NFL Props: Season-Long NFL Prop Targets

NFL Props: Season-Long NFL Prop Targets

This article is part of our NFL Picks series.

NFL Prop Bets: Season-Long NFL Player Props, Rookie of the Year Best Bets and More

As I work through my own projections it becomes clear that I believe certain things that are out of step with the general public consensus, for better or worse. Looking through prop bets for the 2024 season is maybe the quickest way to determine the specific expectations media and sports books hold for the projected production of NFL players and teams, and this article will mention a few areas where the emerged consensus might prove faulty.

The article is broken up into general subject areas and then looks at some of the specific current betting options regarding that subject. 

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Caleb Williams Passing Yardage (more on Williams under OROY)

In general, I think betting markets are underestimating the passing production Williams will post in the 2024 season. If I had to guess, the market is lower than what Williams warrants because of the understandable rule of anxiety around rookies. One only needs to think back to Trevor Lawrence – a better prospect than Williams – and recall a fully nightmarish rookie season even as the most hyped first-overall quarterback selection since probably Peyton Manning.

Williams is not Manning and isn't even Lawrence, but what's more important to focus on here is the implausibly strong state of the surrounding Chicago offense. First overall pick quarterbacks are point blank not supposed to end up on a team as well-built as the Bears. The system would have seen this through if not for the intervention of the buffoon who bought the Panthers and decided to spend two first overall picks on Bryce Young, handing the second of the two selections to Chicago for what would become the Williams selection. 

It's almost certainly true that Williams steps into the healthiest roster of any first-overall quarterback selection in NFL history. That's enough reason to think general rules won't apply to Williams' first NFL season.

Anyway, here are two props that maybe fail to factor the strength of the Bears' roster or/and perhaps overemphasize the historical struggles of rookie quarterbacks.

Caleb Williams over 3450.5 pass yards (-112 FD)
Caleb Williams over 3500.5 pass yards (-110 DK)

Part of the draw here is that ~3,500 yards simply isn't very much by today's standards. I think there's a good chance Williams hits this mark in 14 or 15 games. Over a 17-game season, Williams would only require 206 passing yards per game to clear these two props. If Williams throws the ball 30 times per game at 7.0 yards per attempt (both low figures) he'll still project for 3,570 yards.

Those numbers are low just in general – there should probably be about 800 yards difference between the passing projections for Williams and fellow rookie Jayden Daniels, yet books are setting Daniels' o/u around 3,100 or even 3,200 yards. Williams is a better passer than Daniels to a greater degree than that, and that's clear even before you factor in a Chicago offense that features the league's best three-wideout rotation in D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze.

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2024 Offensive Rookie of the Year/Rookie Stat Leaders

Caleb Williams AP OROY (+170 FD, +135 DK)
Caleb Williams: Most Regular Season Rookie Passing Yards (+100 DK)
Marvin Harrison: Most Regular Season Rookie Receiving Yards (+175 DK, +150 FD)

For the Williams picks it's largely the same logic as for targeting his yardage overs, but I think it's a near fact that for Williams to not win Offensive Rookie of the Year will require him getting hurt. Even if Williams didn't deserve the title he'd probably win it because he'll be a Day 1 starter for what should be a serious playoff team in Chicago. The defense is at a playoff level, allowing the Bears to convert points into victories at a favorable rate, and the offense is downright easy to play in with Moore, Allen and Odunze at receiver. 

Williams should be the face of a team consistently in playoff discussions after September, and his role is a low-pressure one given all the help he has at his side. Marvin Harrison is the main threat to beat Williams for OROY – quarterbacks like Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye stand no chance in my opinion, especially Daniels – but generally quarterback overrules any other position even when the two aren't even fairly comparable.

The Harrison selection is easy to understand: Harrison will lead rookies in all receiving stats except for maybe touchdowns, but he'll probably lead them in that, too. The markets understandably don't want to set odds such that it's truly assumed Harrison goes unchallenged for this title, but if he's healthy he will.

Malik Nabers can get as many targets as he or the Giants want – the efficiency between Harrison and Kyler Murray versus that of Nabers with Daniel Jones/Drew Lock is such a lopsided comparison that Nabers might need something like 1.25x the target volume of Harrison just to vaguely keep up. We're looking at a difference upwards of 2.0 yards per target between Harrison and Nabers, and there's no reason to just assume Nabers gets more targets than Harrison, either.

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Josh Jacobs From Scrimmage

Jacobs over 1000.5 rushing yards (+100 DK)
Jacobs over 7.5 rushing touchdowns (+100 DK, -102 FD)

There's a general edge in targeting Jacobs right now, be it in betting or fantasy. There are understandable anxieties about the Packers using a running back rotation and that permeates the market, but I think those anxieties don't hold up under scrutiny. The generally repeated line is that Matt LaFleur Always Rotates Running Backs, and therefore the Unders at large must be the bet for Jacobs. Again, I don't believe this for a second.

It's true that Aaron Jones averaged only 13.2 carries per game under LaFleur, but even as one of Jones' longest-standing fans (yes, I was ground floor fan club since UTEP) even I would have advised LaFleur to limit Jones' workload the same way. Jones was never built for the beating it takes to push for 20 or even 18 carries per game over a season – this is true both in the sense that Jones isn't physically built to handle it, but also because he's not enough of a classic power runner to draw enough reps in those looks to reach the 18- or 20-carry mark. 

To reach volume you need to be able to withstand it, sure, but you also need to draw enough of the finite reps to logistically reach the usage mark in question. If you stand out most consistently on draws, counters, tosses and sweeps but struggle on dives then you're liable to rotate out when the situation calls for a dive play call. If you can't execute dives, in other words, you're not a 20-carry running back.

