2023 NFL Season Leaders Odds, Picks: Bets on Yards, TDs, More

2023 NFL Season Leaders Odds, Picks: Bets on Yards, TDs, More article feature image

Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Olave.

Betting on season leaders can be a fun way to invest in the NFL regular season. For 18 games, you've got your own version of fantasy football, with key names to watch and root for each Sunday as they rack up yards, touchdowns, and perhaps even interceptions.

I love these markets and we'll come back to them and add to our portfolios all season. Let's get everything started with a look at eight major season leaders categories in passing, rushing, and receiving.

For each season leaders market below, you'll see my best bet and at least one long shot I'm sprinkling. You'll also see last year's winner, the number I'm targeting for each category in 2023, and an ordered watch list of names I'm keeping a close eye on as the season starts out.

Check out last year's season leaders series for a more in-depth historical profile at each award:

Statistical Category
Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Rushing Yards
Rushing Touchdowns
Receiving Yards
Receiving Touchdowns
Best Bets

Most Passing Yards

Last Year's Winner
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: 5,250 yards

2023 Target
5,000+ yards (300 per game)

Best Bet: Josh Allen, Bills (+1400 via BetRivers)

I won't bet many season leaders favorites, but I'll make an exception for Allen since he's my outright favorite and the only quarterback I have projected at 5,000 yards. He's the fourth-favorite on the board but still available at a bargain price at BetRivers, the same price as Kirk Cousins at most places.

Allen had 4,283 yards but was on pace for 5,338 yards and 46 TDs through seven games before an elbow injury waylaid his numbers, and he also had that canceled game against the Bengals. Allen hasn't missed a start since his rookie season, and Buffalo has ranked top five in passing attempts twice in a row.

A healthy Allen will be chucking it deep with better accuracy. He's averaged 270 yards a game across the last three seasons. Allen has a Charmin-soft schedule to start, with a chance to roll up big numbers early en route to an 8-0 start. This number will be much shorter then and give us options for the second half.

Longshot Bet: Derek Carr, Saints (+3500 via BetMGM)

Many times, the best way to bet season leaders is by looking at coaching history, and the Saints have a lot of it under longtime OC Pete Carmichael.

Carmichael's Saints ranked top 10 in the NFL in passing yards each of his first 11 seasons as OC before the last three years. That included nine straight top-five yardage finishes for Drew Brees, including an incredible seven times as the leader in this category. So, what happened the last three years? Drew Brees retired, the Saints rotated through a cast of QBs the team didn't trust, and Carmichael skewed run-heavy.

That should change with Derek Carr, easily the best passer this offense will have featured in years. Carr has great weapons in sophomore Chris Olave — we'll be hearing more from him — and hopefully Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, if both can get on the field, and he looks tailor-made to take on the old Brees role and put up huge numbers in this offense.

It's as much a bet on Carmichael as it is on Carr. I'll play over 3,550.5 yards (Caesars) with confidence, given Carr's health. I like him at -155 (FanDuel) to lead a bad NFC South in passing yards too.

2023 Watch List
Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa, Matt Stafford, Trevor Lawrence

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Most Passing Touchdowns

Last Year's Winner
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: 41 TDs

2023 Target
40+ TDs (2.5 per game)

Best Bet: Dak Prescott, Cowboys (+2000 via BetRivers)

Allen is my  projected leader here too, but at +600 that's a good example of a favorite I'll stay away from. Instead, give me my MVP pick.

Prescott has only topped 30 passing TDs once, but his TD rate has leapt from 4.6 to 6.1% over the past two seasons and he had 37 in 2021. Mike McCarthy will call the plays now, and his offenses skew pass-heavy. The Cowboys ranked second in rushing TDs with 24 but Ezekiel Elliott is gone now and McCarthy's teams are usually around league average in rushing scores, so that could shift five or 10 in Prescott's direction.

Dallas is my NFC 1-seed and my top-ranked defense, and that means plenty of opportunities to score on a short field. Anyone you're considering for MVP better be able to put up big TD numbers — four of the last five MVPs also led the league in passing scores.

Longshot Bet: Brock Purdy, 49ers (+6000 via BetRivers)

Again, this reflects my MVP long shot bet, and it's highly correlated.

