- 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|
|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.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 27, 2019
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.
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.
— #FootballWeekNBCSN (@SNFonNBC) October 27, 2019
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.
2019 Receiving Yards Leaders through Week 8! pic.twitter.com/74cWZseetP
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2019
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.
.@CooperKupp ended his European tour on a high note! 🙌
— NFL (@NFL) October 28, 2019
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.
The MOST receptions in franchise history.
"And that's why you draft Mike Evans." pic.twitter.com/rPPBUiJ6O5
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 31, 2019
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.
NFL Receiving Yards/Game Leaders
Through Week 8
— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) October 29, 2019
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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