NFL Awards: Previewing the Favorites to Win AP Defensive Player of the Year

Michael Savio pic
By:
Michael Savio
08/24/2023
News

Highlights

  • Micah Parsons is the early favorite at +650
  • Myles Garrett has posted a top-five sack total the last three seasons
  • TJ Watt had 22.5 sacks and 21 TFLs in his last full season

With just two weeks to go before the 2023 NFL season kicks off, now is the time to get your future bets in. If you are looking for help on those, we have you covered. Below, we will break down the top three favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook to win the AP Defensive Player of the Year. We’ll provide odds and insights to help you win big on your 2023 DPOY bet.

Micah Parsons – LB Dallas Cowboys: +650

In Parsons' two-year career, he has made two All-Pro teams and won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The young Dallas linebacker has finished in second place in DPOY voting in both seasons, but this could be the year he finally breaks through to add another trophy to his growing collection. NFL betting sites see him as the early favorite, and we agree.

Parsons registered 13.5 sacks last season and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. That was the sixth-highest total in the NFL last season and a half-sack better than his rookie season. Teams have begun trying to avoid running at the elite linebacker, but Parsons' speed and agility mean he can make plays anywhere on the field.

One area he did regress in is tackling. In 2022, Parsons registered 19 fewer tackles (22 solo) and seven fewer tackles for loss (TFL). Some of this drop-off can be attributed to his new reputation around the league, as well as an improved Dallas defense. Still, he'll likely need to add more TFLs to separate himself from the rest of the 2023 DPOY field.

Myles Garrett – DE Cleveland Browns: +800

Myles Garrett is feared by offenses across the NFL, but he has yet to win his first DPOY. The big defensive end is a two-time All-Pro selection, and he has finished with a top-five sack total over his last three seasons. The Browns expect to be a playoff team this season, giving Garrett plenty of national exposure. As long as the big man stays healthy, he is well worth betting on to win this year's DPOY.

Garrett's advantage over the other two players on this list is his ability to get into opposing backfields. While his sack numbers are fantastic, he also had the fifth most TFLs last season. TFLs and sacks are incredibly important to DPOY voters, and nobody can do both better than Garrett.

The biggest question for Garrett and the Browns comes on the other end of the line. Jadeveon Clowney is gone, taking away another key pass rusher. Granted, Clowney's effect was limited in Cleveland, but his talent forced defenses to respect him. The Browns have replaced Clowney with Za'Darius Smith, who will move from linebacker to defensive end. Smith has had a fantastic career as a pass rusher, but time will tell how he adjusts to a new role with a new team.

TJ Watt – LB Pittsburgh Steelers: +850

Watt is the only player on the list to have won the award before. The Steelers' star linebacker was the 2021 DPOY and has made three All-Pro teams at just 28 years old. Watt only played ten games last season due to injuries but still managed 5.5 sacks and eight TFLs. Pittsburgh's defense is solid, and Watt should have no problem putting up another impressive stat line if he stays healthy.

People are betting on Watt to be DPOY because he had 22.5 sacks and 21 TFLs in his last full season, 2021. Those were the second-highest totals in the league, making him an easy choice to be DPOY. If Watt is genuinely healthy, there is no reason to believe he can't top those numbers this season.

"If he can stay healthy" is the key phrase when talking about Watt. The Wisconsin native has not played in more than 15 games since 2019, and played in just ten last year. He has dealt with some injuries throughout his career, which does raise red flags. While he is excellent, he'll need to find a way to stay on the field to win the 2023 DPOY.

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.