Alright readers and gamblers, our deep dive marches on with OPOY & DPOY awards. As always, I found the info off pro-football reference and go back to 1995. The positions are based off what pro-football reference listed. I know players played across multiple positions but didn’t want to complicate the project. These are media awards, so they are story-driven. I couldn’t fit all the table in the article and it was too blurry to see what was going, click here for the entire table. Don’t forgot to switch sheets to see the DPOY. Look for these odds at various books. You can find some stark differences if you have access to multiple books. Questions? Comments? Drop them below or drop a line @DanRivera228 on Twitter!
Offensive Player of the Year
The biggest surprise to me for this award was the number of players who won this award and MVP in the same year. Talking to a friend of mine, he asked me this question and I took a guess of no just because I had a hard time believing the media gave the same person multiple awards. I was wrong. Fourteen of the last 25 winners have won MVP and OPOY the same year. Of those 14, eight were QB and six were RB.
A big takeaway was what position actually wins the award. It’s now 2020 and in football we hear every year how awesome WRs are now-a-days and how college just keeps pumping out these fantastic WRs (the 2021 NFL WR draft class fantastic btw). With the likes of Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, etc., you would think WRs would be doing well with this award. Only one time has a WR won in the last 25 years: it was Michael Thomas, who had 149 receptions, 1725 yards, and nine TDs. If this is what it takes to win the award for a WR, WRs are untouchable to me if betting them.
Going back to 2009, six times a QB has won it, four times a RB has won it, and one time a WR. This is a RB or QB award. Don’t let anyone else argue to take a WR unless they are putting up insane numbers that no one will predict coming into the year. What makes it worse for WRs is we had Calvin Johnson nearly break 2000 yards for a WR and he didn’t win the award in 2012. Julio Jones and Antonio Brown back in 2015 had over 1800 yards and they didn’t win either. If you look at the odds, George Kittle is up there, but like the WRs you need a ridiculous year from him and no one will be telling you Kittle is going for 1700 yards and a 15+ TDs with over 100 catches. These bookmakers are selling you a much worse number to take the WRs.
The next big takeaway was the amount of wins these players had the year that they won. Only four times has a player won it but didn’t win double digit games. No player has ever won it with under eight wins. This shows me not only do you need stats, but you also need wins. The average wins for these players are near 12-4. The four times players won it with less than 10 wins was 2009 when Chris Johnson ran for over 2000 yards; 2008 when Brees had over 5000 passing yards off 65% completion and 34 TDs; 2002 Priest Holmes with over 1600 rushing yards, over 600 yards receiving, 21 rushing TDs, and 3 receiving TDs; 1997 Berry Sanders had over 2000 rushing yards and 11 TDs.
The final big takeaway is from the QBs. Eight of the 10 winners won MVP the same year. Of the two losers, one was the 2008 season when Brees won eight games. Ironically, he didn’t win it again in 2011 despite winning OPOY; 2011 was the year Aaron Rodgers torched the league.
I see Mahomes 8/1 on DraftKings for OPOY; if he wins MVP, he most likely wins this award. Mahomes' MVP odds are deflated (or inflated depending on how you want to view it) in the 4/1 territory. If Mahomes goes out and does extremely well again, I am willing to bet on the 8/1. The media loves him, the Chiefs are a 12-win or 13-win team this year, and he will tell a fantastic story for the media to use. The only real worry is that he gets hurt or misses games because of COVID-19. Even with these issues, if he comes back and looks otherworldly, this might enhance his chances because the media will be all over this assuming he doesn’t miss many games.
When you look at the odds, you will see Mahomes at the top, Derrick Henry, Lamar Jackson, CMC, Michael Thomas, George Kittle, Russell Wilson, and Julio Jones toward the top (or some order of this). You might be wondering why I am only using Mahomes. This award is pure randomness, requiring players to put numbers that very few people (or none) can project. I am only endorsing Mahomes this year. I don’t find any other player bettable. I don’t see any other QB putting up 12 or more wins with large numbers or any RB putting up over 2000 yards.
Defensive Player of the Year
To the defensive side of the ball, this is also random. These players need to do very well, and the media likes certain players. I am surprised by the breakdown by position.
A couple of things for the table above: Reggie White was classified as DE/DT, so I counted him as DE. The number in parenthesis are adjusted for him at DT. The next thing is the DBs: only one time has a CB has won the award the last 25 years. Stephon Gilmore winning the award last year was an outlier. He won it at 80/1. A couple names that stand out in terms of the media liking/being familiar with is Aaron Donald (won it 2017 AND 2018), Khalil Mack (won in 2016), TJ Watt, and Nick Bosa. They all stay relatively healthy, which is big plus.
A big takeaway for the defense (like the offense) is the players are on winning teams. The average record for the winning players' team is about 11-5. Only five times a player has won it with less than double digit wins; in 2015 and 2016, it was J.J. Watt whom the media loves; 2006 Jason Taylor, which is the only one where I can’t figure out how he won it; 2004 Ed Reed; 2001 Michael Strahan, the year he set the league record for most sacks in a season.
Another takeaway is that you think sacks would be a good indicator of the winner. This helps, but it isn’t the most important. We have had players place outside of the top 5 of sacks for that year and still win it.
I have no interest in betting DPOY. In my opinion it’s too difficult to predict. I will say if I was forced to pick one or two, I would go with either T.J. Watt or Nick Bosa, with a preference for Watt. They don’t have the media love (yet) but they will be part of teams who are in the double-digit wins category. They also are in a position to rack up numbers to help their cases. All the other top choices at books either won’t have enough wins or stats. If you look at Stephon Gilmore, his odds are a total rip off because we know CBs don’t win this award often, especially two years in a row.
OPOY and DPOY are very random and nearly an unbeatable market. You need players from winning teams that make a good storyline or players to put up numbers that no one will project. I know people talk about how awesome WRs are, but don’t be a fool and waste your money on something that has only won once in the last 25 years. The only bet I would make for OPOY is Mahomes at 8/1 on DraftKings. Of the 10 QBs to win OPOY, eight of them won the MVP the same year. Mahomes will have the wins, the stats, and the media storyline. Don’t let your friends take him for MVP when you’re essentially betting the same award with a nearly double the odds.
DPOY is too random for me to bet. You need a lot of wins and the stats. My advice for this award would be to play it during the season with worse odds.
Update as of July 29
You can still find Patrick Mahomes at 8/1 on DraftKings and that is the highest I found him (betonline is +650). I still like him to win OPOY. DPOY, you’re on your own. I have nothing to bet on for this. If COVID-19 cancels NFL games, the media might by default just give Mahomes MVP and OPOY.