Rookie Season Props Opening Line Report

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Rookie Season Props Opening Line Report

Rookie season prop bets have been trickling out at various sportsbooks since the end of the NFL Draft. It’s time to dive into these numbers to see if there’s any value on these initial lines. Wagering your hard-earned money in May and waiting for bets to be settled in eight to nine months isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. Nevertheless, if we’re able to get the best of the odds before the markets fully mature in the future it will make the wait until the conclusion of the season worth it in the long run.

If you can, make sure to shop around for the best lines and odds. You’re likely to see more volatility between books in the off-season than you’ll see on game lines during the season. Let’s see if we can find some value in these rookie season props.

Note: Rookie player props are courtesy of FOXBet unless otherwise indicated.

Quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Passing yards: 4175.5 (245.6 per game)

  • Passing TDs: 22.5 (1.3 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projections: 3985 passing yards, 24 passing TDs

Lawrence has been locked in as Jacksonville’s Day One starter in 2021 since the Jaguars secured the top overall pick at the end of last season. He’ll step into a good situation with a strong cast of receivers at his disposal between D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, and his college teammate Travis Etienne. Urban Meyer also came out of retirement and made the jump to the NFL to work with Lawrence, and OC Darrell Bevell opened up the deep-passing attack for the Lions the last two seasons with Matthew Stafford holding an average depth of target of 9.4 yards on his passes.

Lawrence needs to average 245.6 passing yards per game over 17 contests to clear 4175.5 passing yards. Only four rookie QBs have cleared 4000+ passing yards but three of those players were selected first overall in the last decade (Jameis Winston, Andrew Luck, and Cam Newton) with Justin Herbert being the other player to do it. The Jaguars should also be in plenty of pass-heavy situations this season since they allowed the second-most points per game (30.8) in 2020 and they’re tied for the third-lowest win total (6.5) heading into the season. I lean toward Lawrence going over both his passing yards and passing TD totals.

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

  • Passing yards: 3850.5 (226.5 per game)

  • Passing TDs: 20.5 (1.2 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projections: 3815 passing yards, 20 passing TDs

The Jets cleared the way for Wilson to be the team’s Day One starter after they traded away Sam Darnold to the Panthers in early April. He joins Trevor Lawrence as the only rookie quarterbacks who are all but guaranteed to start in Week 1. Wilson has some major Baker Mayfield vibes coming into the league because of his size, arm strength, and second-reaction skills. Mayfield has actually never thrown for more than 3850.5 passing yards in any of his three seasons to start his career.

Willson will need to average 226.5 passing yards per game to top his yardage total, which isn’t a daunting mark. GM Joe Douglas loaded up on receiver help for Wilson by signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole before drafting slot WR Elijah Moore at No. 34 overall. The Jets’ offense is certainly on the rise but their defense could still be a work in progress, which could lead to some pass-heavy scripts after they allowed 28.6 points per game last season (seventh-most). They’re also tied for the third-lowest win total (6.5) heading into the season. I lean toward Wilson topping his passing yards total if he plays in all 17 games, but I don’t see enough wiggle room to actually get to the window.

Running Backs

Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Rushing yards: 915.5 (53.8 per game)

  • Rushing + receiving TDs: 9.5 (.56 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projection: 1055 rushing yards, 12 TDs

Harris has been impressing both on and off the field since the Steelers drafted him in the first round in late April. He’s been quickly pegged for a massive role in this offense, which isn’t surprising given the draft capital they used on Harris and the below-average options they have behind him led by the underwhelming Benny Snell. Harris has a path to 20+ touches per game especially since the Steelers have been focused on getting their rushing attack back on track after averaging a miserable 59.9 rushing yards per game in their final 12 contests.

The bigger question is if Pittsburgh’s O-line will improve off of its dismal performance at the end of last season, but Harris should at least have no issues getting volume. I already wagered on Harris to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year at +1500 odds, and I’m betting that he passes his rushing total even if he’d miss a game or two this season. Harris will need to average 3.7 YPC with 250+ carries to clear his rushing total and both of those marks seem attainable with some minimal improvement from the Steelers’ O-line and with an extra game on the schedule.

Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

Odds courtesy of PointsBet

  • Rushing yards: 600.5 (35.3 per game)
  • Fantasy Points Projection: 685 rushing yards

The buzz coming out of Jaguars’ rookie camp was Etienne’s primary usage as a receiver instead of at running back, which was by design from Urban Meyer. It’s clear that they want to get him heavily involved as a receiver after Meyer said after the draft that he envisioned Etienne as the team’s third-down back. James Robinson looks like the early favorite to lead this backfield in early-down work and it also looks like Carlos Hyde could get a piece of that pie too. The Jaguars overpaid for Hyde by giving him a two-year contract in free agency, and he was unlikely to get a multi-year contract from any of the other 31 teams. Etienne is the most talented back and he has a chance to emerge as a three-down back, but the presence of Robinson and Hyde makes it unlikely that he’ll be a volume hound right out of the gates. I’m leaning slightly toward the under on his rushing total but I’m staying away from this prop in case his talent wins out for more carries than initially projected.