Purdy threw at least two TDs all six games last season down the stretch, a pace of 37 scores over a full season. That's not bad for a Mr. Irrelevant rookie stepping in on a minute's notice! Kyle Shanahan's system is built to make life easy on the quarterback, and he was the OC when Matt Ryan won MVP and finished second in passing TDs in 2016.

Purdy showed great chemistry with George Kittle in the red zone and has plenty of other weapons in Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. The 49ers are widely considered one of the top three teams in a weak NFC, with a terrific defense that should set them up for plenty of scores. If Purdy is as good as his team believes him to be, this number is just too long.

2023 Watch List
Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins

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Most Interceptions

Last Year's "Winner"
Dak Prescott, Cowboys & Davis Mills, Texans: 15 interceptions

2023 Target
15+ interceptions (one per game)

Best Bet: Geno Smith, Seahawks (+2000 via DraftKings)

Josh Allen and Matt Stafford feel like the correct favorites, but with such a low target over a long season, this is absolutely not the category to back a favorite.

Smith was the Most Improved Player because he took a huge leap in accuracy and cut the turnovers with only 11 interceptions and a passable 1.9% interception rate. But dig a little deeper. As Seattle's young offensive line faltered over the back half of the season, Smith's numbers dropped too. He threw seven interceptions over the final seven games and reminded us that he still struggles greatly with pressure.

He actually led the league in Turnover-Worthy Passes with 29, per PFF. He just wasn't punished for them until late in the season. But even including last year's numbers, which comprise about a third of his career stats, Smith still sits at a 3.0% interception rate for his career.

I don't trust Seattle's line, and the Seahawks face eight of my top-12 pass rushes — not even counting the San Francisco games. Smith will be under heat all season and could turn back into a pumpkin.

Longshot Bet: Justin Fields (+3000 via DraftKings)

I'm actually betting on some Fields improvement here — hear me out.

Fields has been bad at just about everything as a passer in his career, but we haven't really noticed the interceptions at 10 and 11 because he throws the ball so rarely. The interception rate at 3.6% though — almost twice the rate of good QBs — is horrendous. If Fields actually improves enough to get more of a green light as a passer, increasing his volume, those interceptions will tick up too.

The attempts were already creeping up the back half of last season, and unless Fields gets hurt, it's not like the Bears have any choice but to keep rolling with their guy with only Tyson Bagent behind him. Fields had the highest Turnover-Worthy Pass rate among all starters at 4.4%, up from 3.7% the year before. The mistake throws are there.

If Chicago gives Fields more chances to throw this season, his interceptions number will spike.

2023 Watch List
Matt Stafford, Josh Allen, Kenny Pickett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Justin Herbert, Bryce Young, Deshaun Watson, Anthony Richardson, Lamar Jackson

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Most Rushing Yards

Last Year's Winner
Josh Jacobs, Raiders: 1,653 yards

2023 Target
1,400+ yards (80 per game)

Best Bet: Dameon Pierce, Texans (+4000 via BetMGM)

Pierce quietly had a very nice rookie season for the Texans with 939 yards on 220 carries, an impressive 4.3 YPC considering how horrendous Houston's run blocking has been in recent years. Expect that to change under new OC Bobby Slowik, who comes from the Kyle Shanahan tree where the run game looks so easy, and an improving young offensive line should help too if it can get healthy.

The back was a workhorse for Houston, averaging around 20 carries a game, and the team treated him that way in the preseason too. Devin Singletary is here now but feels more like a change-of-pace back. Volume is king with running backs, and Pierce has a real chance to see 300+ carries, especially if Houston improves as I expect and isn't trailing all season. If he can also get a boost on that 4.3 YPC in Slowik's system, that could add up to a monster year.

Pierce is my outright favorite to lead the league in rushing, and he's my top RB in fantasy drafts this fall. I'm also betting him at +650 to rush for at least 1,250 yards (FanDuel) as a more moderate target.

I'm all-in on Houston, and Dameon Pierce might be my favorite season leaders bet.

Longshot Bet: JK Dobbins, Ravens (+4000 via DraftKings)

JK Dobbins has the highest YPC of any running back in league history with at least 200 carries. His 5.9 YPC ranks ninth all time behind only scrambling quarterbacks. He's been insanely efficient with touches and ranked second in Explosive Run Rate last year, with 10% of his carries going for 15 yards or more.

