Odds for the 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year – Likely Winners and Possible Sleepers
Stephon Gilmore’s excellence in 2019 ended a streak of five straight years seeing a defensive lineman win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. In fact, the Patriots stud cornerback was the first DB to claim the distinction since Troy Polamalu was honored back in 2010.
It’s possible we could see another defensive back hoist the hardware in 2020, but is it likely?
A quick peek at this year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds highlights a bevy of pass rushers — notably, two sets of brothers. After soaking in the pricing, I’ll assess the top contenders and throw out a few potential sleepers.
2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Odds
After taking a closer look at the numbers, I’m a little perplexed that the best NFL sportsbooks online installed Aaron Donald as the betting favorite in 2020. Yes, I’m fully away the Rams DT won this award in 2017 and 2018, and there’s no question he’s among the best (if not the best) defenders in all of football.
However, Donald is embarking on the back end of his career. There are younger and fresher bodies out there who are — quite frankly — more productive on the stat sheet.
I’ll introduce a few of them now.
Now is the time that three-time NFL Defensive POY winner J.J. Watt officially passes the torch over to his brother. T.J. Watt is no longer just J.J.’s little brother — he has quickly evolved into arguably the most complete defender in the league.
After forcing six fumbles and notching 13 sacks in 2018, T.J. led the NFL with eight forced fumbles and racked up 14.5 sacks last season. Playing alongside a stellar supporting cast in Pittsburgh, look for the younger Watt to continue balling out.
Speaking of a dude stepping out of his older brother’s shadow, Nick Bosa was rock-solid for San Francisco in 2019 en route to capturing the DROY award. The 22-year-old Ohio State product set a rookie record for total pressures and played his best in the biggest moments. Nine regular-season sacks may not stand out, but Nick tacked on four more during postseason play.
We know about Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt, and Khalil Mack is looking for a bounce-back year in Chicago. Nevertheless, it’s time to start talking about Chandler Jones when you discuss the truly elite pass rushers in this sport.
Tallying 19 sacks in 2019 is seriously impressive, but how about the fact that Chandler has totaled 72.5 sacks since 2015? It’s by far the most in the NFL during that span. That’s an average of 14.5 sacks per year, plus he was tied with T.J. Watt for the league lead with eight forced fumbles.
Now for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year sleepers. Right off the bat, the idea that we can latch onto Vikings DE Danielle Hunter at +2500 screams out value. At just 25 years old, the former LSU Tiger has recorded back-to-back seasons of accumulating 14.5 sacks.
Of the 14 NFL players who registered more than 10 sacks last season, Hunter was the only one to accrue at least 70 tackles.
If attacking Danielle Hunter’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds screams out value, snagging Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett at +3300 is a green-light special.
Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2019, he roams around and makes plays all over the field, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could win Super Bowl 55. So yeah, I’m all about taking a flyer on Shaq when it comes to betting on the NFL DPOY.
A neck injury derailed Leighton Vander Esch’s second season in Dallas, but let’s not forget how terrific this kid was as a rookie in 2018. The Cowboys middle linebacker was responsible for 140 tackles, seven pass deflections, and two interceptions, and he did all of that while starting just 11 games.
First Vander Esch “Wally Pipped” Sean Lee, and now the NFL will get to see he’s one of the premium defenders in the league.
I’ll be highlighting a handful of these individuals in concentrated blogs, examining whether or not they warrant an NFL Defensive POY bet. Ultimately, I’ll take everything into account and deliver a 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year prediction.
You can follow the entire process right here.