2021 Passing Leader Futures

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2021 Passing Leader Futures

I recently wrapped up my 2021 Betting Previews for all 32 teams and I’d encourage you to check them out for in-depth breakdowns of season win totals, Super Bowl odds, individual players props, and much more. With those previews out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the odds for the season-long leaders in the major offensive categories to see if I can’t pick out a winner or two. Everyone likes to lay a little bit of money to win a lot of money, and I’ve come up with my favorite plays for each of the major leader futures for passers, runners, and receivers.

Deshaun Watson crushed it in negative game scripts last season as he came from off the pack to lead the league in passing yards (4823) at +2000 odds. Aaron Rodgers easily paced the NFL in passing touchdowns (48) on his way to winning the MVP (I couldn’t find preseason odds for the market) while Drew Lock (+2200) and Carson Wentz (+2500) shared the dishonor of throwing the most interceptions with 15 picks each.

To no one’s surprise, Patrick Mahomes is the big favorite to lead the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns while the oddsmakers have pegged Ryan Fitzpatrick and Sam Darnold as the co-favorites to lead the NFL in interceptions. Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Josh Allen, and Dak Prescott are among those chasing Watson and Rodgers for their titles this season while Jared Goff and Zach Wilson are expected to throw a lot of interceptions.

Note: The odds in this article are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook — under NFL/Player Futures.

Passing Yards

Previous Leaders

YearQuarterback (Age)Passing Yards
2020Deshaun Watson, Hou (24)4823
2019Jameis WInston, TB (25)5109
2018Ben Roethlisberger, Pit (36)5129
2017Tom Brady, NE (40)4577
2016Drew Brees, NO (37)5208
2015Drew Brees, NO (36)4870
2014Brees (35)/Roethlisberger (32)4952
2013Peyton Manning, Den (37)5477
2012Drew Brees, NO (33)5177
2011Drew Brees, NO (32)5476

Fantasy Points Projections Top 10

QuarterbackProjectionOdds
Patrick Mahomes, KC4895+350
Dak Prescott, Dal4695+600
Matthew Stafford, LAR4595+1200
Tom Brady, TB4585+650
Aaron Rodgers, GB4445+1400
Matt Ryan, Atl4345+1400
Josh Allen, Buf4315+850
Kirk Cousins, Min4300+2800
Ryan Tannehill, Ten4265+2800
Justin Herbert, LAC4125+1400

Betting Options

It’s no surprise that Patrick Mahomes (+350) is the clear favorite to lead the league in passing yards since he’s averaged 307.7 yards per game in 46 career starts. He averaged a league-best 316.0 yards per game last season but he fell short of Deshaun Watson (no odds) with Andy Reid resting key players in the final game. Dak Prescott (+600), Tom Brady (+650), and Josh Allen (+850) round out the quarterbacks with odds shorter than 10/1. Dak was on pace for 5939 passing yards before his Week 5 injury, which would have shattered the single-season NFL record. Meanwhile, Brady averaged 319.3 passing yards per game over Tampa’s final seven games and Allen saw his pass attempts (461 to 572) and YPA (6.7 to 7.9) drastically climb from 2019 to 2020.

Matthew Stafford (+1200) has been stuck in football hell for the last 12 years, but he has no more excuses this year after the Rams traded for him to put this talent-laden roster over the top. He’ll also be playing under one of the best offensive minds in Sean McVay and this is the most complete offensive roster he’s ever orchestrated. The Rams averaged 611 passes per season over the last two years and McVay will want to show his new toy a lot, especially with Cam Akers done for the season with his Achilles injury. Stafford is as high as +14000 at FanDuel to throw the most passing yards.

The player Stafford was traded for, Jared Goff (+5000), is an interesting darkhorse option that’s getting little buzz. The Lions will be playing from behind quite a bit this season — the Lions have the second-shortest odds to finish with the fewest wins — and he shouldn’t leave the field with Tim Boyle behind him. The last two passing yard leaders played in a lot of negative game scripts with Watson and Jameis Winston (+6500) combining for an 11-21 record during their league-leading seasons.

Joe Burrow (+2500) is an interesting mid-tier option, whose odds would be much shorter if it was certain he was close to 100%. Burrow was on pace for 4,301 passing yards and 646.4 attempts through 10 games last season before his devastating knee injury. The Bengals used the No. 5 pick on the best receiver in the draft, Ja’Marr Chase, so Burrow has the potential to challenge for the passing yards title if he can return to full health relatively quickly.

Passing Touchdowns

Previous Leaders

YearQuarterback (Age)Passing TDs
2020Aaron Rodgers, GB (36)48
2019Lamar Jackson, Bal (22)36
2018Patrick Mahomes, KC (22)50
2017Russell Wilson, Sea (28)34
2016Aaron Rodgers, GB (32)40
2015Tom Brady, NE (38)36
2014Andrew Luck, Ind (24)40
2013Peyton Manning, Den (37)55
2012Drew Brees, NO (33)43
2011Drew Brees, NO (32)46

Fantasy Points Projections Top 10

QuarterbackProjectionOdds
Patrick Mahomes, KC39+330
Tom Brady, TB37+500
Aaron Rodgers, GB37+800
Russell Wilson, Sea35+900
Josh Allen, Buf34+750
Matthew Stafford, Det33+1800
Dak Prescott, Dal32+1200
Kirk Cousins, Min30+2000
Baker Mayfield, Cle30+2000
Ben Roethlisberger, Pit30+4000

Betting Options

Patrick Mahomes (+330) is also the clear favorite to lead the league in passing touchdowns. He’s averaging a whopping 2.53 passing TDs per game since 2018 ahead of the next closest QB, Russell Wilson (+900), at 2.21. The Buccaneers’ offense really hit its stride at the end of last season with Tom Brady (+500) throwing multiple TD passes in his final 11 games (playoffs included). Josh Allen (+750) and Aaron Rodgers (+800) each have odds shorter than 10/1 after they both posted career-highs in touchdown passes last season with 37 and 48 scores, respectively.

