Why You Should Bet Calvin Ridley to Lead NFL in Receiving Yards

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Daniel Shirey/Getty Images. Pictured: Calvin Ridley

  • Sean Koerner breaks down why Calvin Ridley to lead the NFL in receiving yards (90-1) is his favorite prop bet for the 2020 season.

I love finding multiple ways to invest in players I expect to break out in a given season — it’s not enough to just draft them onto most of my fantasy teams, or only bet the overs on their season-long player props.

One of my favorite markets to invest in are “most yards” futures.

Last season, my main bets in those markets were Jameis Winston at 10-1 for most passing yards, Nick Chubb at 22-1 for most rushing yards, and Chris Godwin at 100-1 for most receiving yards. And while only Winston ended up hitting, all three bets were favored to win at midseason.

I already have my best bet to lead the league in receiving yards this season, and it’s Calvin Ridley at 90-1 at FanDuel.

Where do I even begin with Ridley?

Only six rookies have posted 10 or more receiving touchdowns over the past three decades:

  • Randy Moss in 1998: 17
  • Mike Williams in 2010: 11
  • Rob Gronkowski in 2010: 10
  • Odell Beckham in 2014: 12
  • Mike Evans in 2014: 12
  • Calvin Ridley in 2018: 10

Other than Mike Williams, this group is elite company.

Ridley has established himself as one of the top WRs in the game, but people may be overlooking the fact that he’ll be entering his prime with his age 26 season, when WRs typically hit their peak.

Ridley benefits from playing alongside one of the greatest WRs of all-time in Julio Jones, who commands so much attention from the opposing defense that Ridley is often left with a mouth-watering matchup each week. That’s unlikely to change this season.

However, Jones will be entering his 10th season at age 31, and we don’t typically see WRs fall off until their age 32-33 seasons. Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Randy Moss are all fair comps to Jones in terms of frame and skillset.

I would wager that we start to see Jones’ performance make a noticeable decline next season, but it’s not out of the question it happens as early this year. He’s played through multiple ailments the past several seasons, so it could be the case that his body starts to break down just enough that he’s forced to miss a few games that he would have been able to gut out in his prime.

That’s where Ridley could have some hidden upside: If Jones ends up playing only 10-12 games, and when he can play, attracts all the defensive attention away from Ridley but is unable to separate like he could in his prime.

I realize this is all very speculative, but we have to remember this is a 90-1 bet.

The best comparison to this potential scenario would be 2018 with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown. AB was still excellent in his age 30 season, as seen by his 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, JuJu was able to benefit from the attention AB would receive and posted a 111/1426/7 season at age 22.

The Falcons should continue to be a top-five passing offense in 2020.

They lost Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman in the offseason, and you could argue that their replacements in Hayden Hurst and Todd Gurley are upgrades in talent, thus we can’t expect Ridley to pick up more targets as a result. But I think the midseason departure of Mohamed Sanu could be overlooked — he was one of Matt Ryan’s favorite targets, and it’s unlikely that Russell Gage will be able to replace him fully.

Let’s take a look at Ridley’s yards per game before vs. after the Sanu trade:

  • Before: 53.3 receiving yards per game (seven games)
  • After: 82.1 receiving yards per game (six games)

That’s nearly a 30-yard boost with Sanu out of the lineup, and I don’t think it was just noise. And that’s only one of many reasons I think the fantasy and betting markets are underrating the breakout potential of Ridley this season.

Indeed, if Ridley ends up leading the league in receiving yards, it may be a mild shock to everyone. But if you tell them that they could have bet him at 90-1 to do so? They’ll wonder why the hell they didn’t bet it at that price.

I’m projecting Ridley to finish with the 17th-most receiving yards, so fair market odds would be around 37-1 (vig included). I’m willing to bet this down to 50-1, but as always, make sure you shop for the best price.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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