NFL Player Props: The 5 Best Bets to Lead the League in Passing Yards
Before we know it, the 2022 NFL season will be kicking off, so it's time to get real about our player props.
FanDuel Sportsbook has its season-long NFL player prop bets posted for numerous markets, including most passing yards, most rushing yards, and most receiving yards.
Which of these players is offering the best value in those markets? That's what I want to find out.
So, that's why I'm leveraging numberFire's NFL player projections to see what I can uncover.
To take the process a step further, I'll be using numberFire's game-by-game projections for the 2022 NFL season.
I'll be using those as the basis for 10,000 season simulations. Of course, this means that the results will be tied very closely to how our projections view the league as a whole.
That said, I made sure to account for game-by-game variance and injury risk (based on historical position averages) to make sure that the season simulations resemble reality.
Here are the results.
The Historical Precedent You Should Know
Since 2000, we have had 23 instances in 22 NFL seasons with a leader in passing yards (two players tied in 2014).
A predominant trend for the league leaders in passing yardage has simply been availability.
Among the first 22 seasons, 21 league leaders played a full 16-game schedule, and Tom Brady played all 17 regular-season games last year. This means just once since 2000 did a quarterback miss any time at all and still top the league in yardage.
And don't try to chase garbage time. I hear that often enough when seeking long shots with yardage-leading props. It doesn't work that way.
Brady's 7.39 yards per attempt last season was the lowest for a league leader (and the only mark below 7.51 in this sample). You need efficiency and volume -- not just volume.
Plus, in terms of numberFire's projections (dating back to 2012), we have correctly predicted the passing leader in 5 of the 10 passing seasons in that span.
Of the 10, 9 were projected to finish top four in yardage; the lone outlier was Ben Roethlisberger (projected for ninth and who tied with Drew Brees in 2014 in yardage).
So, basically, the top four projected passers are pretty strong bets based on this precedent, and we don't need to entertain many (if any) long shots.
The 5 Best Bets to Lead the NFL in Passing Yards in 2022
Joe Burrow (+1200)
Joe Burrow is our model's choice to lead the NFL in passing yardage, which -- again -- has a 50% hit rate over the past 10 seasons for actually leading the league in yardage.
Through the 10,000 simulations, Burrow easily outperformed (16.6%) his implied odds (7.7%) even when factoring in chances of games missed. While last season's leader in yards per attempt (8.87) can really only go down from there, there is plenty of room to decrease in efficiency and still stay around 7.50 yards per attempt. Plus, any uptick in play volume makes Burrow's case to lead the league even better.
Tom Brady (+800)
Last year's league leader in yardage did so with a low-water mark in efficiency (7.39 yards per attempt) among leaders since 2000 but played all 17 games in doing so.
Brady is projected for the second-most passing yards in the league this year and outperformed his implied odds (11.1%) in the simulations (14.5%).
Justin Herbert (+800)
Another option at +800 to track is Justin Herbert. numberFire's model projects Herbert for the third-most yards in the NFL this season.
Herbert maintained a yards-per-attempt average of 7.46 in 2021, in the ballpark of where a league leader needs to be, and only Brady (719) had more pass attempts than Herbert (672).
Matthew Stafford (+800)
I know it's a lot of chalk to name three of the four passers listed at +800 to lead the league, but again, we don't really get surprise leaders in passing yards. I'm also not recommending we bet every name listed here.
But Matthew Stafford bested his implied odds (11.1%) in the simulations (13.0%) and ultimately sits fourth in projected yardage.
Kyler Murray (+3000)
The lone non-chalk pick rating out as a positive value in the simulations is Kyler Murray. Murray is projected to finish seventh in passing yards this season, yet when we introduce variance across 10,000 seasons, he beats his odds (3.2%) often enough (5.7%) to note him here.
Murray did notch a career-best yards-per-attempt rate last season (7.87) but missed two games, the first in his three-year career. Losing DeAndre Hopkins to suspension won't help his case, of course. However, if you're looking to bank against history and avoid a chalky play, Murray is the one our model likes most.