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Tom Brady the Favorite to Lead NFL in Passing Yards in 2018

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots warming up
Can Tom Brady lead the NFL in passing for a second straight season? Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].

We are officially two months (62 days) from kickoff of the 2018 NFL regular season, when the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Atlanta Falcons on September 6th at 8:20pm EST.

Though many sportsbooks already have lines available for certain Week 1 matchups, it still seems a little premature. Not to worry, we’ve stumbled upon some more NFL offseason betting opportunities to scratch that itch.

MyBookie has released odds to lead the NFL in passing yards, rushing yards, and receiving yards in 2018. We’ll be covering the QBs here, with the other two coming shortly.

Based on the odds at  MyBookie, here are the top five candidates to lead the league in passing yards this season:


There’s no real surprises in the top five. Tom Brady led the league in passing last year, at 40 years old, with 4,577 yards, and has shown no signs of aging. So why wouldn’t he be the favorite entering his age 41 season?

Kirk Cousins shows up as the final QB on the list, but his +1200 odds are equal to Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers.

Here’s the full list available at MyBookie:

Odds to Lead the NFL in Passing Yards in 2018

Player Team Passing Yards in 2017 Odds at MyBookie to Lead NFL in Passing Yards in 2018
AJ McCarron BUF 66 (0 Starts) +15000
Aaron Rodgers GB 1,675 (7 Starts) +650
Alex Smith WAS 4,042 (15 Starts) +3300
Andrew Luck IND 0 (0 Starts) +2500
Andy Dalton CIN 3,320 (16 Starts) +5000
Baker Mayfield CLE Rookie +8000
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 4,251 (15 Starts) +800
Blake Bortles JAX 3,687 (16 Starts) +8000
Cam Newton CAR 3,302 (16 Starts) +5000
Carson Wentz PHI 3,296 (13 Starts) +3300

Player Team Passing Yards in 2017 Odds at MyBookie to Lead NFL in Passing Yards in 2018
Case Keenum DEN 3,547 (14 Starts) +3000
Dak Prescott DAL 3,324 (16 Starts) +4000
Derek Carr OAK 3,496 (15 Starts) +3000
Deshaun Watson HOU 1,699 (6 Starts) +1600
Drew Brees NO 4,334 (16 Starts) +500
Eli Manning NYG 3,468 (15 Starts) +6500
Jacoby Brissett IND 3,098 (15 Starts) +8000
Jameis Winston TB 3,504 (13 Starts) +1800
Jared Goff LAR 3,804 (15 Starts) +3300
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 1,560 (5 Starts) +1600
Player Team Passing Yards in 2017 Odds at MyBookie to Lead NFL in Passing Yards in 2018
Joe Flacco BAL 3,141 (16 Starts) +8000
Josh Allen BUF Rookie +8000
Josh McCown NYJ 2,926 (13 Starts) +12000
Josh Rosen ARI Rookie +8000
Kirk Cousins MIN 4,093 (16 Starts) +1200
Lamar Jackson BAL Rookie +15000
Marcus Mariota TEN 3,232 (15 Starts) +5500
Matt Ryan ATL 4,095 (16 Starts) +1500
Matthew Stafford DET 4,446 (16 Starts) +1200
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 2,193 (12 Starts) +6500

Player Team Passing Yards in 2017 Odds at MyBookie to Lead NFL in Passing Yards in 2018
Patrick Mahomes KC 284 (1 Start) +2000
Philip Rivers LAC 4,515 (16 Starts) +1200
Russell Wilson SEA 3,983 (16 Starts) +5500
Ryan Tannehill MIA 0 (0 Starts) +7000
Sam Bradford ARI 382 (2 Starts) +6000
Sam Darnold NYJ Rookie +8000
Tom Brady NE 4,577 (16 Starts) +330
Tyrod Taylor CLE 2,799 (14 Starts) +12000


But before you go start hunting for value here, there are a couple trends you should certainly consider:

NFL Leader in Passing Yards Trends

  • No rookie has led the NFL in passing yards since Davey O’Brien in 1939
  • In the Super Bowl era, only one second-year player has led the league in passing (Dan Marino in 1984)
  • In the last seven years, only four different QBs have led the league in passing: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger (shared it with Brees in 2014), and Peyton Manning
  • In the last 13 years, only six different QBs have led the league in passing: the four from above, Philip Rivers, and Matt Schaub
  • Drew Brees has led the league in passing an NFL-high seven times
Year Leader in Passing Yards Passing Yards
2017 Tom Brady 4,577
2016 Drew Brees 5,208
2015 Drew Brees 4,870
2014 Drew Brees/Ben Roethlisberger 4,952
2013 Peyton Manning 5,477*
2012 Drew Brees 5,177
2011 Drew Brees 5,476

*Manning set the all-time record for passing yards in a single season, breaking Brees’ record set two years prior by one yard

Who’s the Best Bet to Lead the NFL in Passing in 2018?

Eliminate all rookies from the discussion, as none of them are projected to start Week 1. You can also forget about all the pivots playing in front of one of the first-round QBs selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Joe Flacco is the only one who may avoid taking a seat on the bench this season in favor of his successor, but wagering Flacco, who threw for a pitiful 3,141 yards in 2017, would be a waste.

Looking to the favorites, I’d cross off a handful of pivots off who quarterback offenses whose rushing attack is too strong to abandon it. The players included here are: Ben Roethlisberger (+800), Matt Ryan (+1500), Drew Brees (+500), and Kirk Cousins (+1200). Brees and the Saints saw what a strong ground game can do for them last year, and even though the Vikings paid Cousins all that money this offseason, Mike Zimmer won’t allow his team to become extremely one-dimensional.

And even though Matthew Stafford (+1200) has not had the help of a ground game in years, new head coach Matt Patricia is gearing up for the Lions to run the ball. So forget him.

I’d also go ahead and drop Jimmy Garoppolo (+1600) and Deshaun Watson (+1600) from consideration, too. The rest of the league has a little more tape on both now, and they also reside in divisions with pretty strong pass defenses – namely the Rams and Jaguars.

This leaves us with three of the top contenders: Tom Brady (+330), Aaron Rodgers (+650), and Philip Rivers (+1200). Brady presents such little value for a QB who will be 41 years old. Rivers would have been a good bet before Hunter Henry was lost for the season, but now he’s one false Keenan Allen step away from relying on Mike Williams as his go-to receiver.

Aaron Rodgers (+650), on the other hand, has that feel of a man with something to prove. He’s never led the league in passing before, and after missing nine games due to injury last season, I feel he’s going to come out firing in 2018. No Jordy Nelson seems problematic, but Rodgers will turn Jimmy Graham back into the dominant tight end he was in New Orleans. The Packers’ signal-caller is my pick to lead the league in passing in 2018.

If you’re looking for a real darkhorse, though, I’m big on Andrew Luck at +2500. I don’t expect the Colts to be good this season, and expect them to be playing from behind often. Before his shoulder became an issue in 2015, Luck threw for 4,761 yards in 2014. He certainly has the talent, and the longer odds due to health concerns make him worth a wager.

If you’re looking for more NFL offseason betting opportunities, check out our Super Bowl 53 Odds Tracker, 2018 NFL MVP Odds Tracker, 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds Tracker, or our comparison of sportsbooks for the best NFL win totals odds. But you’ll also want to check out our improved method for calculating strength of schedule before making any wagers.

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After receiving a bachelor's degree in communications, Matt spent two years with Rogers TV as a host, producer, and play-by-play commentator. He has been with us since 2016 and serves as SBD's editor-in-chief and sports betting expert.