Givin Props: NFL Season-Long & Fantasy Props

Nov 7, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium.
Image Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, BetPrep’s Player Prop Guru and NBC Sports Betting Analyst Brad Feinberg discusses how the site’s historical data shaped his picks with Michael Salfino of The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight. Here are some highlights from the latest episode of the Givin’ Props Podcast.

It’s fantasy football draft season. Let’s look at some props that are available and compare them to fantasy player forecasts. We’ll start with Dak Prescott +1500 and seventh to lead the NFL in passing TDs despite all that fantasy WR draft capital in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and even Michael Gallop. Also, Prescott is second favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards. Should these bets correlate? Where are you on Dak?

In his four and a half games, he averaged 390 yards which is a pretty massive number and he also had nine touchdowns in that time. I would make him more of a favorite to lead in yards than touchdowns, but they went too far. The concern is that Ezekiel Elliott, when they’re inside the red zone, specifically the 10 yard line, could be featured. But Dak has run in a bunch of touchdowns, often about a half dozen a year, and may be reluctant to do that off the dislocated ankle, making him more likely to throw them in. I think there is value in in taking Dak to have the most passing touchdowns

My process is that yards are more predictive than TDs and that yards correlate to TD passes at about a league-average rate. On the other end of that spectrum, Ben Roethlisberger is ninth at +2000 to lead the NFL in passing TDs. Yet he’s just fantasy QB21. What gives?

I would never take Roethlisberger at just 20-to-1 to have the most passing touchdowns. Between injury risk and with rookie RB Najee Harris being a goal-line factor, I can’t see Big Ben repeating his TD efficiency relative to his modest yards and poor yards-per-pass efficiency. Roethlisberger is still a big name, right. And as long as he’s a big name, the sportsbooks don’t want exposure, just in case. Too many Roethlisberger fans to make this bet. This is a case where they went results over process and made those NFL-leading-passing-TDs odds way too low.

Zach Wilson +6500 to lead NFL in passing yards. Trevor Lawrence is +3100. So can you get Wilson +200 to beat Lawrence in passing yards? I like that. 

Trevor Lawrence is over/under 4,150 and Zach Wilson is 3,850. By the way for touchdowns, it’s 21.5 for Wilson and 24.5 for Trevor Lawrence. I will say Lawrence has not looked great and Wilson has looked good. If you can get a head-to-head bet in the plus-200 area, that would be a worthwhile bet.

Now we have Joe Burrow to throw for 4,249.5 yards, just 250 more than Baker Mayfield. Burrow is eighth in yardage leader props. He has three WRs off the board in the seventh round —  Chase WR25, Higgins WR23, Boyd WR32. His team has a bad defense. He’s probably as good a bet as anyone to lead the NFL in attempts. Doesn’t this seem low? Can you get Burrow vs. Mayfield in passing yards?

The only question that I have is Burrow’s health. Burrow was probably my personal favorite player to come into the league. I had a huge bet for LSU to win the National Championship in 2019. I felt like he was going to become one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL and potentially maybe even better. I do think for the reasons you stated, you have one guy that’s going to be on a run first-team versus one guy is going to be in a pass-first team. And one team that’s expected to be winning games, which means less passing. The Bengals are 6.0-to-6.5 wins, so should be trailing in most games. In a head-to-head situation, you may be able to get Burrow over Baker at much better odds than should be the case.

Just given the respective news this summer about the two teams — news that may actually hurt Baker’s passing yardage and help Burrow’s.

I saw a parlay:  Brady 40+ passing TD, Evans 1000+ receiving yards, Gronk 5+ receiving TDs — paying +950. Isn’t this just a Brady 40+ passing TD bet? Evans is the only WR in NFL history over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons. Gronk could get five receiving TDs in half a season. 

