Sean Pendergast

Why Does Bovada Hate Deshaun Watson?

The statistical odds on Dehsaun Watson for 2018 are, well, odd.
The statistical odds on Dehsaun Watson for 2018 are, well, odd. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The Texans begin training camp in the next 24 hours, and thus will officially begin the Deshaun Watson Hype Train for 2018. No NFL player is averaging more magazine covers and television segments per 2017 start than the Houston Texans' franchise quarterback. He is the future of this franchise, and a noteworthy part of the future of the league, as well.

However, one segment of the football tapestry that appears to be a little more "bear" than "bull" over Watson's 2018 prospects is the wagering website Bovada. Each season at about this time, Bovada will put out odds whereby bettors can try to pick which quarterback will lead the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and interceptions. (Also, they have rushing leaders and receiving leaders wagers available.)

After a truncated rookie season that saw Watson throw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns in just six starts (seven games overall), you would think mere mathematical extrapolation would put Watson near the leaders with the shortest odds in the first two categories. Oddly, that is not the case. First, here the odds on the player to lead the NFL in passing yards in 2018:

NFL Odds
Player to Record the Most Passing Yards in the 2018 Regular Season
Tom Brady (NE) 7/2
Drew Brees (NO) 9/2
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) 11/2
Philip Rivers (LAC) 7/1
Matthew Stafford (DET) 10/1
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) 14/1
Aaron Rodgers (GB) 14/1
Matt Ryan (ATL) 15/1
Kirk Cousins (MIN) 18/1
Jared Goff (LAR) 33/1
Case Keenum (DEN) 33/1
Eli Manning (NYG) 33/1
Alex Smith (WAS) 33/1
Carson Wentz (PHI) 33/1
Russell Wilson (SEA) 33/1
Patrick Mahomes (KC) 38/1
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) 40/1
Derek Carr (OAK) 44/1
Deshaun Watson (HOU) 50/1
Blake Bortles (JAC) 75/1
Andy Dalton (CIN) 75/1
Andrew Luck (IND) 75/1
Marcus Mariota (TEN) 75/1
Joe Flacco (BAL) 100/1
Dak Prescott (DAL) 100/1
Mitch Trubisky (CHI) 100/1
Cam Newton (CAR) 150/1
Tyrod Taylor (CLE) 150/1
Jameis Winston (TB) 150/1
Sam Bradford (ARI) 200/1
AJ McCarron (BUF) 200/1
Josh McCown (NYJ) 200/1
Ok, this one is astounding to me. Deshaun's yardage numbers weren't eye-popping (around 261 yards per game, if you count Deshaun as having played 6.5 games), but they were certainly good enough to have him with shorter odds than the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Case Keenum, and Patrick Mahomes, who has started just ONE game in the NFL.

Now, the upside to this, as a Texans fan, is two pronged. First, Watson is GREAT value at 50 to 1. Second, perhaps the reason the oddsmakers don't see him leading the league in passing is because the Texans will be leading in many of their games and won't need to throw the football. Dare to dream!

For the record, betting against any of the top three on the board — Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger — has been a losing proposition this decade. Since 2011, the only QB outside of those three to lead the league in passing yards was Peyton Manning in 2013.

Now, onto touchdown passes....

Player to Record the Most Passing Touchdowns in the 2018 Regular Season
Aaron Rodgers (GB) 3/1
Tom Brady (NE) 7/2
Drew Brees (NO) 6/1
Philip Rivers (LAC) 17/2
Ben Rothlisberger (PIT) 9/1
Carson Wentz (PHI) 9/1
Jared Goff (LAR) 14/1
Deshaun Watson (HOU) 14/1
Matthew Stafford (DET) 16/1
Russell Wilson (SEA) 16/1
Kirk Cousins (MIN) 28/1
Matt Ryan (ATL) 33/1
Derek Carr (OAK) 40/1
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) 40/1
Andrew Luck (IND) 40/1
Cam Newton (CAR) 50/1
Dak Prescott(DAL) 75/1
Field 16/1
This one seems a little more reasonable, as one thing Watson did with great prolificness was toss touchdown passes, nearly three a game if we use 6.5 games as the basis. This category has had far more variability than the passing yards category, as there have been six different leaders in the last six seasons, including Russell Wilson in 2017, with just 34 touchdowns (a nice number, but the lowest number for a league leader since 2009). Watson at 14 to 1 is not a bad play here.

