Derwin James Separating Himself as Favorite for DROY After Week 14

December 18, 2018

Updated: June 13, 2024

  • Chargers' rookie Derwin James has jumped out as the top favorite for DROY
  • Can he become the first safety to win in 18 years?
  • Or should you look to the league's leading tackler Darius Leonard?

The race to be named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has been narrowed to five players from a betting perspective. Two players, Derwin James and Darius Leonard, are clear favorites, with James looking more and more likely to win the award.

After being almost equally priced two weeks ago on November 28, James has seen his odds continue to shorten down to an average of -200. Follow the odds of each of the contenders with our NFL DROY Odds Tracker.

Odds To Win 2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

PlayerOdds at
Derwin James-200
Darius Leonard+170
Leighton Vander Esch+550
Bradley Chubb+1100
Denzel Ward+3500

James Does It All In Chargers' Secondary

Despite no safety having won the award since 1990, a defensive back (CB) has won in two of the past three years. James is also hoping to be only the second player drafted outside the top 15 to win over the past 16 years, as he was drafted 17th overall.

2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds Tracker

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James wasted little time in announcing himself this year becoming the first DB since 1987 to record at least two sacks and one interception in his first three games.

Over the past two weeks, James has created separation in the odds with 10 tackles and one interception.

He now leads the Chargers with 88 tackles. However, his closest competitor in Leonard has recorded 21 tackles and one sack himself in his last two games.

Leonard A Tackling Machine

Leonard has led not only all rookies, but all defensive players, period, in tackles.

With 135 tackles, he is a full 17 ahead of the next closest player in ILB Blake Martinez of the Packers. Suffice to say there's worse bets than backing the league's leading tackler.

With 135 tackles he is a full 17 ahead of the next closest player in ILB Blake Martinez of the Packers.

The rate at which Leonard is taking down ball carriers is also incredible.

Last year Martinez and two others led the league in tackles with 144. With three games remaining Leonard should easily surpass that number, even while missing one game due to injury this season.

Leonard though will likely fall short of the 195 all-time record set in 1994 by the Lions' Chris Spielman.

However, he will likely become the first rookie to lead the league in tackles since Luke Kuechly in 2012. The all-time rookie record of 174 held by Patrick Willis in 2007 is also within his reach.

Is There Value Outside Of James?

I covered this race and these two contenders earlier this year in early October. Though they were a bit longer, each were still 1-2 in the betting odds.

James has been my pick throughout the season and I love the impact he's been making for the Chargers' secondary.

Whether you already have a bet on James or not though, I can see the value in jumping in on Leonard now at plus-money, or using him as a hedging opportunity.

Leonard's odds haven't been this long since early November and he's done nothing to warrant his odds dropping.

In the case of James, as excellent as he's been, consider he's actually second in tackles for rookie safeties behind Cincinnati's Jessie Bates. Each player has three INTs, while James holds the edge in sacks with 3.5.

Those sacks did all come October 14 or prior though.

Leonard is closing in on record territory and at this price is the best bet at +170.

The post Derwin James Separating Himself as Favorite for DROY After Week 14 appeared first on Sports Betting Dime.

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Author Andy

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