Ben's Early 2020 NFL Bets
What's up everyone! It's looking more and more likely that the NFL season will be played in full this fall. This allows us to comfortably place season-long bets and below I broke down three that have already caught my eye.
The Chiefs have never had an Offensive Rookie of the Year, and 2020 could be the year that changes that after selecting Running Back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the last pick in the first round. One thing we know about the award is that recent trends have favored Quarterbacks and Running Backs over Wide Receivers. Since 2005, a Wide Receiver has only won the award two times, with Running Backs taking home six and Quarterbacks winning the remaining seven. Now, this is regarded as a historically great WR class, but I do think that Running Backs will be the least affected offensive position by the Covid-19 pandemic. Quarterbacks are going to struggle more with the lack of in person coaching, and rookie wideouts are going to have limited time to get on page with their franchise QB's. Meanwhile, Running Backs are going to get handed the ball regardless, and if I trust anyone to implement a dynamic talent into their well-oiled machine offense...it's Andy freakin' Reid.
Edwards-Helaire doesn't jump off the page analytically, but he is coming off a historic season at LSU. He compiled 1,867 all-purpose yards in his final year in the Bayou to go along with 17 touchdowns and 55 receptions! Those gaudy pass-catching numbers are critical for me because even if Damien Williams maintains early down work at the beginning of the season we know that Edwards-Helaire will find himself on the field, catching passes from Patrick Mahomes in a juggernaut offensive system. Reid has never spent first round draft capital on the Running Back position, but he did select LeSean McCoy with the 53rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft -- McCoy caught 40 balls during his rookie season.
Scheme is everything in the NFL and Edwards-Helaire just happened to land in the the best possible spot for him. With Mahomes healthy coming off their Super Bowl win, and all of their weapons back for this season, we shouldn't expect their offense to slow down any time soon. Damien Williams is good, but Edwards-Helaire could take this offense to an even higher level and I won't be shocked if he is leading the race of this award mid-season.
The number one rule of sports betting is to always shop around for the best odds, and I wouldn't be shocked to find this at greated than +4000 odds. Hardcore football fans and fantasy footballers know of DJ Moore's tantalizing upside, but he is yet to become a true household name...I expect that to change after the 2020 season. Moore quietly fnished ninth in receiving yards in 2019 (1,175) as a 22 year old in his second year. Note that he also accomplished this with an injured Cam Newton, Kyle Allen and Will Grier at Quarterback...wowza! He's getting two massive upgrades this season, one is at Quarterback with Teddy Bridgewater taking over and the other is in the form of his new Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady. Remember when I was talking about the historic LSU offense above? Yeah, that offense was coordinated by Brady himself...he's the guy that turned Joe Burrow from being turned down at Nebraska into a Heisman trophy winner.
Now, I can't predict how Brady's offense will play in the NFL, but we do know that he is confident that Bridgewater is going to be able to run it smoothly. Bridgewater's game is built on accuracy, something Moore has yet to see at the NFL level. The other factor in play here is how bad the Panthers defense projects to be. They ranked 25th in defensive efficiency per Football Outsiders in 2019, and are losing key guys like James Bradberry and Luke Keuchly this season. The tell-tale sign that their own team expects them to be bad is that they used EVERY draft pick they had this season on defense. This should allow for plenty of shootout type atmosphere's for Brady's offense and it's exactly what we will need for Moore to compile huge receiving numbers. Obviously Moore has some steep competition, but you will be hard-pressed to find someone with more of a chance outside the top-five in my opinion.
I'm actually shocked at how low this number is. It's true that the Cleveland Browns are going to focus on the run game under new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, similar to what he did with the Minnesota Vikings and Dalvin Cook last season. It's also true that Kirk Cousins posted his most effecient season to date under Stefanski last year completing a very nice 69% of his passes, with a 26-6 TD:INT ratio and over 8 Y/PA. Yes, even in a year where Cook rushed for over 1,100 yards and Minnesota ranked fifth in rush attempts per game, Cousins totaled 26 passing touchdowns.
Pretty much anything that could go wrong with Mayfield went wrong in 2019, and he was undoubtedly humbled after setting the rookie record for passing touchdowns (27) in just 13.5 games in 2018. Despite having a disater season, Mayfield still managed to throw 22 touchdowns...just 2.5 less than he is projected to per this prop. He's still surrounded by an all-star receiving cast of Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and newly signed Austin Hooper, and now should be in a much kinder offensive system. The thing that makes me like this bet the most is the Browns schedule. Not only do they project to have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season, but it is especially soft through the air. Per Sharp Football Analysis, Mayfield faced a top-three pass defense schedule in 2019 and that shifts to the NUMBER ONE easiest this season. This is my absolute favorite prop bet for the upcoming season right now.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)