Odds to Lead NFL in Sacks During 2020 Season

Aaron Donald on the practice field.

Is Aaron Donald a good bet to lead the NFL in sacks in 2020? Photo by The 621st Contingency Response Wing (public domain).

  • Shaquil Barrett led the NFL in sacks last season with 19.5
  • No player has led the league in back-to-back years since Reggie White in 1987 and 1988
  • Only one defensive tackle (Aaron Donald) has led the NFL in sacks in the last 20 seasons

Tampa Bay’s Shaquil Barrett finished last season with the most sacks in the NFL (19.5), edging Chandler Jones by half a sack. Was he a one-year wonder? On the eve of the start of the 2020 season, Barrett is co-favored with the Rams’ Aaron Donald to lead the league in the category.

2020 NFL Sack Leader Odds

Player Odds
Shaq Barrett (Buccaneers, OLB) +1200
Aaron Donald (Rams, DT) +1200
Myles Garrett (Browns, DE) +1400
Danielle Hunter (Vikings, DE) +1400
Chandler Jones (Cardinals, OLB) +1400
J.J. Watt (Texans, DE) +1400
T.J. Watt (Steelers, OLB)  +1400
Joey Bosa (Chargers, DE) +1400
Khalil Mack (Bears, OLB) +1400
Von Miller (Broncos, OLB) +1400
Nick Bosa (49ers, DE) +1600
Cameron Jordan (Saints, DE) +1600
Preston Smith (Packers, OLB) +1600
Za’Darius Smith (Packers, OLB) +1600
DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys) +2000
Bradley Chubb (Broncos, DE) +2500
Arik Armstead (49ers, DE) +3300
Frank Clark (Chiefs, DE) +3300
Dee Ford (49esr, OLB) +3300
Dante Fowler Jr. (Falcons, DE) +3300

Odds as of September 8.

Can Barrett Duplicate 2019 Success?

When Shaq Barrett signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, he was mostly a cast-off from the Denver Broncos, who already had a couple of good outside linebackers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The Broncos are probably wishing they didn’t let him go because Barrett exploded in his first season as a clear-cut starter, notching a league-high 19.5 sacks.

Barrett accomplished the feat despite Tampa’s secondary being brutal. Only two teams allowed more than the 270.1 passing yards per game that the Bucs allowed last season. But that actually cuts both ways. While opposing QBs could generally get the ball out quickly against subpar DBs, opponents also elected to pass against the Bucs at an extremely high rate, giving Barrett more chances to rush the passer.

Barrett is an elite athlete and his breakout season was no fluke, but betting on him to lead the league in sacks again is not a wise wager. No player has won this award in back-to-back seasons since Reggie White did it in 1987 and 1988.

2020 NFL MVP Odds Tracker

Is Aaron Donald a Good Bet?

Aaron Donald is annually one of the best players in the NFL and the fact that he racks up double-digit sacks as a defensive tackle – not an edge rusher – is incredible. He has compiled 11 sacks or more in four of the last five seasons.

The challenge with Donald is two-fold: he’s on the interior and rarely do defensive tackles lead the league in sacks. He did it in 2018 but no other tackle has led the league in this category in the last 20 years.

The other factor is that the Rams’ defense looks worse than it was last season. To start, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is gone and that’s a big concern. The linebacking corps is much weaker this season; opposing defenses don’t have to worry about Dante Fowler Jr., Clay Matthews, or Cory Littleton, who combined for 23.0 sacks last season.

Donald is going to get a lot of extra attention from offensive lines. While he opened as the favorite, he has been bet down for valid reasons.

2019 NFL Sack Leaders

Player Sack Total
Shaq Barrett 19.5
Chandler Jones 19.0
Cameron Jordan 15.5
Danielle Hunter 14.5
T.J. Watt 14.5

Who Is the Best Bet?

With these types of highly unpredictable props, players further down the board tend to offer better value. Khalil Mack at +1400 is intriguing. Mack had 12.5 sacks in 14 game during his first year in Chicago (2018), but compiled just 8.5 in 16 games last season. That should change in 2020.

A big key here is the addition of Robert Quinn to the Bears defense. Last season, Chicago had Leonard Floyd opposite of Mack and defenses didn’t respect him. That meant they could focus most of their attention on Mack. Now they have Quinn, who had 11.5 sacks last season and is a serious threat off the edge.

Another factor potentially working in Mack’s favor is that the Bears offense really hung the defense out to dry last year. That side of the ball should be slightly better, which will result in the defense spending less time on the field and Mack, personally, being fresher in pass-rush situations.

Pick: Khalil Mack (+1400)

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David Golokhov

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