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Freedman: The 12 Longshots I’m Betting to Lead the NFL in Receiving Yards

Credit:

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: JuJu Smith-Schuster.

In most NFL seasons, the player who leads the league in yards receiving is someone widely acknowledged entering the year as one of the NFL’s top wide receivers. Usually in the top six.

Think of the receiving yardage leaders in each of the past three years.

  • 2019: Michael Thomas – 1,725 yards
  • 2018: Julio Jones – 1,677 yards
  • 2017: Antonio Brown – 1,533 yards

Thomas entered last year fresh off a 1,400-yard campaign in which he amassed an NFL-high 125 receptions. Jones entered 2018 with four straight 1,400-yard seasons and a ridiculous per-game career mark of 95.3 yards. And Brown entered 2017 with four consecutive 1,200-yard performances and back-to-back-to-back All-Pro nominations.

In 2020, the guy who leads the league in receiving yards will probably be someone we already think of as one the NFL’s elite wide receivers.

But it doesn’t always work out that way.

Maybe every five years or so — roughly 20% of the time — the league leader is just an above-average veteran who lucks his way into a lot of targets, or a snake-bitten playmaker who stays healthy for a full season, or an up-and-coming first-contract breakout who exceeds expectations.

Think of T.Y. Hilton in 2016, Josh Gordon in 2013, Brandon Lloyd in 2010, Steve Smith in 2005, Muhsin Muhammad in 2004, David Boston in 2001 and Rob Moore in 1997.

Sometimes the guys who lead the league are surprises.

Keeping in mind that there’s maybe a one-fifth historical chance that a receiver not near the top of the odds board will actually be the league leader in yardage, I have combed through lots of sportsbooks and found 12 guys I think offer value at their odds and whose collective implied probability to win is around 20%. To be precise, 20.396%.

Implied probability is simply the odds of a bet translated into the break-even percentage. The formula: Implied odds = the amount you wager divided by the amount you wager and win. If you bet $100 to win $200 (at +200 odds), the implied probability is 33.3%: $100/($100 + $200). For more on implied probability, check out our free betting odds calculator.

How should you bet on these 12 wide receivers? If you want, you can bet on them in a balanced fashion by putting more action on the guys likelier to win the bet so that you’ll get approximately the same amount of money regardless of whoever wins (assuming one of them wins).

Or you can be rather unscientific about it and put $10 (or $100 or whatever you’re comfortable with) on each guy. That’s what I’m doing. With this approach, you’ll make more if one of the guys with really long odds ends up hitting.

At this point in the offseason, here are the 12 longshots I like to lead the NFL in receiving yardage for 2020.

Player Odds Implied Probability
Amari Cooper +3300 2.94%
JuJu Smith-Schuster +3500 2.78%
T.Y. Hilton +3500 2.78%
Courtland Sutton +4200 2.33%
D.J. Moore +5000 1.96%
Terry McLaurin +6500 1.52%
Will Fuller +8000 1.24%
Robert Woods +9000 1.10%
Michael Gallup +10000 0.99%
Marquise Brown +10000 0.99%
Tyler Boyd +10000 0.99%
DeSean Jackson +12500 0.79%

Check out Freedman’s yardage projections for each wide receiver in our fantasy football draft kit.

Amari Cooper +3300

Cooper has four 1,000-yard campaigns in five seasons, and the Cowboys seem likely to play fast and throw frequently under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and head coach Mike McCarthy.

Implied Probability: 2.94%
Action:
 +3300 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

JuJu Smith-Schuster +3500

Last year, Smith-Schuster dealt with knee, toe and concussion issues while missing four games and playing without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but in 2018 he racked up 1,426 yards receiving in 16 games with his starting passer.

Implied Probability: 2.78%
Action:
+3500 at BetMGM

[Bet now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

T.Y. Hilton +3500

Hilton has already led the league in receiving once, and he’s gone over 1,000 yards in each of his five most recent seasons with someone other than quarterback Jacoby Brissett throwing him the ball.

Implied Probability: 2.78%
Action: +3500 at BetMGM

[Bet now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

Courtland Sutton +4200

On a Broncos team that had three different starting quarterbacks and ranked No. 29 with just 954 offensive plays, Sutton managed 1,112 yards receiving. Now with OC Pat Shurmur he should play in an offense that plays faster, throws more frequently and produces yardage more efficiently.

Implied Probability: 2.33%
Action: +4200 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

D.J. Moore +5000

Even though he missed a game in 2019 and played with three different quarterbacks on a team that lost its coach in the middle of the season, Moore had a DeAndre Hopkins-esque season breakout with 1,175 yards receiving, and now with HC Matt Rhule, OC Joe Brady and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater he could absolutely smash if everything comes together.

Implied Probability: 1.96%
Action: +5000 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Terry McLaurin +6500

With 919 yards in 14 games, McLaurin had a Gordon-like rookie campaign in 2019, and now he’s primed to dominate usage on a Washington team that will likely need to throw to stay in games and has almost no one else to catch the ball.

Implied Probability: 1.52%
Action: +6500 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Will Fuller +8000

The Texans freed up 150 targets by trading former No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, and Fuller enters the year healthy with an average of 74.6 yards across the 18 games in which he and quarterback Deshaun Watson both played 80% of the offensive snaps.

Implied Probability: 1.24%
Action: +8000 at PointsBet & bet365

Robert Woods +9000

Woods has back-to-back seasons with 1,100-plus yards, the departure of Brandin Cooks should free up more targets and the Rams have had a top-four passing offense in each of the past two years.

Implied Probability: 1.10%
Action: +9000 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Michael Gallup +10000

In just his second season, Gallup was No. 6 last year with an average of 79.1 yards across 14 games for the Cowboys, and in his most recent 16-game stretch dating back to the 2018-19 postseason he has put up 1,244 yards receiving.

Implied Probability: 0.99%
Action: +10000 at FanDuel & bet365

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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Marquise Brown +10000

Despite playing through a foot injury for most of 2019, Hollywood flashed his playmaking ability with 147 yards in his career debut and 126 yards in Baltimore’s postseason loss, and now he’s healthy and slated to be the No. 1 wide receiver on a potent Ravens offense likely to pass more.

Implied Probability: 0.99%
Action: +10000 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Tyler Boyd +10000

For years, I have thought that Boyd is a minimally talented volume-based slot-bound luck-induced situation-dependent receiver — and I kind of still think that — but he has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and the Bengals could be significantly better on offense with quarterback Joe Burrow.

Implied Probability: 0.99%
Action: +10000 at FanDuel

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

DeSean Jackson +12500

In D-Jax’s most recent (mostly) healthy 16-game stretch from Week 13 of 2017 to Week 1 of 2019, he put up 1,004 yards receiving, and he’s now healthy and ready to be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Eagles thanks to injuries to teammates Alshon Jeffery (foot) and Jalen Reagor (shoulder).

Implied Probability: 0.79%
Action: +12500 at BetMGM

[Bet now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]



Matthew Freedman is 591-466-22 (55.9%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

He’s the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Rosemount, Minnesota, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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