Now comes the one that we hope the oddsmakers REALLY missed on....

Player to Record the Most Interceptions Thrown in the 2018 Regular Season
Deshaun Watson (HOU) 5/1
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) 11/2
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) 11/2
Eli Manning (NYG) 7/1
Cam Newton (CAR) 15/2
Marcus Mariota (TEN) 14/1
Philip Rivers (LAC) 14/1
Mitch Trubisky (CHI) 14/1
Andrew Luck (IND) 18/1
Patrick Mahomes (KC) 18/1
Joe Flacco (BAL) 20/1
Kirk Cousins (MIN) 25/1
Andy Dalton (CIN) 25/1
Blake Bortles (JAC) 33/1
Derek Carr (OAK) 33/1
Field 4/1
If you're a Texan fan wondering "How could this be?", well, if we are going to use mathematical extrapolation for the good categories, then we need to use them for the bad ones. Watson's 8 interceptions in 6.5 games become 20 picks over a full season. That would lead the league in three of the last six seasons. Watsons's style involves quite a bit of risk-taking that may not have been kneaded out of his game in just six starts as a rookie.

Just for fun, here are the receiving and rushing leaders' odds for the 2018 season....

Player to Record the Most Receiving Yards in the 2018 Regular Season
Antonio Brown (PIT) 4/1
Julio Jones (ATL) 5/1
Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG) 13/2
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) 13/2
Kennan Allen (LAC) 12/1
Michael Thomas (NO) 12/1
Adam Thielen (MIN) 18/1
Mike Evans (TB) 20/1
T.Y. Hilton (IND) 22/1
Davante Adams (GB) 25/1
Amari Cooper (OAK) 25/1
A.J. Green (CIN) 25/1
Doug Baldwin (SEA) 33/1
Tyreek Hill (KC) 40/1
Demaryius Thomas (DEN) 40/1
Stefon Diggs (MIN) 50/1
Josh Gordon (CLE) 50/1
Golden Tate (DET) 50/1
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) 66/1
Devin Funchess (CAR) 66/1
Allen Robinson (CHI) 66/1
Juju Smith-Schuster (PIT) 66/1
Robby Anderson (NYJ) 80/1
Brandin Cooks (LAR) 80/1
Michael Crabtree (BAL) 80/1
Pierre Garcon (SF) 80/1
Alshon Jeffery (PHI) 80/1
Sammy Watkins (KC) 80/1
Marvin Jones (DET) 100/1
Cooper Kupp (LAR) 100/1
Jarvis Landry (CLE) 100/1
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) 100/1
Robert Woods (LAR) 100/1
Field 28/1
Player to Record the Most Rushing Yards in the 2018 Regular Season
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) 9/2
Le'Veon Bell (PIT) 11/2
Todd Gurley (LAR) 6/1
David Johnson (ARI) 13/2
Leonard Fournette (JAC) 15/2
Dalvin Cook (MIN) 8/1
Kareem Hunt (KC) 17/2
Saquon Barkley (NYG) 10/1
Melvin Gordon (LAC) 20/1
Jordan Howard (CHI) 22/1
Devonta Freeman (ATL) 25/1
Jay Ajayi (PHI) 33/1
Alex Collins (BAL) 33/1
Derrick Henry (TEN) 40/1
LeSean McCoy (BUF) 50/1
Joe Mixon (CIN) 50/1
Derrius Guice (WAS) 66/1
Jerick Mckinnon (SF) 66/1
Kenyan Drake (MIA) 80/1
Alvin Kamara (NO) 80/1
Ronald Jones (TB) 100/1
Marshawn Lynch (OAK) 100/1
Lamar Miller (HOU) 100/1
Rashaad Penny (SEA) 100/1
Field 33/1

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast