Josh Downs was not the most heralded Indianapolis Colts rookie as the 2023 NFL season began. By the time the season concluded, though, he had established himself as a valuable piece of the Colts offense.
Most eyes were on first-round pick Anthony Richardson, the Florida product expected to be Indy’s quarterback of the future. Richardson battled injuries early on before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5.
Despite their star rookie missing most of the season, the Colts, somewhat surprisingly, still produced one of the league’s better offenses under first-year coach Shane Steichen and drove plenty of interest in Kentucky sports betting. Their 23.2 points per game average was 10th best, and according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the Colts tied with Cleveland for the seventh-best Offensive SRS rating in the NFL.
Downs, a third-round pick out of North Carolina, was a key contributor, playing in all 17 games and emerging as the Colts' No. 2 receiver. He finished the season with 68 receptions for 771 yards and two touchdowns. His catch and yardage totals were second on the team behind Michael Pittman, Jr. Those numbers are solid, but what stands out is the value the Colts got out of Downs in his rookie year.
Our research team at BetKentucky.com used Pro-Football-Reference.com to find the salary cap hit and yards (rushing and receiving only) of every NFL wide receiver in the 2023-24 NFL regular season. We then calculated dollars per yard for each player in the league to determine the 10 most value-driven WRs this season. Salary and yards were included for all teams the player was on this season.
It turns out Downs was one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck receivers in the league.
Best Value Wide Receivers of 2023-24 Season
Aided by St. Brown, Detroit finds itself in the NFC Championship Game. BetMGM Kentucky has the Lions posted as a 7-point underdog at San Francisco on Sunday. The over/under is 51 total points.
More to Come in 2024?
Downs could be even more valuable for the Colts next season. He’ll enter the second season of his four-year, $5.5 million contract, and according to OverTheCap.com, his 2024 cap hit for the Colts will be less than $1.3 million.
Downs ranked fourth in all-purpose offensive yards behind wide receiver Pittman, Jr. (1,152 yards), Zack Moss (986) and Jonathan Taylor (894). Both Pittman and Moss are unrestricted free agents this offseason. The Colts might place the franchise tag on Pittman, but after signing Taylor, who missed the first seven games as he held out, to a three-year deal, they might not resign Moss. If that happens, that could create more opportunities for Downs in 2024.
Rashee Rice is on the list from Kansas City, helping the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. Kentucky sports betting apps have Kansas City as a 3.5-point road underdog at Baltimore.
Despite missing out on the postseason, Indianapolis was one of the pleasant surprises in the NFL. Oddsmakers set their total wins in the preseason at 6.5, but the Colts exceeded expectations by going 9-8 and remained in the hunt for a playoff spot until the final weekend.
DraftKings Sportsbook Kentucky, one of seven licensed sports betting operators in the state , already has odds out for the 2025 Super Bowl, and the Colts are +4000 to win the Lombardi Trophy next season.