NFL Player Futures: Predicting Passing Touchdown and Interception Leaders

by Kevin Roberts
on July 17, 2017

Betting on NFL Futures is a calculated risk. Some bets seem predictable at first glance while depending on which NFL betting site you wager at, some value plays stand out more than others and feel too good to pass up.

The timing of these bets can be key. For example, Ezekiel Elliott probably felt like many to be a lock for the NFL rushing title for the second year in a row. Perhaps you were sold on some Zeke prop bets, too, or you were going hard on the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East, make the playoffs again or even win Super Bowl 52.

What your exact bet was or is may not matter. The point is, especially in Elliott’s case, you just never know how much life your bet will have. Elliott could still break records and push the ‘Boys to the Super Bowl, but past incidents and a new off field incident could also lead to Elliott being hit with a lengthy suspension.

Just like that, your NFL Futures bet could go out the window. That’s precisely why we need to consider all aspects when placing bets on specific players. You’re not just betting on that player or team individually, but factoring in their off field behavior, suspension possibilities, any injury impact and how it affects the rest of their team.

That’s the same stance we want to take into another interesting NFL Futures bet – which quarterbacks will lead the league in touchdowns and interceptions. With the latest Ezekiel Elliott news as a scary example, we probably need to wonder about how this impacts his starting quarterback (Dak Prescott), which quarterbacks are dicey bet for various reasons and which quarterbacks could be lifted up (or held back) by their own teammates.

With that all in mind, let’s take a look at the latest NFL odds for leaders in passing touchdowns and interceptions going into the 2017 NFL season:

Most Passing Touchdowns – Odds to Win

The NFL saw quite a few high-level quarterback performances in 2016. Tom Brady tore the league up in just 12 starts due to suspension, Matt Ryan put up career numbers during an MVP campaign and Aaron Rodgers willed his Green Bay Packers out of a nasty 4-6 start behind his league-leading 40 touchdown passes.

Rodgers paced the league in passing scores, but Matt Ryan (38) and Drew Brees (37) gave him a run for his money. Can we safely expect A-Rod to take the lead again in 2017? Vegas isn’t quite banking on it, as Tom Brady has the best odds to end 2017 with the most passing scores, per Bovada as of 7/26/17:

  • Tom Brady – New England Patriots (+400)
  • Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers (+425)
  • Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints (+600)
  • Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons (+700)
  • Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts (+1200)
  • Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers (+1200)
  • Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers (+1200)
  • Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders (+1200)
  • Eli Manning – New York Giants (+1600)
  • Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1800)
  • Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans (+3300)
  • Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks (+3300)
  • Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins (+3300)
  • Carson Palmer – Arizona Cardinals (+3300)
  • Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions (+3300)
  • Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals (+4000)
  • Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys (+4000)
  • Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins (+5000)
  • The Field – Any Other QB (+1600)

The top four threats here are obvious. Rodgers paced the league in passing scores in 2016 and has put up 38+ scores four different times in his career. Matt Ryan is coming off of an amazing season and Brees was right there with these guys. Brady put up 28 scores in just 12 starts and inherited Brandin Cooks and gets a healthy Rob Gronkowski back, too.

The big question is two-fold; which of these obvious favorites should we back, and which non-favorite is the best bet? I might like to see where Blake Bortles would rank in here (35 TDs in 2015), but I can always toss a flier bet on The Field (fun +1600 odds) and this list will do. For the most part, nobody stands out. The only real value probably lies with Andrew Luck, who put up 31 touchdowns in just 15 games in 2016 and has a 40-touchdown season to his name.

Jameis Winston (+1800) is a guy to watch and Matthew Stafford (+3300) has some upside, but the top value play is Luck. He has the talent, weapons and past production to get us diving with playable +1200 odds.

If we’re not diving with Luck, we’re probably staying on with Rodgers. He’s the most consistently elite touchdown passer in the league and enters 2017 with as loaded of a passing game as ever. He also gives us fine value at +425 and actually would have been our favorite in terms of odds. The fact that we get him at a mild discount behind Brady has us pulling the trigger.

Pick: Aaron Rodgers – Packers (+425)

Most Passing Interceptions – Odds to Win

The other big quarterback prop bet this year is which passer will toss the most interceptions. It’s a little more difficult to project than you’d think, while it’s not a stat the top quarterbacks will gleefully be targeting.

Last year it was Philip Rivers (21 picks) who paced the league in passing interceptions, but he’d actually been better at taking care of the football at got hurt by a ton of injuries. If the Bolts can stay healthy this year, there is a decent chance we see improved turnover numbers for Rivers.

Jameis Winston (18 picks) was runner-up, but he is by all accounts seemingly ready for a massive year three leap. Ryan Fitzpatrick (17) also isn’t a starter anymore, so we may need to really consider all options here. To do that, let’s take a look at the latest interception leaders odds at Bovada as of 7/26/17:

  • Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars (+450)
  • Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers (+600)
  • Eli Manning – New York Giants (+600)
  • Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600)
  • Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams (+600)
  • Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens (+1200)
  • Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans (+1200)
  • Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints (+1600)
  • Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts (+1600)
  • Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles (+2000)
  • Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers (+2500)
  • Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins (+2500)
  • Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins (+2500)
  • The Field – Any Other QB (+500)

I expect Bortles to take a step forward in his development this year, but he’s put up 17, 18 and 16 picks in his first three NFL seasons, so the guy is no stranger to turning the ball over. He’s an understandable favorite to kick things off, but beyond the likely improvement, I’m not so sure the Jags stick with him if he turns the ball over at an insane rate. Sharp signs of decline or a lack of actual progression are more likely to lead to a benching than Bortles just coasting through another turnover-laden year.

Rivers was the pick leader last year and has had a few seasons with too many interceptions, so he’s right up there for consideration. Eli Manning throws more picks than you’d like to see, too, while Drew Brees and Andrew Luck offer a lot of value as high-end passers who have gotten careless with the ball at times during their careers.

I’m not really biting in any of these spots, though. The one name that stands out the most is Jared Goff, who probably isn’t going to be light years ahead of the player he was as an extremely raw rookie in 2016. The sample size is small, but that’s part of the problem for Goff, who tossed 7 picks in just 8 starts. That’s almost an interception per start, and that’s not including three games where the Rams went out of their way to hide him (25 pass attempts or fewer).

Goff is going to need to throw the ball to develop and with Vegas not loving the Rams in general, it makes sense for his first full season to have him experience some growing pains. The talent in L.A.’s passing game isn’t reliable, their running game never got going in 2016 and Goff faces two nasty defenses in the Seahawks and Cardinals twice a year. Provided the Rams don’t bail on him or sink their team by completely masking him by running the ball every play, he feels like the best bet here.

We can get value with shots at Brees and Luck, but Goff looks like the best candidate to lead the NFL in interceptions thrown this year.

Pick: Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams (+600)
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