NFL

Pound the Over on Dak Prescott's 2020 Player Props

In 2019, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott quietly became just the 10th quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,900 yards and 30 touchdowns in a single season.

Joining Patrick Mahomes (2019), Matt Ryan (2016), Eli Manning (2011), Tom Brady (2007), Kurt Warner (2001), and Dan Marino, Prescott also became just the seventh passer ever to reach 4,900 passing yards on fewer than 600 attempts. That's some pretty elite company.

For the 2020 season, FanDuel Sportsbook has set Prescott's props at 4,319.5 for yardage and 27.5 for touchdowns.

Let's take a look at how to approach those bets for the upcoming season.

2019 Production

Despite finishing outside of the top-five in attempts, Prescott (4,902) finished second in the league in passing yards, behind only Jameis Winston (5,109). Each of the other four signal-callers (Winston, Jared Goff, Philip Rivers, and Matt Ryan) who threw for at least 4,400 yards played on teams that were top-8 in highest pass-to-run ratio -- Dallas was 21st.

Among quarterbacks with at least 320 drop backs, Dak ranked fourth in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back and second in Passing Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of drop backs that lead to positive NEP for a team’s offense).

According to PlayerProfiler, despite attempting the fifth-most deep passes, Prescott finished inside the top 10 in true passer rating, true completion percentage, adjusted yards per attempt, and accuracy rating. That'll play.

2020 Outlook

When a player throws for 1,017 yards more than his previous career-high, the first thought might be that he'll be heading for negative regression the following season. However, there are a number of factors that should allow Prescott to avoid said regression.

The first factor is that none of Dak's metrics scream regression. His adjusted yards per attempt of 8.4 marked the third time in four seasons that he'd topped at least 7.5. His touchdown percentage of 5.0% was nothing special and the second time he'd reached that percentage in his career.

The only drastic change for Dak last season was his pass attempts (13.5% increase), which brings me to the second factor -- the hiring of head coach Mike McCarthy.

In Dak's first three seasons in Dallas, the Cowboys averaged 1.14 passes per every run. In 2019, that number rose to a still-modest 1.38. Meanwhile, McCarthy's Green Bay Packers averaged a staggering 1.80 passes for every run in his final three seasons with the team, and they never dipped below 1.30 in his 13-year tenure.

If the Cowboys run 1,005 plays in 2020 (equaling the lowest number of plays run in any season of Dak's career), they'd still attempt 568 passes at a ratio of 1.30. In order for Dak to hit the under at 568 passes, he'd have to average 7.6 yards per attempt, below his career average.

Again, the 1.30 ratio was the lowest ratio Green Bay had in 13 seasons under McCarthy. The Packers also averaged 1025.6 plays run per season during that stretch.

Also working in Prescott's favor is the fact that Dallas drafted Oklahoma's electric wide receiver, CeeDee Lamb. Lamb's 15.1 yards per target and 11.0 yards after the catch led all receivers in the 2020 draft class. The rookie should be able to provide his quarterback with some easy yardage.

Projection

numberFire's algorithm projects Prescott to throw for 4,495.4 yards and 30.1 touchdowns in 2020. He reaches the over quite comfortably in both categories based on those projections.

Our model has him reaching those numbers on 569.7 attempts, which is reasonable and certainly surpassable.

I'll take the over on 4,319.5 passing yards without thinking twice.

While touchdowns are definitely more volatile, I'm leaning towards the over on 27.5 as well -- though I'm not quite as confident with this pick.