NFL player prop debate: Can Russell Wilson throw for more than 4,100 yards?

·4-min read

The most popular bet for NFL MVP this offseason has been Russell Wilson.

There have been more bets and more money put on Wilson to win MVP at BetMGM than any other player. Optimism is high for Wilson's first season with the Denver Broncos.

That's why it's a little odd to see his passing yardage total at BetMGM sitting at a reasonable 4,099.5.

While 4,100 yards isn't a layup, it's a reachable goal for a top quarterback like Wilson. Is the over the right bet?

Why you'd bet the over on Russell Wilson's yards

The Broncos didn't trade for Wilson to have him hand off, which was what the Seattle Seahawks wanted him to do more often than not.

New coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has an offensive background, has said the offense will be catered to Wilson. That should be obvious but it's good to hear anyway. And Wilson has some good targets like Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam and running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, who can both catch out of the backfield.

There's a notion Wilson declined last season, but that seems related to his midseason finger injury. He rushed back and struggled his first two games back. In his last seven games he had 1,549 yards, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 104.3 passer rating. That's not huge volume but it shows what he was capable of when healthy. In his four full games to start last season, before the injury, he had 1,044 passing yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. He was just fine.

Another favorable factor for the over is game scripts. In the AFC West, the Broncos shouldn't have many easy wins. There will be plenty of high-scoring, competitive games this season, and that should help Wilson get the volume the Seahawks never seemed comfortable giving him.

One more positive note: Most fantasy football projections have Denver with one of the five easiest schedules vs. passing defenses this season. FantasyPoints.com, for one example, has Wilson with the second-best schedule from Weeks 1-17 among quarterbacks. Projecting strength of schedule isn't an exact science, but it's still not bad news for Wilson.

Russell Wilson starts a new chapter of his career with the Denver Broncos. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Russell Wilson starts a new chapter of his career with the Denver Broncos. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)

Why you'd bet the under on Wilson's yards

Wilson has been a great quarterback but never a high-volume one. Maybe that's due to the Seahawks' approach, but it gives you some pause to bet over 4,099.5 yards when Wilson has been in the NFL 10 seasons and his career high is 4,219 yards. Of course, nine of those seasons were 16-game seasons and last season he played only 14. If healthy, he'll get 17 games this season.

Many of those Seahawks seasons came with some really good receivers too, most recently D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Sutton and Jeudy are good, but Wilson has had good receivers around him most of his career. We shouldn't overrate his new supporting cast.

The Broncos also aren't going to abandon the run game. Williams and Gordon are both very good on the ground. This won't become an offense that throws it 40 times a game.

A lot still has to go right for Wilson to get to 4,100 yards. And, of course, the risk betting any season-long over is that any time missed due to injury usually ruins the bet. Wilson could have a very good season and not reach 4,100 yards. That happened to him a few times in Seattle.

The verdict

I like the over. The Broncos seem excited about giving Wilson as many opportunities as they can, and you have to assume Wilson has been waiting for that type of offense.

"We want to build this thing completely around him and make sure that he’s comfortable and watch him come alive," Hackett said on May 23.

All those MVP bets for Wilson make sense. Wilson should have a huge season in a new environment that wants him to be the focal point, not just a quarterback who bails out the offense when handing it off over and over doesn't work.

Wilson has waited a long time for this kind of opportunity to throw it often. Bet on Wilson setting a new career best in passing yards.