In this weekly NFL player props preview, we’ll highlight some bets you should consider for the upcoming week. Since player props typically aren’t posted until closer to game day, this early preview will look at some particularly favorable or unfavorable matchups that could become actionable.
This doesn’t mean we should automatically bet on these props, but these are some of the first players to check when lines are posted. Hopefully, oddsmakers haven’t identified the same trends as us, and we can find favorable value on these player props.
Also, be sure to check out the Sharp Angles Betting Podcast every Thursday for further discussion on these player props and more betting advice for the week ahead.
CONSIDER THE OVER ON THE CAROLINA PANTHERS’ SACK TOTAL PROP
Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills will be making his first career start against possibly the most dangerous pass rush in the NFL on Thursday night.
Through two weeks, Carolina leads the league with 67.6% pressure rate generated, according to Sports Info Solutions.
What’s more impressive is the Panthers’ ability to generate pressure without blitzing. When bringing four or fewer pass-rushers, Carolina maintains a 63.5% pressure rate.
Against any rookie quarterback this pass-rush will cause problems 一 New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson took six sacks in Week 1 一 but it may be a particularly bad matchup for Mills.
In his final year at Stanford, Mills took a sack on 19.5% of his dropbacks under pressure, above the Pac-12 average of 15.4%. Additionally, Houston is allowing pressure at the fourth-highest rate overall (41.2%) and third-highest versus four or fewer pass-rushers (39.2%).
CONSIDER THE OVER ON EMMANUEL SANDERS’S RECEPTIONS PROP BET
Through two games, Buffalo Bills receiver Emmanuel Sanders has just six receptions despite 14 targets. His modest early production could allow us to get a favorable number on his receptions prop bet heading into a good matchup against the Washington Football Team.
Washington’s primary cornerbacks are William Jackson and Kendall Fuller, but when opponents have played in three-receiver sets, rookie Benjamin St. Juste takes over on the outside with Fuller sliding into the slot.
Jackson, in his first year in Washington, has been one of the league’s top shadow cornerbacks in recent years. And while he hasn’t played much shadow coverage this season, that could change against Buffalo, as Stefon Diggs is the obvious number-one weapon.
Additionally, Washington has significantly increased its usage of man coverage 一 44% through Week 2, compared to 23% in 2020, according to Sports Info Solutions 一 which could be considered a prerequisite for increased shadow coverage, which is more common when playing man.
Assuming Diggs is lined up across from Jackson, Sanders will see St. Juste at a high rate on the opposite side. Though Buffalo won’t avoid Jackson entirely, teams love picking on rookie cornerbacks and St. Juste has already been targeted on 15% of his snaps in coverage this season.
The consensus on Sanders’s receiving yards prop has been 4.5 in each of the first two weeks, but his limited production (he’s gone under in both games) could cause the number to fall. If it’s available at 3.5, that looks like a strong bet based on this matchup.
CONSIDER THE OVER ON KYLER MURRAY’S LONGEST COMPLETION PROP BET
Opposing teams have zero respect for the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary. Through two games, 30% of pass attempts against the Jags have traveled at least 15 yards downfield, easily the highest rate in the NFL. That’s despite playing Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater, who aren’t exactly known for airing it out.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Bridgewater threw for 370 intended air yards against Jacksonville last week. Dating back to 2015 (as far back as their data goes), Bridgewater has topped 300 air yards only one other time (331, against the Broncos in 2015).
Now Jacksonville faces an offense willing to throw downfield regardless of the matchup. Through two games, Kyler Murray has already attempted 11 throws at 20+ yards downfield (16% of his total attempts) and has completed five passes of at least 34 yards.
Jacksonville has already allowed three receptions of at least 40 yards (two to Houston Texans receiver Brandin Cooks, one to Denver’s Courtland Sutton). And Murray has completed a pass of at least 40 yards in 11 of 18 games dating back to the start of 2020.
Longest completion props are typically available in the mid-30s, and given Murray’s willingness to throw downfield coupled with Jacksonville’s defensive struggles, betting this number up to 40 sounds like a smart bet.
CONSIDER THE UNDER ON DAVID MONTGOMERY’S RUSHING YARDS PROP
The Chicago Bears offensive line has struggled to clear room for running back David Montgomery. Through two games, Montgomery is averaging 1.3 yards before contact per carry (fourth-worst) and has been contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on 44% of his carries.
It likely won’t get easier against a much-improved Cleveland Browns defense which is limiting opponents to 1.3 yards before contact per carry (fifth-best) and has contacted opponents at or behind the line of scrimmage on 47% of their attempts.
It’s also worth noting that 41 of Montgomery’s 169 yards came on one long run against the Los Angeles Rams. Excluding that play, he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
Though one long run could obviously allow Montgomery to hit the over, we can safely bet against that. Since the start of 2020, only 2.5% of his carries have gone for 15 or more yards.
One of the primary reasons for his inability to pick up chunks of yardage is Chicago’s tendency to run him up the middle. 56% of his carries have been between the tackles, on which he’s averaging just 3.5 yards per attempt, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Montgomery’s rushing yardage prop has been set to 54.5 and 63.5 yards in his first two games, and anything in that range should lead us to betting the under with Chicago heading to Cleveland as 7.5-point underdogs.