The NFL Defensive Player of the Year has become a pass rusher’s award in recent seasons, rewarding high sack totals above all else. And nobody has ever recorded more sacks in a season than T.J. Watt did in 2021.
The Steeler edge rusher finished the year with 22.5 sacks, tying the NFL record and earning DPOY honors for his efforts. He’ll face stiff competition to defend his crown in 2022, with Browns edge Myles Garrett (+700) dealing as the slight favorite to win the award over Watt (+800) at FanDuel.
There’s been real value in this market among players at short odds – that’s what happens when Rams star Aaron Donald (+900) wins it three times in four years – but we’ve got our eye a bit further down the board. Here are the odds to win this year’s award (shorter than +10000), along with three of our best bets ahead of the season:
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2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds
|Patrick Surtain II||+6000|
|Josh Allen (JAX)||+7500|
|Jessie Bates III||+7500|
2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year picks and analysis
Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys (+1000)
If I’m playing anybody at short odds this year, it’s Parsons, who set the league ablaze last year with one of the best rookie seasons we’ve ever seen by a defender.
The Cowboys linebacker ranked in the top six in sacks (13), tackles for loss (20), and QB hits (30) – with the lion’s share of that production coming in his final 10 games. That late surge nearly led Parsons to become only the second rookie to ever win this award, though Watt’s record-setting campaign ultimately netted Parsons a second-place finish.
It sets the stage for a potentially mammoth sophomore season for the 23-year-old Parsons, who has a chance to build upon his already stellar debut as the anchor for this Cowboys defense. If Dallas’ do-it-all linebacker racks up double-digit sacks again with a few turnovers, to boot, he’ll be on the podium at season’s end.
Maxx Crosby, DE, Raiders (+3000)
Crosby’s odds have been slowly shrinking this summer as the betting market catches up to one of the best young pass-rushers in football.
The former fourth-round pick broke through in 2021, leading the league in hurries (77) and QB hits (20) while finishing second in total pressures (108) behind three-time DPOY winner Donald (109). Yet he finished with just eight sacks – his third consecutive season with at least seven sacks – and finished as a distant afterthought in the DPOY market.
Those sacks will come. Crosby boasted the highest pass-rush win rate (26.8%) of any player with at least 100 attempts, and he’ll be flanked by another elite edge-rusher in Chandler Jones – who’s also a live bet at +6000 – for a defense with massive bounce-back potential. This feels like the year that Crosby finally becomes a household name.
Betting on the NFL?
Khalil Mack, LB, Chargers (+4000)
It’s not every day that you can bet a former DPOY winner at such long odds. Yet it seems as though the betting community has forsaken Mack after a down season in Chicago when he played just seven games before being shipped to Los Angeles this summer.
Let’s not forget just how dominant Mack has been over the past half-decade. From 2015-18, Mack recorded double-digit sacks in all four seasons and twice finished in the top-two in voting for this award – winning it in 2016 with a runner-up finish in 2018. He was an All-Pro edge rusher in 2020, too, finishing with nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 16 games.
Now Mack is back in the AFC West with a chance to remind opposing quarterbacks just how dangerous he can be, joining arguably the most talented defense of his career. The six-time Pro Bowler has played at least 14 games in every season, but last year, so I’ll happily bet on another full season of terror at this price.