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NFL betting: Stefon Diggs is a good value to lead league in receiving yards in 2022

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The period between the 4th of July and Labor Day is the slowest part of the sports calendar. Sure, you have baseball, but outside of the occasional golf tournament or tennis tournament, there really isn't much more going on during the dog days of summer as we await the NFL.

This is the perfect time of year to dive into the upcoming football season and get a leg up on the rest of the world. By Labor Day, every average Joe will be diving into fantasy rankings and reading previews while getting excited for the upcoming season. However, if you start now, you'll have more time to gather information and build a baseline to guide you throughout the season. Almost as importantly, you won't have to cram to get your information and you have plenty of time to let it all process so you can try and separate what you believe to be fact from fiction.

While the NFL season is still over two months away, there's plenty of betting options available at BetMGM already for the upcoming season. Today, we're taking a look at the odds for which player will lead the league in receiving yards in 2022. Cooper Kupp led the league in receiving last year, and he opens as a +750 favorite to repeat the feat this year. However, we're taking a look at another receiver who led the league in yards in the past and his quest to return to the top spot.

Positive regression coming for Diggs

Just as the world was shutting down in March of 2020, the Buffalo Bills traded for wide receiver Stefon Diggs from Minnesota. Diggs rewarded the Bills by leading the league in receiving during the weird 2020 season. Most importantly, he helped unlock Josh Allen. Allen entered the league in 2018 as a prospect with plenty of red flags, and then was an inconsistent quarterback who showed flashes over his first few seasons. It wasn't until the Bills acquired Diggs that Allen developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Allen is now at the point where he enters the 2022 season as the betting favorite to win MVP.

In 2020, Diggs led the league with 1535 receiving yards. However, in 2021, despite playing in one more game, Diggs dropped to 1225 yards which ranked 8th in the league. While a top-10 finish is nothing to scoff at, it leads us to question why the decline for Diggs?

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills on the field during warmups before a game against the New York Jets at Highmark Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Stefon Diggs is one of the best receivers in the NFL. (Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Last season, Diggs had a 62.8% catch rate. That ranked 55th amongst receivers. It was the first time since Diggs' rookie year he had a catch rate below 67%. His career catch rate is nearly 69% and his catch rate his first season in Buffalo was 76.5%. Diggs' low catch rate this past season was likely an outlier based on the body of work we've seen in his career.

As a result of his low catch rate, Diggs finished 2nd in unrealized air yards last season with 923. If Diggs bounces back to his career average catch rate, it's likely that a bunch of those "unrealized" yards become realized, especially with an MVP-candidate throwing him the ball.

It's not like Diggs was bad

Even with the somewhat disappointing 2021 season, it's not like Diggs was bad. He finished 8th in the league in receiving yards. He's one of just 10 receivers to post 1000 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons. His cumulative receiving yardage total over the last two seasons ranks fourth in the league behind Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams and Cooper Kupp.

Diggs also is the true alpha in the Bills' passing game. He led the league in targets in 2020 and finished 5th in 2021. He's averaged 165 targets per season. Diggs is just one of five players to command a 25%+ target share in each of the last two seasons. The other four are Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown. Three of those receivers are on a new team this season.

Buffalo has also seen Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders depart via free agency this offseason. While both are currently unsigned, it appears that a return to Buffalo isn't particularly likely. Jamison Crowder was brought in to fill the Beasley role, but he doesn't have the rapport with Josh Allen that Beasley did and Crowder has also dealt with a lot of injury issues the past few seasons. Gabriel Davis will likely step up and be asked to play on the opposite side of Diggs. There's no new acquisition this offseason for Buffalo that will threaten Diggs' target share.

You can easily explain away why Diggs saw a drop in production last season. He's proven he's capable of leading the league in the past. There's not much competition for his targets in Buffalo. He has an MVP-contender throwing him the ball. While there's plenty of other great receivers in this league, I love the price on Diggs at 16-to-1 to lead the league in receiving in 2022.

The rest of the odds

Here's the current odds at BetMGM for which player will lead the league in receiving yards in 2022:

  • Cooper Kupp, Rams (+750)

  • Justin Jefferson, Vikings (+800)

  • CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys (10-to-1)

  • Ja'Marr Chase, Bengals (12-to-1)

  • Davante Adams, Raiders (12-to-1)

  • Travis Kelce, Chiefs (16-to-1)

  • Stefon Diggs, Bills (16-to-1)

  • Deebo Samuel, 49ers (20-to-1)

  • Mike Evans, Buccaneers (20-to-1)

  • Tyreek Hill, Dolphins (20-to-1)

Stats courtesy of Player Profiler