Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, August 27, 2016 at 1:08 PM
The race for the Heisman Trophy tends to be seen as something for casual fans, not bettors, but when there's odds posted on anything there's money out there to be made. And this year's race for the Heisman Trophy, with some vulnerable favorites, offers just such an opportunity.
The three favorites for the 2016 Heisman are Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson (7-2), LSU running back Leonard Fournette (5-1) and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (6-1). All of these players are outstanding, but all have extraneous issues that can hinder a Heisman campaign.
Watson plays on a team with a rebuilding defense that has to go on the road to play Florida State. McCaffrey's team has a weak senior class and playing his games on the West Coast, away from the big national TV audiences, he has the smallest margin for error. And Fournette? Well, it seems anytime the Alabama defense wants to stop a great back, they can do it - take last year when they made Fournette and a then-undefeated LSU team basically disappear into the night.
All that adds up to a chance for a darkhorse at a decent price to step up. Here are three that are worth your attention:
Dalvin Cook (12-1): The Florida State running back will be the focal point of the offense with a game-manager in Sean Maguire at quarterback. A shifty, explosive talent, Cook has the ability to go for 2,000 yards and if he plays well in a signature game against Clemson, leading the Seminoles to a win over Watson's team, Cook could vault to the head of the class.
J.T. Barrett (12-1): We know what the Ohio State quarterback can do - he was squarely in the Heisman race in 2014 before an injury against Michigan shelved him for the Big Ten Championship Game and turned last season into a long quarterback controversy with him and Cardale Jones. Barrett is clearly the man this year in Columbus and he's the kind of QB that Urban Meyer has always worked best with.
Baker Mayfield (18-1): It's somewhat surprising to see the Oklahoma quarterback getting this good of a price. After winning the job last season he played at Heisman level in leading the Sooners to the College Football Playoff. He plays in a conference where quarterbacks routinely blow out the scoreboard lights and for a coach in Bob Stoops that has produced Heisman quarterback winners in Jason White (2003) and Sam Bradford (2010) along with a runner-up (Josh Heupel, 2000). If you like Mayfield, don't wait too long - it's true he must be Ohio State at home on September 17, but if he does, this price probably drops rather sharply.
There are other quality candidates at good prices. Houston's terrific dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward is 35-1. UCLA sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen won tremendous praise last year and is 30-1. And the best part? The prices are such that you can choose several players to spread your money around and just make it an anti-favorite bet.