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 Wednesday for further discussion on these player props and more betting advice for the week ahead.
Consider the over on Derek Carr’s passing yards
In this matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, take the over on Derek Carr’s passing yards. Carr threw for 295 yards last week against the Chargers, and draws a more favorable matchup this week.
Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph loves to blitz and he does not care who’s taking snaps on the other side.
Joseph demonstrated this philosophy last week when he blitzed Patrick Mahomes on 51% of his dropbacks, according to TruMedia. It was just the second time in Mahomes’s career he’s been blitzed over 50% of the time, the other coming against Joseph’s Broncos in 2018.
In 2021, Joseph called for a blitz rate of 30% or more in 12 games, and had only 2 games in which his blitz rate dropped below 25%.
This bodes well for Carr, who is aggressive against the blitz and typically posts strong numbers when teams consistently bring pressure.
Last year Carr averaged more yards per attempt versus the blitz (8.8) than against standard pressure (7.3).
A significant reason for Carr’s effectiveness against the blitz is his willingness to take shots downfield. His rate of gaining 20 or more yards nearly doubled versus the blitz:
- 16.1% of dropbacks vs blitz gained 20 or more yards in 2021
- 8.2% of dropbacks vs standard pressure
The blitz also has no impact on Carr’s sack rate. In fact, Carr had a lower sack rate on blitzes (4.5%) than against standard pressure (6.3%) last year.
Most opposing defensive coordinators know not to blitz Carr 一 he’s faced a blitz rate under 20% in 10 of 18 games since the start of last season.
Only two teams brought extra pressure at a rate higher than 30% last year, and here are Carr’s numbers from those games:
- 386 yards, 9.0 yds/att vs Dolphins
- 341 yards, 12.6 yds/att vs Broncos
Fortunately, Joseph is unlikely to adjust his strategy against Carr, giving us reason to believe he picks apart the Cardinals defense and has a big day through the air.
Consider the under on Saquon Barkley rushing yards
After a big performance in Week 1, it’s a great time to fade Saquon Barkley and take the under on his rushing yards against the Carolina Panthers.
Barkley exceeded expectations in Week 1 with 164 yards on just 18 carries. However, there’s reason to doubt his ability to generate a repeat performance against Carolina on Sunday.
Barkley picked up 101 of his yards on just two carries against the Titans defense. On each long run, he ran for at least 13 yards before contact.
On his other 16 carries, Barkley posted some concerning numbers (stats via TruMedia):
- 3.9 yards per attempt
- 0.9 yards before contact per attempt
The Panthers defense should pose more of a challenge, as it’s a disciplined unit unlikely to make the type of glaring mistakes which lead to long runs.
In 2021, the Panthers’ defense allowed three or more yards before contact on just 20% of opponent rush attempts, the third lowest rate in the league per TruMedia. They repeated that performance in Week 1 against the Browns, posting a 21% rate.
Dating back to the start of 2021, when Barkley is contacted within two yards of the line of scrimmage he has gained 10 or more yards on just 1.5% of his carries 一 ranked 44th out of 52 qualified running backs, according to TruMedia.
Assuming Carolina is consistently creating havoc in the trenches, Barkley won’t have as much room to run this week and likely hits the under on his rushing yards prop.
Consider the under on Derrick Henry’s rushing yards
In the Tennessee Titans showdown against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, take the under on Derrick Henry’s rushing yards prop. The game script is unlikely to go in Henry’s favor, and this could be his most difficult matchup of the season.
Prior to the season, I suggested taking the under on Henry’s season-long rushing yards prop. Part of my logic was Tennessee’s struggling offensive line.
In 2021, Henry averaged 0.95 yards before contact per attempt, which ranked 43rd among running backs, according to TruMedia.
In Week 1, against the New York Giants, Henry’s yards before contact per attempt dropped to 0.5, and he was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on 57% of his carries.
Those Week 1 numbers are especially concerning given the Giants’ issues in that area a season ago. New York’s defense surrendered 1.8 yards before contact per attempt last year, ranked dead last.
Buffalo’s front seven should pose even more of a challenge for Henry and the Titans’ offensive line, as the Bills gave up 0.2 yards before contact to Rams running backs in the season opener.
Henry may also see a slight drop in his workload this week. He tallied 21 carries in Tennessee’s Week 1 loss, but the Titans never trailed until the final minute of the game.
Expect Buffalo to take an early lead and force Tennessee to be more pass-heavy on Monday night.
Consider the over on Joey Bosa’s total sacks prop
In two of their last three meetings, Joey Bosa has sacked Patrick Mahomes, so go ahead and take the over on Bosa’s total sacks prop this week.
Quarterbacks who hold the ball longer tend to take more sacks, and that often applies to Patrick Mahomes, who averaged 1.6 sacks per game last season.
Since the start of 2021, Bosa has recorded at least one full sack in 10 of 13 games in which the opposing quarterback had an average time to throw of 2.6 seconds or higher, per TruMedia (excluding the Bengals game in which he was injured after just nine snaps).
In that span, Mahomes’s average time to throw is 2.64 seconds and he eclipsed the 2.6 threshold in both games against the Chargers.
The odds of Bosa recording a sack appear to be in our favor, so why are we getting plus money on this?
It’s potentially an overreaction to Mahomes’s Week 1 performance in which his average time to throw was 2.3 seconds.
However, Arizona blitzed Mahomes over 50 percent of the time, the second highest rate of his career, which forced him to get rid of the ball quickly.
The Chargers brought extra pressure on just 26% of Mahomes dropbacks last season and, given his success against the blitz, there’s no reason to expect Los Angeles to alter its strategy.
In a potentially high-scoring game with lots of pass attempts, the odds of Bosa recording at least one sack are strong.
Consider the over on Mecole Hardman’s longest reception prop
Despite losing Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs will remain an aggressive passing attack, so take the over on Mecole Hardman’s longest reception prop. Someone has to take on some of Hill’s targets, and Hardman appears to be seeing some action in that role.
Mecole Hardman longest reception prop, current line:
Mahomes attempted three passes at 20 or more yards downfield last week, with two of them directed at Hardman. Both were incomplete, but the targets came at 36 and 37 yards downfield.
It appears as though Hardman is going to be featured as a downfield weapon, taking on a portion of Hill’s role.
Last season, despite sharing the field with Hill, Hardman had a reception of at least 18 yards in 11 of 20 games, including the postseason. He also ended the year on a five-game streak of hitting the over.
The Chargers are coming off a game in which they allowed six receptions of at least 18 yards to the Las Vegas Raiders, and they have allowed at least three such receptions in seven straight games dating back to last season.