It is never too early to look ahead to the football season. OTAs are underway and I am looking at team or player futures betting odds each Monday. This week, I am looking at the player props and some players with long odds with a chance to pay off big.
Note: All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
DEREK CARR MOST PASSING YARDS (+5000)To clarify, I am not saying that I think Carr will lead the NFL in passing yards. The picks in this column are players who I think have a better chance at leading the league than their odds indicate. Carr is an odd situation where being on a bad team like the Raiders could benefit him in picking up more passing yards. The team figures to be trailing in most games and the game script will dictate that Oakland has to be throwing the ball to play catchup. Oakland’s defense ranked 30th last season in Defensive DVOA and it is once against expected to be near the bottom of the standings. The Raiders win total is set at over/under 6.0 wins.
Last season, Carr eclipsed 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career. With the Raiders struggling to win games, they often had to pass although Carr also completed 68.9% of his passes and averaged 7.3 yards per attempt, both career-best marks. He should benefit from the additions of Tyrell Williams and Antonio Brown to his receiving core. Brown should be huge for Carr’s passing numbers especially when considering the lack of talent Carr had to throw to last season. He started the season with Amari Cooper, but Cooper was traded to the Cowboys prior to the deadline. This left Carr with a washed up Jordy Nelson as his No. 1 target. After finishing with the 12th most passing yards last season and improved set of players to throw to, Carr is priced as the 18th most likely QB to lead the NFL in passing. This indicates value.
ANTONIO BROWN MOST RECEIVING YARDS (+1100)This correlates with Carr having potential for a big passing year. Carr is not as good as Ben Roethlisberger, but he’s still a quality quarterback and Brown figures to face more prevent defense than he has in any other time in his career. Oakland figures to be down big at times, like in tough divisional games against the Chiefs and Chargers. This figures to allow Brown to pad his stats in garbage time with the Raiders playing from behind. It also stands to reason that Oakland will be a more up pace team with a talented player like Brown on the offense to throw to.
Twice in his career, Brown has led the NFL in receiving yards. He also has at least 1,250 yards in six straight seasons. As massive as his role was in Pittsburgh, he should have the same if not a bigger role in Oakland. The Steelers have always had strong teams filled with talent. Brown has had to split targets with guys like WR Juju Smith-Schuster and RB Le’Veon Bell in recent years. Without other high-level players on the Raiders, most of the offense will probably be filtered through AB.
TODD GURLEY MOST RUSHING YARDS (+1600)The narrative has greatly changed on Gurley following the end of last season. At the midpoint, he was having one of the best fantasy seasons we had ever seen, we among the favorites to win NFL MVP and the highest-price player on DraftKings each week. A knee injury caused him to miss a couple of games down the stretch and limited him in the playoffs. If not for the injury, he could have led the NFL in rushing yards. Gurley finished third with 1,251 yards, 183 yards behind league-leader Ezekiel Elliott.
Clearly, the knee injury is still a concern. The Rams could ease up on Gurley’s workload, however, if healthy, he would probably be in the top 3 favorites for this category. The risk is built into the price. At 24, he is still a young player and the Rams signed him to massive new contract prior to last season. They aren’t going to give away his touches after making such a big investment. If he can stay healthy, Gurley is as likely as any player to lead the league in rushing. Don’t forget, running back is an injury-prone position. The expected career span of a running back isn’t all that long and it’s not as if Gurley is in the only player with a chance to get injured. His injury is being remembered because it happened at the end of last season. If his stats from last season’s games were reversed, there wouldn’t be much talk about Gurley’s durability.
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