Defensive Player of the Year Shaping Up To Be A Tight Race
Defensive players are often underappreciated since they do not score many points, but they are an essential part of any winning team. They rarely get the attention they deserve, but there is one award—the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) – that makes sure they get some.
Several players are having excellent seasons, but there are a few that are having great seasons. While the race for DPOY has only just begun, several excellent candidates are standing out above the rest (odds via PointsBet.com):
NFL Defensive Player Of The Year Odds As Of 10/29/20:
- Aaron Donald, Myles Garrett +300
- TJ Watt +400
- Khalil Mack +650
- Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander +3000
- Minkah Fitzpatrick +3500
- Yannick Ngakoue, Jason Pierre-Paul +4000
- Joey Bosa, Tyrann Mathieu +4500
- Bobby Wagner, Darius Leonard, Jadevon Clowney, Jalen Ramsey, Lavonte David +5000
Judging who is the best defensive player of the year is not as easy as offensive. On the offensive side of the ball, you can always look at yards gained, receptions made, or merely scoring to get a good idea of who the player of the year is. But on the defensive side, it is not that easy.
Interior defensive linemen usually don’t have high tackle numbers because they often occupy the offensive lineman to free up the linebackers to make plays (top ten this season are all linebackers). That is why it is not uncommon to see a linebacker lead the league in tackles. Defensive backs will have more interceptions for obvious reasons, and your linemen will lead the way in sacks.
Everyone has a job, and if they do it right, they will accumulate stats in at least one category that others will not. So, how do you judge which is more important? That is something the voters have to figure out.
PointsBet.com has odds for players up to +20000 but let’s be real. With the seasons many of the frontrunners are having, it is highly unlikely anyone comes from the back of the pack to win this thing.
After a slow start to the year, Aaron Donald (winner of two of the last three DPOY awards) is second in the league in sacks (eight) and is undoubtedly the driving force behind the No. 6 ranked defense (total yards allowed/game).
But while the Cleveland Browns defense is not ranked nearly as high (21st), Myles Garrett has been a bit more consistent and productive than Donald. He leads the league in sacks with nine, has forced more fumbles (four to two for Donald), and has made more solo tackles (19 to 12 for Donald).
Those two stand out from the rest, but it would be foolish to overlook TJ Watt and Khalil Mack. Both have 5.5 sacks. But the downside for both is there tackling numbers. Linebackers typically lead the way in tackles, but Mack only has 25 and Watt 20.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith leads the league in tackles with 75; the tenth is Neville Hewitt with 59.
So—who should you bet on?
Right now, it looks like Myles Garrett may be the better bet. But keep an eye on the other guys in the top four. All it will take for any of them to become the favorite is one big game.
Opening 2020 Defensive Player Of The Year Odds Futures:
- Aaron Donald +700
- Nick Bosa +1000
- JJ Watt, Khalil Mack, TJ Watt +1200
- Stephon Gilmore +1500
- Myles Garrett +1600
- Chandler Jones, Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Von Miller +2000
- Danielle Hunter, Jadevon Clowney +2500
- Bobby Wagner, Demarcus Lawrence, Jalen Ramsey, Jamal Adams, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Shaquil Barrett, Tre’Davious White +3300
- Bradley Chubb, Cameron Jordan, DeForest Buckner, Tyrann Mathieu, and Za’Darius Smith +4000
- Byron Jones, Calais Campbell, Chris Jones, Darius Leonard, Preston Smith, Richard Sherman +5000
- Deion Jones, Eric Kendricks, Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore, and Melvin Ingram +6600
- Leighton Vander Esch, Marcus Peters, Trey Flowers +7000
- Jaylon Smith, Yannick Ngakoue +8000
- Arik Armstead, Brandon Graham, Chase Young, Dante Fowler Jr., Earl Thomas, Everson Griffen, Fletcher Cox, Grady Jarrett, Justin Houston, Vita Vea +10000
Offensive linemen do not get near the amount of love and respect they deserve when the NFL is handing out awards. But the league does do their counterpart, the defensive linemen, right. Not the league so much as the voters that decide who deserves an award.
For five of the last six years, the 50 writers that vote for the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) selected a defensive lineman. Last year, the award ended up going to a cornerback. But if the oddsmakers are right, there is a substantial chance a defensive lineman wins it again this season.
The top of the list has several former winners listed. Aaron Donald was on a two-year run before Stephen Gillmore won last year. Khalil Mack took it home during his third year in the league (2016). Before him, J.J. Watt laid claim to DPOY honors in three of the previous four seasons.
J.J. Watt may be too far past his prime to have the kind of season it will take to win. But the other three will undoubtedly be in the conversation this season.
Nick Bosa likely will be as well. His name was in the conversation last season as a rookie, and he did take home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. With DeForest Buckner now in Indianapolis, the opportunity to make more plays will be there for him.
So—who should you bet on?
Aaron Donald is the safest bet, but several guys could be considered good ones. Had Myles Garrett finished the season last year, he would have been in the conversation. Many thought T.J. Watt deserved to win.
Odds will never be higher for Donald. So, if you are going to bet on him, you better do it now. But also go ahead and put a little down on Myles Garrett and/or T.J Watt. If their respective offenses can rebound and they don’t lose a step, they could be in line for great seasons.
If you want a longshot NFL Pick, give Leighton Vander Esch a long look. When healthy, he takes the Cowboys defense to another level. However, you have to be concerned about injuries; he missed most of last season with a neck injury.