Should you bet on Zach Wilson in his New York Jets return?
The New York Jets (1-2) are welcoming back their starting quarterback, Zach Wilson, as they head into western Pennsylvania to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2).
Let’s take a look at some of the best prop bets for the game.
All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
Zach Wilson passing yards: Over 208.5 (-110)
Sportsbooks do not expect much from Wilson in his return. That gives fans an opportunity to buy low on him.
Now, look, I get where this 208.5 number is coming from. Wilson only averaged 190.3 passing yards per game last season (if you exclude one game he left early) and went over 208.5 yards in just 5 of his 12 fully-played games. He simply did not produce good numbers last year.
We don’t know who Wilson is going to be this year. He could be the same quarterback, a slightly better one, or a significantly better one.
But Wilson’s development hardly matters as it pertains to this prop. What has me thinking it’s likely Wilson goes over 208.5 yards is the play selection of the Jets’ offense.
Joe Flacco played woefully in Wilson’s three-game absence. In fact, he averaged fewer yards per attempt (5.8) than Wilson did as a rookie (6.1). Yet, Flacco still averaged 300.3 passing yards per game with at least 285 yards in each game.
Flacco was able to do that because the Jets pumped him up with an enormous volume of attempts. He leads the NFL with 51.7 attempts per game.
If this carries over to Wilson, he should clear 208.5 yards with no problem, even if he plays terribly.
Now, in a perfect world, the Jets do not want their quarterback throwing anywhere near 51.7 pass attempts per game. This is a team that wants to run the football and strike a healthy run-pass balance.
But the Jets are being forced to pass the ball so much because they have been trailing for nearly the entire season. Playing on the road in a tough Pittsburgh environment with a banged-up offensive line and a rusty young quarterback, it seems very possible they could be spending a lot of time trailing once again. And the Jets have showed us they are not afraid to completely abandon the run once they get into catch-up mode.
I like Wilson to go over 208.5 yards simply because of the pass-attempt volume the Jets employed over their first three games. That volume was because they were constantly in catch-up mode, but even if the Jets do not get into catch-up mode today, then it likely means Wilson played well to get them in the lead, which also probably means he cleared the low bar of 208.5 yards.
Wilson’s either going to play well and clear 208.5 yards in an efficient fashion or he’s going to play poorly and clear 208.5 yards by throwing a ridiculous number of passes. The Jets’ first three games make it difficult to envision another scenario.
Najee Harris: Over 18.5 receiving yards (-110)
Steelers running back Najee Harris is looking to get rolling after a cold start to the season. This is especially true in the passing game. Harris is averaging 3.3 receptions for 16.0 yards after averaging 4.4 receptions for 27.5 yards in 2021.
Anybody who has watched the Jets defense recently knows they are highly susceptible to running back screens. Now that the Jets will be without starting linebacker Quincy Williams, there is a chance they could be even worse in that area.
Plus, the Jets have two of the worst tackling safeties in the NFL in Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner, so I figure the Steelers will want to try and exploit that by throwing the ball to Harris in space so the safeties are forced to come down and tackle.
Pittsburgh has a good coaching staff. I think the Steelers will recognize the Jets’ defensive weaknesses and try to exploit them by getting Harris heavily involved in the passing game. This is a golden opportunity for the Steelers to get their marquee running back going, and I doubt they will pass up on it.
Michael Carter: Under 13.5 receiving yards (-110)
Michael Carter‘s receiving production was stellar at some points of the 2021 season, but all of that happened with someone other than Zach Wilson at quarterback. Carter rarely caught passes from Wilson.
In nine games fully-played by Wilson, Carter averaged 1.4 catches for 9.0 yards. He cleared 13.5 yards in only three of the nine games.
That was despite Carter being the Jets’ clear No. 1 running back. Now he’ll likely get even fewer targets from Wilson since he is in a split backfield with Breece Hall, who holds a 21-to-16 target advantage over Carter so far this season.
Garrett Wilson: Over 46.5 receiving yards (-110)
This one is just too good to pass up.
Garrett Wilson posted at least 52 yards in each of his first three games. He’s tied for ninth in the NFL with 33 targets. Today, he faces a Steelers defense that is allowing the 10th-most receiving yards per game to wide receivers (181.0).
Crazier things have happened, but it would be very surprising if Wilson did not have at least 47 receiving yards today.