2020 NFL Betting Predictions: Best Bets for Defensive Rookie of the Year
Now that the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone, it is time to turn our betting focus from where the rookies will be playing this upcoming season to which rookies will perform the best when they take the field. I’ve already covered the NFL Betting Tips for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, and now it is time to turn our 2020 NFL Betting Predictions to the defensive side of the ball.
Historically, linebackers and defensive linemen have dominated Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, and since 2000, Marcus Peters and Marshon Lattimore are the only defensive backs who have won the award. Based on the top options on the board, I wouldn’t count on a DB bucking that trend in 2020.
2020 NFL Betting Predictions – Favorites to Bet
Chase Young, DE, Washington Redskins (+200)
Young will try to become the third Ohio State defensive end in the last five years to claim Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and much like Nick Bosa last year, Young is in a great spot. Not only does he possess the athleticism and technique to be a terror of the edge, but he also joins a Washington defensive front that is loaded with talent. Teams won’t simply be able to double- and triple-team Young every snap, and he was next to unblockable in one-on-one situations for the Buckeyes. Double-digit sacks are definitely on the table, and Young is the way to go if you are looking for the safe bet.
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Isaiah Simmons, LB, Arizona Cardinals (+500)
One of the most versatile defenders to come into the league in recent memory, Simmons spent time at linebacker, corner and safety for Clemson, and he was a playmaker at all three spots. He will likely continue to be deployed as a Swiss Army knife-type weapon in the pros, and given Arizona’s struggle on defense last year, you can expect Simmons to have plenty of opportunities to pile up tackles and other counting stats. If he is able to stuff the stat sheet and finish among the rookie leaders in several defensive categories, he’s going to get plenty of attention from voters.
2020 NFL Betting Predictions – Top Value Bets
Kenneth Murray, LB, Los Angeles Chargers (+1100)
While I’ll stop short of calling some media members lazy in their voting techniques, I will also point out that it never hurt a player to have easy counting stats when they are vying for any award in the NFL. Tackles are an easy stat to look at when valuing defenders, and Murray is a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine. More importantly, he is likely to step into the middle of a talented Chargers defense from Day 1, and plenty of tackles should follow. If he ends up leading all rookies with 100-plus stops, he’s going to be in the mix. You have to like him at +1100.
Willie Gay Jr., LB, Kansas City Chiefs (+2000)
The Chiefs have been searching for an every-down playmaker at linebacker, and after lighting up the athletic testing at the Scouting Combine, Gay certainly has the physical tools to handle the role. Kansas City spent a second-round pick on Gay, and you can expect him to be given all the snaps he can handle from the opening whistle. The playing time alone will give Gay a leg up on a lot of his rookie competition, and with teams likely to be playing catch-up against the Chiefs, his coverage skills should translate to a ton of tackles in the open field. He should have a legit chance to lead all rookies in tackles in 2020, and piling up big numbers for a likely Super Bowl contender seems like a recipe for hardware. He could be a steal at these odds.
Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (+6600)
If you are looking to roll the dice on a serious longshot, Davis-Gaither is your man. The Bengals have a glaring need at linebacker, and Davis-Gaither projects as an immediate starter. Meanwhile, Cincinnati was atrocious on defense last year, especially against the run, so the rookie should have plenty of chances to pile up tackles. Like I already mentioned, not all voters do a deep dive into the numbers when making their picks. If Davis-Gaither finishes the year with a massive total in the tackle column, he could prove to be a very profitable lottery ticket.
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