NFL Betting Props Odds: Top Wide Receiver Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/16/2014
The seemingly endless offseason in the NFL is a good time to evaluate prop bets for value. As we get closer to the regular season there is other, more pressing handicapping to do, so this is just effective time management. And it's fun, too. This time around let's look at the most receiving yards prop on offer at Sportsbook.ag. The one thing we can be sure of is that we are going to have a new leader this year - Josh Gordon was tops last year, but his self-destructive tendencies have ruled out a repeat. So, who will it be? Here's a look at the most likely suspects:
Calvin Johnson (+300): It is far from a surprise that Megatron is favored here. He was third in the league last year, and he was tops the two years before that. Last year he missed two games, too, so with a full season he would have been all but certain to win again. The odds are obviously low, but they aren't unfairly so. He's only 28 years old, so he is in his prime. The Lions have undergone a much-needed coaching change, so the mentality surrounding the team should be much-improved. Matthew Stafford has a new offensive coordinator to work with, too - the long-time QB coach of Drew Brees in New Orleans - so Stafford should be more effective and less error-prone as well. I am bullish on the Lions this year, and Johnson is the best in the league, so it would be hard to argue against a bet here. The problem, of course, is at this price even if the risk is low it's not very attractive to tie your money up for months.
Demaryius Thomas (+500): Public bettors love Peyton Manning, and they continue to believe he will have yet another huge season. Whether he will or not is a topic for another time. What is true, though, is that I just don't see Thomas coming out on top no matter how good Manning is. In his two years with Manning, Thomas has had eerily similar stats - 94 and 92 catches and 1,434 and 1,430 yards, respectively. His yards per catch are at least a couple of yards less than Johnson and others, and that isn't likely to change as Manning gets older. It also doesn't seem likely that his usage is going to increase dramatically given the range of options the Broncos have and Manning's preference to spread the ball around. That gives Thomas a ceiling of about 1,500 yards this year in all likelihood, and that just isn't going to be good enough to come out on top here. I don't like this bet at all.
Dez Bryant (+800): Tony Romo still plays in Dallas, doesn't he? Bryant is talented, and in his fifth year he should be just entering his prime. There is just nothing about this team that I trust right now, though - not the quarterback, the protection, or the mental health of the squad. Could Bryant lead the league in receiving yards at some point? Sure, he's wildly-talented. I'm just not at all willing to bet that he will do it this year - not when he would need to improve on his best season by 300 yards or more to do so. This bet is certainly no more attractive than Thomas.
Julio Jones (+1200): The only way you can bet on Jones is if you are very comfortable making big leaps of faith. In his only complete season in 2012 he had 1,198 yards, so he needs to improve dramatically to be a contender here. He's also coming off a season in which he played just five games because of injury. His status has to be a concern after that. So does the fact that he plays for Atlanta. The team has improved over the offseason and is obviously better than last year, but I would feel a lot better about things if they had made a coaching change - their mental toughness was their biggest issue, and Mike Smith gets a lot of the blame for that in my eyes. I just don't like the price - not when he has to beat Johnson to come out on top.
Brandon Marshall (+2000): Now here's a price I can finally get behind. The Bears are entering their second year under the command of coach Marc Trestman, and I expect a big leap forward from them - especially is Jay Cutler can stay healthy all year unlike last year when he missed five games. Cutler and Marshall have excellent chemistry - they combined for more than 1,500 yards in their first year together, and that was only with Cutler playing 15 games. If Cutler can improve - Trestman is the guy to help him do so, and he did last year - then this is a good bet. Johnson is far more likely to win, but Marshall is a very good bet at this price.
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