Demaryius Thomas (+750)
Demaryius Thomas is Peyton Manning’s go-to guy, and even with the emergence of Julius Thomas last season, D. Thomas is in for a huge season in 2014. Eric Decker and his 1288 receiving yards are gone and someone is going to have the fill that production. Even though I expect J. Thomas and newly acquired Emmanuel Sanders to take on some of the load, the bulk of the targets left over are going to Demaryius.
Thomas finished fourth among wide-outs last year in total receiving yards, and he fell behind only Antonio Brown among the Top 8 pass catchers in catch rate. Decker ended up 12th in the NFL in receiving yards last season if that puts the vacated production more into prospective.
Thomas was not only one of the better receivers in converting his targets into catches, but he only got 143 targets last year. The other guys in the Top 8 averaged nearly two more targets per game throughout the course of the season. I could see Demaryius with 175 targets this season if he plays in all 16 games again, and combined with the NFL Odds value of +750, 2013’s yards after the catch leader looks like an extremely good betting pick to lead the league in yards in 2014.
Antonio Brown (+1800)
If you’re just getting around to checking some of the season totals from last year in the NFL, you might be shocked to find that Antonio Brown was 2nd among receivers in yards. However for some odd reason he is 8th at Bet365 at +1800 to be 1st in 2014. Emmanuel Sanders will now be leaching targets away from the above guy on my list, but if Markus Wheaton turns into a viable threat for the Steelers in his second season, Brown has a great shot at getting to the top of the leaderboard.
Granted the Steelers are likely going to be much better this season, which includes their defense. I doubt Pittsburgh is going to have to throw the ball as much as they did last year. However if for some reason they are or have to be pass happy in 2014, Brown is going to be the main benefactor. He led the league catch rate last season, and with his hands he could grab another 100 balls for 1500 yards, which may be enough to win this prop for NFL Bettors.
Jordy Nelson (+2500)
Jordy Nelson came in 10th in the NFL last season in receiving yards, however he too is going to benefit from a good receiver leaving town. James Jones is now in Oakland and even though he only had 800 yards last year, a lot of that had to do with the absence of Aaron Rodgers for half the season. Randall Cobb is still there, but Nelson is the guy who should be playing most of the X for the Packers this season.
Just like the guys above, I expect Nelson to have his targets increased a lot this year. Another 2-3 targets per game could put him in contention for the #1 receiver in football in 2014, and at +2500 at Bet365, the NFL Odds are far too good to pass up. It is not impossible to think that Nelson could get another 200 yards on top of what he did a season ago, which would have made him second behind only Josh Gordon.