By Dan Rivera
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Primer/Intro: We are now here at the offensive/defensive players of the year (OPOY/DPOY). If you haven’t it figured out yet, "one-way betting markets" are high -EV plays. They don’t offer fair odds, a lot of noise is involved, and there aren’t consistent parameters that help you increase your odds of winning. I have major distain to anyone who says these 3 specific bets mentioned above are actually good bets or offer any real value because they are full of it and don’t actually gamble if that's the case. These 3 awards (along with the Super Bowl and AFC/NFC Conference Championship winners) are at best fun money. Whatever value you have is just something people tell you, but they also don’t tell you the vig for these markets is anywhere from 20-30% and usually ends up being closer to 30%. These NFL season-long awards, along with the other one-way futures markets mentioned, are simply fun talking points with the classic “if you had a $100, who would you bet on for (insert topic X). It’s just for content, and that needs to be stated.
I don’t encourage anyone to put real solid amounts of money down on betting these one-way awards, but if you do decide to bet some of these, then make sure you split your bet over multiple tickets. We see wild swings in odds for players/teams winning and with multiple tickets you can hedge out and lock in some profit while keeping your original pick. Russell Wilson last year started off great for MVP but then saw his odds plummet towards the middle/later parts of the regular season when Wilson really started struggling.
What about the other articles on one-way markets I've written about? Well, Coach of the Year and Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year have consistent parameters that the media likes that helps identify edges for us. Don’t believe me? Go re-read them here. Lastly, click here to view the data. The data goes back to 1995 for all 3 awards. Now let’s dive into the offensive and defensive player of the year...
Offensive Player of the Year
If there was an award I have absolutely nothing on for bets, then this is the award. Winning helps here, but the problem is that you get the influx of other positions for this award, particularly for running back. The average winner is about 12-4 record wise, and the only thing different here is that you do indeed see more guys winning at 10 or less wins but it’s not something that helps our betting edge in the outrights market.
This is a running back dominated position as we see, but what about the wide receiver position? Frankly, don’t bet wide receivers, because they don’t win this. Only one time has a WR has won this award since 1995 and that was Michael Thomas in 2019 when he had 149 receptions, 1725 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
Calvin Johnson set the single-season record and still didn’t win the award. Think of all the dominate WR season we have seen over the last decade, yet they only have won this one time. RB or QB wins here.
Something I did find interesting in compiling the data for this article was the number of times OPOY won the award and won the MVP award. A total of 14 times the OPOY winner also won the MVP, but to take it further, this type of combo only works on QB (other 6 were RB). Of those 14, 8 times a QB won both the same year. The two times it didn’t happen was Drew Brees in 2008 (only went 8-8) and 2011 when he went 13-3 but that was also the Aaron Rodgers year when he went 15-1. If you like a QB for MVP, maybe play them for OPOY too, as you usually get a higher payout. Who would I pick for this award? CMC for the sake of picking a non-QB player. I really have no idea who wins this award and you can legitimately argue 10-15 guys for this. CMC could be a 1000-yard rusher and receiver, and the media will love those type of stats. And especially if the Carolina Panthers are a 9+ win team (like I think they can be) it makes sense.
Defensive Player of the Year
This award still requires winning, but not as much as the other two aforementioned categories of MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. The average winner is about 11-5 record wise, and while we do see players winning this award at 10 or less wins, more of them fall around winning 12 games. This award is stat-dominant and who the media likes in general overall, so following those narratives during the year is key.
The position is the next important factor to consider here. Stephon Gilmore winning it in 2019 was rare, as DB's simply don’t win this award. This is more dominated by edge rushers. DT's don’t win either (unless your name is Aaron Donald), so you want an edge who will get a lot of sacks on a good/solid defense.
The names that stood to me are Myles Garrett (6/1 on FanDuel), Nick Bosa (16/1 on DraftKings), and Chase Young (12/1 PointsBet). TJ Watt is a popular pick, but last year when Bud Dupree tore his ACL Watt looked lost on the field and was almost nonexistent at times for the now bottom dwelling Houston Texans.
Note: I didn’t bet these or any other names mentioned in this article. I just wanted to mention who stood out to me or who are a very popular pick for this award according the current state of the odds market.