NFL

Bet on Tyreek Hill to Lead the NFL in Receiving Yards

To lead the NFL in receiving yards, a player needs to have a few things in his locker. Obviously, he needs to be very good at football, but in addition to that, he usually needs to play in one of the league's better offenses and have a really good quarterback tossing him the ball.

Tyreek Hill checks all those boxes, but on FanDuel Sportsbook, Hill is listed at +1500 to lead the league in receiving yards. That makes him just the fifth-favorite, tied with Kenny Golladay and Davante Adams.

There's some value here. Let's check it out.

Past League Leaders

The list of wideouts to lead the league in receiving yards is a who's who of stars. Over the last five years, starting with 2019, the leaders in receiving yards have been Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton and Jones again.

What common denominators -- if any -- can we pull from those seasons.

Season Leader Yards Team Offense
Total Yards Rank
QB Rank
in Passing Yards
2019 Michael Thomas 1,725 9th 6th*
2018 Julio Jones 1,677 6th 3rd
2017 Antonio Brown 1,553 3rd 5th
2016 T.Y. Hilton 1,448 10th 8th
2015 Julio Jones 1,871 7th 5th

(* - Number shown is the combined yardage totals of Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater)

Like I mentioned in the intro -- and it's not shocking news -- these guys play in really good offenses that are piloted by stud quarterbacks.

Obviously, Hill does the same.

Patrick Mahomes has ranked seventh (in 2019) and second (2018) in passing yards per game in his two seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs' starter. KC has ranked fifth and third in total yards in those two campaigns. We can feel pretty confident in saying the Chiefs will have one of the league's best offenses in 2020, barring an injury to Mahomes.

So the pieces are in place for Hill to put up a huge yardage total.

Hill's Last Two Seasons

After a 593-yard rookie season in 2016, Hill broke out with 1,183 yards in his second year, which was Alex Smith's resurgent effort. KC switched to Mahomes that offseason, and Hill has put up receiving yardage totals of 1,479 (in 2018) and 860 in two years with Mahomes.

Hill's 860-yard campaign last year wasn't as bad as it looks. Mahomes missed two games, and Hill sat out four games. In terms of per-game production, Hill checked in at 71.7 yards per outing. That's his worst clip since his rookie year, but it's not terrible by any stretch.

Still, the fairly meh 2019 season is likely why Hill is listed where he is -- +1500 -- on this prop.

But there is plenty of reason for optimism, especially when we hone in on that 2018 season.

Obviously, Hill and Mahomes each playing 16 games this coming year would be a boost for Hill's output. In 2018, when they both played every game, Hill averaged 92.4 yards per game and finished fourth in receiving yards (1,479). A similar season would put him in the mix to lead the league in receiving yards in 2020.

And who's to say there isn't more left in the tank for both Hill and Mahomes. Entering just his third season as the starter, Mahomes could actually -- gasp -- get better, and Hill is going into his fifth year, only his age-26 season. It's not crazy to think that Hill could make a jump in 2020, and Hill's game-breaking speed gives him yards-after-the-catch upside few can match.

The Negatives

The glaring eyesore for Hill here is that he's not usually targeted at the level of some of the game's other top receivers.

In 2019, Hill garnered just 6.4 targets per game, compared to marks of 11.6 and 10.5 for Thomas and Jones, respectively. In 2018, things were better as Hill saw 8.6 looks per game, but that was still nearly three targets per game fewer than what the league leaders got. That matters a great deal when looking at an accumulation stat like total receiving yards.

Hill somewhat makes up for it, though, with his big-play ability. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch in 2018 and 14.3 this past season. For reference, Thomas has been at 11.4 and 11.5 the last two years while Julio has been at 14.1 and 14.8.

Also, the addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire doesn't help Hill's volume outlook. The KC passing game has mostly been reliant on Travis Kelce and Hill the last two seasons, but CEH is going to eat into some of that. Edwards-Helaire was a pass-game monster in college and will likely play a signifcant role in the passing game right away in 2020.

In Conclusion

I'm not trying to argue Hill should be the favorite to lead the league in yards. That should be Thomas (+500) and Jones (+800), and they are priced accordingly as the two favorites.

But I do think Hill has a better chance than the pricing on this prop indicates.

Our projections have Hill finishing with the fourth-most receiving yards -- just 61 yards out of second -- and our JJ Zachariason has Hill pegged for the third-most yards. As a reminder, Hill is tied as the fifth-favorite for this prop.

There's decent value here as is, and the Hill-Mahomes combination may not have shown us its real ceiling yet.