The 2011 NFL preseason is underway which provides the first taste of all 32 teams in action. The future odds for each team’s chances to win its division, conference, and Super Bowl XLVI as well as its projected win total for the year have already been adjusted to reflect the betting public’s reaction to the recent flurry of player movement through free agency and trades.
The same can be said for individual player props for passing, rushing, and receiving yards. While odds are released for a number of players in each category, the reality is only a handful have a legitimate chance of actually ending up on top. The trick is to try and mine some value from the current odds for the top contenders.
Most Passing Yards
Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning is the current favorite to pass for most yards this season at +400. Under normal circumstances, this would be a good bet as Manning has been consistently near or at the top of this category for the majority of his career. However, there are some serious question marks not just for the health of his neck, but for the health of his team, as the Colts’ current stock continues to drop like a rock.
The next two favorites at +440 are San Diego’s Philip Rivers and New Orleans’ Drew Brees. You cannot go wrong with either of these two as you know they are each going to put up a ton of yards again this year. If you are looking for value in the odds, then take a hard look at Houston QB Matt Schaub at +480. He was the architect behind the third-best passing attack in the league last season and ended the year ranked fourth with 4,370 passing yards. This is coming off a 2009 season when he led the league with 4,770 passing yards. Another point of note is that the Texans lost FB Vonta Leach though free agency. He was the lead blocker for RB Arian Foster last season and his loss could result in an even heavier dependence on the passing game this season.
Most Rushing Yards
The name at the top of this category is Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson at +300. This should be no real surprise as in the four seasons he has played in the NFL; he has rushed for at least 1,300 yards each season. Peterson claimed the title in 2008 with a total of 1,760 yards. The Vikings lost WR Sidney Rice to free agency and are shaping up as a run-first offense. New starting QB Donovan McNabb’s past accuracy issues could only add to Peterson’s carries this season.
Chris Johnson, the second-favorite at +350, had a phenomenal year for Tennessee in 2009 and became just the sixth back in NFL history to rush for more than 2000 yards in a single season. Last season he came back down to earth with a respectable 1,364 yards. This season he is currently holding out for a better contract. Even if the issue gets resolved before opening day, his 700 carries over the past two seasons combined with another season of 300+ attempts could very well end up running Johnson into the ground.
When searching for value in this category, Jamaal Charles at +550 jumps off the page. Charles rushed for 1,467 yards last season for Kansas City, which was the second highest total in the league. He only carried the ball 230 times last year and averaged 6.4 yards an attempt. There is little doubt that he will once again be a huge part of the Chiefs’ offensive attack which should equate to even more yards in 2011.
Most Receiving Yards
The main reason that Texan QB Matt Schaub has been consistently at the top of the list in passing yards the past few seasons is WR Andre Johnson, who is the favorite in this category at +350. Johnson has been unstoppable the past three seasons with 302 receptions for 4,360 yards. His numbers dropped off a bit last season with the emergence of Arian Foster and the running game, but with Foster’s lead blocker gone, the Texans will most likely have to revert back to the passing game as their primary way to move the ball.
Reggie Wayne and Roddy White are the second-favorites at +400, but the value pick in this category is Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald at +500. Fitzgerald has consistently been at the top of this list since entering the league in 2004. He has caught at least 90 passes in each of the last four seasons and still racked up 1,137 yards in 2010 with four different quarterbacks throwing him the ball. The addition of QB Kevin Kolb gives Fitzgerald a legitimate arm to get him the ball, so look for the pass-happy Cardinals to return to their old ways when Kurt Warner was still running the show.