It’s that time of year to start looking at player props bets for the upcoming 2021 NFL season. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at some over and under future bets worth considering at each position group.
So far we’ve taken a dive into the following prop bets:
- Which QBs will hit the OVER on their passing yards prop bet?
- Which QBs will hit the UNDER on their passing yards prop bet?
- Which RBs will hit the OVER on their rushing yards prop bet?
- Which RBs will hit the UNDER on their rushing yards prop bet?
Up next: which wide receivers are good bets to go OVER their receiving yards props?
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- Will be a full-time starter, unlike his rookie year
- Improved quarterback play, especially if Justin Fields starts
As a rookie in 2020, Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney averaged 39.4 receiving yards per game. Over a 17-game season, that would put him on pace for 670.4 yards. With only a slight boost in production needed, Mooney is a good bet to hit the over on these available prop bets:
- 700.5 receiving yards on BetMGM
- 705.5 receiving yards on DraftKings
- Off the board on FanDuel
Mooney’s rookie-year production was steady, but he should out-pace those numbers simply by taking the field more often. Though Mooney played at least 60 percent of the Bears’ snaps from Week 2 on, he didn’t become a full-time starter until Week 8.
From Week 8 through the end of the season, Mooney averaged 6.8 targets per game (up from 5.3 in his first seven games) and 43.9 yards per game (up from 33.7).
According to Sports Info Solutions, 44% of Mooney’s targets came at least 10 yards downfield in 2020. However, only 45% of those targets were catchable, the second-lowest rate in the league.
Mooney probably deserves some portion of the blame for that low rate, but improved quarterback play is certain to help.
Though most Bears fans are understandably hoping rookie quarterback Justin Fields wins the job, Andy Dalton should also offer an upgrade, as his downfield accuracy rates easily outpaced former Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky.
Catchable Pass Rate by Distance Downfield, 2020 Season
|Player||10-19 yards||20+ yards|
With more consistent quarterback play and a full season in a starting role, Mooney looks like one of the safest bets to hit the over on his receiving yards props.
- On elite pace prior to Dak Prescott’s injury in 2020
- Don’t need to worry about CeeDee Lamb cutting into workload
- Schedule is tough, but comparable to last season
In 2020, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper averaged 69.6 receiving yards per game, putting him on pace for 1,183.6 yards over a 17-game season.
Over the first five games of the year with a healthy Dak Prescott at quarterback, Cooper averaged 84.8 yards per game 一 a 1,441.6-yard pace over 17 games.
If Cooper could reach those dominant numbers with Prescott, and also maintain a strong pace without him, he looks like a good bet to hit the over on these props in 2021:
- 1175.5 receiving yards on BetMGM
- 1175.5 receiving yards on DraftKings
- 1200.5 receiving yards on FanDuel
Perhaps these numbers are slightly lower than expected because some people believe CeeDee Lamb will play a bigger role and cut into Cooper’s numbers (Lamb’s over/under is also over 1,000 yards).
However, it’s becoming increasingly common for teams to produce two 1,000-yard receivers. Over the past five years, there have been 23 sets of teammates to reach at least 942 receiving yards (the equivalent of 1,000 over 17 games).
Dallas does play a tough schedule 一 projected to be the ninth-most difficult based on pass efficiency defense 一 but the Cowboys’ schedule ranked 10th in this metric in 2020.
If Cooper was able to post these numbers in a 16-game season, against a tough schedule and mostly without Prescott, we should feel good about betting the over.
- Loss of WR Nelson Agholor frees up targets
- Derek Carr excels throwing downfield
- Likely to have plenty of favorable game scripts
One of the quarterbacks I highlighted as a good bet to hit his passing yards over was Las Vegas Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr. For similar reasons, second-year receiver Henry Ruggs is also a strong candidate to go over his receiving yard prop bets:
- 725.5 receiving yards on BetMGM
- 725.5 receiving yards on DraftKings
- 750.5 receiving yards on FanDuel
The loss of Nelson Agholor (signed with New England Patriots) opens up 82 targets (5.1 per game). Veterans John Brown and Willie Sneed were added in free agency, but the bulk of those targets are expected to be funneled to Ruggs and Bryan Edwards.
As a rookie, Ruggs saw 19 targets at 15 or more yards downfield (44% of his total), but still fell well short of Agholor’s usage (36 targets). Assuming Ruggs sees a significant boost in his downfield targets, he should thrive in the Raiders’ offense.
Ruggs should be productive in the deep passing game because Carr excels as a downfield passer, ranking sixth out of 29 qualified quarterbacks in catchable pass rate at least 15 yards downfield, according to Sports Info Solutions. And this rate has been stable over the last few years:
Derek Carr on Throws 15+ Yards Downfield
|Year||Comp Pct||Catchable Pass Rate|
Las Vegas is also an underdog of a field goal or more in nine contests, which should create plenty of pass-friendly game scripts to help pad Ruggs’s numbers.
In 13 games last season, Ruggs averaged 34.8 yards per game 一 on pace for 591.1 over a 17-game schedule. Given the extra targets available and the likelihood many of them are part of Las Vegas’ deep passing attack, it’s reasonable to expect Ruggs to add the extra eight yards per game necessary to hit the over.