Let’s take a little break from NCAA football markets and take a look at the NFL. Shocker, there is a lot to get down on already, if you are so inclined.
Right now I am looking at futures and love what I am seeing in the passing yards leader market. Obviously, an injury derails these plays in a heartbeat, and that can happen any second between now and when the season starts, or during, but there are so many good options and an exciting group of four players at the top of the market, all priced at +800 right now. That is a pretty nice payout for a “chalky” pick, and you can make an argument for taking all four and still making money.
Those players are Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford and Patrick Mahomes. By no coincidence, those same four players were ranked first to fourth in passing yards a year ago. (Brady won by just over 300 yards.)
Let’s take a look at the whole market and see where we can find some really good values. There are a lot of them. This is definitely a market where a portfolio approach can make sense because the payoffs are so good.
Passing yards futures market
The Big 4 — Brady, Herbert, Stafford, Mahomes +800
These are all elite players, but I was a little surprised with Mahomes being priced the way he is. He finished fourth in the league in passing a year ago, and star wideout Tyreek Hill is now in Miami. He is not going to fall off dramatically, but he has ground to make up on the others, I would have gone +1000.
Brady’s situation is pretty stable on the field, but you have to wonder what the coaching changes mean for him. It could be nothing, but if things are off a little, there is competition at the top.
In this group, I like Herbert the best. He has been awesome and durable in his short career, and there is no reason to think he can’t keep it up. The offense is dependent on him playing at an elite level to win too.
I am not sure if it will be a thing in L.A., but often teams have a hangover after a Super Bowl. Stafford gets a new target to play with in Allen Robinson, so any dip will not be because the team is not what it was during the title run.
Joe Burrow, Josh Allen & Derek Carr +1200
This is a fascinating group, but I kind of like it more than the one above, and not just because of the better payouts.
Burrow was awesome last season and might have snuck into the top five in yards had he played the final week of the season. The Bengals were ahead of schedule last year, but even if they have less team success in terms of wins and losses, they are not going to be leaning on Burrow any less. His weapons are fully intact too, and the line should be better.
Allen is the most physically gifted quarterback in the league. He was not as good last season as he was a couple of years ago but he still had a monster campaign. The big question mark this season is how the offense looks with his offensive coordinator Brian Daboll now the head coach of the Giants. If it is business as usual, he should be great.
Carr might be my favorite bet of all. He was fifth in passing yards last season, fewer than 100 yards behind the more heralded Mahomes. That was with elite TE Darren Waller playing only 11 games and without newly acquired Davante Adams, who is maybe the best wide receiver in the league. There is a new head coach, but odds are this team is going to be winning with the offense, not defense.
Russell Wilson +1600
One of the biggest moves of the offseason was the trade of Wilson from Seattle to Denver. The reason it made so much sense is that Denver had seemingly everything but a quarterback this past season. Before last season, Wilson had never missed a game — even though he is small in stature and willing to run, so health is not much of a concern. Also, he has had multiple seasons over 4,000 yards, and with the Broncos looking to keep pace with the other teams in the AFC West, they are going to need production from their new star. It might all break right for him.
Tua Tagovailoa +2500
There are no more excuses for Tua. Maybe he has limited talent and is never going to be elite, but with Hill joining the team, they now have two elite guys after the catch (Jaylen Waddle). Cedrick Wilson is a very good No. 3 receiver, and TE Mike Gesicki has seen his catches and yards increase every season. The tools are all there; the only thing in question is how the new offense looks and whether it gives him the opportunity (or is more run-heavy). The payoff makes it worth a shot.
Kyler Murray +3000
Murray is making more headlines than you would like off the field right now. Nevertheless, he just might want to dominate to prove a point. He threw for more than 3,700 yards last season, but that was in just 14 games, so he could have easily snuck into the top 10 in yards with a little more action. He ran less frequently than he has in the past, which can only help his numbers. Plus, Arizona is a team that needs a lot from its quarterback to win. The price is the key with this one.