Well, not exactly. This works out to a 10% chance if you do the simple math, .4 for Brady’s TDs times about .5 for Evans and call it .5 for Gronk. But here’s why you are correct, anyway: the bets correlate closely. So if Brady throws for 40-plus TDs, there’s a great chance that Evans stayed healthy (and like you said he’s gone over 1,000 receiving yards every year). At 40+ TDs, Brady probably throws for 5,000 yards. There’s a great chance Gronkowski smashed five TDs, too. From a pure math standpoint, the sportsbook put out a fair number. But when you factor in the correlation factor, these odds should be substantially lower. So that’s a great pickup by you. You are correct.

Awesome! How about Robby Anderson 900.5 receiving yards. He had 95 catches last year. Sam Darnold is his guy and vice versa from their days together in New York. Anderson is a sought-after seventh-round pick in fantasy at WR31, with consensus projections well north of 900.5 yards.

He just got a $29 million extension with $20 million guaranteed. Two years. Well deserved. I think the guy’s a good player. Last year, he showed a different element to his game; his catch percentage went from like, mid 50s to 70%. His yards per catch went down. But look, I am bullish on Robbie Anderson. He’s good. His new QB knows he’s good. And I expect him to have a successful season.

All the bad news on Ja’Marr Chase and over/under 975.5 yards. And he’s still WR25 in fantasy. Why is Chase seemingly unsinkable?

The stuff I’ve seen on him so far reminds me a little bit, dare I say, of Markelle Fultz with the 76ers. I saw Fultz play his first preseason game and I told my son, “This guy couldn’t play in the Ivy League right now.” I don’t want to overstate things. But the market is crazy high on Chase. His over/under is 1,050.5 receiving yards. That’s higher than Mike Evans. And beforehand, I thought the guy had Offensive Rookie of the Year potential. But that preseason game: drop, drop, drop. I mean, it’s a little bit scary. He seems to have the yips. And you’re making his over/under the same as a legitimate star like Evans? Oh, my God. Are you kidding me?

Corey Davis is at over/under 825.5 receiving yards. He’s just WR49 despite a great run of practices and games with Wilson. He was ProFootballFocus’ No. 10 WR skillswise in 2020.

I’ve actually seen Corey Davis as low as his 800. So you can save 25 yards. I agree with Davis being a good player and the No. 1 receiver.  But I just have an incredible bias to just taking unders in the season-long props because of injuries. Now, if I know I’m getting 17 games, this is one I really do think I would clearly win. But I don’t see the odds of a huge payout for Davis to, say, lead the NFL in receiving yards, the kind of bet I’ll make without worrying about injury. But suppose you could prop Davis versus Chase. They’re both top-five draft picks. I might make Davis the favorite here but I’m thinking you’d get big odds on Davis’ side — 2.5-to-1 probably. Bet Davis head-to-head vs. someone you would love to fade.

Nick Chubb is behind only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook at 1,350 expected rushing yards. He averaged 5.0 per carry, one of two players in NFL history to do that in his first three seasons, minimum 100 carries in each. The other? Gus Edwards. Yet in fantasy Chubb is the 11th RB drafted, with a second-round ADP on average. 

His backup is too flashy. Kareem Hunt was a former rushing champion. Everyone has heard of him. He’s been exciting. The other backups are boring. Jamaal Williams is boring, Gus Edwards, boring guy. But is Hunt any better than those guys? Probably not. If you get these cheap in fantasy, the boring backups, they’re going to produce.

That’s the thing about the running back position, which is why I’m an advocate of devaluing it as far as draft capital is concerned. Whoever is thrust into a starting role due to injury during a season has a very projectable high floor of touches. And we just expect that a starting running back for any team, whoever elevates that role, is going to be very useful in fantasy. It’s not like this at WR. God forbid, Davante Adams goes down. No one is saying his replacement is going to come in and crush it.

That’s exactly right. So even though Hunt isn’t better than many backups, we’re punishing Chubb because he’s a very public player who everyone wants to draft thinking that they’ll hit it big with an injury. But as you said, all backups with an injury will hit it big. Still though, I just can’t bet over 1,350 yards for Chubb despite him averaging 90 rushing yards a game and being a decent bet