The Best Player Prop Bets To Make Before Kickoff
It’s here! We’ve waited seven months – seven of the worst months of many of our lives – but it’s finally here! No, I’m not breaking news that a vaccine has been discovered for COVID-19; I’m rejoicing that the NFL is back! The first sport to come back on time with no weird stipulations (other than the lack of fans in the stadiums). Some sort of normalcy reintroduced into our lives, in a time that has been anything but normal.
This football season, I won’t have to feel guilty for sitting on my couch for 12 hours straight every Sunday. No sir. That’s just what life is now! I’ve been quarantining every Sunday of my life between the months of September and February, and this year nobody can judge me for it. So order some pizza from a local spot, set your fantasy lineups, and enjoy the 2020 NFL season. Or at least, enjoy it while you can. None of us know if this thing is going to go the distance.
This is the first installment in a series of blogs that I’ll be writing for The Props Network. Every week I’ll pick my favorite NFL prop bets and put them right here, free of charge. But reader beware: I am a degenerate gambler and not a professional oddsmaker, so take all this advice with a little pinch of salt. This isn’t some get rich quick scheme where I guarantee to get every single pick right. Some weeks I’ll make some money, and some weeks I’ll lose some money. The hope, as it always is in the world of sports betting, is to come out with slightly more right than I get wrong. In my 10 years of sports betting I haven’t gone broke yet, so maybe I’m doing alright.
So without further ado, it’s time to make some NFL picks!
Derek Carr: Over 3250.5 Passing Yards (-110)
Derek Carr has literally never thrown under this number in his entire career. Why is it so low? This is a guy that has thrown for over 4000 yards in each of the past 2 seasons! His average yards per season for his career is 3800, and that’s with two seasons only playing 15 games. I know some people think Marcus Mariota is going to swoop in and steal the job in Vegas, but Derek Carr is the guy heading into the season, and if he plays even 13 or more games, I think he easily hits 3250.5 passing yards.
Derek Carr: Over 19.5 Touchdowns (-110)
“Oh great, Steve must be a Raiders fan or a Carr apologist”. I’m not! I don’t give a rat’s bottom about this team or this quarterback! Carr is undervalued and I want him to make me some money. Derek Carr has never thrown for less than 19 touchdowns in a season. Sure, he only threw the ball 513 times last year, but even with only 513 attempts, he threw 21 touchdowns. His career touchdown average is 4.3%, which is low, but even if his pass attempts dip below 500, he’ll still be good for 20 touchdowns with that touchdown average. I hate that these picks will make me cheer for the Raiders this year, but if I can double up on Derek Carr props this year, it might be time to break out the silver and black face paint.
Cooper Kupp: Over 6 Touchdowns (-120)
Cooper Kupp and Jared Goff have a connection. It’s undeniable. They’re buds. They were roommates as rookies a few years ago, and they’ve stayed tight ever since. And even though Kupp isn’t a huge guy, he knows how to get in the end zone. Last year Kupp had 10 touchdowns on 94 catches. The year before he had 6 touchdowns on just 40 catches because of an injury. The guy scores touchdowns. He’s in line for another season of 130+ targets and 90+ catches, and with his track record, he should easily go over 6 touchdowns with that amount of opportunity.
Le’Veon Bell: Over 1200.5 Yards Rushing + Receiving (-110)
The Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell experiment isn’t working in New York. Adam Gase is a god awful coach and the situation is bad for Le’Veon. But 1200.5 total yards for someone like Bell is incredibly low! Le’Veon had a terrible year last year. He averaged 3.2 yards per carry and only ran for 789 yards. But he caught 66 passes for 461 yards for a total of 1250 yards. He went 50 yards over his current number, and that was in the worst year of his career! This is what Le’Veon does. He catches passes and has sneaky good numbers even when Adam Gase is actively trying to ruin his career. I think he has a better year in 2020 and gets closer to 1000 yards rushing, and then he just needs to get his classic 60+ receptions to finish it off. Don’t forget the Jets prioritized their offensive line this year, and the Jets have virtually no healthy wide receivers to start the season. If Le’Veon doesn’t get 1200 yards this year, the Jets are in deep trouble.
