Joe Burrow's Lofty Prop Bets Are Firmly Within His Reach
He was the obvious choice for months, and after taking home the Heisman and winning the National Championship, he was all Bengals fans talked about once Week 17 of the NFL season ended.
How will Burrow fare in Year 1? More specifically, can he surpass his lofty prop totals at FanDuel Sportsbook?
His line for passing touchdowns is set at 22.5 (the under is -126), and his passing yards is set at an semi-ridiculous 3,800.5 (both sides are -112). Both of those seem fairly bold at first glance, but this is a guy who shredded college football last year and is coming into a nice situation in Cincy.
How should you bet Burrow's props?
What Recent Rookies Have Done
When looking at recent rookie-year seasons from signal callers, Burrow doesn't have much history on his side when it comes to going over his totals, but he may be the most capable of all rookie quarterbacks since 2015. Since that season, only two rookies drafted in the first round have thrown more than 22 touchdowns and only one surpassed 3,800 yards.
Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield threw for more than 22 touchdowns in their rookie seasons, with Jameis Winston hitting 22 on the head. Jones and Mayfield both needed just 13 games or fewer to go over 22 passing scores, while it took Winston a full 16 games.
Winston is the only quarterback drafted in the first round since 2015 to throw for more than 3,800 yards as a rookie, tossing for 4,042 yards in 2015, but Mayfield and Kyler Murray came close, with both going over 3,700 passing yards.
Among first-round quarterbacks since 2015, only Murray, Carson Wentz, and Winston started in 16 all games as rookies, and between the three of them, they averaged 19.3 touchdowns and 3,848.6 passing yards.
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So while the odds aren't good, they don't look as bad once you focus on the guys who started 16 games, something Burrow should do barring injury. That gives him a better chance to hit the over on these props than you might have thought when you initially saw the numbers.
And don't sleep on how great of a prospect Burrow was coming out of LSU as he led the country in adjusted yards per pass attempt (12.5) and tossed 16 touchdowns to one pick in five matchups versus defenses ranked in the top seven, per Bill Connelly's SP+.
Burrow's Weapons in Cincy
Burrow's supporting cast helps his cause, too.
Not only does Burrow have one of the best wide receivers in the game -- when healthy -- at his disposal in A.J. Green, but he also has an up-and-coming running back in Joe Mixon, a guy who can win on the ground and through the air. Mixon has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and caught at least 30 passes in three consecutive seasons.
Of course, the last full season Green played was way back in 2017, but AJG posted the third-highest target share (29.2%), the fifth-highest raw target distance (1,885 yards), and eighth-most touchdown receptions (8) among receivers that campaign, per PlayerProfiler. Time will tell if Green can still produce at that level or stay healthy enough to do so, but if he can, AJG gives Burrow a bonafide star wideout.
In 2019, the only Bengals player to notch more than 43 receptions was Tyler Boyd. Boyd recorded career-high clips in receptions (90), targets (148), receiving yards (1,046), and receptions per game (5.6) with Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley under center. Boyd should be a solid safety blanket for Burrow and a guy who can thrive in that role.
But Cincy also added Tee Higgins in the draft. Higgins and Burrow posted the highest Pro Football Focus grade of all players in the 2020 draft. Burrow was given a 99.3 grade on throws beyond 20 yards, and Higgins garnered a 94.5 grade on targets past 20 yards. At Clemson, Higgins tied DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins for the most receiving touchdowns in school history (27). He scored 25 times in 30 games during his last two seasons, and Burrow tossed an NCAA-record of 60 touchdowns as a senior over 15 games.
The offensive line could be the biggest roadblock here after the Bengals finished 30th per PFF's offensive line rankings in 2019, with all five starters finishing in the bottom 50% of their respective positional grades. But there's reason for optimism here as Jonah Williams, Cincy's 11th overall pick in 2019, should be healthy after missing all of last year with an injury.
All in all, things are looking up on the offensive side of the ball for the Bengals.
Backing Burrow to surpass both totals isn't crazy as it sounds he is surrounded by good weapons and should have volume on his side as the presumed starter from Day 1. And another plus concerning volume is that the Bengals' win total line is currently at 5.5 wins on FanDuel Sportsbook, so he could rack up pass attempts in several negative game scripts.
The offensive line is a concern, though Williams' return will help. But ultimately, I like Burrow to go over 22.5 touchdown passes while coming in under 3,800.5 yards.
Our projections at numberFire have Burrow throwing for 4,085 yards and 22.3 touchdowns, so while these are lofty totals for a rookie, Burrow is capable of surpassing them.