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NFL Draft

Why Drew Brees Is Poised To Return To 4,000-Yard Club

  • The Draft Network
  • July 23, 2020
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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is now 41 years old, but is still playing at a high level for a Super Bowl contender. His right arm may not have the same amount of juice it had just a few years ago, but the mind, coaching, and production are still there. 

As the Saints make one last run at a second Super Bowl before Brees retires, his dead cap hit cripples the team’s spending, and Taysom Hill takes over under-center, let’s look at what we can reasonably expect from the future Hall of Famer in 2020. Bovada offers the following prop bets on Brees’ 2020 output:

Passing Yards: 4,000.5 (over -115; under -115)

Passing TDs: 30.5 (over -115; under -115)

Brees hasn’t thrown for 4,000 yards since 2017, but there are a few extenuating circumstances. In 2018, Brees (and other top Saints stars like Alvin Kamara) sat out their Week 17 game after clinching the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. He needed only eight passing yards to cross the 4,000-yard threshold. Last season, Brees missed five games with a thumb injury, but had a 16-game pace of 4,333 passing yards. 

Given the addition of Tom Brady and the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the division, plus the NFL’s new rules limiting playoff byes to just one team per conference, the risk of Brees (and anyone else) sitting out Week 17 is as low as ever. As far as injuries go, before last season, Brees was remarkably healthy. His last game missed due to injury was in Week 3 of the 2015 season (shoulder) and, excluding last year, he sat out a grand total of three games in his Saints career that dates back to 2006. While his advanced age is certainly a factor to consider when it comes to predicting a potential future injury, don’t put too much weight on last season’s outlier. 

The process of figuring out what Brees’ 2020 stats might look like starts with passing volume. Simply put: How many passes will Brees throw this season? The days of Brees leading the league in passing attempts with 659 or 673 is long gone, so what’s a more reasonable expectation? 

Looking at his three-year averages from 2017-2019, Brees is throwing about 33.41 passes per game. That number was a little higher last season (34.36), but there’s a good chance it would’ve evened out with more games played. Plus, it just illustrates that his workload didn’t decrease last season and that 33.41 is a reasonable number to use. Over 16 games, that works out to about 535 pass attempts. 

Brees’ yards per pass attempt over the last three seasons averages out to 8.06. That’s slightly above his career average of 7.62, but he’s seen that number rise with fewer overall pass attempts in recent seasons. If we use his three-year average over 535 pass attempts, that works out to 4,310.9 passing yards. Not only is that higher than Bovada’s posted total, but it also leaves some wiggle room for one game missed. The best bet on this prop is over 4,000.5 yards (-115).

Touchdowns are harder to pinpoint and that’s especially the case with Brees. His touchdown rate has been all over the place in recent years—4.3% in 2017, 6.5% in 2018, and 7.1% in 2019. If we try to find some middle ground by averaging those numbers, we get a 5.84% touchdown rate (82 touchdowns on 1,403 attempts). Over 535 projected pass attempts, that equals 31.3 touchdowns. While that is over Bovada’s posted total, I recommend a 1.5-touchdown threshold in either direction when placing a touchdown prop bet wager. That, coupled with Brees’ very unsteady touchdown rate, makes this bet a stay away for me. 

It remains to be seen if Brees can put a cherry on top of his Hall of Fame career with another Super Bowl victory in 2020. But one thing is for sure: If he’s healthy, he’ll be highly productive.

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