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 ANTHONY FIRKSER’S RECEPTIONS PROP
The Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive tendencies present a good opportunity for Tennessee Titans tight end Anthony Firkser to see increased opportunities in this playoff matchup.
When pressured, Ryan Tannehill is quick to dump the ball off to his running backs and tight ends, and there’s reason to think he’ll be under duress at an increased rate on Saturday.
Tannehill was pressured on 31.6% of his dropbacks when teams did not blitz, ranked 29th out of 42 qualified quarterbacks according to TruMedia/PFF. That’s bad news against the Bengals, who blitz at the league’s third-lowest rate (19%) and get pressure on non-blitzes at the fourth-highest rate (31%).
When facing pressure, Tannehill targets his tight ends 24% of the time and Firkser sees the most direct boost in usage. According to TruMedia, 37% of Firkser’s targets occurred with his quarterback under pressure, the fifth-highest rate among all players with at least 40 targets.
Firkser’s receptions prop peaked at 2.5 this season and was often available at 1.5. In 11 games where Firkser played at least 33% of the Titans’ offensive snaps, he finished with at least three receptions seven times, including Tennessee’s final two games of the regular season.
CONSIDER THE UNDER ON AARON RODGERS’S PASSING YARDS PROP BET
Hopefully you took the under on Dak Prescott’s passing yards against the San Francisco 49ers last week 一 even with a bunch of free yards on the final drive, Prescott fell more than 30 yards short of the over.
The logic for taking the under on Aaron Rodgers’s yardage prop is the same as last week: San Francisco’s offense slows down the game and limits offensive possessions.
In the Wild Card round, Dallas was forced to pick up the pace while trailing by multiple scores in the second half, but in the first half the Cowboys ran just 28 plays, their second-lowest total of the season.
During the regular season, San Francisco’s run rate (48%) was the league’s fourth-highest and their seconds-per-play rate (30.4) also ranked as the fourth slowest.
The Niners’ ability to control the ball and the clock has contributed to opposing quarterbacks hitting the under on the passing yards in 14 of 18 games, including Rodgers when these teams met in September.
The Packers’ struggling run defense also factors into the 49ers’ ability to control the ball 一 Green Bay ranked 30th in yards per attempt allowed (4.7).
Another interesting quirk to this matchup is Green Bay’s tendency to use light boxes at a surprisingly high rate. Since the 49ers use a fullback on 54% of their run plays, they often run into boxes of seven or more defenders 一 any time the offense puts two or fewer wide receivers on the field, the defense almost always adjusts to stack the box.
Green Bay, however, isn’t shy about using a light box in those situations. When the offense uses exactly two wide receivers 一 as San Francisco does on 54% of rush attempts 一 the Packers put six or fewer defenders in the box 27% of the time, the league’s third-highest rate (league average is 17.5%), according to TruMedia/PFF.
Since we know San Francisco wants to play slow and run the ball, and we have reason to believe Green Bay will struggle to contain the Niners’ run game, we should assume Green Bay’s offense will see fewer opportunities. As a result, take the under on Aaron Rodgers’s passing yards prop.
CONSIDER THE OVER ON TOM BRADY’S PASSING YARDS PROP BET
In the first meeting between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady threw for a season-high 432 yards. That inflated number was partially due to the Rams holding a lead throughout the second half, but his success in the passing game was no fluke.
Brady likes to get rid of the ball out quickly, which can cause issues for the Rams’ defense.
Including the postseason, Brady has released the ball in under 2.5 seconds on 64% of his pass attempts, the third-highest rate in the league behind only Ben Roethlisberger and Tyler Huntley, according to TruMedia.
These quick pass attempts have caused the Rams issues all season, as they’ve allowed 7.1 yards per attempt on passes released in under 2.5 seconds, the league’s second-worst rate.
When these teams met in Week 3, Brady was 30-35 (85.7%) for 255 yards on throws released in under 2.5 seconds.
Some teams seem to be adjusting to this weakness in the Rams defense. Jimmy Garoppolo, for example, attempted 67% of his throws under 2.5 seconds against the Rams, and just 53% versus everyone else, per TruMedia.
Since Brady and the Bucs already prefer this quick-strike passing attack, it would make sense for them to boost their usage as well, to further exploit one of the most glaring weaknesses in an otherwise solid Rams’ defense.
Tom Brady’s passing yards prop bet has been available under 300 yards for five consecutive weeks. If it remains in that range, taking the over should be an easy choice based on this matchup.
CONSIDER THE UNDER ON CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE’S RUSHING YARDS PROP BET
It’s been almost a month since Clyde Edwards-Helaire took the field for the Kansas City Chiefs, and both Darrel Williams and Jerrick McKinnon have performed well in his absence. So if Edwards-Helaire suits up, it’s unlikely Kansas City throws him into the fire as the workhorse running back against a strong Buffalo Bills run defense.
If Edwards-Helaire is active, the possibility he’s the third man in a committee is enough reason to lean towards the under, but the Bills defense also provides issues for any Chiefs ball carrier.
According to TruMedia, Chiefs running backs carry the ball in 11 or 12 personnel 75% of the time. Against those formations, the Bills have consistently caused chaos in the backfield.
Buffalo has contacted ball carriers at or behind the line of scrimmage on 50% of carries in 11 personnel and 55% in 12 personnel, ranked second and third respectively.
The Bills’ ability to get into the backfield caused problems for Kansas City’s run game in the first matchup between these teams, as Chiefs running backs averaged just 3.2 yards per carry in 11 and 12 personnel.
Att-Yds in 11 Yds/Att in 11 Att-Yds in 12 Yds/Att in 12 8-27 3.4 5-15 3.0
Regardless of Edwards-Helaire’s health, the same logic can be applied to take the under on Darrel Williams’s rushing yards. Since he is also dealing with an injury, it’s possible he loses touches to McKinnon and/or Edwards-Helaire, and likely has the same issues running against this Bills defense.