There’s probably never been a better time to be a wide receiver in the NFL. Quarterbacks and offensive coordinators have never been so crafty, and receivers enjoy comprehensive rules protecting against interference from fast, physical secondary crews.
The run hasn’t disappeared, and defense still wins championships, but the NFL currently caters to the pass more than ever. Last year T.Y. Hilton finished atop the leaderboard for receiving yards, but prop betting odds show him as an underdog in 2017. This isn’t a sign of disrespect, but a reflection of the incredible group of athletic wide receivers around the league, all of whom could easily take Hilton’s crown this season.
Julio Jones +400
Atlanta Falcons – 1434-1498 yards
Jones became a household name during Super Bowl LI, where he showed an incredible mix of skill, size and athleticism that nearly lifted the Atlanta Falcons to the first championship win in franchise history. Teamed with Matt Ryan, he’s a consistent threat to finish atop the receiving yard lists. During the 2016 regular season, Julio missed a pair of games due to injury, yet still managed to finish second among receivers with 1409 yards. The only caveat that prevents him from being the undisputed favorite is durability, as Jones missed at least a game in four of the past six seasons.
Antonio Brown +400
Pittsburgh Steelers – 1377-1420 yards
Antonio Brown is the type of wide receiver who makes quarterbacks look great. Ben Roethlisberger should feel thankful every time he suits up alongside Brown, who will remain Ben’s top target for the foreseeable future. Antonio’s durability and consistency have him listed as co-favorite with Julio Jones. Many were disappointed with his 1,284-yard, 12-touchdown season in 2016, despite the fact he missed a game. Expect another great year from Brown and the Steelers.
A.J. Green +1800
Cincinnati Bengals – 1312-1332 yards
Projections from the NFL and ESPN list A.J. Green as a sure-fire, top five receiver in terms of yardage. However, sportsbooks have listed Green as a noticeable underdog to finish atop the league in receiving yards. Green has been plagued with injuries in the past few years and the Bengals added John Ross during the offseason, both of which could take chunks of yards away from Green’s total. On the other hand, Andy Dalton expects his offense to undergo “a big jump” this year, making Green one of the better dark horse prop bets this season.
Odell Beckham Jr. +500
New York Giants – 1269-1312 yards
Is there anything Odell can’t catch? Beckham, across the past few season, has been a one-man highlight film, reeling in catches unimaginable to mere mortals. He’s only 24, so he’s just beginning to enjoy his peak years in the NFL. The Giants added Brandon Marshall to the mix, which should create more space and time for the Manning-Beckham battery. If the New York Giants o-line manages to outperform expectations, Beckham could easily run away with top spot for receiving yards in the NFL.
T.Y. Hilton +1200
Indianapolis Colts – 1233-1308 yards
Being a wide receiver in Andrew Luck’s offense is akin to winning the lottery. T.Y. Hilton won top spot for receiving yards in 2016, and could easily come out on top in 2017. Hilton made a huge jump last year, earning personal bests in catches, targets and yards gained. There’s no reason to think the Luck-Hilton combo will slow down this year, partially because the Colts aren’t too interested in running the ball. Considering he finished first in receiving yards in 2016, Hilton represents terrific value. Sports betting sites don’t believe he can repeat, assigning large odds for him to pull off the feat. Certainly, Jones, Beckham and Brown are deserving favorites, but it would be foolish to ignore Hilton after a superb 2016 season.
Odds courtesy of Bovada and Bodog.