All the focus in Baltimore this season is on the presumed move to a spread pass-heavy offense under OC Todd Monken, but this team will still run the ball some and that spread-out look could just give Dobbins more room than ever. He finally looked healthy again late last season with 397 yards in four games after returning from injury, and that's about the right timeline for full recovery from that 2021 torn ACL.

Dobbins is the clear lead guy in Baltimore, and you don't need many carries to rack up yards if you rip off six yards a pop every carry. If he finally has a healthy campaign, he could have a huge year.

Keep an Eye On: Jonathan Taylor, Colts

Taylor's number will only drop the next four weeks as he watches from the PUP list, but I'll be tempted to nibble if he looks ready to return to the Colts after that. I love how Taylor fits next to Anthony Richardson and an improved offensive line in Shane Steichen's offense, and he would've been my pick in this category if healthy. Be ready to nibble in a month if he's cleared.

2023 Watch List
Nick Chubb, Bijan Robinson, Josh Jacobs, Kenneth Walker, Saquon Barkley, Brian Robinson

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Most Rushing Touchdowns

Last Year's Winner
Jamaal Williams, Lions: 17 TDs

2023 Target
15+ TDs (one per game)

Best Bet: Austin Ekeler, Chargers (+1700 via BetRivers)

Ekeler is my projected leader, and he's another relative favorite with a long enough number to bet.

He had 12 and 13 rushing TDs the last two seasons – already enough to be in the conversation here especially for a Chargers team that should be improved. But my bet is on both Ekeler and his new OC Kellen Moore, because Moore leans more run-heavy than departed OC Joe Lombardi and also brings a much higher goal-line run rate.

Just look at the Dallas rushing TD numbers in recent years. Ezekiel Elliott had 12, 10, six, and 12 the last four seasons, and Tony Pollard added nine last year too. The floor for a healthy Ekeler is very high. I love his over 7.5 rushing TDs (FanDuel) and expect him to be in the mix here a third straight year.

Longshot Bet: David Montgomery, Lions (+3000 via Caesars)

I won't bet last year's leader Jamaal Williams now that he's left for the Saints, but I'm grabbing his replacement in Montgomery and hoping lightning strikes twice.

Williams was a shock winner in this category last fall with six multi-TD games and at least one rushing touchdown in 10 games. Ben Johnson's offense likes to run it in, and you can hardly blame him with one of the best two or three offensive lines in the league.

Detroit invested big in RB Jahmyr Gibbs, but he's 20 pounds lighter than Montgomery and had only 18 TDs in three college seasons. I expect Montgomery to get the Williams role at the goal line for Detroit, and he averaged 6.5 rushing scores for a bad Chicago line and had 11 and 13 TDs his final two seasons at Iowa State. Don't be surprised if he steps in right where Williams left off.

Super Longshot Nibble: D'Andre Swift, Eagles (+10000 via BetRivers)

The Eagles led the league in rushing TDs in each of the past two seasons with 57 combined, so there's plenty to go around. Jalen Hurts will likely end up leading the team, but Philadelphia's running back room has been refreshed and Swift looks like the best option. He's run for 18 TDs on just 364 carries across three seasons, showing a nice nose for the endzone. This is the team to take a wild shot on.

2023 Watch List
Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, Jalen Hurts, Tony Pollard, Bijan Robinson, Kenneth Walker, A.J. Dillon, Isaiah Pacheco, Jonathan Taylor

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Most Receptions

Last Year's Winner
Justin Jefferson, Vikings: 128 receptions

2023 Target
125 receptions (about 7.5 a game)

Best Bet: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions (+1800 via DraftKings)

We nailed this one in last year's column with Justin Jefferson cashing at +1000, but hilariously he wasn't even my favorite bet for this market. I was absolutely enamored with Amon-Ra St. Brown and couldn't believe he was 40-to-1 after the way he'd finished the previous season.

We're not getting as long of a number this year, but I have to play St. Brown again. He became the go-to guy in OC Ben Johnson's offense the moment he took over with six games left in 2021, and Detroit has never looked back. St. Brown had 11 games with at least nine targets last season despite missing a game and really three games as he got back to full health.