Neither of these concerns apply to Jacobs. The former Raider can execute any run concept, especially power, and to me it's pretty clear that LaFleur specifically valued this aspect of Jacobs' game. LaFleur likely wanted to give Jones more work all along, in other words, but felt like he couldn't for at least one of the two previously mentioned reasons. If neither of these apply to Jacobs then there's no reason to look at LaFleur's usage of Jones as guidance for how they'll use Jacobs.

If the Packers wanted to use Jacobs like Jones, why would they cut Jones and pay Jacobs more? Think about it. They already had Jones. Jacobs will only leave the field when he's gassed or when the Packers are stuck in some garbage time or another. You'll see the suggestion in fantasy media that third-round rookie pick MarShawn Lloyd will play 'as much as possible' – driven by a soundbite of non-binding coach speak – but something tells me the Packers wouldn't cut a beloved player like Jones, then sign Jacobs for more money than they were paying Jones, and then put Jacobs in a timeshare with a late third-round pick who fumbled 11 times on 325 touches in college.

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Kyler Murray Passing Yardage

Murray has played in five NFL seasons now, and these of course contained a fair number of ups and downs both. It's reasonable to be categorically anxious around any bet Murray-related. Can't argue with that. Still, it should be noted that Murray's per-game passing yardage over those five seasons (240.7 yards) would easily clear his current yardage O/U bet on DraftKings:

Kyler Murray over 3400.5 pass yards (-110 DK)

If Murray were to maintain 240 passing yards per game then he would clear 3,400 yards in the 15th game. There's reason to expect Murray's efficiency stats to be at a career-high in 2024, however, and if that proves true then Murray would reach that yardage mark even faster.

Despite at various points dealing with Kliff Kingsbury, poor offensive line play, limited pass-catching help and even a mid-season return from an ACL tear, Murray goes into 2024 having completed 66.6 percent of his passes at 7.0 YPA in 65 NFL games. The playcalling, blocking and route-running personnel will all in 2024 be the best Murray has ever had in the NFL. Expect Murray to push for 4,000 yards passing this year.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Admittedly, this is getting into the weeds a bit and most people betting should either stay far away or bet very little on the subject of defensive rookie of the year. Indeed, I would approach the DROY question in 2024 by targeting a few players with trivial bets. At least for this year, it's just about impossible to pick from a considerable field of qualified candidates – I wouldn't dare say that Laiatu Latu won't win DROY in 2024, and indeed a person might want to put some of their DROY fund toward a player like him – but I'm more interested at throwing some scratch-off money at the following options according to the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds:

Jared Verse, DE/OLB, LAR (+1200 FD, +1100 DK)

If I had only one bullet to use for DROY I'd probably spend it on Verse at +1200. Verse has much more favorable odds than Dallas Turner (+400 DK, +430 FD) or Latu (+500 FD, +550 DK) but I project him higher in 2024 than either, especially Turner. Verse likely steps into a three-down role for the Rams – a realistic playoff contender who should score frequently enough to provide consistent pass-rushing opportunities – and given that Verse turns 24 in November he shouldn't need as much time to get up to speed as some other rookies might. Byron Young is a lesser prospect than Verse yet produced 61 tackles and 8.0 sacks for the Rams in 2023. I expect Verse's floor to be around those numbers.
 

Nate Wiggins, CB, BAL (+3000 FD, +2200 DK)

Wiggins is riskier than someone like Verse because Wiggins' playing time is not fully assured. Injuries have been an increasing problem for Marlon Humphrey, though, and even if Humphrey stays healthy it's possible that Wiggins' talent is just too loud to keep out of the box score. Although he's skinny at 173 pounds Wiggins is far from bashful on the field, and for awards like DROY a few flashy, memorable turnovers can go a long way. If Wiggins lacks something in terms of physicality then he boasts a rare assortment of big-play abilities otherwise, and if you're looking for entertaining interception returns then Wiggins can provide better than most. That he would be doing it on a likely strong defense and a playoff contender would only add to Wiggins' visibility.

Cole Bishop, S, BUF (+13000 DK, +10000 FD)

As much as Verse is my top overall pick for DROY, Bishop might present the most interesting value potential given the odds. At these odds, you'd give Bishop almost no chance, but the second-round pick could be a three-down player for a Bills defense that already lost longtime starter Jordan Poyer and might lose their other longtime start if Micah Hyde retires.

Even if Sean McDermott has some qualms about playing Bishop right away, there might be no choice on the matter. A second-round pick is a high price to pay at safety, and the duo of Mike Edwards and Taylor Rapp are little more than journeymen. Bishop is certainly more toolsy than either player, boasting a 4.45-second 40-yard dash and 39-inch vertical at 6-foot-2, 206 pounds.

Although Bishop's speed and explosiveness normally projects for centerfielder functions at free safety, Bishop's skill set out of Utah is actually as a hammer in the box. Bishop blitzed a lot near the line of scrimmage for Utah instead of playing downfield, so he could have more interception upside than his college stats might indicate. The Bills will use Bishop less like a rover and more like they used Poyer and Hyde, which is to say an interchangeable free and strong-safety skill set. Both Poyer and Hyde are former corners, so McDermott wouldn't identify Bishop as a potential replacement unless Bishop also projected well for coverage purposes.

It's not easy to produce like Poyer did in Buffalo, but if Bishop can get anywhere near that level then it should get him on the DROY short list. For seven years in a row Poyer produced around 100 tackles for the Bills each year while consistently standing out in coverage, and Bishop is either the long-term or the immediate replacement for that role.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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