2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Odds Tracker: Parsons Makes Big Move; Watt, Garrett the Favorites
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images. Pictured: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates
2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Odds
|Myles Garrett||Browns DE||+300||20.83%|
|T.J. Watt||Steelers LB||+300||20.83%|
|Micah Parsons||Cowboys LB||+400||16.66%|
|Trevon Diggs||Cowboys CB||+1000||7.57%|
|Matt Judon||Patriots DE||+1000||7.57%|
|Aaron Donald||Rams DT||+2000||3.97%|
|Nick Bosa||49ers DE||+2500||3.20%|
|Trey Hendrickson||Bengals DE||+2500||3.20%|
|J.C. Jackson||Patriots CB||+2500||3.20%|
|Derwin James Jr||Chargers S||+3500||2.31%|
|Chandler Jones||Cardinals DE||+5000||1.63%|
|Joey Bosa||Chargers DE||+5000||1.63%|
|Jalen Ramsey||Rams S||+5000||1.63%|
|Chris Jones||Chiefs DE||+5000||1.63%|
|Darius Leonard||Colts LB||+5000||1.63%|
|Kevin Byard||Titans S||+5000||1.63%|
|Bobby Wagner||Seahawks LB||+10000||0.82%|
The NFL Defensive Player of the Year award has only been given to a rookie once, but it hasn’t happened in 40 years, when Lawrence Taylor did it for the Giants.
Could it happen in 2021?
Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons is now the third favorite to win the NFL’s DPOY award, soaring up the board over the last few weeks thanks to impact performances on Thanksgiving and against the Washington Football Team, in particular.
He has at least one sack in six straight games, and Parsons’ 12 sacks are just 2.5 sacks behind Javon Kearse’s rookie record. He ranks second in the NFL in tackles for loss and seems to make highlight-worthy plays every week.
Browns DE Myles Garrett and Steelers LB T.J. Watt still top the board and have put up some monster numbers in their own right. They are the top two in the NFL in sacks so far this season.
Who Is the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Favorite?
Let’s dive into each key contender below:
1. Myles Garrett (+300)
Garrett is starting to look like the player the Browns drafted No. 1 overall, with a whopping 15.0 sacks.
The Browns’ star has been consistently great all year. His headliner came in Week 3 against the Bears, registering 4.5 sacks of Justin Fields in a blowout win.
If the Browns can continue climbing in a wide-open AFC North, so too will Garrett’s DPOY stock.
2. T.J. Watt (+300)
How important is Watt to the Steelers’ defense? Go watch the Chargers game, when Pittsburgh got rung up for 533 yards and 41 points with Watt on the sidelines.
Although he’s been blanked in the sack column two of the last three weeks, he exploded for 3.5 sacks in the one game he got on the board.
Frankly, he’ll never be out of the race with how frequent he wreaks havoc and piles up numbers.
3. Micah Parsons (+400)
The 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has done it all this season for the Dallas Cowboys. With all due respect to Trevon Diggs, Parsons has been the true anchor for a Cowboys defense ranked No. 4 in defensive DVOA.
As aforementioned, the 22-year-old would be the only rookie besides Lawrence Taylor to win this award, but he’s got some room to go in order to do so.
His 12 sacks trail Garrett and Watt, but a few key performances in big games down the stretch could buoy his candidacy.
Parsons plays three big-time divisional games that will decide the playoff picture and also against the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals.
A primetime moment in any of those games could push Parsons over the edge for this award.
4. Trevon Diggs (+1000)
Diggs started the season off absolutely electric by notching interceptions in the season’s first six games, but he’s tapered off since. He’s still the best corner on defense ranked 4th in the NFL, and his advanced statistics have only tapered slightly since his lightning start.
If anything, it’s historical precedent that might hold Diggs back on this one. Only two cornerbacks have won this award in the 21st century: Stephon Gilmore in 2019 and Charles Woodson in 2009. Gilmore had a ridiculous season in which opposing quarterbacks threw for a lower passer rating (32.8) than what a quarterback is given when he throws the ball away (39.6).
Meanwhile, Woodson was the leader of a defense that led the NFL in DVOA, interceptions and takeaways.
5. Matt Judon (+1000)
The addition of Judon has paid dividends for New England.
He’s racked up 12.5 sacks in his first year in Foxboro, trailing only four players in the entire league.
Judon, who spent the first five years of his career in Baltimore, has notched at least one sack in five of the last six games. The Patriots allow the fewest points per game (15.4) in the NFL.
A potential No. 1 seed in the AFC for New England makes a 10-1 ticket pretty interesting.
6. Aaron Donald (+2000)
Donald took home the hardware last season, with two other wins (2017 and ’18) to his ledger.
He’s played in all 16 regular-season games the last three years, with at least 12.5 sacks in every campaign.
His 2021 numbers are suppressed as he entered Week 14 without multiple sacks in a game this season.
7. Nick Bosa (+2500)
Bosa has a career-high 14 sacks through 13 games and 18 tackles for loss. He’s forced three fumbles on the year, which is also a career high. It’s been a nice bounce-back year after missing all but two games in 2020 due to a torn ACL.
