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NFL Futures: Best Receiving Prop Bets (2021)

by August 5, 2021
D.K. Metcalf

This piece rounds out my series of favorite prop bets, as I’ve already discussed my top quarterback prop bets and best rushing bets, too. But, as intuitive readers might have picked up from the title, this isn’t a receiver-only piece. In fact, the featured wager with the longest odds is on a tight end.

As for the other wagers, one thing that’s notably different for receiving props is the lack of exceptionally chalky options. There are so many extremely talented receivers and a few high-end tight ends, keeping even the shortest odds from becoming too short. As a result, the featured picks include some elite receivers in the game rather than getting cute.

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Tyreek Hill (KC): Most Regular Season Receiving Yards +1200 at FanDuel

Being attached to a Patrick Mahomes-led offense is a great starting point for potentially leading the NFL in receiving yards. Head coach Andy Reid isn’t stupid, and he wisely ran a pass-heavy offense with his elite signal-caller at the helm. According to Sharp Football Stats, with a scoring margin ranging from trailing to leading by seven points, the Chiefs passed at the sixth-highest rate (61%) in 2021. Further, they never took their foot off of the accelerator, passing at the second-highest rate (57%) when leading by eight or more points.

Tight end Travis Kelce and the speedy Hill are the unquestioned top two options in the passing attack. The burner wideout is elite by any measure. He finished last year eighth in receiving yards per game (85.1) and tied for 23rd among qualified pass-catchers in yards per target (9.5), per Pro-Football-Reference.

Digging deeper, the advanced metrics are even more glowing. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked 16th out of 127 pass-catchers targeted at least 50 times, with 2.16 yards per route run (Y/RR). Football Outsiders graded his work favorably, too, ranking him eighth in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and 14th in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) out of 87 receivers targeted at least 50 times.

However, it’s Hill’s combination of air yards and damage after the catch that are arguably his most enticing attributes. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked second in Intended Air Yards (1,762) and 12th in Yards After Catch (442) last season.

D.K Metcalf (SEA): Most Regular Season Receiving Yards +1300 at FanDuel

Metcalf is a physical freak, and he’s an efficiency machine. His least impressive mark was ranking tied for 22nd in yards per route run (2.06 Y/RR) in 2020, speaking volumes about the rest of his 2020 profile. In addition, he ranked tied for 20th in target share (22.8%), 13th in Yards After Catch (429), 12th in DVOA, tied for eighth in yards per target (10.1), fifth in DYAR, and third in Intended Air Yards (1,700).

The Seahawks might wish to get back to a more run-heavy offense, bringing in a new offensive coordinator. Nonetheless, their defense might not be good enough to allow them to do that. Football Outsiders ranked them 16th in defense DVOA. Moreover, the offseason hasn’t involved splashy personnel changes to grow on that side of the ball significantly. So, I’m expecting them to hover around the middle of the pack or worse, with some division rivals looking poised to take a step forward on offense — namely the Rams, adding Matthew Stafford, and the 49ers, getting healthier and drafting Trey Lance.

Justin Jefferson (MIN): Most Regular Season Receiving Yards +1400 at FanDuel

If Metcalf’s an efficiency machine, then Jefferson’s a super efficiency machine. Okay, I’m workshopping a better description. Nonetheless, despite being a rookie in a pandemic-impacted season, Jefferson played historically great and was uber-efficient.

He ranked 11th in Intended Air Yards (1,391), 10th in Yards After Catch (470), seventh in DVOA, sixth in target share (25.7%), and third in DYAR and yards per route run (2.66 Y/RR). Unreal. Taking nothing away from receiver Adam Thielen, he’s likely to be less of a threat to Jefferson’s target share than Kelce is to Hill, and Tyler Lockett is to Metcalf.

I have no fear of a sophomore slump from Jefferson. On the contrary, I expect growth as he becomes more accustomed to the NFL. Further, his totals were held back a bit last year by playing under 70% of the team’s offensive snaps in the first two games of the year. However, the Vikings wisely got out of their own way after two games last year, and Jefferson should pick up where he left off last year, making him a threat to win the league receiving-yardage crown.

Rob Gronkowski (TB): Most Regular Season Receiving Touchdowns +6600 at PointsBet

Gronkowski has actually led the NFL in receiving touchdowns. Ergo, he’s capable of doing so again. Boom, argument made. Kidding aside, his 17 touchdowns a decade ago (2011) in his second season led the league.

Gronk isn’t the game-changing stud he once was. Yet, he was a presence in scoring territory last year. Inside 15 yards of scoring, Gronk’s 13 targets tied for the fifth-most among tight ends in 2021, per FantasyPros. Additionally, only seven receivers totaled more than 13 targets within 15 yards of scoring.

The Bucs routinely threw near the end zone last year, ranking third in pass rate (62%) 15 yards or closer to scoring. They also ranked tied for seventh in pass rate (56%) 10 yards or closer to scoring and fourth in pass rate (53%) five yards or closer to scoring, per Sharp Football Stats.

The reigning Super Bowl Champions project to be a high-scoring offense again, led by the ageless Tom Brady. They should regularly be in scoring territory, and Gronk should be a key cog in that area of the field.

It took Gronk a bit to get back into the end zone after a year off in 2019. However, he scored his first touchdown in Week 6, and he kept rolling the rest of the year. According to StatHead, Gronk’s seven receiving touchdowns from Week 6 through Week 17 tied for the seventh-most. Additionally, Brady threw 49 passes 15 yards or closer to scoring from Week 6 through the Super Bowl, and Gronk’s 11 targes trailed only Mike Evans’ 12 on the Bucs. The veteran tight end was better than Evans, too, scoring five touchdowns, tying Chris Godwin for the team lead, one ahead of Evans’ four.

Gronk doesn’t have the wheels to add long touchdowns to his ledger like guys featured in this space, Hill, Metcalf, and Jefferson, as well as countless others, which hurts his odds of leading the league in touchdowns. He’s not a spring chicken at 32 years old, either, creating the potential for a cliff season. All the negatives considered, Gronk’s positives make him a bargain at his exceptionally long odds. Also, there’s the obvious chemistry he has developed with Brady, playing a decade with the G.O.A.T. I can’t resist making a small wager on Gronk leading the NFL in touchdown grabs.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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