- Michael Thomas has opened as a narrow favorite to lead the NFL in receiving yards for a third straight year
- Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins closely trail Thomas, while Tom Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay has boosted Chris Godwin and Mike Evans
- Get all the odds and insight into who offers the most value in the NFL receiving yards odds in the story below
Michael Thomas has a tough act to follow in 2020 after enjoying a career year in 2019. The New Orleans Saints wide receiver led the NFL by a wide margin with 1,725 receiving yards and has opened as the favorite to do it again in 2020, sporting attractive +600 odds to rack up the most receiving yards during the 2020 NFL campaign in the NFL player performance futures.
Odds to Lead NFL in Receiving Yards
|Odell Beckham Jr.||+1200|
|Juju Smith Schuster||+2000|
*Odds taken April 8, 2020
Thomas Coming Off Career Year
Pegged as a lengthy +1000 bet prior to the start of the season, Thomas earned serious NFL MVP consideration in 2019 while compiling the sixth-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history. The 27-year-old also set NFL records for most receptions (149) and highest catch percentage (80.5) in a season. Thomas particularly rose to the occasion while Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sidelined for five games with a hand injury, averaging over 110 receiving yards and catching three scoring passes to lead New Orleans to five straight wins during that stretch.
Congratulations to OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR Michael Thomas!
Mike led ALL WRs this season in:
Receiving grade: 90.7
Yards per route run: 2.88
Yards after the catch: 588
First down conversions: 83
— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) February 2, 2020
With the Saints strengthening their receiving corps by signing veteran Emmanuel Sanders during the offseason, concerns have been raised about whether Thomas will be targeted less in 2020. While that is a real possibility, the addition of Sanders likely also means that Thomas will have to endure far less double coverage as opposing defenses scramble to counter a downfield threat that also includes Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook. And while the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year may end up making fewer catches, he could be well-positioned to see a big increase in the 583 yards after catch that he piled up in 2019.
While the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year may end up making fewer catches, he could be well positioned to see a big increase in the 583 yards after catch that he piled up in 2019
Thomas is not without considerable competition in his bid to lead the NFL in receiving yards for a third straight year. Two-time NFL receiving yards leader Julio Jones closely trails Thomas with +800 odds, just ahead of DeAndre Hopkins at +900, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates Mike Evans and Chris Godwin trail at +1000.
Could Gurley’s Arrival Impact Jones?
Jones played a key role in the Atlanta Falcons’ season-ending four-game winning streak, averaging 111 receiving yards per game over that stretch to finish second to Thomas with 1,394 receiving yards on the season. And like Thomas, Jones continued to produce despite seeing Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hobbled by an ankle injury.
Rushing yards this season:
* Lamar Jackson: 1,103
* Bears: 1,103
* Jets: 1,086
* Falcons: 1,050
* Dolphins: 875
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 13, 2019
However, unlike Thomas, a key offseason acquisition may lead to a change in game plan in Atlanta. The Falcons addressed a major deficiency by signing free agent running back Todd Gurley. The addition of the two-time NFL rushing touchdowns leader comes after the team finished 2019 ranked 30th in the NFL with just 85.1 rushing yards per game, and only 10 scoring runs.
Also complicating matters for Jones is the challenging road schedule that the Falcons will face in the upcoming season, which features visits to Dallas, Green Bay, Kansas City, and Minnesota.
Hopkins Gets New Lease on Life in the Desert
Hopkins looks toward the 2020 season with a new lease on life after getting dealt to Arizona by the Houston Texans last month. One of just five receivers to make over 100 catches last season, the four-time All-Pro is expected to be a downfield game-changer in the desert.
Michael Fabiano talking about the impact that Hopkins will make on Kyler Murray. QB 4 is an understatement, Kyler Murray is currently
1st in QBR 145.2
1st in Total TDS 48
2nd in Passing Yards 2,942
3rd in Rushing Yards 945
1st in Rushing TDS 16 pic.twitter.com/P0QF998sYJ
— madden 20 (@MaddenEMALCFM) April 4, 2020
Hopkins’ arrival bolsters a Cardinals receiving corps that already features veteran Larry Fitzgerald, and youngsters Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk, and should help Kyler Murray take the next step after closing out his rookie campaign on a high note by leading the Cardinals to wins in two of their final three contests. However, with the Cardinals remaining a work in progress, it will be tough for Hopkins to keep pace with Thomas in the receiving yards race.
Evans, Godwin will Miss Jameis Winston
Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, it remains to be seen how Evans and Godwin will fare while receiving passes from new Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. The duo combined to rack up 2,490 receiving yards last season while being targeted by quarterback Jameis Winston, who closed out the season with an NFL-high 5,109 passing yards.
The short pass vs. the long ball. @CoachBillick breaks down the differences between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.
📺: NFL Playbook pic.twitter.com/Bw0m3J11XR
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 17, 2019
While the arrival of Brady has raised the expectations of Bucs fans substantially and boosted the team’s stock at the sportsbooks, where they now sport dramatically improved +1600 average odds to win Super Bowl 55, Brady has seen his passing yardage steadily decline in recent years. And with the 42-year-old relying heavily on short passes to generate yardage, both Evans and Godwin would likely have to see a massive boost in their yards after catch production to enter the conversation as receiving yards leader.
Thomas Offering Substantial Value, for Now
Further down the receiving yards leader odds, Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Dallas Cowboys’ wideout Amari Cooper represent intriguing options, sporting +1200 and +1600 odds respectively, while Minnesota’s Adam Thielen’s return to health makes him a solid +1600 value bet. However, it remains tough to look past Thomas. With the Saints’ Super Bowl window remaining wide open, and the addition of veteran downfield help, expect his attractive +600 odds to shorten dramatically once the regular season gets underway.
Pick: Michael Thomas (+600)
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