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Thread: Best NFL player prop bets for the 2020 season 🏈

  1. #1 Best NFL player prop bets for the 2020 season 🏈 
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    Best NFL player prop bets for the 2020 season

    ESPN PLUS (4 MATERIAL)


    The NFL season may still be a ways away, but there are already plenty of betting options available. If you're looking to get in on the early action, we're here to offer some assistance.


    NFL Insider Field Yates, ESPN betting analysts Joe Fortenbaugh, Preston Johnson and Doug Kezirian, as well as fantasy experts Matthew Berry, Mike Clay and Anita Marks offer their best prop bets for the 2020 season.


    Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

    Christian McCaffrey under 1,249.5 rushing yards (-110)

    Clay: McCaffrey is entering his fourth NFL season after rushing for 1,098 yards during a breakout 2018 campaign, followed by 1,387 yards in 2019. Of the 35 running backs who reached 1,300 rushing yards in a single season from 2009 to 2018, only 12 reached 1,250 yards the next season.


    McCaffrey might seem like the logical exception to the rule, but there are plenty of reasons to think otherwise. McCaffrey required a massive 92% snap share in 2018 and 93% in 2019 just to hit the aforementioned marks. New coach Matt Rhule has already admitted that McCaffrey won't be utilized nearly that often in his offense, which, combined with McCaffrey's gigantic role as a receiver, suggests he'll see a decrease from the 17.9 carries per game he handled last season. Even if the decrease is small, it's not logical to bet on a 16-game season from any running back, let alone a workhorse like McCaffrey. The soon-to-be 24-year-old's 14-game projection comes in at 1,073 yards on 239 carries. Hammer the under.


    Kezirian: He's a fantastic player, but surpassing this mark is a lot to ask, even if he achieved it last season. With a defense that will rank among the league's worst, I envision Carolina often trailing in the second half and abandoning the run game. McCaffrey is also an excellent weapon in the aerial attack, and the Panthers will continue to use him there. He's an MVP candidate for good reason and racked up the fourth-most carries of anyone last year, but I just have to take the under.



    Kyler Murray over 3,899.5 passing yards (-110)

    Fortenbaugh: The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner is no longer a wide-eyed rookie transitioning from the defensive-challenged Big 12 to the speed and sophistication of the professional ranks. Add four-time Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the mix, and our over wager cashes if Murray can record 178 more passing yards than he posted in 2019. If the 22-year-old could get that close to 4,000 yards while ranking ninth in attempts and 21st in yards per attempt average, imagine what happens in a sophomore campaign that includes a seriously upgraded arsenal to go along with some legitimate experience at the toughest position in sports.


    Murray under 3,899.5 passing yards (-110)

    Clay: Murray enters his second NFL season after throwing for 3,722 yards while playing 96% of the Cardinals' snaps as a rookie. It's logical to expect a second-year jump, especially with Hopkins in the fold, but better play doesn't necessarily mean more passing yards. That's especially the case for dual-threat quarterbacks like Murray, who rushed the ball 93 times last season. Since 2009, there have been 35 instances in which a quarterback carried the ball more than 75 times in a season; only four of them reached 3,900 passing yards, and the average was 3,199 yards.


    Is it possible Murray can become the fifth? Sure, but that doesn't make it likely or a smart bet, especially since you're also banking on health. At 95% of the snaps and assuming a slight boost in YPA, Murray's 2020 projection comes in at 3,757 yards.


    Murray over 499.5 rushing yards (-110)

    Yates: It's unclear if the Cardinals opted not to fully unleash Murray as a runner in 2019 because they wanted to avoid him taking hits regularly or otherwise, but it does feel like there's a massive leap forward available for him on the ground. He surpassed his over/under of 499.5 on just 93 carries last season. Defenses are going to have a hard time stacking the box against Arizona given that they ran (by far) the most four-wide-receiver sets in the NFL last season. Pound the over on Murray's rushing total.


    Dalvin Cook over 8.5 rushing touchdowns (-110)

    Yates: Cook has 17 rushing touchdowns through three seasons, with 13 of them coming last season. I tend to believe that repeating his 13-touchdown mark from 2019 will be a chore, but Cook is far more touchdown-proficient than the four he had in 2017 and 2018 combined. The Vikings have a talented stable of backs, but Cook is their go-to when it matters most -- on goal-to-go carries. His 29 goal-to-go carries in 2019 led the NFL. Expect him to be back in the end zone plenty next year.


    Stefon Diggs over 4.5 receiving TDs (-135)

    Berry: Since 2017, Diggs' 23 receiving TDs are tied for fifth-most among all WRs. And a lot of that came with Minnesota employing a run-first offense with a very conservative passing attack. Josh Allen might not be as accurate as Kirk Cousins, but he's going to give Diggs way more opportunities to make plays down the field. (For his career, Allen is averaging 9.4 air yards per pass attempt, the second-most among QBs in that span.) Diggs is also a much better red zone option than John Brown and Cole Beasley, both of whom scored six touchdowns last season. I don't love -135, but I don't care. Diggs has at least six receiving touchdowns each of the past three seasons, so I'm taking it anyway.



    Diggs under 949.5 receiving yards (-110)

    Kezirian: In five seasons, the wideout has surpassed this mark only in the two seasons he spent with Cousins and a fairly productive offense. I do not think Allen has the accuracy for Diggs to accumulate chunk plays, and Buffalo still prefers to run the ball and rely on its defense. This is not a pass-happy team. Diggs has never played a full season, and I doubt he can rack up that many yards with his new team.


