Bet The Close Podcast’s Chris Bilello: The DPOY Prop Bet You Should Consider...
By: Chris Bilello
After scouring the markets for value on futures bets...Darius Leonard (35-1) as DPOY stood out to me. The more I dug into it...the more I liked it!
First things first...Darius Leonard is a superstar. I think some people realize that...but not everyone...and certainly not people pricing this bet. In 2018, Leonard won DROY with 7 sacks, 2 INT and 111 solo tackles. Last season in just 13 games he had 5 sacks, 5 INT, a TD and 71 solo tackles. Leonard was #1 overall in fantasy/IDP scoring (FantasyPros scoring) in PPG the last two seasons. I believe the addition of D.Buckner on the DL will free up D.Leonard to be an even bigger playmaker than he has his first 2 years in the league.
Looking back at the history of this award I found a couple of boxes I think you need to check to be in the running to win this award. The player most likely accumulates defensive stats (vs suppressing offensive stats as a great defender) and plays on a top 5 team in the league (avg 11 wins).
This award is historically given to the defensive player that accumulates the most stats. Many times it’s an outlier sack or INT total but still plenty of others have won the award by filling multiple stat columns. A clear example is 2009, D.Revis had an amazing year shutting down an impressive list of WRs led by Randy Moss in his prime, he was a lock down CB and the best defensive player in the NFL. However, when the season ended, Charles Woodson won DPOY. Also worth noting the Packers won 11 games in 2009 while the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets won 9. Darius Leonard’s #1 IDP ranking going into this season tells me he’s expected to accumulate some serious stats.
I think the combination of talent on the 2020 Colts and the easiest strength of schedule (based on opponents projected win totals) give us a great chance to get 10-12 wins. In this scenario, #53 in the middle of the defense will get all the credit and media coverage we need. I think the additions of D.Buckner and X.Rhodes will help the defense perform better while not overshadowing D.Leonard who is the superstar of this defense and this franchise. As I mentioned earlier, the Colts winning is important here...below is a list of recent DPOY winners and the teams regular season record…
‘19 S.Gilmore (12-4)
‘18 A.Donald (13-3)
‘17 A.Donald (11-5)
‘16 K.Mack (12-4)
‘15 J.Watt (9-7) Division winner
‘14 J.Watt (9-7) 2-14 prior year
‘13 L.Kuechly (12-4)
‘12 J.Watt (12-4)
‘11 T.Suggs (12-4)
‘10 T.Polamalu (12-4)
‘09 C.Woodson (11-5)
‘08 J.Harrison (12-4)
‘07 Bob Sanders (13-3)
‘06 J.Taylor (6-10)
‘05 B.Urlacher (11-6)
‘04 E.Reed (9-7)
‘03 R.Lewis (10-6)
Over the past 17 seasons the DPOY came from teams that averaged 10.94 wins.
In futures bets, we need to make sure we have the position right. We can find big odds for NFL MVP on some great players, but if they play RB or WR then it’s probably not great value at all since NFL MVP has almost exclusively become a QB award. NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been awarded to a linebacker 16 times, more than any other position. Plenty of examples of middle linebackers leading their defenses (L.Kuechly, B.Urlacher, R.Lewis, M.Singletary).
The most common player I’ve heard people mention for their DPOY is Myles Garrett at 20-1. Obviously, Garrett is a great player with the potential to accumulate the sacks necessary to be in the running. However, head to head with the same odds I’d take D.Leonard...I think the Colts have a better chance to win 10+ games based on schedule and the Browns changes in coaching staff (even if it is an upgrade). Garrett can go sack crazy but Leonard can fill the entire stat sheet. Also look again at the list of past winners...it’s a who’s who of beloved NFL players...NFL man of the year types...not roid rage, bonk you over the head with your own helmet types.
The 2020 season is a sample size of one...so obviously anything can happen with a long shot bet. I believe D.Leonard belongs with the 14-1 crowd (N.Bosa, TJ Watt, K.Mack) when I think about his probability to win this award. The 35-1 is a great price especially if you have a cash out option. I always recommend splitting futures bets into smaller bets if a cash out option is available so you have the flexibility to cash out part of the bet if you choose. As a BONUS...if you have access to William Hill in NJ, they have D.Leonard tremendously mispriced at 66-1. No cash out there so I have some 66-1 riding until the envelope is opened and some 35-1 to cash out if Leonard is on the short list come Thanksgiving.
If we avoid the injury bug we have a very good chance of having the best player on the biggest surprise defense in the league. As we say on the Bet The Close Podcast...good luck with your bets...win some money or have fun trying!
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