NFL Futures Friday: Early Look at Passing Yardage Leaders
I’m excited to be continuing my NFL Futures Friday series, and today I’ll be looking at the projected passing leaders for the upcoming season. As part of my preparation for fantasy football analysis, I make full team projections for all 32 teams. Those numbers change constantly based on new information I’m digesting, so the numbers you see here won’t be my final projections by the end of the season. However, with my preliminary research done, I figured I’d use my projections to analyze the odds board for passing yardage leaders this season.
*Odds sourced from DraftKings Sportsbook
My Projected Pass Yards
Odds to Lead NFL
Justin Herbert (+550): My top-four leaders in projected passing yards currently line up with the top-four in odds on DraftKings, and Justin Herbert is at the top in both. Herbert ranked second in the NFL in passing yards last season with a dynamic duo of receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The Chargers’ improved defense could theoretically limit their need to pass as much, but they play in one of the most talented divisions in football which should provide plenty of shootouts. Herbert should be considered an MVP candidate for this season.
Tom Brady (+700): After a brief retirement bluff earlier this offseason, Tom Brady is back after leading the NFL with 5,316 passing yards last season – only one other quarterback had over 5,000. Brady will be dealing with some significant changes on the Tampa offense, most notably with Chris Godwin’s ACL injury, Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, Antonio Brown’s departure, and a change in offensive line personnel. However, the Buccaneers should continue to rank near the top of the league in passing attempts, and a bet on Brady is a solid one.
Matthew Stafford (+900): Last season, Stafford ranked third in the NFL with 4,886 passing yards and is tied for third in odds with Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. Stafford is my favorite of that bunch, though, as he should only get better in his second season in Sean McVay’s offense. Stafford consistently pushed the ball downfield last season and should thrive on big plays again this year. The arrival of Allen Robinson provides a stellar partner for Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr. could still resign amidst his ACL recovery.
The Mid-Tier Options
Dak Prescott (+1200): Prescott ranked seventh in passing yards last season in just 16 games and ranked second in 2019. In 2020, before his season-ending ankle injury, he was on pace for over 6,000 passing yards. That would never have held up throughout the entire season, but we’ve seen Prescott come through with elite volume in the past. The losses of Amari Cooper and La’el Collins are worth noting, but the offense still has plenty of talent, and as long as Kellen Moore is the offensive coordinator, Prescott is in good shape.
Kirk Cousins (+1800): The arrival of Kevin O’Connel should mean good things for Kirk Cousins after he helped Matthew Stafford ranked fifth in passing yards last season. The Vikings should be a much more innovative offense this year, and they have plenty of high-level pass-catchers with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Irv Smith Jr., and Dalvin Cook. I have Cousins ranked fifth in passing yards in my current projections, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him finish at the top of the league. At +1800 value, this is my favorite bet on the board.
The Dark Horse
Daniel Jones (+8000): I’m not sitting here and telling you we should see Daniel Jones as anything close to a top candidate to lead the league in passing yards, but the +8000 value is obscene. The Giants have real offensive talent with Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, and rookie Wan’Dale Robinson. If there’s anyone who can coax much-improved play out of that group, it would be Brian Daboll. Jones is below Mitchell Trubisky, and just ahead of Taylor Heinecke, Sam Darnold, and Drew Lock, none of whom are guaranteed any sort of playing time this season. Jones is the best value on the board, and I’d be sprinkling on him here.