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J.J. Watt the Betting Favorite to Win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, But He Shouldn’t Be

According to odds released, Houston Texans superstar J.J. Watt is the slim favorite to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award (DPOY).

If he can pull it off, he would set a new record with a fourth DPOY award. Watt and Lawrence Taylor are currently tied with three wins, the most by any  player since the award was first handed out by the Associated Press in 1971.

Here’s the full list of betting contenders being offered:

  • JJ Watt +565
  • Joey Bosa +585
  • Aaron Donald +590
  • Khalil Mack +700
  • Von Miller +985
  • Jalen Ramsey +1800
  • Luke Kuechly +2125
  • Cameron Jordan +2375
  • Demarcus Lawrence +2425
  • Chandler Jones +2950
  • Myles Garrett +3250
  • Calais Campbell +3450
  • Fletcher Cox +3525
  • Harrison Smith +3625
  • Bobby Wagner +3650
  • Earl Thomas +3950
  • Xavier Rhodes +4325
  • Tyrann Mathieu +4450
  • Bradley Chubb +4950
  • Myles Jack +5000
  • Marshon Lattimore +5200
  • Jadeveon Clowney +5500
  • CJ Mosley +6175
  • Deion Jones +6525
  • Eric Berry +7050
  • Malik Hooker +7050
  • Telvin Smith +7200
  • Marcus Peters +7750
  • Everson Griffen +7750
  • Stephon Tuitt +8000
  • Roquan Smith +8200
  • Kwon Alexander +9000
  • Keanu Neal +9500
  • Eric Weddle +11000
  • Malcolm Butler +11250
  • Lavonte David +12200
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix +12500
  • Jamal Adams +12500
  • Olivier Vernon +12500
  • Micah Hyde +12500
  • Ziggy Ansah +12500
  • Patrick Peterson +13500
  • Richard Sherman +13500
  • Geno Atkins +13750
  • Aqib Talib +13750
  • Jason Pierre-Paul +14500
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick +15000
  • Donta Hightower +15000
  • Vontaze Burfict +15000
  • TJ Watt +16250
  • Tremaine Edmunds +16250
  • Terrell Suggs +17500
  • Julius Peppers +17500

History Says Sacks Matter 

Looking at the trend over the past decade or so, it’s apparent that the AP voters value one trait more than any other when it comes to the DPOY — the ability to get to the quarterback.

Six of the past seven winners have been either defensive ends, outside linebackers who rush the passer, or defensive tackles who get to the QB.

2005 Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears
Middle Linebacker
2006 Jason Taylor Miami Dolphins Defensive end
2007 Bob Sanders Indianapolis Colts Safety
2008 James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers
Outside Linebacker
2009 Charles Woodson Green Bay Packers Cornerback
2010 Troy Polamalu Pittsburgh Steelers Safety
2011 Terrell Suggs Baltimore Ravens
Outside Linebacker
2012 J. J. Watt Houston Texans Defensive end
2013 Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers
Middle Linebacker
2014 J. J. Watt Houston Texans Defensive end
2015 J. J. Watt Houston Texans Defensive end
2016 Khalil Mack Oakland Raiders Defensive end
2017 Aaron Donald Los Angeles Rams
Defensive tackle

Donald became the first DT since the turn of the century to win the award, and he needed 11 sacks to get there. DE Calais Campbell (14.5 sacks) was second in voting, while DE Chandler Jones (17) was third.

Mack had 11 in his DPOY year, and Watt totaled an astounding 58.5 sacks over his three DPOY seasons, an average of 19.5 per season.

Whoever wins the 2018 DPOY award will likely rack up a double-digit sacks as well.

The Contenders

  • Watt is the easy favorite –  if healthy – but that’s a big if. He’s appeared in just eight games in total over the past two seasons, and when asked about his health heading into 2018, he said he “can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen in the season.” Watt is recovering from a tibia plateau fracture, and he’s not even guaranteed to suit up in Week 1. Considering we haven’t seen Watt at peak form since 2015, the risk is just too great here. Pass.
  • DE Joey Bosa is one of the league’s rising stars, and given that he tallied 12.5 sacks last year, it’s odd that he wasn’t given more DPOY consideration. Still just 23, Bosa still has room to get better and improve on those totals.
  • Donald is good enough to win the award in back-to-back years but is mired in a lengthy contract dispute. You should also holdout for some clarity on the situation first.
  • Calais Campbell remains in much the same situation he was in last year when he finished second in voting; he looks like good value at +3450. The same could be said of third-place man Jones at +2950.
  • Cowboys’ DE Demarcus Lawrence also got DPOY votes thanks to 14.5 sacks, the third-best total in the league. He’s worth a look at +2425.

We also broke down two of the top contenders for NFL Coach of the Year.

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