- Aaron Donald (+700) is the slight favorite over Nick Bosa (+900) to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year
- T.J. Watt (+1100) finished runner-up in DPOY-voting in 2019 after leading the league with eight forced fumbles
- Myles Garrett (+2000) is averaging 0.82 sacks per game over his career, the fourth-best mark of all time
Before New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was named 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, pass rushers had claimed the award five-straight times and in six of the past seven seasons.
However, with two generational talents — J.J. Watt (2012, ’14, ’15) and Aaron Donald (’17, ’18) — accounting for five of those trophies, is it too early to assume that a player on the defensive line will claim the DPOY? After all, before the Watt/Donald dynasty started, linebackers and safeties racked up nine wins in ten years between 2002-2011.
Let’s examine the odds for the league’s top defensive weapons and analyze the best value.
2020 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR ODDS
|Player (Position, Team)||Odds|
|Aaron Donald (DT, Rams)||+700|
|Nick Bosa (DE, 49ers)||+900|
|J.J. Watt (DE, Texans)||+1100|
|T.J. Watt (DE, Steelers)||+1100|
|Khalil Mack (DE, Bears)||+1200|
|Stephon Gilmore (CB, Patriots)||+1600|
|Chandler Jones (DE, Cardinals)||+1800|
|Derwin James (SS, Chargers)||+2000|
|Joey Bosa (DE, Chargers)||+2000|
|Myles Garrett (DE, Browns)||+2000|
|Von Miller (DE, Broncos)||+2000|
|Danielle Hunter (DE, Vikings)||+2500|
|Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Cowboys)||+2500|
|Jadeveon Clowney (DE, Texans)||+2800|
|Bobby Wagner (LB, Seahawks)||+3300|
|Darius Leonard (LB, Colts)||+3300|
|Jalen Ramsey (CB, Rams)||+3300|
|Jamal Adams (SS, Jets)||+3300|
|Minkah Fitzpatrick (FS, Steelers)||+3300|
|Shaquil Barrett (DE, Buccaneers)||+3300|
AARON DONALD FAVORED AT +700
Voter fatigue might have set in last season as AP sportswriters cast only one vote towards Aaron Donald (+700) despite the Rams big man recording 12.5 sacks and leading the league in tackles-for-loss for the second-straight season. Donald’s problem, of course, was that he set the bar too high in 2018 by racking up 20.5 sacks, a new record for a defensive tackle.
If the 29-year-old can have another vintage year under new (and inexperienced) DC Brandon Staley and lift the Rams to an unexpected playoff berth, he’ll likely join Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as the award’s only three-time winners.
Aaron Donald makes this look way too easy for a 284-pound man 💪 (via 210th | IG) pic.twitter.com/954SU8V0p1
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 19, 2020
As for other recent DPOYs, Stephon Gilmore (+1600) will be hard-pressed to repeat on a Patriots team starting Jarrett Stidham. And Khalil Mack (+1200) might have it even worse.
After Vic Fangio left town for Denver, the Bears defensive end managed only 8.5 sacks and 14 QB hits last year (his lowest totals since 2014) and recorded career-lows in tackles (47) and tackles-for-loss (8). Sure, the arrival of Robert Quinn should reduce double-teams, but Mack’s DC is still Chuck “they can fire you but they can’t eat you” Pagano.
PASS RUSHING BROTHERS
J.J. Watt (+1100) has now missed 32 games since September 2016 after undergoing multiple back surgeries, breaking a leg and tearing a pectoral muscle. Just as we advised in our NFL Comeback Player of the Year breakdown, don’t waste your money on the declining 31-year-old.
Available at the same number (+1100), T.J. Watt is the far superior bet. Baby bro had 14.5 sacks, led the NFL with eight forced-fumbles and finished second with 36 QB hits in a breakout third season that placed him runner-up in DPOY-voting.
T.J. Watt: highest graded edge defender pic.twitter.com/7qpZAbA8qM
— PFF (@PFF) March 30, 2020
Some how, some way, there’s another set of brothers making a living on this planet by obliterating NFL quarterbacks. Nick Bosa (+900) has a shot to become the first defensive lineman in NFL history to win Defensive Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons if he can pick up where he left off in last year’s playoffs.
In just three postseason games, Bosa notched four sacks, five QB hits and a forced fumble. He’ll get full credit this season if he can maintain that level of play with former linemate DeForest Buckner now in Indianapolis. PFF’s second-highest-graded pass rusher since 2016, Joey Bosa (+2000) is no slouch himself, but his unit might be put in some tough spots given the Chargers’ current QB situation.
LONG SHOTS ON THE LINE
Myles Garrett (+2000) suffered an ignominious ending to the 2019 season, but the bludgeoning he gave Mason Rudolph was really just a violent visual representation of the kind of punishment he doles out to quarterbacks on a weekly basis.