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Michael Thomas Given Very Short +160 Odds to Lead NFL in Receiving Entering Week 9

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas making a catch against the Texans
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) is the new favorite to lead the NFL in receiving. Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire.
  • Saints receiver Michael Thomas has his fourth 100-yard game of the season, matching his career high, in Drew Brees’s first game back from injury
  • Thomas is now the clear favorite to lead the NFL in receiving yards, with an 83-yard edge on Cooper Kupp of the Rams
  • Chris Godwin and Mike Evans of Tampa Bay represent a realistic outside bet, with the Buccaneers having played a game less courtesy of their bye week

While Teddy Bridgewater did an admirable job filling in for the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader, New Orleans Saints fans breathed a sigh of relief when Drew Brees made his return to the field last Sunday.

The fans weren’t the only ones though. While the Saints’ Super Bowl odds certainly improved with Brees back under center, so too did the odds of his favorite receiver finishing the season with the most receiving yards.

As a result, Michael Thomas, who currently leads the NFL with 875 yards receiving, saw his odds improve from +450 – which trailed the odds of Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin – to a red-hot +160, leaving all other receivers in his wake.

Odds to Lead NFL in Receiving

Player Receiving Yards and NFL rank Odds at Bovada
Michael Thomas (NO) 875 (1st) +160
Cooper Kupp (LAR) 792 (2nd) +650
Chris Godwin (TB) 705 (5th) +800
Mike Evans (TB) 662 (6th) +800
Amari Cooper (DAL) 621 (9th) +1000
Julio Jones (ATL) 712 (3rd) +1000
Stefon Diggs (MIN) 706 (4th) +1200
Travis Kelce (KC) 604 (13th) +2500
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) 617 (10th) +2500
D.J. Chark (JAX) 660 (7th) +2800
Tyler Lockett (SEA) 615 (12th) +2800

Odds taken October 31st 

Didn’t Skip a Beat

While Brees took a while to warm up after missing five weeks with an injured thumb on his throwing hand, the end result was business as usual. As a result, he threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns. One of those scores went to Thomas, who also had 112 receiving yards on the day.

It was Thomas’ fourth 100-plus-yard outing of the season, matching his career-high established last year, and with eight more games still to play.

Mr. Reliable

Whether it’s Brees or Bridgewater under center for the Saints, there’s a reason that they continue to throw to Thomas – quite simply, he catches almost everything thrown his way.

On Sunday, he caught all 11 passes he was targeted on, and has an NFL-high 73 catches so far this season. At the halfway point of the season, Thomas is on pace to break the single-season record of 143 set by former Colts wideout Marvin Harrison back in 2002.

In addition, Thomas has caught 82% of the passes thrown his way, tops in NFL efficiency. That kind of catch rate should ensure that Brees keeps sending the ball his way, and will give him every opportunity to keep piling up the yards.

Compared to some of the other receivers eyeing the receiving yards title, Thomas doesn’t necessarily have the easiest second-half schedule. While the Saints are off this week on a bye, they return to play the division-rival Atlanta Falcons, who have the 23rd-ranked passing defense. After that, it’s off to Tampa to face the 31st-ranked Buccaneers, before returning home to take on the fifth-ranked Carolina Panthers.

The rest of the way features return fixtures with both the Falcons and Panthers, alongside matchups with the NFL-best San Francisco 49ers, alongside the 15th-ranked Indianapolis Colts and 16th-ranked Tennessee Titans.

The Best of the Rest

Not that Thomas is going to have it all his own way during the second half of the schedule, despite his 83-yard edge over Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams.

Through eight games, Kupp is averaging more than 10 receiving yards per game less than Thomas, having hauled in 15 fewer catches. The road ahead for Kupp is fairly comparable to that of Thomas as well, with four games against bottom-seven passing defenses, to go alongside contests against the top-ranked 49ers and ninth-ranked Dallas Cowboys.

Tampa Two

The best outside bet among the leading candidates would be either of Tampa Bay’s receiving duo. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have 705 and 662 yards, respectively, but unlike the rest of the contenders have only played seven games with Tampa having had its bye in Week 7.

Evans certainly hauled himself back into the race this past weekend, pulling in 11 receptions for 198 yards and two scores. Godwin, who was favored to lead the NFL in receiving yards heading into the bye at +400 to Thomas’s +450, had just 43 yards last weekend.

But Godwin is the only receiver other than Thomas to average more than 100 receiving yards per game, with 100.7 to the 109.4 put up by his New Orleans rival.

The knock on Godwin would be that he has only caught 47 passes this season, but that is hardly his fault. He has caught 74.6% of the passes thrown his way, but has only been targeted 63 times, well shy of the 89 times Thomas has been targeted.

Like Thomas, Godwin has four 100-plus-yard games this season, and they’ve all been monster outings, twice going above 150 yards. The problem is the times he doesn’t go above 100, only once has he even broken 50 yards (53 in Week 1).

Pick: While Thomas (+160) deserves to be favored, Evans and Godwin (+800) represent the only other reasonable betting options.

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