3 Season-Long Quarterback Player Props to Bet
I couldn't help but notice a few quarterback passing yardage over/unders on DraftKings that seem too good to pass up. And hey, wouldn't you know, 4for4's 2020 projections agree with my hunch. Let's break down prop bets for Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and Sam Darnold.
Lamar Jackson Over 3,250.5 Passing Yards
4for4 projection: 3,790 passing yards
This is something of an eye-popping prop bet. Lamar Jackson would have to throw for 124 more yards than he did in 2019 to go over the 3,250.5 mark. Assuming Jackson plays 16 games, that breaks down to 7.75 more passing yards per game. It’s hardly a difficult scenario to imagine.
You might remember the Ravens wrecking opposing defenses with the Jackson-led run attack in 2019. You remember correctly: Baltimore’s offense ran the ball on 54.1% of its plays—the highest rate in the league. They did this because they were good at it—thanks to Jackson putting the fear of the almighty into enemy front sevens—and because they seized early leads and bled the clock with more dominant running. This created game scripts in which Jackson hardly had to throw the ball: he attempted fewer than 24 passes in seven games that saw Baltimore dismantle its opposition. Even a hyper-efficient signal-caller would struggle to consistently pile up passing yards in such a scenario.
In Baltimore’s only two regular-season losses, Jackson averaged 38.5 pass attempts, going for 267 and 247 passing yards, respectively. In the team’s playoff implosion against Tennessee, he threw a mind-melting 59 times, going for 365 yards through the air. When game script goes haywire, Jackson can—and has—poured on the passing yardage.
A smidge of regression for Baltimore would necessarily mean Jackson dropping back to pass more often in 2020. If the Ravens ran a similar number of offensive snaps this year and their run play percentage dropped from 54% to 50%, that would mean 92 more drop backs for Jackson. More severe regression—perhaps the Ravens rushing on 47% of their plays—could give Jackson an extra 120 dropbacks. But we don’t require that wildly optimistic scenario for Jackson to crack his passing yardage prop. Some perspective on just how attainable this yardage mark is: 20 quarterbacks threw for more than 3,250 yards last season. Twenty.
Jackson came close to eclipsing 3,250.5 yards in 2019, with everything working against his passing yardage totals. This year, he has 13 neutral or good matchups, according to the 4for4 Hot Spots tool. I like him to shatter that mark in 2020.
Russell Wilson Over 3,900.5 Passing Yards
4for4 projection: 4,193 passing yards
Wilson has gone over this total in four of the past five seasons, even as the Seahawks have summarily dismissed all evidence that running the ball is inefficient. Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer remains fixated on running the ball, even if it means losing. You have to admire such commitment.
Seattle ran the ball on 45.7% of their plays in 2019—the sixth-highest rate in the league. This actually marked a steep dropoff from 2018, when the team ran on an astounding 52.4% of their offensive snaps. It was that dropoff that gave Wilson an extra 83 pass attempts in 2019, when he completed two-thirds of his passes for 4,110 yards.
Unless the Seahawks are dominant in 2020, grabbing big leads early and games and taking the air out of the ball with Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, and whatever other running back will take handoffs from the team’s superstar quarterback, Wilson could easily repeat his 2019 performance (with his average yards per attempt in line with his career average) and go over his 2020 prop.
And if the Seahawks struggle to establish the run and face consistent deficits this season, we could see Wilson go well over 3,900.5 passing yards. Wilson has averaged nearly eight more pass attempts in Seattle losses over the past couple seasons. He’s notched an average of 243.8 passing yards in those games.
What if Seattle’s offense is able to revert to a 50-50 run-pass split, meaning Wilson might see 20-30 fewer pass attempts this year? Well, that wouldn’t be great for anyone taking the over on Wilson’s passing yardage. But if Wilson’s adjusted yard per attempt (AY/A) jumped from 2019’s 8.7 to his career-high of 9 (a feat he’s accomplished twice), he’d still manage to hit the over. In fact, he’d go over 3,900.5 yards without hitting that career-high AY/A, unless the Seahawks ran far fewer plays than in recent seasons.
We can’t base decisions on offseason chatter but (I’m sorry) it’s tough to ignore the steady stream of talk from the Seahawks about letting Russell “cook,” as the zoomers say. Probably this doesn’t mean Wilson is going to drop back and sling it 650 times in 2020, though it could mean Schottenheimer might think twice about owning the analytics nerds with a run play on 2nd and 12, down by nine in the fourth quarter.
I’m going over on Wilson’s 2020 passing yardage prop because there are an abundance of scenarios in which he’ll get the chance to crack the 3,900.5 yardage mark. We can’t say the same about scenarios that would strip Wilson of the opportunity needed to break that mark, despite Schottenheimer’s prehistoric playcalling.
Sam Darnold Over 3,600.5 Passing Yards
4for4 projection: 3,722 passing yards
Any time you can hammer the passing yardage over on a quarterback in Adam Gase’s dysfunctional, ineffective, inflexible offensive system, you have to do it. You just do.
While we’re banking on Darnold not missing a month of action with mono—or, ya know, COVID-19—it seems fairly certain he can eclipse 3,600.5 passing yards this year. Darnold’s 232.6 passing yards per game in 2019 would have come to 3,721.6 yards over 16 games—or almost exactly what 4for4 has projected for his 2020 output.
The case for Darnold hitting the over here is straightforward: if he plays 16 games, he’ll do it. If he misses more than a game, he’ll likely struggle to break 3,600 yards. Jets’ quarterbacks in 2019 got within 150 yards of Darnold’s 2020 over/under despite the abominable play of Luke Falk, who played most of three games for New York.
We can’t rely on the Jets being a pass-heavy offense—they ran the ball on 43.5% of their 2019 plays despite constantly facing negative game script that usually generates plenty of pass attempts. That could have been a function of having Falk under center for a month and Darnold coming back from a prolonged absence from an illness that reportedly affected him quite a bit. Thankfully, we don’t need Gase to suddenly turn into a pass-happy play-caller for Darnold to hit his passing yardage over.
With nine neutral or good matchups in 2020, according to 4for4’s Hot Spots tool, Darnold is in position to go well over 3,600.5 passing yards. All he has to do is play 16 games.
|Lamar Jackson 3250.5 Passing Yards||Over||-110||1.0||Bet Now!|
|Russell Wilson 3900.5 Passing Yards||Over||-110||1.0||Bet Now!|
|Sam Darnold 3600.5 Passing Yards||Over||-110||1.0||Bet Now!|
Note: All advice in this article is based on odds available on the date of publishing.