3 Season-Long Wide Receiver Player Props to Bet
I couldn't help but notice a few wide receiver 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 Marquise Brown, DK Metcalf, and Justin Jefferson.
Marquise Brown over 800.5 receiving yards
4for4 projection: 834 yards
Being second in the target pecking order on an extraordinarily run-heavy offense isn’t the best for a pass catcher we hope to exceed his yardage over/under. There are plenty of reasons, however, to believe Marquise Brown can do just that in 2020.
The second-year Ravens receiver ended 2019 with a 16.7% target share (71 targets) in a Baltimore offense that only threw the football 424 times. Mark Andrews led all pass catchers with 98 targets. Like I said, not a lot of targets to go around, though we should remember that Brown missed two games and parts of other games with injuries. His 5.1 targets per game would have worked out to around 82 targets over 16 games.
Brown is in a fantastic position to benefit from regression in the Ravens’ run play percentage. The Lamar Jackson-led offense ran the ball on 54% of its offensive snaps in 2019—the highest rate in the NFL by a considerable margin. Baltimore continually took control of games and were more than happy to wreck opposing defenses with the ground game. Baltimore had the perfect conditions to operate a conservative, run-heavy offense with Jackson perplexing defenders. Can the Ravens continue using that exact formula in 2020? Maybe. But probably not.
We’d see the Ravens throw around 480 passes this year if we conservatively tweak the team's run play percentage to 52% instead of 54% while assuming the team runs a similar number of plays in 2020. That leads to 80 targets for Brown if commands no more than his 2019 target share. He would need to average around 14.7 yards per reception (two yards more than his 2019 average) to break the 800-yard mark.
This might seem like a stretch, but remember this is something of a worst-case scenario if you’re taking the over on Brown’s 2020 yardage. A 50-50 run-pass split for Baltimore and Brown taking a slightly larger target share (something around 18%, which would hardly be a stretch) would mean Brown could eclipse 800 yards without exceeding his 2019 yards per catch.
Brown’s lack of opportunity can be seen in both his target totals and snap count in Baltimore’s 2019 victories. In Ravens blowout wins, Brown often played around half of the team’s offensive snaps. In back and forth affairs or Baltimore losses, Brown was usually in on at least 70% of the team's offensive snaps. Perhaps it goes without saying (it does) but one cannot score fantasy points when one is not on the field.
If the Ravens find themselves having to take to the air more in 2020, Brown should be able to go over 800.5 receiving yards with some ease.
DK Metcalf over 850.5 receiving yards
4for4 projection: 1,006 yards
John Paulsen’s projection for DK. Metcalf, the second-year wideout with 14-pack abs, leaves his yardage over/under in the proverbial dust. Indeed, it would be a stunning upset if Metcalf is unable to go over 850 yards in 2020. He would need to regress from his rookie campaign, which seems, ya know, unlikely.
Metcalf saw 20.2% of Seattle’s targets last season, finishing 2019 just 10 targets behind team leader Tyler Lockett. Getting a 20% target share on a (very) low volume passing offense is very different from getting 20% of the targets on an offense near the top of the league in pass attempts. A 20% target share on last year’s Rams, for instance, would have come out to 126 targets.
Nevertheless! It’s tough—impossible, some say—to ignore a rookie wide receiver who gets such a solid target share.
I recently argued that the Seahawks will probably throw the ball more in 2020 than they did last season, for a variety of reasons: their run-play percentage coming back to a more normalized rate, there’s been consistent talk of giving Russell Wilson more control of the offense, and the development of a pass catcher like Metcalf, who could make a career of posterizing cornerbacks who risk it all to go one-on-one with the physically dominant wideout.
It wouldn’t take much for Metcalf to see an opportunity boost without getting a significantly larger share of the Seahawks’ targets. If Seattle ran the ball on 43% of their plays instead of their 2019 rate of 45%, that would tack on about 25 attempts for the season. Metcalf, if he once again saw a 20% target share, would get around 111 targets in that scenario.
And if Metcalf overtakes Lockett—who’s hardly the prototypical No. 1 wideout—his target share could exceed 23%. With his impressive rookie year yards per reception of 15.5 (the 13th-highest in the NFL), Metcalf would likely pass 850 yards with a few games left in the season. Of course, Metcalf’s prospects for going beyond 850 yards this season doesn’t hinge on him maintaining that stellar yards per catch. But with a yards per target of 9.0 in 2019, it’s not tough to imagine him doing just that.
Projecting regression for a receiver of Metcalf’s pedigree isn’t a great bet. Some might say it’s a bad bet. Attached to an efficient passer like Wilson, Metcalf has a chance of making his yardage over/under look silly this season.
Justin Jefferson over 675.5 receiving yards
4for4 projection: 778 yards
The rookie Vikings’ wideout steps into an offense missing Stefon Diggs’s 63 receptions for 1,130 yards. Obviously we’re not transferring Diggs’s entire opportunity to Jefferson, and thankfully, we wouldn’t need to for the rookie to go over the 675.5-yard mark.
Jefferson’s 2020 over-under would have been a pretty modest 19% of the Vikings’ 2019 passing production. Diggs, meanwhile, accounted for 32.3% of the team’s 2019 passing yardage—a gaping void Jefferson was drafted to help fill. This assumes Mike Zimmer can continue his high-testosterone offensive approach, passing the ball only when absolutely necessary.
Minnesota ran that ball on 48.3% of their offensive snaps last year; a mere three teams posted a higher rate. Bump that to 50%—or something radical like 53%—and Jefferson’s prospects of cracking 675 yards looks an awful lot like a lock. The Vikings’ pass total climbing from 466 to somewhere around 500—basically two more passes per game—means Jefferson would need to claim a 13% target share at a modest 10.5 yards per reception (Jamison Crowder territory) to go over 675 yards. That seems eminently doable.
There are loads of scenarios in which Jefferson exceeds 675 receiving yards this season. There’s a reasonable scenario where the Vikings take to the air more than they’d like, Jefferson seizes a solid target share of around 15% in a passing attack centered around Adam Thielen and the rookie, and Jefferson pushes for 1,000 yards. Yeah, it’d make Zimmer madder than hell, but it’d be good for those taking the over on Jefferson’s yardage total
|Marquise Brown 800.5 Receiving Passing Yards||Over||-110||1.0||Bet Now!|
|DK Metcalf 850.5 Receiving Yards||Over||-110||1.0||Bet Now!|
|Justin Jefferson 675.5 Receiving Yards||Over||-110||1.0||Bet Now!|
Note: All advice in this article is based on odds available on the date of publishing.