With the start of the NFL season just over three weeks away, Thomas Casale, Alex Kolodziej, and C Jackson Cowart go over their favorite bets to lead the league in passing yards. Included are best bets, value plays, and players to avoid.
|Patrick Mahomes||11-2 (+550)|
|Aaron Rodgers||15-2 (+750)|
TC: Aaron Rodgers at +750 looks like the best bet on the board. Mike McCarthy's playbook had grown predictable, and while Matt LaFleur is an unproven head coach, expect Green Bay's offense to be more Rodgers friendly in 2019. Davante Adams is a stud, and Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling give the Packers an underrated group of receivers.
Rodgers has thrown for 4,000-plus yards in seven of the nine seasons when he's played 15-plus games. Expect that trend to continue this year, putting him in the hunt at +750.
AK: I’d love to watch Rodgers go absolutely bonkers this season, too. However, my best bet is Jameis Winston at 10-1. Is Winston the franchise quarterback everyone assumed he’d become? I don’t think so. But this prop is all about production, not prestige.
And I’m sorry to tell you, but the Buccaneers' defense will again frequently force the team's offense to throw the ball a ton. While the loss of DeSean Jackson hurts, Tampa's skill-position talent is still above average with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard leading the way. This a huge show-me year for Winston, and he’s in store for a big one in terms of production.
TC: I agree about Winston not being a franchise quarterback, but like Alex said, that doesn't matter when it comes to betting. It's all about numbers, and Winston could lead the NFL in pass attempts. Good pick.
CJC: You're dead on about pass attempts, which is why I'm all over Kyler Murray at 33-1. The last three quarterbacks to lead the NFL in passing yards also led in pass attempts, and Murray is positioned for insane volume in Kliff Kingsbury's up-tempo, pass-happy offense.
David Johnson made waves in May when he said Kingsbury wants to run 90-to-95 plays per game. Even 80 plays would be 10 more than last year's leading team. The Cardinals will play in plenty of garbage time, too, and Murray possesses the arm to take advantage of lazy coverage as talented pass-catchers support him. I'm gushing at anything above 20-1.
TC: Deshaun Watson at 20-1 is mustard. The Texans' offense plays at a fast pace, and Watson should be in plenty of shootouts this season. Houston's defense finished 28th versus the pass in 2018, and the unit is still trending downward, especially with Jadeveon Clowney's future with the team uncertain.
The Texans field an explosive trio of receivers in DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee. The ceiling for Houston's passing game is through the roof if those wideouts stay healthy, especially with newly added running back Duke Johnson catching passes, too. Watson is dripping with value at 20-1.
AK: I’m pretty low on the Texans this year, but that has more to do with their defense. You might want to personally tape bubble wrap around Will Fuller, Tom.
I think the price on Jared Goff at 22-1 should be shorter. He racked up 4,688 passing yards last season during a year when the Rams dominated. If the team's defense regresses - and I think it will - Goff should post even better passing stats. Goff plays in Sean McVay’s system for crying out loud. I could probably put up 2,500 yards with 17 touchdowns if I get my hands on that playbook.
CJC: Love Goff, and he's my best bet behind Murray. If Murray and Goff aren't enough value for you, try Lamar Jackson at 200-1.
I know what you're thinking: We're talking about passing yards, not total yards. But that's already firmly baked into the 200-1 price. At those odds, give me the no-doubt starter for a team that averaged an NFL-high 70.2 plays per game last year. The Ravens want to limit Jackson's rushing volume in 2019, which will likely lead to more opportunities for over-the-top play-action looks with his cannon arm. Jackson is an intriguing long shot at 200-1.
AK: I will come to your door and anoint you the NFL king if Lamar Jackson leads the league in passing. Literally anoint, and give you a robe and crown.
TC: Wow, Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson. CJC's picks aren't boring, that's for sure.
TC: For me, it's Drew Brees at 12-1. Brees finished 13th in this category last year. Now at 40 years old, he's no longer being asked to put the Saints' offense on his back. In 2018, the veteran failed to top the 217-yard mark in seven games because the Saints rarely play from behind. New Orleans is 10-1 to win the Super Bowl and projected to be favored in 15 games this season, so the Saints should be playing with the lead most weeks. The days of Brees passing for 5,000-plus yards are over. Don't waste your money.
AK: Brees seems to be the guy for this category, and I don’t hate it. I’ll do you one better: Ben Roethlisberger at 8-1 is ludicrous. He’s one of the first quarterbacks I dug into because I was curious about where his odds would land. I can’t picture a scenario when JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, James Conner, Vance McDonald, and Donte Moncrief put Big Ben over the edge. While I think the Steelers will be fine overall without Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger will need to pull a rabbit out of his hat to lead the league in passing yards again.
CJC: You stole my pick, Tom. Brees is option No. 1, 2, and 3 for me to avoid.
Another guy I'm steering clear of is Andrew Luck at 6-1. Tuesday's injury news didn't help, but Luck was already too much of a risky bet while hoping for 16 games of production. Only one passing leader since 1990 has missed a game, and even with his questionable health, Luck is still getting the third-shortest odds on the board. Stay away.