In an NFL centered around passing, quarterback numbers have skyrocketed in recent seasons.
MyBookie is counting on that trend escalating. They have passing yards props for 28 NFL quarterbacks this season and are expecting some gaudy numbers from some of them.
The league is never short of storylines at the position. Those include whether Tom Brady will be his typical self after losing Gronk. Another narrative centers around the progression of all the second-year starters. And there’s a lot of suspense over how good Jimmy Garoppolo will be after last year’s ACL tear.
Today, I’ll be looking at which QBs are worth betting on and against for the 2019 season. Patrick Mahomes leads a group of 17 signal-callers who MyBookie expects to throw for over 4,000 yards. In the case of Mahomes, Matt Ryan, and Andrew Luck, it’s 4,500 or over.
Will Aaron Rodgers have the support he needs at wide receiver? Will Jameis Winston take well to a new system in Tampa Bay? And is Baker Mayfield going to light up the stat sheet with his new weapons?
There’s so much to cover, so let me get started in the rightful place.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Over/Under 4650 ½ Yards
It’s going to be hard to match the 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown season Mahomes had last year. It was one of the most decorated seasons of all-time. But will he have this much of a slip-up?
For as big of a production loss as RB Kareem Hunt was mid-season, Mahomes still threw for plenty of yards without his sure-handed running back. But his yards-per-attempt did go down.
I don’t see Mahomes throwing much less this season than he did coming down the stretch. The situation isn’t good enough in the ground game to cut back on his tosses.
And now that Tyreek Hill won’t serve a suspension, he has his favorite deep-threat back. Between him, All-world tight end Travis Kelce, and a burner like Mecole Hardman on the other side, it’s hard to believe Mahomes would be an entire game worse in the passing department.
With Hill and Hardman stretching the field, 4,651 yards seems like a lock. In the off-chance Sammy Watkins is actually healthy, Mahomes should easily get over that mark.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns: Over/Under 4325 ½ Yards
Baker Mayfield showed a lot of promise last year and got better and better as the year went along. He averaged 266 yards passing per game but had nearly 300 per-game in the last five of the season.
And now he’s been handed the keys to a Cadillac of an offense. WR Odell Beckham Jr. came over in a trade. He and Jarvis Landry are both Pro Bowl-caliber guys. David Njoku is an absolute beast at tight end who had 639 yards last year and is still a raw talent.
Antonio Callaway is a deep threat who could spell Beckham if need be, and Rishard Higgins is coming off a 500-yard-plus year too. And when former rushing leader Kareem Hunt comes back from suspension in the second half of the season, he’ll give Mayfield another sure-handed option out of the backfield.
So is it enough to get Baker 600 more yards? I believe so.
Even when teams began to get more film on him, he thrived after the Hugh Jackson firing. If he gets anywhere near the average he had post-Jackson, he’ll surpass 4,500 yards with the type of weapons he has. As long as they can all get along.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Over/Under 4500 ½ Yards
There are high expectations for the Colts this year. Many pundits have them flat-out running away with the division despite Houston having won it last season.
The Colts were one of the hottest teams at the end of last season, and Luck and his line’s play were a huge reason why. He stayed healthy for a full season and threw for 4,593 yards in a major comeback year. If T.Y. Hilton were to have stayed off the mend a couple of weeks, he would’ve pushed even further.
The Colts added Parris Campbell in the second round of the draft, a desperate need at wide receiver. But with teams keying more and more on Hilton, this rookie has to step up immediately.
And after going last-to-first in terms of efficiency on the line, it’s hard not to see the Colts regressing at least a bit there. With Spencer Ware released after going on the IR, they don’t have a threat to catch passes out of the backfield either.
So while I don’t think Luck will drop much and might get another Pro Bowl nod, I see him dropping to the 4,350-4,400 range this season. It should still be a successful campaign for the Colts anyway.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Over/Under 4275 ½ Yards
Despite all the defensive improvements made by the Packers in the offseason, Aaron Rodgers is still going to have to put the team on his back.
The young wide receiver core could get better, but there hasn’t been a major standout thus far. The veteran of the group, Davante Adams, is the single excellent talent in this unit. Jimmy Graham is another year older at tight end and won’t be getting any better.
Rodgers did throw for 4,442 yards last year. But he was only 17th in yards-per-pass. So, it’s a toss-up, one I will break by putting faith in what could be Rodgers’ No. 2 option.
That would be Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He only had 38 receptions in his 75 targets, so there is plenty of room for improvement. But if he does improve, he already has an incredible combination of size and range that it should keep Rodgers on-par with last year’s numbers.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans: Over/Under 4075 ½ Yards
A big question for Watson this season will be the health of the weapons he has. An even bigger one is if the Houston offensive line will be any better.
The o-line allowed him to get banged-up quite a bit last year. If it weren’t for his scrambling abilities, it could’ve been much worse. They used a first and second-round pick on linemen. There’s still going to be a development curve, though, as first-round pick Tytus Howard is more of a project with a high ceiling.
So it comes down to whether or not the No. 2 and 3 wideouts, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee, can stay healthy. I don’t expect them to miss a combined 19 games and 23 starts (2018), that’s for sure. And both of them have incredible upside in this offense.
Seeing as Watson was already above 4,100 yards, even a few more games out of these two will keep him over. Even if the offensive line still needs a lot of work.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams: Over/Under 4425 ½ Yards
This is going to be an interesting year for Jared Goff. It will be decided whether he is an elite quarterback or someone who ran into a lot of luck with an innovative system.
