The NFL Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) is, more or less, the MVP for defensive players. In the last 10 years, eight pass rushers, one cornerback and one linebacker have won DPOY. All of those players were on teams with winning records.
Given the wide field in the DPOY race, we will look at 30 candidates in this market.
|Micah Parsons +600||Myles Garrett +750||T.J. Watt +850|
|Nick Bosa +1200||Ahmad Gardner +1500||Maxx Crosby +1600|
|Aaron Donald +2500||Aidan Hutchinson +3000||Chris Jones +3000|
|Quinnen Williams +3000||Haason Reddick +3000||Brian Burns +3000|
|Roquan Smith +4000||Rashan Gary +4000||Patrick Surtain II +4000|
|Joey Bosa +4500||Fred Warner +5000||Jaelan Phillips +5000|
|Matthew Judon +5000||Von Miller +6000||Travon Walker +7000|
|Bradley Chubb +7500||Kayvon Thibodeaux +7500||Derwin James +7500|
|Jaycee Horn +7500||Minkah Fitzpatrick +10000||Chase Young +10000|
|Jeffery Simmons +10000||Danielle Hunter +10000||Josh Allen +15000|
Micah Parsons, Cowboys +600
In each of his first two seasons, Micah Parsons has been a factor in the DPOY race. The Dallas Cowboys are a contending team, and Parsons is rumored to see more reps as a pass rusher this season. Those are both positives for Parsons, who, last season, finished seventh in the league in sacks with 13.5.
Myles Garrett, Browns +750
Myles Garrett is a freak athlete and one of the perennial favorites in the DPOY market. Last season, Garrett was second in the league in sacks with 16. While he can lead the league in sacks this season, the Cleveland Browns aren’t a lock to make the playoffs in the loaded AFC.
T.J. Watt, Steelers +850
T.J. Watt is a former DPOY winner (2021) and a perennial DPOY contender. Similar to Garrett, team success is Watt’s biggest obstacle in this race.
Nick Bosa, 49ers +1200
Nick Bosa was last year’s DPOY, and he’ll once again headline the San Francisco 49ers’ top-shelf defense. Voter fatigue could be an issue, but ultimately, Bosa has a fantastic DPOY profile. He’s the favorite on DraftKings at +550 to lead the league in sacks, yet he’s fourth in DPOY odds at +1200. The 49ers start the season with four games against suspect offensive lines. If you’re going to bet on Bosa, do it now.
Sauce Gardner, Jets +1500
Sauce Gardner was last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. The 33rd Team analyst Andy Benoit ranked him as the second-best cornerback in the NFL entering this season. Pass rushers usually win DPOY, but Gardner is already a star player in the New York market. If the Jets make the playoffs and Gardner has another great year, the second-year defensive back has a realistic path to winning.
Maxx Crosby, Raiders +1600
Maxx Crosby is on the shortlist of pass rushers who can lead the league in sacks, but team success could be a major obstacle for him. If you want to bet on Crosby, bet on him at roughly +2500 odds to lead the league in sacks instead.
Aaron Donald, Rams +2500
Aaron Donald is a three-time DPOY winner and arguably the greatest interior lineman in history. Entering his age-32 season, Donald is the only difference-making pass rusher on his team. Opponents can over-prepare for him, and team success will be an obstacle.
Mid-Range Long Shots
Aidan Hutchinson, Lions +3000
Aidan Hutchinson had an outstanding rookie season with 9.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a shocking three interceptions. That kind of season wins the Defensive Rookie of the Year most seasons, but it fell shy of Gardner’s impressive rookie campaign. Entering this season, Hutchinson plays for a contending Detroit Lions team, and he’s already the centerpiece of the defense. Hutchinson is an interesting DPOY long shot.
Chris Jones, Chiefs +3000
Chris Jones is one of the premier disruptors in the league, and he finished fourth with 15.5 sacks last season. Team success isn’t an issue for Jones, making him another strong long-shot option. As of this writing, Jones was still in a contract dispute with the Kansas City Chiefs, so be mindful of that before placing any bets on him.
Quinnen Williams, Jets +3000
Quinnen Williams is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. He finished last year with an 11th-best 12 sacks, and betting markets had him right in the DPOY mix for most of last season. Like Gardner, Williams benefits from playing in the New York market. More exposure gives players more opportunities to make an impact with awards bettors and voters. The Jets have five prime-time games this season, so there will be a lot of eyes on this team.
Haason Reddick, Eagles +3000
Haason Reddick headlined the best pass rush in football last year, tying for second in sacks (16) with Garrett. Reddick has double-digit sacks in each of the last three years — for three different teams. Factor in that the Philadelphia Eagles are a contender and Reddick has a strong DPOY profile.