If you remove that three-game stretch, St. Brown would've paced to 169 targets for 123 catches and 1,383 yards last fall, just a few catches away from winning this market. His pace was even higher to close the previous season, and it could spike again this year with Detroit lacking receiving options with Jameson Williams suspended to start the season.

The Sun God is Detroit's Cooper Kupp and he's capable of putting up a huge number here.

Longshot Bet: Chris Olave, Saints (+4000 via FanDuel)

I promised you we'd get back to Olave.

Olave is my pick for sophomore breakout star, and I already wrote about him as a sleeper pick for Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY). He quietly put up elite receiver metrics last year, not just among rookies but already among the very best names at the position.

He ranked fifth in the NFL in Yards Per Route Run, and if you don't know if that stat means much, here's the rest of the top nine: Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle, A.J. Brown, Davante Adams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Stefon Diggs, and CeeDee Lamb. And that was as a rookie playing with Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Taysom Hill at QB!

This year Olave gets a big upgrade and some stability in Derek Carr, and it looks like a perfect match. Olave excels running the same seam route Carr threw to Darren Waller so often, and Carr has a big history of favoring his top pass catcher. Carr's frequent targets (Adams, Waller, and Hunter Renfrow) have hit 100 receptions in three straight seasons, and Olave should make it four.

This looks like a perfect marriage between Carr, Olave, and OC Pete Carmichael. If the Saints swing pass-heavy again like they did with Brees, Olave will be a huge target. I'll go over 72.5 receptions (BetRivers).

2023 Watch List
Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, Travis Kelce, DeVonta Smith, CeeDee Lamb, Garrett Wilson, Keenan Allen, T.J. Hockenson, Darren Waller

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Most Receiving Yards

Last Year's Winner
Justin Jefferson, Vikings: 1,809 yards

2023 Target
1,700+ yards (100 per game)

Best Bet: Chris Olave, Saints (+3000 via BetMGM)

More Olave! We're going for the double, and we hit the double last year when we grabbed Justin Jefferson here too for another winner at +1000. We just made the case for Olave seeing a ton of balls in that Saints offense, and if you only want to bet him for one season leaders pick, I like this one even more.

It's not just that Olave should see a ton of volume — he's already proving super efficient with his touches too. That's what that high Yards Per Route Run tells us, and Olave's impressive 14.5 YPC stands out too. Even 100 catches would put Olave at 1,450 yards, and extra catches could make him the yardage king.

Carr has supported a 1,000-yard receiver in 5-of-6 seasons, including Adams, Renfrow, Waller, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree. He locked onto Adams all last season in Las Vegas and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him form quick chemistry with Olave, especially if Michael Thomas sees his usual injuries.

Olave had 1,042 yards as a rookie despite making only nine starts. I'll go over 1,000.5 yards (DraftKings), and he might clear that by December. Give me Olave at +155 (FanDuel) to lead the NFC South too.

Longshot Bet: Calvin Ridley, Jaguars (+4000 via FanDuel)

It's been awhile since we've seen Calvin Ridley's best after an injury-plagued 2021 and then a full-year suspension for gambling, but he's wearing teal and gold now and looks himself in preseason.

When we last saw Ridley healthy, he was the latest third-year WR breakout with a monster campaign of 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine TDs. At that point of his career, Ridley was averaging 70 yards a game on 14.1 YPC lifetime. The numbers fell off dramatically as Ridley played through injury, but this is a bet on him returning to top-10 WR status.

Jacksonville gave 133 and 121 targets to Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. Ridley is far more talented than both and should quickly become Trevor Lawrence's go-to target. That should mean north of 150 targets and push Ridley into triple-digit catches. He's got a path to 1,500 yards or more in this pass-heavy offense.

My favorite division season leader on the board is Ridley at +250 (FanDuel) in an AFC South littered with bad passing offenses, young QBs, and blah receivers.

Keep an Eye On: Tyreek Hill, Dolphins

Hill is my pick for OPOY, and his numbers last year were bonkers. He had seven 100-yard receiving games, including four of the NFL's 16 with at least 160. Cheetah led all players in Yards Per Route Run at almost three, far ahead of No. 2 below 2.5, despite a bunch of time playing with Miami backup QBs.

