Givin Props: Hedges and Look Aheads

Laviska Shenault Jr. #10 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage during the game against the Denver Broncos at TIAA Bank Field on September 19, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Image Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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.

Why don’t we talk about some positions that, based on events that have happened during the course of the NFL preseason and training camps, you’re looking to hedge out of, and the top of your list of players you’re eager to see once games begin for real. 

Brad: One bet that I got out of that I was pretty bullish on at the time was who would have more receiving yards between DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and I took Smith because he won the Heisman Trophy and he was the more polished receiver. I really had very little confidence in Miami’s passing attack and also they had two established receivers and the Eagles had none. So I really thought it was a really strong bet for DeVonta. And but there’s been a lot of great buzz on Waddle. Now I think he could actually have a much more productive season. So I actually got out of that, that last little bit of juice on that. Initially I was pretty bullish on that but now I’m neutral

The fantasy buzz is more on the Smith side now probably than it was when you made the bet. Smith is WR36 in fantasy drafts the past few days, about 100 of them, and Waddle WR43.

Brad: That’s not enough of an edge for me now. There’s not enough of the spread there between 36 and 43 to maybe think that that’s enough of a real number. I don’t think Waddle was even draftable when I made the bet.

So the next player on your list is Laviska Shenault. What has changed about your view of him?

Brad: Everything I’m hearing, everything I’m seeing makes me very bullish on over 3.5 touchdowns. That’s a spectacular bet. II think he’s a guy that actually has a chance to be a 100-catch guy. I know that’s maybe hyperbole, but I actually think he has a chance to be that good. I’m really interested to see him with Trevor Lawrence. I have a feeling it’s going to be him. Not Marvin Jones, not DJ Chark. I’m anxious to see if I’m right on that and how they deploy him in the beginning of the season.

The slot receiver in an Urban Meyer offense has famously been a very productive player. Going back to the days of Percy Harvin. The outside guys, even Terry McLaurin, have had relatively few catches. Is this going to be a Meyer offense in Jacksonville though? That’s what I’m eager to see. Next is one of my summer favorites, Corey Davis. What’s changed?

Brad: Props to you. I know you wrote about it in The Athletic way back when he was a 12th-round pick. What I’m really interested to see is whether he can be elite. Zach Wilson has looked great. It seems like this Jets team actually has a chance to maybe have a pretty good offense. Davis had a very under the radar 1,000-yard year last year, and he missed two games.

He had more 100 yard games on AJ Brown.

Brad: Yeah. And it’s funny, he got money but he hasn’t really gotten respect.

He was actually Pro Football Focus’ No. 10. overall graded WR in 2020.

Brad: Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s why I’m really interested in Corey Davis’ interesting first matchup against the Panthers.

Next Marquez, Callaway, everybody’s fastest rising fantasy wide receiver.

Brad: In the preseason, he’s just been spectacular. And he made those two touchdown catches with Jameis Winston. But some are saying, “Marcus Calloway is playing the Michael Thomas role.” No. I don’t buy that. If someone is out for the Lakers, are they playing the LeBron James role? Who’s playing the Mike Trout role for the Angels?

Sparky Anderson used to do that for the Tigers. If his No. 3 hitter was out, the guy replacing him would bat third.

Brad: Tremendous. I did not know that. But Callaway has an opportunity. Alvin Kamara is going to be a huge part of the receiving game. But this is an interesting first game for Calloway. Will the Packers treat him like a No. 1 and put Jaire Alexander on him? You know I faded WRs last year against Alexander. So how will the Saints treat him and how will the defense treat Calloway?

Michael Pittman is in a Colts situation that’s been a roller coaster all summer. Now Carson Wentz is out with COVID. What do you think we could learn from Michael Pittman and week one that we don’t know now?Brad: This whole COVID thing is rough. The Vikings were my biggest investment. But because of the whole COVID thing, Kirk Cousins is probably going to miss significant games, because it’s just impossible not to be in close contact. I’m going to be getting out and taking the Vikings unders, betting the Packers to win the division. Because again, things did change. I can’t be a stubborn mule. As for Michael Pittman, he was right there as my favorite receiver in that entire draft. I really thought he was going to be a big time NFL player. He showed some flashes at the end. I really think that he has a chance to be, like really good — over 1,000 yards

He was my ideal pick in the 10th round in a recent Athletic article.  I think 25% market share is a reasonable forecast given the lack of other receivers with T.Y. Hilton now out.

Brad: I think his situation is terrific. I’m looking to get over 1,000 yards at about 4-to-1 odds. I think he’s 50/50 if he stays healthy.

Next up, Ronald Jones. Man we’ve been fighting all summer it seems on Jones vs. Leonard Fournette.

Brad: That’s exactly right. You think the postseason makes him the favorite of the team and I think that won’t matter. I think you’re overanalyzing. But I could be dead wrong. I think Ronald Jones will get twice as many carries as Fournette if they’re both healthy. I think Jones is going to be good.

You expect him to get the first carry of the season? Is that a big deal?

Brad: I think he will but if he doesn’t it will not shake me.

Jamaal Williams is next up for you. D’Andre Swift’s third round ADP all summer is one of the greatest mysteries that I’ve had in my career as a fantasy analyst. I think they’ve all gone crazy. 

Brad: I agree with you. I would love to take Jamaal Williams getting like, again, three to one four to one or whatever on getting more carries this year than Swift. I’m looking to fade Swift in DFS daily fantasy props. I’m curious to see if I’m right. If the Lions run 20 times I think it’s going to be 11-9 Swift or 12-8 at best. I think this will be a true timeshare and the market saying it isn’t and that’s why I’m curious about Week 1.

Damien Harris now, who you had at 100-to-1 for most touchdowns and 100-to-1 for most rushing yards. The Cam Newton threat to both of those bets has vanished. So have those odds. 

Brad: Yes but Rhamondre Stevenson had quite the preseason. He’s probably been the best preseason running back. Is this going to be The Damien Harris Show or a typical Belichick timeshare? If Harris gets 17 or 18 carries, I’m happy. If it’s 10, I’ll be like, “God, I did it again.” I really do like the player. I think I’m going to be right.

Chase Edmonds is next on your list. This is a guy that I think has been kind of under drafted in fantasy all season. I just don’t have much respect for James Conner, who is basically a minimum-wage NFL veteran at this point. I don’t see a true 50/50 timeshare like the fantasy market is forecasting.

Brad: That’s that’s way I’m going with it. I think Edmonds is good and I think he can be a poor man’s Austin Ekeler.

Edmonds by the way 5-9, 210. He’s the size of Alvin Kamara. He’s not a small, change-of-pace guy.

Brad: He led college in carries (at Fordham). Last year, he had only one game to prove he could be a feature back and he had 25 carries for like 73 yards. But they did give him 25 carries. I’m very bullish on him as well and I’m going to say that he is the guy that runs with it. I do think he’s going to be good. And I’m curious to see how they divide touches (with Connor).