I’m a value seeker when looking for futures. I’ll take a few of the most obvious bets on the board, but I’m also out there looking for the rare +500 bets and above to throw a few bones at and hope it skyrockets into a large sum.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve looked at futures bets that include this year’s rushing leader and this year’s receiving leader. Now it’s time to take a look at which quarterbacks have the potential to lead the league in passing yards. This article is going to follow that similar structure breaking down the top candidates, surprise plays from the second tier, and then favorite overall value bet.
Remember, futures bets are generally risky propositions. Even just missing one game due to injury puts a player significantly at a disadvantage. The highest “favorite” as passing leader is still listed at +400 odds.
Note: All odds listed below are from MyBookie.
After setting the league on fire last year en route to a 5,097 passing yard campaign, it’s almost surprising that MyBookie doesn’t have Patrick Mahomes (+400) as the clear-cut favorite. Can he finish as the top passer? The defense could put him in a position to have to throw heavily once again this season. Not only did they fire last year’s defensive coordinator and switch to Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 scheme, but they also lost both starting pass rushers — pivotal pieces to making a 4-3 work. The Chiefs secondary has also been totally revamped with Charvarius Ward the only leftover. Negative game script could be commonplace for KC. The instrumental factor when wagering on Mahomes is whether or not you believe he’ll continue last year’s success while Tyreek Hill serves some unknown length of suspension. KC spent their first pick in the draft on Mecole Hardman (No. 56 overall), a 4.33-speed receiver out of Georgia. No disrespect to Hardman, but few receivers are built like Hill who not only have blazing speed, but also incredible acceleration to escape trailing defenders and take intermediate throws to the house. Purely conjecture, but I believe Hill’s suspension may be longer than most believe, and long enough to dent Mahomes’ chances of taking home passing-leader honors.
Another +400 bet, Matt Ryan not only has all his weapons, but he also has a steady one returning. Devonta Freeman can be a steady chain mover and yard accumulator for Ryan as a check-down option. He has a career 78.3% catch rate and averaged 8.7 yards per reception during his previous two healthy seasons. That should help balance out a passing attack that likes to take deep shots of 20-plus yards to Julio Jones (21.7% rate) and Calvin Ridley (17.6%). Ryan also faces one of the easiest passing schedules in the league this season. Not only does he have soft secondaries he can expose, but 13-of-16 games are going to be played inside domes. Ryan has averaged 269.9 yards per game in dome games over the course of his career (102 game sample). That extrapolates to just a 4,300-yard season, but you also have to keep in mind that he faces a soft schedule and is absolutely loaded at playmakers at every receiving position. He’s coming off a 4,924 passing yard campaign. If last year’s defense faces similar injury setbacks, Ryan could be a lock for this bet.
Andrew Luck (+400) is our third candidate at +400 odds to take home the passing mantle. Luck rebounded nicely from surgery in 2018 to throw for nearly 4,600 passing yards. This came with him still working his way into true passing form — his average depth of throw during September was just 6.8 yards — ranking 30th of 34 qualifying quarterbacks. Not only did he take some time to get into form, but he also had some mediocre receiving targets like Chester Rogers (72 targets), Ryan Grant (52 targets), and Zack Pascal (46 targets). Indy revamped their receiving corps this offseason adding Devin Funchess and drafting Parris Campbell to bring better size and speed and help this offense take flight. The Colts defense continues to improve year over year with GM Chris Ballard pulling the strings, and it may finally get to the point where they can hold their own and not force the Colts into a top-10 passing team. That’s the only concern I have with taking this bet. Otherwise, we’ve got a fully healthy Luck with improved passing targets. That’s hard to fade with them having a top-five easiest passing SOS.
The next tier of quarterbacks to lead the league in passing starts with Aaron Rodgers (+650). Right off the bat, this seems too lofty. The Packers have made an incredible number of offseason moves shoring up their pass rush and their secondary. They look to be markedly improved in both of these facets entering the 2019 season. Green Bay’s head coach Matt LaFleur has also stated they want to remain balanced on offense, specifically running the ball on first and second downs as needed. The Packers led the league in pass play percentage last year. LaFleur’s offense should see them much further down that list in 2019 and ultimately hinder Rodgers from coming close to earning the passing title.
After losing Antonio Brown, I’m a bit surprised that the oddsmakers at MyBookie don’t have Ben Roethlisberger (+750) with greater odds. Big Ben led the league in passing last year, eking out the title from Mahomes with 5,129 passing yards to 5,097. Brown’s loss significantly hurts this team’s passing ceiling, and it shouldn’t shock anyone if the Steelers return to the run a bit more in 2019 with how well James Conner performed last season. You can’t replace Brown with a combination of James Washington, Donte Moncrief, and Dionte Johnson. Brown’s rapport with Roethlisberger helped make the tandem so great and that’s not something easy to replace in one offseason. Backed by a very strong defense that should limit negative game scripts, this wager is an easy fade for me.
Coming in at even greater odds, Baker Mayfield (+1200) is the last hopeful candidate in the second tier that may actually have a shot at pulling off this title. The Browns combination of HC Freddie Kitchens and OC Todd Monken will be creating a hybrid version of the Air Raid-Air Coryell offense. When Kitchens took over play-calling duties last year, his team’s offense went from 342.4 total yards per game and 20.6 points per game up to 395.2 and 23.8, respectively. Monken’s squad last year in Tampa Bay set passing records. These two coming together to form gameplans could lead to a deadly season for Mayfield now that Odell Beckham Jr. is in the mix. The passing schedule isn’t the easiest (27th in Passing SOS), but the Browns have surrounded their quarterback with weapons that can attack every level of opposing defenses. I wouldn’t recommend going overboard with bets here at +1200, but those odds aren’t terrible for an ascending offense.
Speaking of Todd Monken, his old stomping grounds in Tampa Bay is where I’d prefer to lay my chips if placing a single wager on the passing league leader. Jameis Winston (+1600) and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to lead the league with 5,358 passing yards last season. That was a top-five passing season all-time. Winston averaged 294.2 passing yards per game during his nine starts last year, a 4,700-yard pace on the year. He now has Bruce Arians dictating play-calling, who has historically called an aggressive, downfield attacking offense. Tampa Bay also has a secondary full of inexperienced youth, likely presenting the Buccaneers offense with plenty of passing situations this season during negative game script. The Bucs lack of run game, combined with an incredibly soft NFC South passing schedule, should keep Winston in the running for potentially leading the league in passing this year. I really like these +1600 odds with Winston facing additional “motivation” in a contract year.