2016 Heisman Trophy Winner Predictions and Betting Odds
by Jay, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
The 2016 College Football season is rapidly approaching and soon our entire Saturday schedule will consist of watching football from sunup to sundown for the next 3-4 months. With the dawn of every new season, there are high hopes for teams and players. Perhaps the “uncertainty” factor is most intriguing as we wonder if expectations will be fulfilled or if those expectations will dry out and wither like the leaves of fall. While we wait for those expectations to unfold in front of our eyes, it is never too early to take a peek into the future and provide our own expectations for 2016. Take a look as we take this time to preview this year’s top players in college football and our Top 15 best bets for the 2016 Heisman Trophy!
Deshaun Watson +575
Christian McCaffrey +675
Leonard Fournette +850
Dalvin Cook +1200
Baker Mayfield +1400
JT Barrett +1400
Chad Kelly +1650
Nick Chubb +2300
Josh Rosen +2300
Samaje Perine +2600
DeShone Kizer +3000
Bo Scarbrough +3000
Seth Russell +3500
Malik Zaire +3500
Calvin Ridley +4000
Royce Freeman +4000
Joshua Dobbs +4000
Brad Kaaya +4500
Luke Falk +4500
Dakota Prukop +5000
Jalen Hurd +5000
Greg Ward Jr +5500
Mason Rudolph +5500
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#1 – Deshaun Watson +575 (QB, Clemson, Junior)
The Clemson Tigers were the Cinderella team of the 2015 season. After several years of mediocrity in the ACC, the Tigers emerged as one of the best teams in the country only to fall short to Alabama in the National Championship Game. So what was the difference from last year’s Clemson football team compared to years past? The easy and majority answer is Deshaun Watson. The Tigers have always played well under Coach Dabo Swinney but Watson is that juggernaut prospect that has taken Clemson to the next level. He is a dual threat quarterback that makes big plays in the most crucial situations. Whether it is scrambling in the open field or making big throws down the field, Watson can do it all. As a sophomore, Watson threw for 4,109 yards, 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing for another 1,105 yards and 12 scores. To make matters worse, defenses tried week in and week out to devise game plans to contain him. It just did not work. When you combine Watson’s unequivocal talent with an offense that is designed to post big numbers, the junior should now be on top of everyone’s Heisman Trophy list!
#2 – Leonard Fournette +850 (RB, LSU, Junior)
I am not going to lie when I say my favorite player to watch last season was Leonard Fournette. I sat on the edge of my seat every time he touched the football because I expected something special to happen. For the most part, something special did happen as the sophomore put together one of the most impressive seasons out of any young running back in college football history finishing with 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. Fournette is blessed with the raw power and speed that gives him the ability to run through tackles while simply outrunning others. He is going to be fun to watch for a long time because he will be playing on Sundays after his farewell tour this season. Until then, enjoy watching one of the most gifted running backs you will ever see at the college level!
#3 – Baker Mayfield +1400 (QB, Oklahoma, Senior)
One of the veterans whose stock is on the rise is Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield. Last year, Mayfield officially finished 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting just short of earning a trip to New York. If not for a few statistically low performances to close out the regular season, I feel like Mayfield would have been invited to NYC as a finalist. However, do not look past Oklahoma’s 2015 success as they reached the playoffs last year and have the potential to be even better this season. Mayfield was one of the main reasons for the Sooners success last year after throwing for 3,700 yards with 36 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. The senior quarterback has the arm and mobility to post another outstanding campaign this year as the Sooners look to build on their success.
#4 – Christian McCaffrey +675 (RB, Stanford, Junior)
Another rising junior that should be on everyone’s watch list includes Stanford tailback Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey was one of the three Heisman Finalists last year after he shattered Barry Sanders’ 27 year old NCAA record for the most all-purpose yards. McCaffrey is not your typical running back that is going to average 25 touches per game and rack up a ton of yards in any single category. However, he is used all over the field from a receiver, rusher, and even as a returner. As a result, he will continue to rack up a lot of all-purpose yards once again. The main question I have is can he make enough big plays and rack up enough touchdowns to warrant enough Heisman exposure like he did in 2015?
