Only the National Football League could dominate the sports conversation five months before its regular season begins. And after taking center stage at the NFL Draft, the league is now accumulating more media bandwidth as America waits for full team schedules to be leaked across the country.
Sportsbooks have been churning more butter than ever in the offseason, too. The full NFL Week 1 schedule was released Wednesday morning and multiple books already released spreads and totals for customers to bet. That’s right — you can fire on an early September football game right now.
This is why the NFL will always be king.
After years of opposition to legalized sports betting, the NFL figured out very quickly how much sports betting can increase interest in the product. More betting markets equal more content and that content drives customers to make wagers.
Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.
The recent explosion of rookie player props only helps the cycle. FOX Bet opened Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s prop for passing touchdowns at O/U 22.5. Elsewhere, DraftKings was first to market on whether or not quarterback Mac Jones would start Week 1 for the New England Patriots. The “No” was -225 and has since been bet up to -300.
These were things that bettors just couldn’t legally wager on two or three years ago. But the more candy in the candy aisle — the more likely you are to leave with candy.
Here are five NFL rookie player props that caught my eye:
Jaylen Waddle Over 730.5 receiving yards (-110 at FOX Bet)
Waddle is the most dynamic wide receiver in his class because he can line up anywhere on the field. The Miami Dolphins would be wise to get him the ball and get the hell out of the way. Joystick players like Waddle have become more and more valuable in the NFL. They can make one defender miss and burst for 20+ yards down the field. If he stays healthy, he’ll fly by this total.
Justin Fields to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (+600 at FanDuel)
There is absolutely zero point for the Chicago Bears to roll with Andy Dalton in Week 1. But even if Bears brass wants to give the 22-year-old Fields a month to get acclimated, he can still put up big numbers. Fields is easily the fastest quarterback in Bears history, which isn’t saying much, but he’s a weapon with his arm and his wheels. He’ll make mistakes, but he’ll also fill up the stat sheet.
Zach Wilson Over 3,800.5 passing yards (-112 at DraftKings)
The casual fan isn’t going to give Wilson much of a chance to succeed, but I see some opportunity with this yardage total. The New York Jets wisely drafted another offensive lineman in the first round to keep Wilson on his feet and there are plenty of playmakers for him to throw to in this offense. And as long as Adam Gase is out of the way, this bet has a chance.
Trevor Lawrence Under 4,170.5 passing yards (-115 at PointsBet)
That number is too high, right? Peyton Manning (3,739) and Aaron Rodgers (4,038) didn’t surpass 4,175 yards in their first full seasons, and Lawrence shouldn’t either. Even with the extra game, that’s a ton of yards. The Jags barely ran the ball last year, but Urban Meyer will change all that. I just can’t justify Lawrence’s total being 370 yards higher than Wilson’s.
Kyle Pitts Over 7.5 touchdowns (-110 at FOX Bet)
Pitts will be a matchup nightmare at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds because he’s too fast for linebackers and too massive for safeties. You also can’t double him unless you want guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley running free. Pitts will make his money inside the 10-yard line and he’ll get plenty of jump-ball targets from quarterback Matt Ryan. Ten touchdowns wouldn’t surprise me.