The NFL season is officially back, returning in a year that feels a bit more special. Anything is possible as the league kicked off in stellar style with two MVP favorites meeting on the gridiron at Arrowhead Stadium. As we learned in 2019, being a stat leader does not always translate into winning the most important trophy in the NFL.
Jameis Winston might have been the first quarterback to go 30-and-30, but he also led the league in passing yards with 5,109. Aaron Jones impressed in a breakout year with 19 total touchdowns and a league-high of 16 on the ground. Meanwhile, Shaquil Barrett finally showed his potential in his sixth season by claiming the sack title with 19.5.
From newcomers and aging stars, all have their chance to add massive numbers to their resumes as breakout candidates or future Canton callers. Pro Football Network released its season predictions and award winners, but the stats leaders are still up for grabs.
Predicting the 2020 NFL stat leaders
Passing Yards: Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
Prescott is already playing for a massive extension entering the season. It shouldn’t be far-fetched to see the Cowboys starter claim this crown as the 27-year-old finished second behind Winston last season in yards with 4,902. Throw in the arsenal that only improved in April, and the No.2 passing offense should command the stat lines all season long.
The Cowboys already featured two 1,000-yard targets in Amari Cooper and Micheal Gallup. That duo is now a trio with the emergence of Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb in the slot. Tony Pollard could benefit from Mike McCarthy’s offensive scheme and see his numbers increase in the passing game. And don’t forget about Ezekiel Elliott, who has finished three of his four seasons with over 30 catches for 350-plus yards.
He won’t break Peyton Manning’s single-season passing yard record, but Prescott should enter the 5,000-yard territory before Week 17.
Prediction: 5,185 yards
Runner Up: Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan (4,988)
Passing Touchdowns: Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
What more is there to say about Kansas City’s offense? Complete with speed, power, and consistency, the Chiefs should see Mahomes shine in another year through the air. And while he might not lead the league in yards, that doesn’t mean the touchdown machine of 2018 won’t be wreaking havoc in the AFC once more.
Mahomes will have speed in Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill for deep shots down the field. Travis Kelce has finished the last four seasons with over 1,000 yards and scored at least four touchdowns. Clyde Edwards-Helaire showed his ability as a pass-catcher with LSU, closing his final season with 453 yards and a score. Sprinkle in Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins, Mahomes should come close to his 50-touchdown mark by the end of the year.
Prediction: 42 touchdowns
Runner Up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady (37)
Rushing Yards: Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
It was a close one between Saquon Barkley and Jacobs. Ultimately, it’s best to trust the offensive line, and Las Vegas’ unit is much more ready to help their team contend. Jacobs should build off his rookie campaign where he finished with 1,150 yards, seven touchdowns, and averaged 4.8 yards per run.
The Raiders don’t have a quality second option at running back entering the year. The verdict is still out on Derek Carr if he can be the franchise quarterback in a prove-it season. Jacobs, behind the 13th-ranked rushing offense, might be the only consistency entering Sin City to begin a new era. Even if Carr flourishes, the Alabama product’s rookie season showed potentials of greatness as one of the more impactful players at his regressing position. He’s a home run hitter and is ready to show the NFL it’s best not to sleep on him.
Prediction: 1,345 yards
Runner Up: New York Giants Saquon Barkley (1,292 yards)
Rushing Touchdowns: Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb
Much like the race between Barkley and Jacobs, this was a close call between Chubb and Derrick Henry. Even if Ryan Tannehill regresses from his 34.36 Offensive Share Metric score, Henry still should be in line to succeed in the red zone. The ultimate determining factor was the departure of Jack Conklin in the Music City and his arrival in the City of Rock.
Chubb was neck and neck with Henry for the rushing title last season. In Kevin Stefanski’s new run-heavy scheme, the Browns will rely heavily on Chubb’s power and Kareem Hunt’s speed to take the pressure of Baker Mayfield in the passing game. The third-year runner logged six of his eight touchdowns from inside the opponents’ 20 and should see those numbers increase if Mayfield regresses in the slightest.
Prediction: 13 touchdowns
Runner Up: Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry (11)
Receptions: Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay
Lost somewhere between the tiers of top targets is where Golladay lies. Even after a season where he led the NFL in touchdowns (11) despite having Matthew Stafford for eight games should speak volume of his upside in the Motor City. If that wasn’t enough to make him a top-10 receiver, maybe leading the league in catches will.
Golladay finished seventh in receiving yards (1,190) with only 65 catches in 2019. A healthy Stafford and a must-win season for the Lions staff could have the team trusting the passing attack more than the run game. Kerryon Johnson has been inconsistent due to injury, and D’Andre Swift is vastly unproven. All that adds to a positive outlook for Golladay’s production as he enters a contract year.
Prediction: 105 catches
Runner Up: Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins (99)
Continue for the rest of the NFL stat leaders for 2020.