8. Trey Hendrickson (+2500)
Hendrickson’s first season under a new scheme has done wonders — and has completely justified the four-year, $60 million contract he received from the Bengals in the offseason. The defensive end has a sack in nine straight games, and he’ll almost assuredly improve on the 13.5 sack total he put up with the New Orleans Saints last season — a year that got him paid in the open market.
The former third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic’s previous high in sacks before 2020 had been 4.5. Cincinnati took a gamble, and it has certainly paid off. While it likely won’t be enough for him to win this award, Hendrickson has proved his worth to a Bengals team that no one in the AFC wants to face come playoff time.
9. J.C. Jackson (+2500)
There isn’t a single player with more interceptions since the 2018 season than Jackson’s 24.
He’s been great in New England’s back seven, tallying 12 pass break-ups. That ranks third among cornerbacks in 2021.
Jackson and the Patriots’ secondary allow quarterbacks to complete just 58.6% of passes, good for second in the NFL.
10. Derwin James Jr (+3500)
James is always intriguing due to the ways he can amass stats.
He’s already bagged 100 tackles, three forced fumbles, a couple picks and five pass deflections this season.
However, it’ll all depend on his health.
James missed Week 14 against the Giants, his first contest of the year. The Florida State product was hardly on the field in the previous two seasons, combining to make just five appearances.
NFL DPOY Betting FAQ
Who Can Win NFL Defensive Player of the Year?
Any NFL player who plays defense can win it, by the literal definition.
But DPOY typically goes to players who make a major impact in the standard statistical categories — tackles, sacks and interceptions.
In fact, sacks have been the most important — 46% of defensive linemen have won the award all-time, compared to just 22% of defensive backs. The trends are similar over the last 20 years, too.
Past DPOY Winners
|1971||Alan Page||Defensive tackle||Minnesota Vikings|
|1972||Joe Greene||Defensive tackle||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|1973||Dick Anderson||Safety||Miami Dolphins|
|1974||Joe Greene||Defensive tackle||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|1975||Mel Blount||Cornerback||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|1976||Jack Lambert||Linebacker||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|1977||Harvey Martin||Defensive end||Dallas Cowboys|
|1978||Randy Gradishar||Linebacker||Denver Broncos|
|1979||Lee Roy Selmon||Defensive end||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|1980||Lester Hayes||Cornerback||Oakland Raiders|
|1981||Lawrence Taylor||Jack Lambert||New York Giants|
|1982||Lawrence Taylor||Linebacker||New York Giants|
|1983||Doug Betters||Defensive end||Miami Dolphins|
|1984||Kenny Easley||Safety||Seattle Seahawks|
|1985||Mike Singletary||Linebacker||Chicago Bears|
|1986||Lawrence Taylor||Linebacker||New York Giants|
|1987||Reggie White||Defensive end||Philadelphia Eagles|
|1988||Mike Singletary||Linebacker||Chicago Bears|
|1989||Keith Millard||Defensive tackle||Minnesota Vikings|
|1990||Bruce Smith||Defensive end||Buffalo Bills|
|1991||Pat Swilling||Linebacker||New Orleans Saints|
|1992||Cortez Kennedy||Defensive tackle||Seattle Seahawks|
|1993||Rod Woodson||Cornerback||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|1994||Deion Sanders||Cornerback||San Francisco 49ers|
|1995||Bryce Paup||Linebacker||Buffalo Bills|
|1996||Bruce Smith||Defensive end||Buffalo Bills|
|1997||Dana Stubblefield||Defensive tackle||San Francisco 49ers|
|1998||Reggie White||Defensive end||Green Bay Packers|
|1999||Warren Sapp||Defensive tackle||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|2000||Ray Lewis||Linebacker||Baltimore Ravens|
|2001||Michael Strahan||Defensive end||New York Giants|
|2002||Derrick Brooks||Linebacker||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|2003||Ray Lewis||Linebacker||Baltimore Ravens|
|2004||Ed Reed||Safety||Baltimore Ravens|
|2005||Brian Urlacher||Linebacker||Chicago Bears|
|2006||Jason Taylor||Defensive end||Miami Dolphins|
|2007||Bob Sanders||Safety||Indianapolis Colts|
|2008||James Harrison||Linebacker||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2009||Charles Woodson||Cornerback||Green Bay Packers|
|2010||Troy Polamalu||Safety||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2011||Terrell Suggs||Linebacker||Baltimore Ravens|
|2012||J. J. Watt||Defensive end||Houston Texans|
|2013||Luke Kuechly||Linebacker||Carolina Panthers|
|2014||J. J. Watt||Defensive end||Houston Texans|
|2015||J. J. Watt||Defensive end||Houston Texans|
|2016||Khalil Mack||Defensive end||Oakland Raiders|
|2017||Aaron Donald||Defensive tackle||Los Angeles Rams|
|2018||Aaron Donald||Defensive tackle||Los Angeles Rams|
|2019||Stephon Gilmore||Cornerback||New England Patriots|
|2020||Aaron Donald||Defensive tackle||Los Angeles Rams|
Has a Rookie Ever Won Defensive Player of the Year?
Yes, Lawrence Taylor remains the only rookie to ever win DPOY, when he had 9.5 sacks for the Giants in 1981.