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Deshaun Watson is Favored to Lead the NFL in Interceptions in 2018

Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans rolling out to throw
Is Deshaun Watson poised for an MVP-like 2018 season, or is he more likely to lead the league in interceptions thrown? (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
  • Bovada has selected Deshaun Watson as the favorite to lead the NFL in INTs in 2018
  • Who are the other top candidates?
  • Which one provides the most betting value?

Turnovers, namely interceptions, can kill a football team.

A quarterback’s reputation is built on the ability to avoid handing the ball back to the other side in key moments. QBs like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are not just lauded for their ability to put the ball in the endzone, but also to take care of that ball.

The ones who can’t? They become punchlines.

While MVP odds and odds to lead the league in passing yards are all warm and fuzzy, some props are cold and jagged.

Bovada has provided us with the latter, as they released their odds for who will throw the most interceptions in 2018. Let’s dive into one of football fans’ guilty pleasures: INT tracking.

Odds to Lead the NFL in INTs in 2018

Quarterback Team Odds at Bovada
Deshaun Watson HOU +500
Ben Roethlisberger PIT +550
Ryan Tannehill MIA +550
Eli Manning NYG +700
Cam Newton CAR +800
Patrick Mahomes KC +1400
FIELD +400

*These are just the favorites listed. More options are available at Bovada.

Watson to lead the way in Interceptions?

When the prop opened, Deshaun Watson led all quarterbacks at +500. The only option out there that paid worse was the FIELD (+400).

There are a few reasons why this makes sense.

Last year, Watson took the NFL by storm.

Despite only playing in seven games, he tossed 19 touchdowns, finished a yard shy of 1,700, and added 269 yards on the ground. If his career follows that trajectory, then the Texans have finally found their franchise QB.

The one number that drags that magical run down, however, is interceptions.

In those seven games, he threw the ball to the other team eight times. Granted, five of those came against two teams (three against Seattle, two against New England), but he also threw a pick in five of seven games.

Across his 204 attempts, he turned it over 3.9% of the time. Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Interceptions metric placed him at 3.6%. Including Kizer, here’s how Watson fits among this year’s projected starters.

QB 2017 Adjusted Interception %
DeShone Kizer, CLE 4.5%
Jameis Winston, TB 4.0%
Deshaun Watson, HOU 3.6%
Derek Carr, OAK 3.6%
Marcus Mariota, TEN 3.5%

**Jimmy Garoppolo’s ADJ INT% would have been 4.3%. He did not qualify for their metric, due to throwing fewer than 200 attempts.**

While the schedule offers some reprieves, it offers its challenges as well.

Watson opens up his season in New England in Week 1. A notoriously difficult place to play, even if the defense isn’t that daunting. Mix in two dates with the Jaguars and (an improved) Titans secondary, as well as stops in Denver and Philadelphia, and that’s seven games he could exit with at least one interception.

When you add in the fact he’s recovering from a torn ACL, and runs an offense that likes to go vertical with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, Watson may be his own worst enemy with this prop.

Is there better value in picking the INT leader?

There are three other names that stand out: Ryan Tannehill (+550), Patrick Mahomes (+1400), and Andrew Luck (+1800).

QB (2018 Odds) 2017 INT Three year total Average
Deshaun Watson, HOU (+500) 8 N/A 8
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (+550) 14 43 14.3
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (+550) N/A 36 (2014-16) 12
Eli Manning, NYG (+700) 13 43 14.3
Cam Newton, CAR (+800) 16 40 13.3
Marcus Mariota, TEN (+1500) 15 34 11.3

Tannehill and Luck stand out for the same reason: rust.

Sitting at +550 and +1800, respectively, neither threw a pass in the NFL last year. In Luck’s case, he hasn’t thrown a pass since Week 17 of 2016.

Tannehill may be saved a bit by his offense, as the acquisitions of Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson may make him work quicker and shorter. The jury is still out on Luck, though. With the questions surrounding his shoulder and, yet again, his offensive line, if he’s forced into too much too soon, it could spell disaster.

Then there’s Mahomes and his one game of experience in the NFL.

He’s been handed the reigns to the Kansas City offense with one start under his belt. He won it, throwing 35 times against the Broncos in Denver, but threw a pick in that game. Mike Mayock compared him to Brett Favre, and we all remember he’d throw the occasional pick or two.

Like Watson, he’s going to want to throw the deep ball. And the thing about 50-50 balls…50% of the time they don’t work.

Who’s the best bet to lead the NFL in INTs?

There are no safe bets here.

We haven’t yet seen how defenses will adjust to Deshaun Watson in the NFL, or how his offense will evolve. While we want to see the quarterback we did before the knee injury, we also don’t know how he’s going to look out on the field. He’s a question mark.

So your best bet is to find some longer odds on a guy who will not be sent to the bench for throwing too many picks.

This lands us at Mahomes. Andy Reid is not moving away from his QB, regardless of the outcome. And Reid is also not going to tell his second-year pivot to stop throwing the deep ball when he has Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins on the outside.

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Bryan fell in love with sports watching Roy Halladay come within an inch of a no-hitter, and has spent the past decade turning this love into a career. He brings eight years editing with TSN and nine years of on-air work with Rogers Media to his odds and game analysis here at SportsBettingDime.