Goff had 4,688 yards passing last season, a major spike from the 3,804 from the year before. Todd Gurley’s level of impact in 2019 will tell just as much about how much Goff throws. But 561 times might be on the high side.
Expect teams to follow the Patriots formula and find unique blitz packages in a constant rush of Goff. When flustered, he simply isn’t the same. And plenty of teams will chance getting burnt downfield trying to get to him with extra guys.
Goff will still have plenty of talent at receiver with Cooper Kupp back (hopefully for a full season). But a chink in the armor has been found and it may be more susceptible with the Seahawks and 49ers both being playoff-caliber teams in that division.
I wouldn’t expect him to fall far, especially after the Rams added a sneaky-good 3rd round pick in RB Darrell Henderson out of Memphis. But I expect him to drop a few hundred yards given there’s at least a blueprint to holding back this offense.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Over/Under 4475 ½ Yards
Big Ben lost his biggest and most disgruntled target, Antonio Brown, to a trade with the Oakland Raiders. Whether he wants to admit it or not, it will take a toll on his stats.
What likely won’t happen is Roethlisberger throwing the ball less. Even with James Conner showing his worth, the QB will take every chance he can get to put the ball in the air. It’s worked dividends in the past but was more of a detriment to the team last year.
Roethlisberger forced way too many passes last season and gave up 16 interceptions. Still, he had 5,129 yards, so losing over 600 yards is a lot.
But 2018 was only the second time in a 15-year career in which Roethlisberger made it over 4,475 yards. The game has changed a lot since he broke into the league. But since he came up well short in the three years before it and doesn’t have Brown now, expect quite the fall.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is the real deal. But I don’t know if they’ll have that dynamic second wideout developed quite yet.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Over/Under 4435 ½ Yards
This is the make-it-or-break-it year for Jameis Winston.
Head Coach Bruce Arians is the supposed quarterback whisperer. If Winston doesn’t pan out with him, it’s probably not going to happen.
It’s already a concern that Arians isn’t calling the plays. Byron Leftwich will be a first-year play-caller with a quarterback who has made countless mistakes despite ample natural talent. Winston’s lack of development is concerning and his mental game never strengthened.
He did just enough late in the season to keep his job. But the departure of DeSean Jackson, who he never found a true connection with, is a pretty big one. So is the loss of Adam Humphries in the slot.
The Bucs still have two strong tight ends, a developing potential No.1-guy in Chris Godwin, and the All-Pro-caliber Mike Evans.
With that said, the run will be incorporated a bit more this season. Winston has had some injuries and off-field troubles to go along with it. Expecting him to take a sizeable leap is way too risky. And for a guy who has never thrown over 4,090 yards, I don’t see that much room for improvement with depletion to his WR unit.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers: Over/Under 4100 ½ Yards
When Garoppolo tore his ACL last year, the entire hopes of the 49ers went down with him.
This is a team with much higher expectations for this year. If they stay healthy, which is a massive “if”, they will be a playoff contender. But setting the bar for Jimmy G is a pretty tough task given limited starting time.
He does have eight starts in his time in San Fran, with 2,278 passing yards over that period. In 16 games, those 4,556 yards would far beyond the over/under mark.
But there’s still a concern with the injury. And no certainty any receiving threat is going to be all that impactful aside from George Kittle at tight end (136 receptions in 2018).
Still, the upside for Deebo Samuel—once again, if healthy—is tremendous. He has world-class athleticism, a guy talked about a lot at training camp so far. If Jalen Hurd has the patience to develop, he has an incredible duo of size and skill as well.
With an underrated WR unit, I’ll give Garoppolo the “over”, if only barely.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: Over/Under 4350 ½ Yards
The Saints have been preserving Brees’ arm for the past couple years. He went from 673 attempts in 2017 to 536 in 2018, and finally down to 489 last season (in 15 games).
He also finished under 4,000 yards passing for the first time since 2005. But with RB Mark Ingram gone via free agency, this may be an offense centering more on the pass again.
Brees has an All-Pro talent and maybe the NFC’s most consistent WR with Michael Thomas. Alvin Kamara is still a singular talent out of the backfield. But the big addition was getting TE Jared Cook (896 2018 yards) in the offseason.
He’s not exactly a spring chicken anymore, but he’s still quick for his size and should be excellent in this offense.
The o-line stayed intact last year despite some injuries, especially to Terron Armstead at tackle. If he were to ever play a full season this line would be consistently impenetrable. The retirement of Pro Bowl center Max Unger will be their big test this year.
But I think they will do well for Brees, and he’ll be going back to the air more in 2019 with Cook implanted in the offense. I’ll take the ‘over” for the veteran.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Over/Under 4150 ½ Yards
The big news of the off-season for the Patriots was the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Though the Patriots will probably keep trudging on without him, this is the biggest loss Brady has had on this roster. And that’s even considering the fact Gronk was hurt so much during his career.
Signing a big-play red-zone threat like N’Keal Harry should soften the blow for them. If Julian Edelman remains half as dominant as he was in the playoffs in combination with Josh Gordon’s resurgence, then this is going to be another Pro Bowl year for Brady.
His offensive line is still loaded and he’s going to rack up a ton of extra yards dumping the ball off to RB James White.
Brady had 4,355 passing yards last season and has gone over 4,150 yards in all but two of his last ten full seasons. Even with Gronkowski gone, he had missed 13 full games over the past three seasons alone. So while his impact will be missed, Brady had plenty of great games without him.