I’m going back to the well with Matthew Stafford (+1800) as he checks in as the eighth favorite to lead the league in passing touchdowns. The Rams actually led the league with 39 carries inside the five-yard line last season but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sean McVay change his stripes some this season with a quarterback he actually trusts to throw in tight windows. The Rams also lost Cam Akers (Achilles) and Malcolm Brown this off-season, which could push the Rams to lean more pass-heavy around the goal line. Stafford is as high as +2000 at Caesars to throw the most passing touchdowns.

I’m going a little off the board with my other wager in Ben Roethlisberger (+4000) at his inflated odds. There’s hope around the Steelers organization that Roethlisberger’s arm strength will be much improved with another 12 months removed from his elbow reconstruction surgery, and his arm looked stronger on limited reps in Pittsburgh’s second preseason game. Big Ben owns a TD rate of 5.0% or better and he’s averaging 31 touchdown passes per season over his last four campaigns in which he’s played more than two games. In a bit of a correlated bet, I also took Chase Claypool as a darkhorse for most receiving TDs.

Lamar Jackson (+4000) odds are also a bit inflated considering he’s just two seasons removed from leading the league with 38 passing touchdowns in 2019. The Ravens’ receiving corps is a bit banged up at the moment but they upgraded Lamar’s weapons this off-season signing Sammy Watkins and drafting Rashod Bateman in the first round. Jackson owns a ridiculous 8.0% TD rate (52 TDs on 777 attempts) over the last two seasons and an uptick in passing volume could have him challenging for the league lead in passing touchdowns.

Interceptions

Previous Leaders

YearQuarterback (Age)Interceptions
2020Lock, Den (23)/Wentz, Phi (27)15
2019Jameis Winston, TB (25)30
2018Ben Roethlisberger, Pit (36)16
2017DeShone Kizer, Cle (21)22
2016Philip Rivers, SD (34)21
2015Blake Bortles, Jax (23)18
2014Jay Cutler, Chi (31)/Rivers, SD (32)18
2013Eli Manning, NYG (32)27
2012Drew Brees, NO (33)19
2011Tony Romo, Dal (32)19

Fantasy Points Projections Top 10

QuarterbackProjectionOdds
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Was14+750
Jared Goff, Det14+800
Matt Ryan, Atl12+3500
Kyler Murray, Ari12+2200
Zach Wilson, NYJ12+900
Daniel Jones, NYG12+1400
Jalen Hurts, Phi12+1100
Kirk Cousins, Min11+2200
Justin Herbert, LAC11+2200
Russell Wilson, Sea11+4000
Sam Darnold, Car11+750

Betting Options

It’s not a huge surprise that Ryan Fitzpatrick (+750) and Sam Darnold (+750) are the co-”favorites” to lead the league in interceptions. Fitz owns a 3.2% INT rate over the last six seasons with 68 interceptions over 57 starts and 68 total appearances, and Darnold also owns a 3.2% INT rate over his first three seasons with 39 INTs in his first 38 starts. Jared Goff (+800) is right behind them after throwing 41 INTs over 47 starts with the Rams the last three seasons. He’s going to be playing a much worse offense in Detroit and he should be playing in a bunch of negative game scripts with the Lions projected to win the second-fewest games projected ahead of only the lowly Texans.

Daniel Jones (+1400) is my favorite to lead the league in interceptions at his slightly longer odds, as the eighth-favorite. Jones has thrown 22 INTs in just 26 career starts despite his average intended air yards sitting at a measly 7.5 yards. Jones’ career 2.4% INT rate could rise this season with a more aggressive downfield passing attack after the Giants brought in Kenny Golladay, who has averaged 14.6 air yards on his targets the last two seasons. Jones also has just Mike Glennon behind him on the depth chart so he should continue to start if he’s struggling this season.

Carson Wentz’s (+2500) recovery from his foot surgery is ahead of schedule and he could open the season on the field, which puts him back in play to potentially lead the league in interceptions for a second straight season. Wentz threw 15 INTs in just 12 games with the Eagles last season for a 3.4% INT rate. Matt Ryan (+3500) wasn’t on my radar until his odds popped off the page on the above chart. We have Ryan projected to lead the league in pass attempts this season, and he’s thrown 25 INTs in 25 games without Julio Jones in the lineup for a 2.7% INT rate. He’s thrown 11+ INTs in 10 of his 12 seasons so he’s worth a flier bet in case his play declines a bit at 36 years old without his buddy Julio in the lineup. The Falcons also have no viable backup QB behind him so he’s unlikely to be benched if he’s playing poorly.

Best Bets

  • Matthew Stafford (LAR) most passing yards (+1400, FanDuel). Risk a half unit to win seven units.

  • Matthew Stafford (LAR) most passing touchdowns (+2000, Caesars). Risk a half unit to win 10 units.

  • Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) most passing touchdowns (+4000, DraftKings). Risk .25 units to win 10 units.

  • Daniel Jones (NYG) most interceptions thrown (+1500, Caesars). Risk a half unit to win 7.5 units.

  • Matt Ryan (Atl) most interceptions thrown (+3500, DraftKings). Risk .25 units to win 8.75 units.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.