The 2019 NFL regular season props board has a buffet of markets to feast on, but with the Oakland Raiders featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, it’s hard not to focus on them.
Antonio Brown is coming off a stellar 2018 campaign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he produced great numbers, but a bitter divorce has relocated him to Oakland. Some superstars prove to be invulnerable to desolate surroundings, but we’ve never seen Brown outside of Pittsburgh. This makes betting him long-term a tough pill to swallow.
Can Brown maintain his 2018 numbers?
The drama that Brown stirred up leaving Pittsburgh has followed him to Oakland. The $50+ million man for the Raiders will report to camp after losing his lid over the a new helmet rule, which would force him to wear a new head piece. This is great news for the team and even better news for fantasy owners who were facing keeper deadlines.
An arbitrator ruled against Raiders’ WR Antonio Brown’s grievance to wear his old helmet, per source.
Now Brown must decide if he’s willing to play football with a new helmet he desperately does not want to wear.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 12, 2019
Brown led the league with 15 touchdowns in 2019 as the No. 1 option for future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That is going to be a tough standard to match as he transitions to Oakland, with an offense that managed to accumulate just 19 touchdowns as a team last season. Offensively minded head coach Jon Gruden could make improvements in his second year, but it’s possible the $100 million coach was away from the game too long to recapture the magic he had in Oakland and Tampa Bay in the 2000s.
Being the main target of the often-maligned Derek Carr, whose NFL MVP odds are a distant +10000, also supports the opinion that Brown isn’t in a position to lead the league in touchdowns again. Surroundings often determine success, and Carr might be out of a job halfway through the season, Brown’s frostbitten feet might fall off and Gruden could lose the team by Week 6 with his fiery temper.
The Raiders are an absolute zoo, which makes them a great focus for Hard Knocks, but derails them as a futures bet from top to bottom. Their 2019 regular season win total is just O/U 6, with the Under favored at -120. Oakland is also a distant +1400 to win the AFC West, well behind the Kansas City Chiefs (-175) and the Los Angeles Chargers (+190).
So who else is worth wagering on in the NFL regular season receiver props at BetAmerica?
Odds to lead the NFL in receiving yards in 2019
|Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||+600|
|DeAndre Hopkins||Houston Texans||+600|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||Pittsburgh Steelers||+900|
|Antonio Brown||Oakland Raiders||+900|
|Michael Thomas||New Orleans Saints||+1000|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||Cleveland Browns||+1000|
|Mike Evans||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+1000|
|Tyreek Hill||Kansas City Chiefs||+1400|
No surprise at the top. Julio Jones has quietly been among the most consistent receivers in the league, and bested DeAndre Hopkins by slightly more than a hundred yards last season. Jones has been in the top two for receiving yards since 2014, and finished third in 2013. The danger with Jones, aside from boredom, is him aging in dog years. That’s a daring gamble to make, considering how reliable he has been over the last seven seasons.
NFL target share leaders in 2018:
1. Deandre Hopkins: 33.4%
2. Michael Thomas: 29.2%
3. Julio Jones: 28.4%
4. Davante Adams: 27.7%
5. Keenan Allen: 27.4%
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 11, 2019
Hopkins is the co-favorite for good reason. He’s always been among the best receivers in the league, despite a morbid quarterback situation for the majority of his career. With DeShaun Watson finally healthy through 2018, Hopkins put up his best season yet, with career highs of 115 receptions, 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Brown are tied at third in this market at +900. That’s a bit worrisome for a future wager. Brown is literally and figuratively starting with bad footing on his new team. There’s no telling what breakout star JuJu is capable of as a No. 1 option. Will he thrive in the spotlight or be hampered with defenses not focusing on Brown any longer?
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 8, 2019
The most fun wager might be Odell Beckham Jr. at +1000. Finally reunited with BFF Jarvis Landry, and on the receiving end of Baker Mayfield’s lasers, ODB is in for a redemption story. There’s a lot of hype in Cleveland, but this group is confident enough to believe it can live up to it. Unshackled from a Giants’ offense that he has now professed to have hated, Beckham could be in store for a breakout season, which is hard to believe given his cemented superstar status.
Michael Thomas of the Saints is a great talent, but there are concerns surrounding Drew Brees entering this campaign. Mike Evans is prohibitive, even in a Bruce Arians’ offense, given the maligned, last-chance doom cloud hanging over Jameis Winston. Tyreek Hill isn’t a terrible bet, but will be limited in the spread-it-out style of head coach Andy Reid.
Odds to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2019
|DeAndre Hopkins||Houston Texans||+700|
|Davante Adams||Green Bay Packers||+700|
|Antonio Brown||Oakland Raiders||+1000|
|Travis Kelce||Kansas City Chiefs||+1000|
|Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||+1200|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||Cleveland Browns||+1200|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||Pittsburgh Steelers||+1400|
|Mike Evans||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+1600|
The most receiving touchdowns market is a little more fun—and a little easier—to track. Hopkins floats to the top of the list because he’s in a high-octane offense with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback who is finally healthy.
Joining Hopkins at the top of the list is Green Bay’s Davante Adams, a productive receiver who piled up 13 touchdowns last year as Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. Adams may not have the star power of others on the list, but numbers don’t lie—this guy produces.
100+ receiving yard games in 2018 (TEs)↙️
Zach Ertz 5
Travis Kelce 5
Jared Cook 4
George Kittle 4
Rob Gronkowski 2
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) August 13, 2019
The next four on the list all face hurdles to capture the title in the receiving touchdowns. Brown is on a new team with a worse quarterback. Travis Kelce had 10 touchdowns compared to Hill’s 12 last season. Jones is losing red-zone looks to Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper. Beckham is in a better situation than last year, but who knows how Cleveland will pan out in the face of all these expectations? Smith-Schuster will face a lot more double coverage, and the Steelers don’t have proven depth at this position we’re used to seeing.
In terms of value, Eric Ebron may have to be the bet here. He’s getting a +2500 number after a 13-touchdown season serving as Andrew Luck’s favorite red-zone target. Injury concerns abound with Luck, but what else is new there? It’s easy to throw a flier at a big number like that.
However, Adams is the smarter play.