While the title of most outstanding NFL quarterback goes to either Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, any conversation about the most valuable quarterback has to include Russell Wilson. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback has taken on a much more prominent role as the defensive unit has slowly deteriorated since the Super Bowl days.
The Seahawks are a run-first team, as evidenced by keeping the ball on the ground on 45.7% of their offensive plays in 2019, the fifth-highest amount in the NFL. However, due to injuries, fumbling issues and a less-than-ideal defensive secondary, Wilson is frequently asked to play a successful version of "hero ball".
Wilson threw for more than 4,000 yards last season with 31 touchdowns. Can he cross the 30-score threshold again this season? DraftKings Sportsbook is offering the following prop bet on Wilson's passing touchdown total in 2020:
For reference, FanDuel Sportsbook is also offering this prop bet at 30.5. Wilson is averaging 28.4 passing touchdowns per season in his eight-year career and has thrown for more than 30 touchdowns in half of those seasons.
Pros for betting OVER; Cons for betting UNDER
Wilson has averaged 33.3 passing touchdowns per season over the last three years and 31.0 per season over the last five. In the post-Marshawn Lynch (we're not counting last season, because duh) and post-Legion of Boom era, Wilson has taken a bigger role in the offense. From 2012-15, Wilson averaged 433.8 passing attempts per season. That number is up to 510.5 over the last four seasons. With volume comes opportunity.
There are three other factors in Wilson and over bettors' favor. The first is health. Wilson has never missed a start. A key to any over bet on a player prop is availability. Any total north of 30 touchdowns simply requires a full season of health in order to be profitable. While injuries can happen at any time, history tells us that Wilson appears less likely to miss time than the average player.
The next factor is a consistently high touchdown rate. While that's not a skill, per se, it's a byproduct of how Seattle operates on offense. Despite not being a 600 pass attempt per season team, Pete Carroll and Co. put Wilson in position to make big time, red zone throws as much as any team in the league. While we saw dips in 2014 and 2016, Wilson is consistently around the 6% range. At that number, Wilson can throw for 31-plus scores on only 516ish pass attempts, which is exactly what he did last season.
Finally, he has two reliable wide receivers in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf and very solid veteran tight end Greg Olsen. Wilson has never had an elite cache of pass-catchers around him, but this group could compete for the best corps he's had in some time, even if they're being undervalued by some.
Pros for betting UNDER; Cons for betting OVER
While it does feel like this could be another notable age of quarterback play, 31 touchdowns in a season is still a lot. Only three players in the NFL reached that mark last season, Wilson, Jameis Winston (33) and Jackson (36). While eight players did reach that mark the year prior, only Wilson was able to repeat his performance.
There's little margin for error for over bettors. If Wilson misses a game or drops down under 500 pass attempts (which has happened five times in his career) it's going to be very hard for the over to cash. You're essentially betting on Wilson having as good of a season as can be expected with no significant hiccups.
The Seahawks may want to run a lot, they're going to be forced to pass in key moments. Chris Carson still has fumbling issues, Rashaad Penny is hurt and will miss the start of the season and Carlos Hyde is just a guy. When the game is on the line, especially with many tight contests expected in the NFC West, the ball will be in Wilson's hands. Couple that with the pass-catching weapons around him and there's no reason to believe he can replicate what he's done over the past three season.
The Play: OVER 30.5 passing TDs (-110)