#5– Dalvin Cook +1200 (RB, Florida State, Junior)
One player that I believe is not getting enough attention, at least outside of the state of Florida, is Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. As a sophomore last season, Cook racked up 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns as the biggest threat in the Seminoles backfield. What makes those numbers even more impressive is that Cook missed some time with a nagging hamstring injury that slowed his pace over the course of several games. If he can stay fully healthy, he is going to be poised for a huge season especially considering the fact he will be a big focal point for the offense in 2016.
#6– Royce Freeman +4000 (RB, Oregon, Junior)
Royce Freeman is another candidate that is not getting enough mainstream attention. Of course it does not help that there are several Heisman threats at the tailback position in this year’s class. Still, Freeman posted a school record 1,838 rushing yards last season to go along with 17 touchdowns. Freeman closed out his final 9 games by averaging 154 yards and nearly 1.5 touchdowns per game. Everyone knows that Oregon is going to post big offensive numbers and that is good news for a guy like Freeman who is going to get plenty of opportunities with the football. If he can stay the course, lookout!
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#7– J.T. Barrett +1400 (QB, Ohio State, Junior)
It was not that long ago that J.T. Barrett led the Buckeyes to a 10-1 record and finished 5th in the Heisman voting. That was 2014 when Barrett was a mere freshman. Last year, Barrett had to share the field with Cardale Jones which ultimately killed his potential to build off his freshman success. This year the reigns will be given back over to Barrett to lead the Buckeyes offense. The potential is there despite the fact that Ohio State does not typically post huge offensive outings like some of the other teams previously mentioned. However if Ohio State can stay in the National Championship discussion, Barrett’s stock will continue to rise.
#8– Seth Russell +3500 (QB, Baylor, Senior)
For the first half of the 2015 season, Seth Russell was posting video game like numbers before his season was ended with a neck injury. Through the first 6 games of the year, Russell was averaging 317 passing yards per game and had already racked up 27 touchdowns. I know there is a lot of uncertainty going on in Waco right now since the release of Art Briles. However, rest assured that Russell will be the certainty that Baylor needs to keep winning football games and more big offensive numbers!
#9– Nick Chubb +2300 (RB, Georgia, Junior)
Georgia running back Nick Chubb, like Seth Russell, was also off to a blistering pace through the first 6 games of the season in 2015 before suffering a injury that involved tearing several ligaments in the knee. When Chubb has been on the field, he has been incredible and we know that Georgia loves giving their running backs the football. Will that philosophy stand under new coach Kirby Smart and can Chubb stay healthy all season? Those are important questions to ponder when considering his legitimacy towards this year’s Heisman Trophy.
#10– Josh Rosen +2300 (QB, UCLA, Sophomore)
One of the biggest success stories in 2016 surrounded the outstanding freshman campaign from UCLA’s Josh Rosen. The freshman quarterback debuted by throwing for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 picks. Rosen has a big arm with tremendous upside. He is only going to get better as a quarterback moving forward. The hurdles that will affect his Heisman potentially immediately include his accuracy along with the loss of nearly all of his main targets at the receiver position going into 2016.
#11– Chad Kelly +1650 (QB, Ole Miss, Senior)
Chad Kelly has had a roller coaster ride of a college football career with peaks and valleys. He spent some time at Clemson before he was kicked off the team for breaking team rules before reestablishing his career with the Rebels. Last year, Kelly reaped the rewards from paving the broken road by throwing for 4,042 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 picks. The senior reminds me of a young Brett Favre with his gunslinger mentality. He does not back down at the opportunity to make big throws and we know the Rebels offense will be good again in 2016. A large part of Kelly’s Heisman potential will revolve around whether the Rebels can continue to make noise in the SEC West.
