The buzz is in the air in Cleveland as a new regime takes control of a talented roster and true franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield. A multitude of weapons in the passing game and an aggressive offensive-minded coach will lead to a significant amount of opportunities for Baker to throw the ball and without question he has the skill set, attitude and confidence to lead the Browns through the air. The Browns as a team have been heavily backed in the market throughout the offseason and Baker himself is a common selection among the players to take home superlatives like MVP, Most Passing TDs and Most Passing Yards. There is another category, however, that holds more value at this point for Baker and it’s Most Interceptions Thrown.
This prop is currently available at a handful of shops in the 16/1 range and may be the most over-looked prop on the whole card. Baker took over for the Browns in Week 3 last season throwing 14 picks in his 13 starts over 486 pass attempts; this amounted to an interception rate of 3.0% which was good enough for Top 10 in the league. It is reasonable to expect that Baker will approach 600 attempts this season if he suits up for all 16 games and if his 3.0% rate does not improve than it is reasonable to expect 18 INTs from him this season (worth noting you can also get over 14.5 interceptions for the ridiculous price of -150, which is generously off by ~10%). A total of 18 picks would have lead the League in 2018; Big Ben had 16 and leads the market in terms of odds for 2019.
This leads us to ask, will Baker’s Int Rate decline? Well, Cleveland has invested heavily in their Wide Receiving corps, specifically at the detriment of their offensive line. This will likely lead to an increasing the rate that Baker is under pressure in 2019 relative to 2018. For some QBs an increase in pressure translates to more throw-aways or more sacks but for some with a “Gunslinger” mentality it leads to more picks as the ball is launched before the routes are mature or risky throws are attempted with shorter time to read the defense. No QB in the league today brings more of the Brett Favre, Gunslinger bravado to the game than Baker Mayfield. It is reasonable to expect that his confidence and drive will push him to continue to throw the ball even on days where he is creating turnovers. Baker Mayfield to Brett Favre is one of the most perfect comp we’ve had for a QB in this League in many years and Mayfield solidifies this reputation in Year 2 of his NFL career on his way to taking the Interception Title (while winning a bunch of games and getting heaps of press and praise).