Sam Darnold Is Poised to Eclipse His Passing Yards Prop
Through two seasons, the best way to describe Sam Darnold's performance would be middling. While under center for the New York Jets, Darnold has thrown 36 touchdowns compared to an alarmingly high 28 interceptions in just 26 games. However, Darnold has led the team to eleven wins despite being subjected to punishment from opposing defenses thanks to his offensive line -- which would have had trouble blocking emails from the estate of a Nigerian Prince.
Last season, despite the issues upfront, Darnold threw for 3,024 yards in 13 games (232.6 yards per game). He missed three games due to mononucleosis but has yet to miss any time due to a traditional football injury, which is often something to consider when betting season-long props.
FanDuel currently has the line set at 3549.5 yards. Assuming Darnold plays a full season, he would need to throw for 221.9 yards per contest to surpass that total.
There is strong evidence to suggest that Darnold goes over the prop number, as last season's pace would indicate.
More Protection and More Weapons
As mentioned earlier, and as is the case for most young quarterbacks, protection is the key to success. After being sacked on seven percent of dropbacks last season, the Jets' front office signed four offensive linemen, including Connor McGovern and George Fant. Then, in April's draft, they selected Louisville's Mekhi Becton and his 6'7", 364-pound frame, which should serve as a brick wall in front of Darnold. The improved line should result in a decrease in Darnold's sack rate, which, in turn, will lead to more pass attempts and a decrease in hurries from Darnold's league-leading 4.84 per game.
Using last year's numbers as a benchmark, it is not improbable to believe that the improved line could lead to a six percent sack rate and one less hurry per game, which, over the course of a season, would allow Darnold to make an additional 20 uncontested throws.
When looking at the pass game weapons for the Jets, it is easy to see that Robby Anderson left in free agency for the Carolina Panthers and think that their receiving core will be worse off. However, in digging deeper, it is clear that Darnold will have more outlets in the passing game. The Jets signed Breshad Perriman -- who finished very strong last season -- to replace Anderson. New York also drafted Denzel Mims, who figures to play a role as a rookie. Jamison Crowder returns after a solid but unspectacular year, along with promising tight end Chris Herndon, who has a chance to get back on track after dealing with a suspension and an injury in 2019.
It seems like Darnold should have no problem succeeding in year three of his career, but the elephant in the room does need to be addressed.
What About Le'Veon Bell?
It was only two years ago when Le'Veon Bell was considered a top-tier elite running back, but a contract dispute led to a missed season in 2018, after which he became a free agent and signed with the Jets. Bell certainly did not benefit from the poor offensive line in front of him, but he still looked slow and sluggish at times. Next Gen Stats ranked Bell as the second-least efficient runner -- he moved 4.48 yards for every positive yard gained last season. The 28-year-old averaged only 3.2 yards per carry on 245 totes.
It is conceivable that if Bell's struggles continue, the Jets will become pass-happy, as they lack running back talent behind Bell (sorry, Frank Gore). This is Darnold's chance to blossom, and the Jets' coaching staff should not let Bell stand in his way.
Had Darnold played a full season last year, he would have thrown for 3,722 yards -- well over the prop total. With the line improvements, Darnold should have more time to throw and more attempts, leading to increased yardage totals. Our Editor-in-Chief, JJ Zachariason, projects Darnold to throw for 3,809.9 yards, clearing the over by more than 250. Look for Darnold to be of this year's breakout players, assuming he does not miss any time due to injury.