Austin Ekeler: Over 1350.5 Yards Rushing + Receiving (-110)
Like most people, I’m expecting Ekeler to have a breakout season now that he’s in line to get the lion’s share of touches in LA with Melvin Gordon gone. I know the knock on Ekeler is that he’s not going to get 250 carries like the other premiere running backs in the league, but here’s the thing; he doesn’t need that many carries to hit this number. Much like Le’Veon, Ekeler does damage in the passing game. He had 993 receiving yards last year. 993!
I’m not expecting the guy to get 108 targets again this year, but it’s not unreasonable to expect him to get 75 targets, 60 catches, and 650 yards receiving. That would be a pretty big regression from last year, and that still would leave him only needing 700 rushing yards to hit this number. Melvin Gordon leaves behind 162 carries. You think they’re going to give all of those to Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley? Maybe between the two of them they’ll get 120 carries. The other 50 go to Ekeler who becomes a 175-200 carry back, and with his efficiency as a runner, he could be around 800 yards rushing. He’s an absolute athletic freak. He’ll be involved in this offense one way or another, and 1350.5 total yards seems more like his floor than his ceiling.
Michael Thomas: NFL Reception Leader (+350)
Thomas has led the league in receptions two years in a row. Last year he broke the NFL record with 149 receptions on 185 targets. He’s the favorite in this category and this might seem like somewhat of a square bet, but he’s +350 for something that is as close to a sure thing as you can get for a season long prop bet. Come on, the dude had 185 targets last year. And he’s playing with the same quarterback in the same offensive system this year. It’s absolutely bonkers what he does year in and year out. His career catch rate is 78%, so even if he goes back to his average amount of targets, which is around 150, that’ll still get him around 120 catches, which would lead the league in most years. Who else can you confidently say will get at least 120 catches this year?
Gardner Minshew: Over 8.5 Interceptions (-110)
Listen, I love Gardner Minshew. I think he will be a ton of fun to watch this year. But the kid is going to throw some interceptions. That’s not because he’s a bad quarterback. I actually think he’s an exciting playmaker who will do everything in his power to keep this sinking Jaguars ship afloat. It’s just that he’s going to have to throw the ball 550+ times this year, and the odds of 9 of those not being interceptions is very low.
The Jaguars are going to be behind in a lot of games, and Minshew is going to be tasked with making things happen: forcing passes, throwing Hail Mary’s, avoiding sacks behind that turnstile of an offensive line in Jacksonville. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for interceptions. The biggest threat to this number not hitting is if the Jags pull Minshew after an 0-6 start, but if he plays 13 or 14 games, he’ll get over 8.5 picks, and he’ll look cool as hell doing it.
Ezekiel Elliot: NFL Rushing Yards Leader (+800)
This is great value for a running back who has averaged 97 yards per game in his career. People are concerned about the Cowboys offensive line having to fill a few holes, but they still have Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Joe Looney and La’el Collins when he comes back in week 4. The best ability is availability, and Zeke has proven that when he’s not getting suspended, he can stay on the football field. At a running back position that is so often plagued by injury, Zeke is a sturdy back who gets over 300 touches every year. With that type of volume, and a 4.6 career yard per attempt average, Zeke feels like a safe bet at 8 to 1.
Also get this, of the top 150 running back performances in the last 20 years, the average age of those running backs is 25. Zeke just turned 25 in July. 25 years old is the most elite age for running backs. Derrick Henry? He’s 26. Way past his prime, he doesn’t stand a chance. Saquon Barkley? 23. Just a baby who hasn’t even realized his full potential. It’s time for Zeke to explode with another 1500 yard season.
So there you have it folks. Some of my favorite season long player prop bets going into the 2020 NFL season. Make sure to come back next week when we dive in to some weekly prop bets. Or, if you still don’t trust that I know what I’m talking about, wait 17 weeks and come back to see how I did.
Stay tuned to The Props Network for more free picks, online sportsbook free bets and sports betting news. Plus, check out our free live NFL Odds tool and shop the comps on every bet you make this season.
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