#12– Samaje Perine +2600 (RB, Oklahoma, Junior)
With all the attention Baker Mayfield is going to get, there is going to be plenty of opportunities for Samaje Perine to bust plays open between the tackles. Coach Bob Stoops is notorious for keeping balance on the offensive side of the ball. Therefore while Mayfield may get most of the attention, Perine is going to have opportunities to shine. He touched the ball 226 times as a sophomore while racking up 1,349 yards and 16 touchdowns. Expect those numbers to be even better in 2016!
#13– Greg Ward Jr +5500 (QB, Houston, Senior)
For those of you that may play fantasy football, Greg Ward was one of my favorite go to guys last season. Not only is Houston’s offense notorious for putting up a lot of points, Ward’s ability to move the football on the ground and through the air give him a lot of upside in the fantasy world. In 2015, Ward threw for 2,827 yards with 17 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,114 yards and 21 touchdowns. He may not have the big arm potential that some of your typical Heisman winners have but his ability to make big plays on the ground make up for it. Obviously, Houston is going to need a big year to keep Ward in the Heisman race but his numbers should be stout.
#14– Jabrill Peppers +7500 (DB, Michigan, Junior)
The last time a defensive player won the Heisman Trophy was back in 1997 when Charles Woodson won the coveted honor. While many wonder if the Heisman Trophy will ever be won by a defensive player again, it only makes sense that a guy that resembles the play of Woodson could be the player to break the streak. Donning the same Michigan blue and maize, Peppers has all the early indicators that could garner the Heisman voter’s attention. Outside of being one of the best defensive players in the country, Peppers’ also gets some snaps sparingly on offense and he gets the opportunity to make plays in the return game. Sound familiar? Also, Peppers moves to a hybrid linebacker position this year which could really expose his talent. He should be one of the most exciting players on the defensive side of the ball in 2016!
#15– Mason Rudolph +5500 (QB, Oklahoma State, Junior)
Mason Rudolph exploded onto the scene at Oklahoma State last year to throw for 3,770 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 picks. Before the season began, there were a lot of question marks at the quarterback position but Rudolph helped silence those doubts will leading the Cowboys to a surprising 10-0 start before the regular season ended with losses to Baylor and Oklahoma. However, expectations have been built around the 2015 success and the offense is poised to be very strong yet again. If the Cowboys have another big year, Rudolph is going to gain a lot more notoriety.
Jay’s 2016 Heisman Trophy Predictions:
Top Pick: Leonard Fournette +850
Value Pick: Royce Freeman +4000
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2016 Heisman Trophy Predictions - DeShaun Watson is favored to win the award at +575 with Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey (+575) and LSU RB Leonard Fournette (+850) close behind. However, the real value may be with Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman at 40/1.
2016-2017 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football experts have the National Championship as a 4-horse race which includes Bama at +665, Clemson +725, LSU +900 and Ohio State +1075. Teams on teh bubble include Oklahoma at +1200, Michigan +1300 and FSU at +1350. Jay gives his pick to win it all along with how his top 15 rankings for season's end. Get your bets in early before your favorite team's line drops!
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Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - Clemson QB DeShaun Watson will have the ball in his hands a TON and he plays on a good team so he's the obvious favorite to win the award this year at +575. Leonard Fournette at 8.5/1 looks like he could play in the NFL right now. Bama WR Calvin Ridley brings experience and big-time playmaking ability and will be featured on National TV a bunch, giving him a legit darkhorse shot. It's unlikely to happen as offensive players usually win this honor, but Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers (75-1) and Texas AM DT Myles Garret (110-1) could be in the running as well. It might be a good year to bet more than one prediction!
Odds to Win the 2016 College Football Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored to be repeat winners of the National Championship this year at +700 followed by Ohio St. at +750 and Clemson at +800. Things drop off a bit with the Michigan Wolverines, LSU Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners all coming in at +1200. Check out your favorite school's odds here!