Alabama’s ability to run the ball just gives a balance for Tagovailoa that other quarterbacks just don’t have. At least on par with Alabama.
Generally we haven’t seen Alabama quarterbacks produce strong numbers given the ground game has been so good, and Nick Saban has used them more as game managers. That is a different story, and ultimately Tagovailoa is the reason why Jalen Hurts is now at Oklahoma now. We will talk about him in a minute. We are expecting nothing short of last season for Tagovailoa and I would have him as the front runner for me this season. There is no surprise in the odds when it comes to Lawrence and Tagovailoa being valued far ahead of the field.
Jalen Hurts (+800)
Former Alabama quarterback, Jalen Hurts, transferred to Oklahoma after losing his job to Tagovailoa. He will jump into a strong Oklahoma system with a couple of other Heisman winners. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won the award at Oklahoma, and are similar style quarterbacks. Hurts has big rushing upside, as back in 2016 he had 954 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He has already jumped out to a great start this season, and his dual-threat ability is going to give him an edge over the pocket passers. I would not be surprised to see Hurts odds start to rise a bit as the season goes on, so +800 is a strong value early in the year.
Big Ten Heisman Contenders
If I am looking at a non-quarterback to take home the award, Jonathan Taylor, is the guy at +2800. He is a junior at Wisconsin, coming off a season monster season going for over 2,000 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. The downside is that quarterbacks have an advantage over the other positions. Taylor would need some help with Wisconsin pushing the Big Ten and making an effort towards the playoff. Taylor can certainly lead Wisconsin, and we have seen massive years from Wisconsin backs over the last decade, but none have been a true Heisman candidate when it came to the voting. Given the prior history, this is why we are seeing such a major difference in odds between quarterbacks and non-qb positions.
If we are looking at some dual-threat quarterbacks, there are a few that could put up big numbers. Adrian Martinez (+3300) for Nebraska was able to put up over 600 rushing yards last season, and had 25 total touchdowns. This was in his freshman year, as we look towards his sophomore season now. He struggled at times, but Nebraska wasn’t exactly a team set to thrive. He gets a fairly decent schedule to produce big numbers in year two.
Justin Fields is now the guy at Ohio State, and has always had upside with his legs, but the arm was inconsistent. He will take on some tougher Big Ten defenses this season, which might be the downside in comparison to the rest of the quarterbacks. The overall touchdowns and all-purpose yards are going to be there for Fields, but he has a few guys he will need to climb over first. At +1600, he is certainly worth a look. Their rival, Michigan, also has a versatile quarterback, as Shea Patterson sits at +2800.
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