The 2021 NFL Draft has seen its cards fall, and with the prospects nestled into their homes, the books have begun setting lines for their upcoming first-year performances. For the top receivers, that means yardage over/unders; for quarterbacks, that means eventual starting weeks; and for defensive players, that means sacks.
As such, with new lines available at BetOnline, I have three bets that stand out as good value in the first few days. These are decently limited maxes now, but you can still find good edges in the early days before public money starts rushing in.
QB Start Times
-- Justin Fields to start Week 1 (+300)
-- Trey Lance before the bye week [Week 11] (+200)
All of these lines are juiced up and we should be careful betting them, but all still make sense, including Mac Jones at +300 and Davis Mills at +400. With that said, the Patriots have a quarterback they’re clearly comfortable starting in Cam Newton; and while the Texans don’t have a starting quarterback with the current Deshaun Watson situation considered, they do have Tyrod Taylor, who is better than a third-round pick.
The Bears have Andy Dalton, but remember—they could have signed Dalton last year if they really thought he had any juice left; they didn’t. And the 49ers have Garoppolo, who they are clearly, actively trying to improve upon. The best bet here is Lance accordingly, as Garoppolo could get hurt, traded, or benched—if he even starts altogether. But Fields is also strong, as the Bears are also a team looking to compete, and Dalton doesn’t give them that opportunity.
Jaelan Phillips: Over 6 sacks
We have not had a year in the last 20 seasons that saw no rookie accumulate at least six sacks. Last year we had just one in Chase Young—the year before that, we had five. Now, it’s a down year for pass rushers in this class—that’s no doubt. The defensive tackle group had little talent altogether, and that EDGE group was thin. But Phillips would have been a top-10 pick if not for the injury concerns.
So Phillips has the best shot of any of the pass rushers, in my opinion, to hit that six-sack mark. He’s also clearly the top pass rusher in Miami, where the Dolphins desperately needed some additional juice on pass rush, so they will scheme up opportunities for him. His body has been NFL-ready for the last couple of years, so I don’t have concerns about him getting big-boy'd early. I would have set this line at 7 or 7.5, so this feels like great value for me.
Kyle Pitts: Under 775 receiving yards
Only one rookie tight end this century has cleared 775 receiving yards: that’s Jeremy Shockey, who grabbed 894 receiving yards in 2002 for the New York Giants. And of course, we haven’t seen a tight end drafted as early as Kyle Pitts, ever, so we are already in unprecedented waters. But we do know how the Titans’ offense ran under Arthur Smith, and it generally spread the wealth among its TE targets, instead utilizing high-volume receivers in the play-action passing game.
In 2020, Jonnu Smith had 65 targets to Anthony Firsker’s 53; in 2019, Smith split with Firsker and Delanie Walker, the incumbent veteran. The Falcons have that player in hand in Hayden Hurst and have their 80-plus target receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. And remember, in all of this target talk: they simply run the ball a ton in this offense. All of this has me leaning on the under for Pitts.
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