Offensive playmakers always get the majority of attention from NFL fans. It's easy to see why as fantasy football and daily fantasy leagues have taken over everyone's minds. But there are great betting opportunities when looking at the defensive side of the ball.
The two most impactful plays a defense can make are interceptions and sacks. A turnover is the most valuable possible outcome but a sack is statistically likely to end a drive. Anyone who can consistently produce either is surely getting paid a top salary for good reason.
Not all sacks are made the same, though. Some sack artists are able to create opportunities for themselves. These are usually the most elite athletes at the position. I can count at most 10 defenders who fit this description.
The rest come via clean-up, schemed, and coverage sacks. These guys are more dependent on external factors. Their production counts but is more difficult to project year-to-year.
Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have given us plenty of choices for NFL sack player prop bets. These season-long bets give us an extra layer of intrigue to watch unfold. We'll hit the five we feel strongest about due to the talent and line set by oddsmakers.
Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
Quietly, the Carolina Panthers have put together one of the better young defenses in the league. Adding cornerback Jaycee Horn to a unit desperately needing to replace James Bradberry and inject playmaking will be a critical development. The star of the unit, though, is Brian Burns.
The breakout second-year season for Burns was seen coming from miles away. His athletic burst, length, power, and overall speed makes him a terror for blockers to contain without help. He totaled 16.5 sacks in his first two seasons despite being a rotational player in Year 1.
This year is when the explosion comes. His line is way too easy to hit the over on. He had nine in 2020 and missed one game with injury. Adding two more games and another year to improve means this should be an 11-sack season for Burns.
The pick: Over 9.5 sacks (+110)
Bud Dupree, Tennessee Titans
Injuries suck, and a torn ACL prematurely ended Bud Dupree's final season with the Steelers. The athletic edge defender finished his 2020 season in 11 games, earning eight sacks and 31 tackles on one of the best defenses in the league. He then cashed in with the Tennessee Titans despite the injury, getting $82.5 million for five years.
The signing will likely be a short-lived one based on the expectations of the contract. Dupree is a great run defender but a clean-up edge-rusher. Much like Olivier Vernon's signing by the Giants in 2016, the team looked at the raw numbers and not the way he accumulated the stats.
Dupree is an effort finisher despite his amazing attributes. T.J. Watt created a ton of opportunities for him, and now Harold Landry will need to do the same. I love Landry but don't foresee Dupree hitting a number he's eclipsed only once.
The pick: Under 8.5 sacks (-120)
Chase Young, Washington Football Team
Give me all of the Chase Young stock at this point. He's insanely athletic and skilled already despite being 22-years-old. His rookie campaign featured 7.5 QB takedowns and consistent run defense. He'll make the leap like Myles Garrett did shortly into his career due to his unique traits.
Year 2 routinely sees the best young edge players see a sizable jump in production. No one would be shocked to see Young hit double-digits. Washington's talented defensive line might scare some bettors away from thinking Young will be the lead producer, but everything revolved around Young last year and he made their production come easier.
I expect more finishes and big plays from Young. He's had a full offseason to improve his body and knowledge, meaning it's time to see the first traces of a future Defensive Player of the Year.
The pick: Over 8.5 sacks (-110)
Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Gone are the days of Khalil Mack reaching 15 sacks, or being a big threat to hit that number again. It's insanely difficult to consistently notch 10 sacks. Mack has been great in Chicago despite registering just 17.5 sacks over the last two years.
Some of this has to do with the scheme and situation with the Bears. He's utilized in different roles all over the field. He's not just rushing the passer and trying to get upfield as he did with the Raiders.
This limits Mack's overall upside with sacks. He's not a major threat to lead the league but the unit's weakened secondary means more pressure is on him to finish plays in the backfield. We'll see Both Chicago and Mack respond with a big double-digit sack campaign that brings his name back to the forefront of the conversation for defensive MVP.
The pick: Over 9.5 sacks (-110)
Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What a shocking number for Shaquil Barrett. Despite hitting over eight sacks only once in his six-year career, oddsmakers put a huge number on his 2021 campaign. This is an easy under.
The Buccaneers must deal with a Super Bowl hangover, and then also try to pace themselves over a 17-game season in a relatively weak division. Barrett may simply not have the opportunities he's had in the past. Everything about this season should be about getting to the postseason, and not going all-in every week.
Barrett's a solid rusher but not someone who can consistently rack up big numbers. His 19 sack breakout was something special, but also predictably not repeatable.
The pick: Under 11.5 sacks (-130)
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