Wide Receivers

Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

  • Receiving yards: 1069.5 (62.9 per game)

  • Receiving TDs: 7.5 (.44 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projection: 1045 receiving yards, 7 receiving TDs

The league has had nine rookie WRs reach 1000+ receiving yards over the last decade, and Chase’s initial receiving yardage total suggests he’s most likely to be the next rookie WR to reach that milestone. Chase was regarded as one of the best WR prospects to enter the league in recent history, and he landed in a friendly spot with his former LSU QB Joe Burrow. Chase won’t have the typical acclimation period with his quarterback, and he certainly has a chance to post high-end production like former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson did last season, who set an NFL rookie record with 1400 receiving yards.

Chase will step into a Bengals’ offense that has the fifth-most targets vacated from last season. A.J. Green mostly wasted 104 targets last season with a miserable 45.2% catch rate and his 11.1 YPR average. Chase does have a couple of factors working against him with established studs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd competing for targets, and there’s no guarantee that Burrow is close to full health behind a still bad offensive line. I’ve been hammering Chase in the late sixth round/early seventh round in industry mock drafts and in best ball leagues since the NFL Draft. Still, his initial yardage total is more in the best-case scenario range and I’m leaning slightly toward Chase going under his total.

Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

  • Receiving yards: 730.5 (43.0 per game)

  • Receiving TDs: 5.5 (.32 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projection: 825 receiving yards, 5 receiving TDs

Waddle went off the board a little higher than most expected when the Dolphins selected him at No. 6. The Dolphins quickly overhauled an extremely thin receiving corps from the end of last season by adding speedsters Waddle and Will Fuller. Waddle will likely find himself primarily in the slot between Fuller and DeVante Parker in three-WR sets with Mike Gesicki also in the mix at tight end. It’s yet to be seen if Tua Tagovailoa will be able to take full advantage of Waddle’s speed after Tua finished near the bottom of the league in percentage of 20+ yards passes (10%) and NFL passer rating on those attempts (76.7).

Waddle doesn’t have as much upside as Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith in this year’s rookie class because of his competition for targets and because of Tua’s unimpressive rookie season. I also have Henry Ruggs’ rookie season burned into my brain when it comes to Waddle, who also came into the league with blazing speed and limited college production. The speedy Ruggs was drafted ahead of his more productive teammate Jerry Jeudy, but he was in over his head as a rookie when he posted just 26/452/2 receiving. I’m more optimistic about Waddle’s chances as a rookie but I’m still leaning toward the under with his yardage total.

DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Receiving yards: 725.5 (42.7 per game)

  • Receiving TDs: 5.5 (.32 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projection: 940 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs

Smith’s receiving yards total came in a hair shorter than Jaylen Waddle’s total of 730.5 yards, but the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner has a much better chance of clearing his mark of 725.5 yards. DeVonta landed in a pristine spot to make some early noise in an Eagles’ offense that’s devoid of a #1 WR after Jalen Reagor struggled through injuries and poor QB play from Carson Wentz last season.

It can’t get much worse than Wentz’s performance last year, but it’s yet to be seen if Jalen Hurts is going to be much of an upgrade after he completed just 52% of his passes while averaging an acceptable 7.2 YPA in four games. Smith at least has plenty of experience catching passes from Hurts from their time together at Alabama. I’m betting on Smith to clear his receiving yards total because of his relatively clear path to lead the Eagles receivers in target share this season.

Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

  • Receiving yards: 535.5 (31.5 per game)

  • Receiving TDs: 3.5 (.21 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projection: 525 receiving yards, 3 receiving TDs

The Giants reached a bit to draft Toney at No. 20, who is likely to be a work in progress as a rookie. He’ll be stepping into a crowded receiving corps between Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram, and New York also has an active receiving back in Saquon Barkley. The Giants gave Golladay a hefty four-year, $72 million contract and they figure to feed him targets like a #1 WR, which means Toney will have his work cut out for him to even get to a 15% target share. The Giants will find other ways to get the ball in Toney’s hands as a runner and as a returner this season, but those touches won’t help him get over the top for his receiving yardage total. I’m not convinced Toney will have an active weekly role as a receiver in New York’s offense this season so I can only look at the under for his yardage prop.

Tight End

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

  • Receiving yards: 875.5 (54.7 per game)

  • Receiving TDs: 7.5 (.44 per game)

  • Fantasy Points Projection: 705 receiving yards, 7 receiving TDs

I’m extremely excited to see Pitts as a rookie this season, but the hype has gotten a little bit out of control, which is reflected in his inflated receiving yards total. There’s no denying Pitts could be a unicorn at the position but rookie tight ends have a long history of struggling in their first NFL seasons. The post-merger NFL has produced just three rookie TEs who cleared 800+ receiving yards in a season, and Jeremy Shockey is the only player in that group to do it in the last 33 seasons.

Heck, it’s tough for non-rookie TEs to get to 800+ receiving yards as we saw last season as Travis Kelce and Darren Waller were the only players at the position to post 725+ receiving yards. I have Pitts as my TE6 for fantasy this season because of his potential to jump into the top-three at the position with Kelce, George Kittle, and Waller as early as his rookie season. However, there’s still a better chance he does struggle a bit in his first season, and he has some elite talents in Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones to compete with for targets. I’m playing the percentages on this one and betting that Pitts struggles just enough to fall short of his lofty receiving yardage total.

Best Bets

  • Najee Harris (Pit) over 915.5 rushing yards (-110, FOXBet). Risk one unit to win .91 units.

  • DeVonta Smith (Phi) over 725.5 receiving yards (-110, FOXBet). Risk one unit to win .91 units.

  • Kyle Pitts (Atl) under 875.5 receiving yards (-110, FOXBet). Risk one unit to win .91 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.