Hill was on pace for 2,085 yards after nine games last fall. He's my projected leader here, but with a difficult schedule I'll wait and hope to get a better price later since Hill tends to run hot and cold.

2023 Watch List
Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Travis Kelce, Garrett Wilson, CeeDee Lamb, DeVonta Smith, Davante Adams, Jaylen Waddle

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Most Receiving Touchdowns

Last Year's Winner
Davante Adams, Raiders: 14 TDs

2023 Target
15+ TDs (one per game)

Best Bet: Calvin Ridley, Jaguars (+3000 via BetRivers)

I truly believe Ridley is set up to have a monster season in Jacksonville, and he looks like one of the best fantasy bargains on the board with first-round upside. If he does prove to be that valuable, it'll be because of his touchdown upside.

Ridley has 10, seven, and nine TDs in his three healthy seasons. His career TD rate per reception is an impressive 11.3%, and it was 12.0% before the injury-plagued 2021 season. Many receivers are around half that rate, and only a few TD legends like Rob Gronkowski (14.8%) top that number. That's how much of a nose Ridley has shown for the endzone.

Jacksonville should score plenty in a soft division, and Ridley has a great chance to lead the team in TDs. He should hit double digits, so I love the over 5.5 TDs (FanDuel). I won't be even a little surprised if Ridley ends up putting up something like 110/1600/14 and competes for the No. 1 overall fantasy WR slot. If you only want to play one Ridley bet, I prefer TDs over yards.

Longshot Bet: Mike Evans, Buccaneers (+6000 via BetRivers)

Evans is another one of those rare players with a TD rate better than Ridley's. His career 11.9% is an absurd number for a player with 683 catches, well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

Evans has four seasons with at least 12 receiving touchdowns, and he had 13 and 14 the two seasons before last year's disappointing year as Tampa's offense sputtered. Tom Brady was not willing to put the ball in harm's way and let 6-foot-5 Evans go up and get it, but a gunslinger like Baker Mayfield will be more than happy to give Evans a shot. He could get off to a quick start against Minnesota's young corners in Week 1.

Evans has been my go-to pick in this category for years, so there's no way I'm not betting him at 60-to-1. Give me his over 5.5 TDs (Caesars) too, a number he's gone over in five straight and seven of nine years.

Super Longshot Nibble: George Pickens, Steelers (+10000 via BetRivers)

If I had to pick an candidate for next Mike Evans, it might be George Pickens. The rookie made a handful of spectacular catches down the sidelines for Pittsburgh, an athletic 6-foot-3 with a huge catch radius.

Pickens was clearly Kenny Pickett's favorite target, and his numbers reflected it. He had only 10 catches in five games without Pickett but paced to 60 catches for 885 yards and 5.7 TDs when Pickett played.

Pickett isn't the most accurate quarterback, but he's shown huge trust in Pickens and is willing to throw it up there and give his guy a chance. The over 4.5 TDs at +110 (BetRivers) is probably the better play here, but if Pittsburgh's offense surprises, Pickens could be a shock competitor in the category at 100-to-1.

Keep an Eye On: Cooper Kupp, Rams

Kupp would be my outright pick in this market if we knew he was healthy, but he re-aggravated that hamstring injury and could miss the start of the season or play hampered. I'll be monitoring closely and looking to buy low. Kupp caught 16 TDs two years ago, then six in effectively eight games last year.

Including the playoffs, he's caught 28 TDs in 29 games with Matt Stafford in Los Angeles. He can win this category even if he misses a couple games, so keep an eye on health and look to add him later.

2023 Watch List
Ja'Marr Chase, Davante Adams, DeVonta Smith, Travis Kelce, CeeDee Lamb, Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown, Tyler Lockett, Garrett Wilson, Justin Jefferson

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Season Leader Best Bets

Best Bets

  • Dameon Pierce rushing yards (+4000 via BetMGM)
  • Chris Olave receiving yards (+3000 via BetMGM)
  • Calvin Ridley receiving TDs (+3000 via BetRivers)

Favorite Longshots

  • Mike Evans receiving TDs (+6000 via BetRivers)
  • David Montgomery rushing TDs (+3000 via Caesars)
  • D'Andre Swift rushing TDs (+10000 via BetRivers)

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