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Predicting 2019 NFL stat leaders and more: Top passers, rushers, receivers

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Mahomes is an outlier, can be drafted in third round (1:57)

Matthew Berry and Field Yates say that for a QB to be drafted in the opening rounds, he'd have to be an outlier, which the duo believes Patrick Mahomes to be. (1:57)

Which receiver will lead the league in targets this season? What about the rookie running back who will have the most rushing yards?

We asked three of our NFL analysts to predict the stat leaders in 23 categories and explain their picks. Then we asked an anonymous NFL executive to give his picks for every category.

Here are their picks for the top passer, rusher, receiver and more, along with Mike Clay's projections (as of Aug. 29) for each category:

Jump to a position:
Quarterbacks | Running backs
Wide receivers | Tight ends | More


Which QB will have the most passing yards?

Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs. Last season, Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards -- at 8.9 yards per attempt -- and led the NFL with 85 attempts of plus-20 yards. Under Andy Reid, the Chiefs will once again create explosive play opportunities in the passing game, and Kansas City added yet another weapon for Mahomes with rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman. He's a true blazer with 4.3 40-yard dash speed.

Dan Graziano, National NFL writer: Matt Ryan, Falcons. This is a high-octane passing offense loaded with pass-catching talent, combined with a schedule littered with soft passing defenses and a quarterback who has surpassed 4,000 yards eight years in a row and 4,900 in two of the past three.

Field Yates, NFL analyst: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers. Although emulating last year's gargantuan 675 passing attempts is unlikely, Roethlisberger has firmly established himself as one of the highest-volume quarterbacks per season, averaging 38.3 attempts per game the past six years. Antonio Brown is gone, but the supporting cast is still excellent.

Anonymous NFL exec: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Mike Clay's projection:
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: 4,773
2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: 4,735
3. Matt Ryan, Falcons: 4,627


Which QB will throw the most touchdown passes?

Bowen: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs. The passing-game matchups in Kansas City give Mahomes the edge. So does his rare ability to make second-reaction throws when his primary reads are taken away. Mahomes might not top the 50-touchdown mark again this season, but he'll finish as the league leader.

Graziano: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs. I don't see him getting to 50 again, but it wouldn't floor me if he did.

Yates: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs. Do I really need to explain why?

Anonymous NFL exec: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Clay's projection:
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: 35
T2. Carson Wentz, Eagles: 32
T2. Baker Mayfield, Browns: 32


Which QB will throw the most interceptions?

Bowen: Philip Rivers, Chargers. The past five seasons, Rivers has thrown 74 interceptions. That ranks second to Blake Bortles' 75 picks in the same stretch. Rivers is going to challenge tight windows and take some risk with the ball. In fact, watching Rivers reminds me a little bit of playing with Brett Favre. Aggressive throwers.

Graziano: Kyler Murray, Cardinals. He's a rookie slated to play the whole 16-game season in an offense that's going to throw the ball a ton, and we're not even sure yet if that offense is going to work. I believe in Murray and have high hopes for him as an NFL player, but to throw as much as he likely will with as little experience as he has? I think that leads to a high INT total.

Yates: Jameis Winston, Buccaneers. My thinking for this pick started by finding a quarterback who is likely to start 16 games without a backup breathing down his neck, then evaluating those with good job security but for a habit of risk. Winston checks those boxes and will take chances: Coach Bruce Arians lives by the "no risk it, no biscuit" mantra.

Anonymous NFL exec: Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

Clay's projection:
1. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers: 17
T2. Sam Darnold, Jets: 16
T2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: 16

Which QB will lead the league in Total QBR?

Bowen: Carson Wentz, Eagles. With Wentz entering 2019 healthy, plus some offensive upgrades at the skill positions in Philly, I expect the Eagles QB to be in the MVP discussion. Plus, Wentz's ability to pick up some yards on the ground will boost his overall QBR.