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Tom Stitfall 28th Aug 2014 - 7:02

US Sport's Traders View - NFL Specials

NFL Regular Season Specials - Every Yard Counts

The new season is now just days away. Green Bay Packers will make the cross country trip to CenturyLink Field and face-off with last year's Super Bowl winning Seahawks. The last time the Cheeseheads made the trip to Seattle they were robbed of the game when replacement referees blew a late call; they awarded a touchdown on a Hail Mary pass which was actually intercepted by Green Bay's M.D. Jennings. The game was dubbed 'The Fail Mary' and two days later the NFL agreed a deal to end the referee lockout. Packer's fans are still sore on the blunder, which will no doubt give the first game some extra buzz, as if we need it...

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If you're not a weekly punter we have several specials which can offer an interest throughout the season, especially if you play in fantasy leagues or have favourite players. Right now I want to look at regular season yards and who might be the best bet to lead the league. Our compilers have priced up markets for three key offensive positions. So who do you want to lead the league in yards gained at quarterback, wide receiver or running back?

Let's start with quarterback: early money makes Peyton Manning the joint favourite with Drew Brees, both are 5/2 to lead the league in passing yards during the regular season. They finished 1-2 in 2013 with Peyton 315 yards better off; he finished with 5,477 yards total. Both had a completion rate in the high 60s and little should change. You can expect both players to be on the sharp end come week 17, as they both have pass first offensive schemes and quality receivers. Personally, I won't be delving too far down the list with my pick: Matthew Stafford @ 8/1. Stafford, a consistent performer, has a career average 286 yards per game. Plenty short of the 342 yards per game put up by Manning in 2013 but it's unlikely that will be reproduced. Detroit (No.3 passing offense last season) acquired Golden Tate to pair up with their top wide out, Calvin Johnson, and then spent a first round pick on Eric Ebron in the draft. Whilst Megatron (Calvin Johnson) will always get the first look from Stafford, the rookie tight end has great athleticism and stands 6'4" which should offer a strong alternative. Tate will stretch the field as a deep threat but can also play in the slot where he is equally dangerous after the catch due to his elusiveness. Stafford has finished within the top three four years in a row with one elite receiver and pass receiving backs: this year I think he could top the pile with a more balanced offense.

Now for the hard yards. Running backs take all the heavy hits. This often leads to injury, making the betting a mine field. Last year, LeSean Mccoy (4/1 to lead the regular season in rushing yards) ran for 1,607 yards but he received well in excess of 300 carries. I believe the best way to approach this market is to find a player with a good chance of receiving a similar amount of rush attempts for the season. The top five teams for rush attempts in the 2013 regular season were the Eagles, Bills, 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins. I would draw a line through Buffalo as they split time between C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, which leaves me with four options: LeSean Mccoy, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris. Reports coming out of training camps lean towards Gore (66/1) and Lynch (16/1), receiving more rest time this season so we can expect their numbers to drop. By process of elimination, I have been left with the favourite and Alfred Morris (14/1 to lead the regular season in rushing yards). It will be a small stake but I will be taking the outsider. He finished 4th in 2013 which wasn't bad for a team with a 3-13 record.

Finally we come to receiving yards, wide receiver is my favourite position which leaves me struggling in this field as I have a biased opinion with so many players. In his second pro-season, Josh Gordon led the league last year but he looks set to miss several games through suspension. After Gordon, six players were split by a difference of 70 yards, a group that doesn't include stud receivers Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant or Jordy Nelson. In such a deep field, we haven't seen many large stakes but lots of small each-way. Popular selections to lead the league in regular season receiving yards include T.Y. Hilton (66/1), Cordarrelle Patterson (100/1) and Randall Cobb (40/1). Each player has an angle: the up and coming offense, the star prospect or the injury returner...but who do you fancy?

 

Keith Larkin

In-Play US Sports Trader

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