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.
Earlier this week we looked at which wide receivers are likely to go OVER their receiving yard prop bets. Now let’s take a look at the receivers likely to hit the UNDER on their receiving yard totals.
Also, be sure to check out past articles 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?
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- Kirk Cousins is due for some regression
- Defenses may adjust and use more zone coverage
After a memorable rookie year in which he posted 1,400 receiving yards, there are high expectations for Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. But don’t rush out to bet the over on these numbers just yet:
- 1325.5 receiving yards on DraftKings
- 1300.5 receiving yards on BetMGM
- Off the board on FanDuel
As a rookie, Justin Jefferson led the league with a 69.2% catch rate on targets at least 15 yards downfield (min. 25 targets), according to Sports Info Solutions. Obviously, Jefferson’s talent is a factor in that success, but he also benefited from seeing a league-high 76.9% catchable pass rate from quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Based on Cousins’s track record, there’s good reason to believe that rate is unlikely to be repeated. Here are Cousins’s catchable pass rates on throws 15+ yards downfield since 2015:
2015 – 64.5%
2016 – 63.4%
2017 – 61.5%
2018 – 66.3%
2019 – 64.1%
2020 – 78.6%
It’s also possible Jefferson faces some adjustments from defenses during his sophomore campaign. As a rookie, Jefferson feasted on man coverage, averaging 12.9 yards per target and commanding a 34.4% target share.
Versus all other coverages, Jefferson was still effective (10.0 yards per target), but his target share dropped to 21.7%.
Predictably, this trend allowed him to dominate defenses that played a higher rate of man coverage, as demonstrated in the table below.
Justin Jefferson vs defenses playing high/low rates of man coverage
|DEF Man Usage||Games||Yds/Tgt||Yds/Gm|
|< 40% man coverage||11||10.9||75.5|
|> 40% man coverage||5||11.6||113.8|
Since the league as a whole has shifted towards using more zone coverage in recent years, we could see Jefferson’s usage dip slightly in 2021 simply based on the coverage schemes Minnesota faces.
- Extremely limited experience as a downfield receiver
- Potentially playing a running back-like role in passing game
- Some of Moore’s touches will come on handoffs
- Injury concerns
Arizona Cardinals second-round draft pick Rondale Moore thrived as a versatile weapon at Purdue, and is expected to have an immediate role in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. However, there are reasons to believe he’ll fall short of these receiving yard prop bets:
- 575.5 receiving yards on FanDuel
- 550.5 receiving yards on BetMGM
- 545.5 receiving yards on DraftKings
In his final season at Purdue, 79.5% of Rondale Moore’s targets came five or fewer yards downfield, according to Sports Info Solutions. And over the final two years of his college career, his average depth of target was just 2.4 yards downfield.
Arizona’s primary slot receivers in 2020, Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk, each saw an average depth of target over 10 yards downfield. So based on their usage and Moore’s experience, it seems unlikely Moore will simply step into that role.
Moore’s explosive ability on short throws will make him valuable in the Arizona offense, but those types of players don’t produce high yardage totals.
Rather than cutting into the workload of Arizona’s more experienced slot receivers, Moore might be taking targets away from running back Chase Edmonds.
39% of Edmonds’s targets came while lined up at receiver, with an average depth of target of 2.8 yards downfield. Edmonds finished with 402 receiving yards on 67 targets 一 a realistic stat line for Moore.
Moore’s role will also not be limited to the passing game. Arizona likely wants to engineer touches for him, but some of those will be in the backfield.
Following the draft, Kingsbury said as much: “We’re going to use him in as many different ways as we can… whether it’s handing the ball from the backfield, toss to him on a sweep, go outside or on a fade route, he does it all.”
It’s also worth noting Moore played only 20 games during his three years at Purdue due to a series of hamstring injuries. Hopefully he stays healthy, but it’s worth factoring the recent injury history into expectations for his rookie campaign.
- Playing outside, where he has been less productive
- Competition for targets
Washington Football Team wide receiver Curtis Samuel enters 2021 with high expectations after a strong year in 2020, in which he posted a career-high 851 receiving yards with the Carolina Panthers. In a more talented offense in Washington, however, he may have a more difficult time eclipsing these prop bets:
- 700.5 receiving yards on BetMGM
- 700.5 receiving yards on DraftKings
- Off the board on FanDuel
In his first year in Washington, Samuel is expected to primarily line up on the outside, opposite Terry McLaurin with veteran Adam Humphries in the slot.
Samuel does have experience in this role (primarily in 2019 in Carolina) but he has never been as reliable out wide as in the slot.
Some of his lack of production on the outside could be attributed to Kyle Allen serving as his primary quarterback in 2019, but even when removing uncatchable targets from his numbers, he has been more explosive from the slot.
Curtis Samuel Career Numbers by Position
|Alignment||% of Total Routes||Yards per Catchable Tgt||Catch Rate on Catchable Tgt|
The primary reason for Samuel’s struggles out wide has been his inability to develop into a reliable downfield weapon. According to Sports Info Solutions, Samuel has a 59.1% catch rate on catchable targets at 15 or more yards downfield. For some context, McLaurin has a 75% career catch rate on those targets.
In addition to competing with McLaurin, Humphries, and tight end Logan Thomas for targets, Samuel will need to hold off rookie Dyami Brown.
While college-to-pro comparisons are tough to rely on, it’s worth noting Brown caught 73% of his catchable targets 15+ yards downfield at North Carolina.
Brown has been earning rave reviews in training camp and, even though Samuel is likely to maintain his starting role, we should expect to see Brown in the rotation at receiver.
Over the last few seasons, Brown was one of the most dynamic downfield weapons in college football 一 he was fourth in the nation in receptions at 15 or more yards in 2020 一 so it would stand to reason we’ll see him used to stretch the field, likely taking some of those valuable deep targets away from Samuel.