NFL Player Props: The 4 Best Bets to Lead the League in Passing Yards
We're inching closer and closer to the 2021 NFL season, and while we're still a few days away from kicking back and watching the games on Thursday, Sunday, and Mondays, we have plenty to tide us over.
Whether it's fantasy football drafts (for which we have a customizable draft kit and player projections), best-ball drafts on FanDuel or team futures bets at FanDuel Sportsbook, there's something for everyone.
And did I mention the props?
I have not.
Here are the listed players and their odds to lead the league in passing yards, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
|Patrick Mahomes||+310||Dak Prescott||+500|
|Josh Allen||+850||Tom Brady||+950|
|Justin Herbert||+1200||Matt Ryan||+1300|
|Matthew Stafford||+1400||Joe Burrow||+1600|
|Aaron Rodgers||+2000||Trevor Lawrence||+3100|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||+3700||Russell Wilson||+3700|
|Derek Carr||+3700||Kyler Murray||+4100|
|Kirk Cousins||+4100||Jared Goff||+4400|
|Jameis Winston||+5500||Zach Wilson||+6500|
|Ryan Tannehill||+6500||Ben Roethlisberger||+7000|
|Tua Tagovailoa||+8500||Sam Darnold||+8500|
|Carson Wentz||+8500||Baker Mayfield||+8500|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||+13000||Jalen Hurts||+13000|
|Daniel Jones||+13000||Mac Jones||+22000|
|Lamar Jackson||+22000||Tyrod Taylor||+30000|
|Trey Lance||+30000||Teddy Bridgewater||+30000|
|Taysom Hill||+30000||Justin Fields||+30000|
|Drew Lock||+30000||Davis Mills||+30000|
|Cam Newton||+30000||Andy Dalton||+30000|
Which players make for the best bets?
To find out, I used numberFire's player projections as the baseline along with historical ranges of outcomes to see which players outperformed their odds most frequently across 10,000 season simulations.
Some Historical Precedent
Across 21 seasons from 2000 to 2020, there have been 22 total instances of a player leading the league in passing yards (there was a tie back in 2014).
Of these 22 seasons, 21 of them consisted of a full, 16-game schedule played.
While there's a potential assumption that volume and garbage time would lead to elite passing yardage outputs, none of the 22 league-leading seasons were tied to a yards-per-attempt rate below 7.51.
Patrick Mahomes (+310)
For Patrick Mahomes to be considered a value bet, he would need to be at least 24.4% likely to lead the league in passing yards -- something he has yet to do, actually. (He's ranked second twice.)
numberFire's projections do anticipate Mahomes to lead the league in yardage this season with a total of 5,212. The only other projection above 4,745 belongs to Dak Prescott (+500) at 5,157.
So, Mahomes, understandably leads the way most frequently in the season simulations, and he did so at a 27.5% clip.
That's crazy, but he has had a top-10 yardage season three years running, and I don't think anyone would really want to bet against Mahomes to be great in 2021.
Dak Prescott (+500)
So, I mentioned already that Prescott has a yardage projection north of 5,150, as well, and so he has distance on the rest of the league, according to numberFire's model.
Given that, and given the better odds relative to Mahomes, Prescott has to be a lock to be a value bet, right?
Prescott wound up leading the league in 22.4% of the simulated seasons, easily outperforming the 16.7% odds required to break even at +500.
Prescott actually is projected for a crazy 8.22 yards-per-attempt rate this season (Dak averaged 8.36 yards per attempt last year on 222 attempts), which would easily clear the 7.50 baseline we have seen from eventual league-leaders.
Justin Herbert (+1200)
Behind Mahomes and Prescott, we have a pretty tight tier of passing yardage projections.
That tier includes, you guessed it, Justin Herbert, who is projected for 4,711 yards and a yards-per-attempt rate of 7.59. Unlike those projected around him -- Tom Brady (4,745; +850) and Josh Allen (4,741; +900) -- he comes at a nicer number at +1200.
Via our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back metric, which looks at underlying data based on context such as down-and-distance, Herbert ranked 9th during his rookie season among 38 qualified quarterbacks.
Building on that in his second year could lead to a very prolific passing season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (+3700)
The biggest thing standing in the way for Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely the perfect game requirement. Fitzpatrick has played in all 16 games just once over the past eight years, and he'll now likely need to go 17-for-17 to pace the league in yardage.
But Fitz was like really, really good last season, and that doesn't get a lot of attention.
Fitzpatrick ranked 10th in the NFL last season in Passing NEP per drop back, and he's projected for 7.55 yards per attempt -- barely meeting the requirement.