Brian Burns, Panthers +3000
Brian Burns had 12.5 sacks last season, tied for eighth-best in the NFL. He’s an interesting DPOY candidate because, at face value, the Carolina Panthers are expected to miss the playoffs. Because team success is a factor in the DPOY race, that’s a problem for Burns. However, the Panthers are in the weakest division in the NFL. If Burns leads the league in sacks while the Panthers exceed expectations, he has a DPOY path.
Roquan Smith, Ravens +4000
An off-ball linebacker hasn’t won the DPOY since Luke Kuechly in 2012. That alone gives Roquan Smith a narrow path in this race.
Rashan Gary, Packers +4000
Rashan Gary is an ascending edge who suffered a season-ending ACL tear last season. Gary can be a top-10 pass rusher in the league, but leading the league in sacks is a big ask. Additionally, betting markets expect the Green Bay Packers to finish below .500 this season.
Patrick Surtain II, Broncos +4000
Cornerbacks rarely win DPOY. In recent years, Xavien Howard and Trevon Diggs had double-digit interceptions and still fell short. The 33rd Team analyst Andy Benoit recently ranked Patrick Surtain II as the best cornerback in the league. Surtain II has the talent to be a factor in this race, but he has an uphill battle on multiple fronts, including team success.
Joey Bosa, Chargers +4500
Fred Warner, 49ers +5000
As we’ve discussed, off-ball linebackers rarely win DPOY. That said, if you were going to bet on one, Fred Warner’s 49ers gave up the fewest points per game last season. You’re also getting Warner at a better price than Smith.
Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins +5000
Jaelan Phillips is a former first-round pick in an ascending Miami Dolphins defense. If you’re betting on Phillips in the DPOY market, you’re betting on a massive spike year where he’d have to double his single-season-high in sacks (8.5).
Matthew Judon, Patriots +5000
Von Miller, Bills +6000
Von Miller headlines a top-10 Buffalo Bills pass rush, and the team is a perennial contender. However, Miller suffered a season-ending ACL injury last season, and he’s now 34. Furthermore, Miller hasn’t had double-digit sacks since 2018.
Deep Long Shots
Travon Walker, Jaguars +7000
Travon Walker was the first overall pick in the 2022 draft, and he plays for a contending Jacksonville Jaguars team. Walker is a blue-chip talent, but he only had 3.5 sacks last season. For Walker to win DPOY, he’ll have to at least quadruple that number.
Bradley Chubb, Dolphins +7500
Bradley Chubb’s early career was marred by injuries. Last season, he had eight sacks despite being traded to the Dolphins midseason. Perhaps the most surprising pricing in this market is that Chubb is a significantly deeper long shot than teammate Phillips.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Giants +7500
Outside of a great prime-time performance against a bad Washington Commanders offensive line, Kayvon Thibodeaux had an underwhelming rookie season with four sacks. Between team success and production, he has to be a different player in his second season to win DPOY.
Derwin James, Chargers +7500
Derwin James is a unique talent on a contending Chargers team, but a safety hasn’t won DPOY since Troy Polamalu in 2010.
Jaycee Horn, Panthers +7500
Jaycee Horn is a good young player, but he has the DPOY challenges of team success and being a cornerback.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers +10000
If you want to take a secondary player as a deep long shot, Minkah Fitzpatrick is a dynamic talent who led the league in interceptions last year (tied with six).
Chase Young, Commanders +10000
On the positive side, Chase Young is a former second-overall pick who plays on a premium defensive line. On the negative side, Young only played three games last year and a total of 12 in the previous two seasons. Betting markets also project the Commanders to finish below .500. You need a lot to go right for Young to be a long-term factor in this race.
Jeffery Simmons, Titans +10000
Jeffery Simmons is among the league’s best interior defensive linemen, and he plays on a top-10 front in Tennessee. That said, the Titans have an uphill battle to make the playoffs, and Simmons has never exceeded 8.5 sacks in a single season.
Danielle Hunter, Vikings +10000
Danielle Hunter is an interesting deep long shot because he had double-digit sacks in four of the last six seasons. Hunter also plays for a Vikings team that won 13 regular season games last season.
Josh Allen, Jaguars +15000
Josh Allen is a former seventh-overall pick who plays for Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars. Allen’s season-high sack (10.5) came in his rookie season (2019). Still, if you’re looking for a deep long shot with any path to DPOY contention, Allen checks a few important boxes.
Ryan’s DPOY Pick: Parsons
Ryan’s Favorite Long Shot: Joey Bosa
Ryan’s Favorite Deep Long Shot: Chubb