NFL quarterbacks can still surprise the betting markets when they least expect it.
It may seem like ages ago, but we're only a few years removed from Jameis Winston leading the NFL in passing yards during the 2019 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winston was the only signal-caller in the league that season to throw for over 5,000 yards; leading Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.
While chalk players like Deshaun Watson and Tom Brady took the crown over the past few seasons, bettors are always looking for that next value prop for the season, and right now, the market is hinting at one player in particular.
BetMGM Sportsbook released their first look of betting insights for Stat Leader Player Props, and Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is a very popular dark horse pick not just from the public, but from the sharps as well.
Carr opened the season at +1100 odds to lead the NFL in regular season passing yards; fifth amongst active QBs behind Matthew Stafford (+750), Justin Herbert (+800), Patrick Mahomes (+900) and Tom Brady (+900). 22.1% of the betting tickets written at BetMGM are on Carr, but 30.3% of the money backs the Raiders QB.
As for regular season passing touchdowns, Carr once again leads the way, but at much longer odds. The 31-year old veteran began the offseason at +2000, or 20/1 to lead the NFL in touchdowns thrown, ranking 11th on the board. He's now moved down to +1800; taking in 15.1% of the betting tickets along with 16% of the money.
Carr finished 2021 with 4,804 passing yards; finishing fifth in the league. As for touchdowns, Carr finished just 13th a season ago with 23 in 2021, but with the addition of Davante Adams to the roster, Carr's consensus projection is currently set at 29.5 touchdowns this season.
Is Derek Carr a Good Bet to Lead the NFL In Passing Yards, Touchdowns?
There's two schools of thought when it comes to evaluating a surprise candidate for these types of season-long props.
With Carr, there's an expectation of knowing who he is after eight years in the league. He threw for a career-high 4,804 passing yards last year, more than 700 yards over his previous career high in 2020. As for touchdowns, the number actually dropped down to 23; nine less than his best season in 2015 when he threw for 32. Is there still a higher ceiling for Carr when the league knows who he is?
I think the answer is yes for two reasons.
With Adams in the mix, Carr has by far and away his best set of weapons to throw to in his career. In Green Bay last year, Adams caught 123 receptions in 16 games for 1,553 yards; averaging 12.6 yards per reception along with 11 touchdowns.
Last year, Hunter Renfrow led the team in receptions with 103, but only averaged 10.1 yards per catch. Their star tight end, Darren Waller also was limited to just 11 games, catching 55 passes to finish second on the team.
Then there's the AFC West conference, which is a murderer's row in the NFL this year with the Kansas City Chiefs, L.A. Chargers, and Denver Broncos; all of which are +1000, +1500, and +1700 to win the Super Bowl; ranking in the top 8 of consensus odds in the league.
If the Raiders, a playoff team from a season ago have any chance of competing for a playoff spot, they'll need to score a ton of points just to stay competitive. Vegas ranked 26th in 2021 in points allowed, and while Chandler Jones is a nice replacement for Yannick Ngakoue, their issues stem much larger than their pass rush.
Las Vegas is going to be throwing, and throwing often to compete in their division. And with plenty of high scoring games, as well as opportunities to score in garbage time, Carr offers enough upside at a good price to warrant serious consideration here.
Follow all of Ben's betting plays in real-time HERE!