In this weekly NFL player props preview, we’ll highlight some bets you should consider for the upcoming week.
Player props typically aren’t posted until closer to game day, but we have a full slate to choose from heading into Week 1.
Consider the over on Tony Pollard’s rushing yards prop
With Ezekiel Elliott out of the way, take the over on Tony Pollard’s rushing yards prop.
Tony Pollard rushing yards, current line:
We’ve always known Pollard as an explosive ball carrier, but now he also gets to be the workhorse in Dallas.
With Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn serving as his backups, there does not appear to be anyone else competing for meaningful touches in the Dallas backfield.
Dallas is a three-point favorite against the New York Giants in this matchup, which should allow for a strong workload for Pollard.
In 11 games in which Dallas was favored by a field goal or more last year, its running backs averaged 27.5 carries and 116.9 yards per game, per TruMedia.
Obviously, that yardage was split between Elliott and Pollard in most games, but we should expect a significantly higher percentage to go to Pollard this year.
The Giants are also a favorable matchup for the explosive Pollard due to their tendency to allow big plays on the ground.
According to TruMedia, New York allowed 10 or more yards on 15.3% of carries by running backs last year.
Consider the over on T.J. Hockenson’s receptions prop
Against a favorable Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, take the over on T.J. Hockenson’s receptions prop.
T.J. Hockenson’s receptions prop, current line:
Although the rebuilding Bucs still have some talent on defense, their scheme creates opportunities for tight ends in the passing game.
Tampa used two-high safety coverages on 45% of plays outside the red zone, per TruMedia, which leaves more room in the middle of the field for tight ends.
Hockenson hit the over on his receptions prop in seven of nine games with Minnesota last year (he played 10 games, but there was no line for the Vikings’ Week 18 contest).
The over was also a consistent winner against Tampa due to its defensive scheme, hitting each of the final five games last year in which a receptions prop was available for a tight end.
Consider the over on Desmond Ridder’s passing yards prop
This might feel like a contrarian play with expectations of a run-heavy offense for the Atlanta Falcons, but take the over on Desmond Ridder’s passing yards prop.
Desmond Ridder’s passing yards, current line:
During Ridder’s four starts last season, the Falcons handed the ball off to running backs on 46% of their plays, the league’s highest rate per TruMedia.
Despite this run-centric offense, Ridder still topped 200 passing yards twice.
The addition of first-round pick Bijan Robinson has led many to believe the Falcons are gearing up for a more aggressive rushing attack, but they really can’t become much more run-heavy than a season ago.
In fact, the addition of Robinson may actually decrease the Falcons’ run rate due to Robinson’s ability in the passing game — a massive upgrade over the receiving talent of Tyler Allgeier, who had just 17 targets in 16 games last season.
Consider the over on Kenneth Walker III’s rushing yards prop
In a favorable matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, take the over on Kenneth Walker III’s rushing yards.
Kenneth Walker III’s rushing yards, current line:
In his one full game against the Rams last season, Walker picked up 114 yards on 29 carries in a Seahawks victory.
The addition of rookie Zach Charbonnet means Walker may not see that kind of workload again this year, but this is still a good matchup for Seattle’s run game.
Walker’s greatest weakness as a ball carrier is dancing in the backfield and taking negative plays. However, the Rams rarely found their way into the backfield last season.
Los Angeles contacted running backs behind the line of scrimmage on 21% of their carries, which ranked 27th per TruMedia.
Seattle is favored by five points in this matchup, which means we should get the game script we need for Walker to hit the over on his Week 1 rushing yards.
Consider the over on Aaron Jones’s rushing yards prop
Expect the Green Bay Packers to lean on the run game more without Aaron Rodgers, so take the over on Aaron Jones’s rushing yards prop.
Aaron Jones’s rushing yards, current line:
Jones played one full game against the Bears last year (he exited early with an injury in the other) and picked up 132 yards on 15 carries.
Although the Bears did make some changes on defense, it remains to be seen if Chicago improved the league’s 31st-ranked run defense.
The Packers were a run-heavy offense last year, even with Rodgers, so this could develop into one of the league’s most aggressive rushing attacks in Jordan Love’s first full season.
According to TruMedia, Green Bay handed the ball off to running backs on 53.7% of first-down plays in the first through third quarters, the league’s fourth-highest rate.
Although AJ Dillon is a significant factor in the Packers’ backfield, over the years his usage has tended to skew towards short-yardage situations and when Green Bay holds a second-half lead.
Chicago is favored by one point in this matchup, so there’s a good chance we see the game script tilted in Jones’s favor for more action in a close game.