The two best receivers in football? I'd argue they are Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Cincinnati's A.J. Green. So let's look at the NFL betting market for 2014 season props as well as a matchup touchdown prop and a few others.
Johnson -2 Receiving Touchdowns vs. Green
"Megatron" is the -125 favorite with Green at -105. Perhaps one of the most unusual statistical seasons in NFL history was in 2012 when Johnson caught 122 passes for an NFL-record 1,964 yards. Obviously awesome numbers. Yet he had only five TD catches. That was clearly the anomaly as Johnson has had at least 12 every other season since 2010 with a high of 16 in 2011. Johnson was limited to 14 games last year but still had 84 catches for 1,492 yards and 12 scores. He often has had to play with a weak No. 2 receiver opposite him, but that shouldn't be the case in 2014 with the offseason addition of Golden Tate from Seattle. Plus the Lions have two nice pass-catching tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew and rookie first-round pick Eric Ebron. Thus it's going to be rather tough to double team Johnson, who usually beats those anyways. In regards to NFL Odds, Johnson's props for the season are 'over/under' 1,500 yards (both -115), 11.5 touchdowns (over -125 favorite) and 92.5 catches (both -115). He has made no secret of his desire to be the first guy to reach 2,000 yards in a season.
Green, meanwhile, is probably going to be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL very soon. Now that the Bengals have locked up Andy Dalton, getting Green a new deal is next on the list. Green, the former Georgia star, has averaged 87 receptions, 1,278 yards and 10 touchdowns through three seasons. His numbers have gone up as Dalton has improved. Green set career highs with 98 catches, 1,426 yards and 11 scores last year (TDs tied a career mark). For the season, Green has 'over/under' totals of 92.5 catches, 1,250 yards and 10 scores (all options at -115).
Free NFL Pick
The Lions are going to throw more than the Bengals, plus Johnson has the benefit of playing in the dome. Take Johnson minus the two TDs as your NFL Pick on this prop. Go over his catches and touchdowns but under the yards. For Green, I think he lands right on 10 scores. Go over the catches and yards.
Demaryius Thomas -1.5 Receiving TDs vs. Julio Jones
Thomas is the -150 favorite with Jones at +120. Thomas was the No. 22 pick in 2010 from Georgia Tech, the alma mater of Johnson. Obviously it hugely benefits Demaryus Thomas that he gets to play with Peyton Manning. Thomas put up so-so numbers in 2010-11 but has exploded the past two years with Manning throwing him the ball (and Thomas staying healthy). Last year Thomas had 92 catches for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns, remarkably similar numbers to what he did the year before (but only 10 scores in 2012). Obviously the Broncos are going to be throwing the ball a ton again. About the only negative for Thomas is that Manning also has three other good weapons in Wes Welker (if healthy), Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Julius Thomas.
The Falcons gave up a lot to trade up to No. 6 in the 2011 draft and select Jones two picks after the Bengals took Green. You have to start to wonder about Jones' ability to stay healthy, however. He was limited to 13 games as a rookie and just five last year with foot problems. His one healthy year was 2012 when he caught 79 balls for 1,198 yards and 10 scores.
Free NFL Pick: Thomas.
Brandon Marshall +1 Receiving TDs vs. Dez Bryant
Marshall is -120 with Bryant at -110. I'm not really sure that Marshall is the best receiver on his own team at this point, Alshon Jeffery might be. Marshall set a career high with 12 touchdown catches last year. My only concern with Marshall is what happens when Jay Cutler gets hurt? If history has shown us anything, it's going to happen. Marshall's value would plummet with Jimmy Clausen under center.
When I did the quarterbacks story last week I really was high on Dallas QB Tony Romo this season because the Cowboys are so wretched defensively that they will have to throw a lot because they will be behind so often. That means garbage yards and touchdowns for Romo and Bryant. Dez had 13 TD catches last year and I could see him with 15 if he stays on the field.
Free NFL Pick: Bryant.