    Drew Lock over 20 passing TDs (-110)

    Berry: Twenty of the 27 QBs who played 12 or more games last season had at least 20 TD passes. Lock's pace from last season would have topped this number, and that was when he was a rookie coming into a starting job at the end of a lost season. Going into his second year as the known starter, getting all the first-team reps and having coaches design an offense tailored for him (as opposed to running Joe Flacco's offense last year), Lock should take a big step forward this season -- especially considering Denver added talented rookies Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the draft while also signing capable pass-catching RB Melvin Gordon in free agency.


    Over their last five games in 2019 (the games Lock started), the Broncos dropped back to pass on 61% of their red zone plays, showing they were not afraid to trust Lock near the end zone. With large targets like Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, to go along with the aforementioned rookies, Lock has more than enough weapons to hit the over.


    DeVante Parker over 949.5 receiving yards (-110)

    Berry: The only player in 2019 to average over 15.5 yards per reception while catching at least 70 passes, Parker finally had his long-awaited breakout season. And it wasn't skewed by a few huge weeks, either, as Parker had at least 55 yards in 13 of 16 games.


    His outlook for 2020 might be even better. Remember, the Dolphins failed to add any notable pass-catchers via free agency or the draft, and Preston Williams is coming back from a torn ACL. I also would not worry about a QB change hurting Parker's value, as deep ball accuracy is one of Tua Tagovailoa's biggest strengths.



    Michael Thomas under 1,449.5 receiving yards (-110)

    Fortenbaugh: Over the past four years, no player in the NFL saw more targets than Thomas did in 2019 (185). The result was an incredible campaign featuring a record-smashing 149 receptions to go along with a league-leading 1,725 receiving yards -- 331 more than the second-place finisher (Julio Jones with 1,394 yards).


    But there's good reason to believe Thomas' production will decrease a bit in 2020, beginning with the two-year, $24 million contract that New Orleans awarded former San Francisco wideout Emmanuel Sanders this past offseason. Additionally, don't discount the fact that dual-threat weapon Alvin Kamara missed two games last season (at Chicago, vs. Arizona), which opened the door for Thomas to amass a staggering 20 receptions for 243 yards on 22 targets. This will likely be a sweat, but it's a sweat that I feel ends in profitability.


    Marks: Thomas led the NFL in targets last season with 185, allowing him to post 1,725 receiving yards. I expect this season to be different. The addition of Sanders, who will receive at least 80 targets, if not more, along with Jared Cook and Kamara being a part of the passing game, will tame those numbers. The Saints should run the ball more this season; almost 40 pass attempts per game for a quarterback of Brees' age is not wise. With a much more difficult schedule against defensive secondaries (Tampa Bay and Atlanta have both improved), I'm predicting the under for Thomas.


    Cooper Kupp under 7.5 receiving touchdowns (-110)

    Clay: Kupp scored six touchdowns in eight games in 2018 and found the end zone 10 times in 16 games last season. That might make the over seem tempting here, but consider that Kupp's opportunity-adjusted touchdown total (aka his expected total based on his usage) was a combined 8.2 during the two seasons. The 4.3 gap between Kupp's touchdown total and 5.7 OTD in 2019 was ninth-highest in the entire NFL. He ranked 36th with six end zone targets (he caught five) and has only 15 of them in his career. You might be thinking that perhaps he's "good" at scoring touchdowns, but history tells us that touchdowns are an opportunity stat and players are all but locks to regress to the mean in the category.


    Brandin Cooks' departure will help boost Kupp's prospects, but keep in mind that his snap share (87% to 63%), route share (88% to 68%) and target share (25% to 15%) all dipped significantly when the Rams turned to a more 12 personnel-heavy offense (one RB, two TEs) during the final month of 2019. Kupp's receiving TD projection comes in at 5.9, which makes him one of the better values available.


    Joe Mixon over 5.5 rushing touchdowns (-110)

    Yates: Despite playing in an offense that has not finished in the top half of scoring in any of his three seasons (finishing in the bottom 10 in two of those three), Mixon has amassed 17 rushing touchdowns, good for 5.67 on average per year. I expect the Bengals' offense to be among the most improved in football with the additions of Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins and Jonah Williams, coupled with the return of A.J. Green. There should be ample opportunities for red zone work for Mixon, a talented enough player to sail past 5.5 rushing touchdowns.


    Jimmy Garoppolo over 3,749.5 passing yards (-110)

    Fortenbaugh: The over on this prop cashes if Garoppolo amasses 228 fewer passing yards than he did last season, a year in which he was coming off a torn ACL sustained in 2018. Furthermore, 2019 was Jimmy G's first full season as a starting quarterback in the NFL as well as his first full season running head coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive system. It's reasonable to conclude that 2020 could feature an even more robust statistical campaign than last year, especially when you consider the fact Garoppolo's passing numbers improved as the 2019 season progressed:


    First 8 games in 2019: 28.2 attempts/game, 225.7 passing yards/game
    Last 8 games in 2019: 31.2 attempts/game, 271.5 passing yards/game


    Granted, the trade for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders played a role in Garoppolo's stat surge, but keep in mind the 49ers spent a first-round selection on Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk and will get 2019 third-round pick Jalen Hurd back from injury this season. Throw in a first-place schedule to boot, and I like Garoppolo to eclipse 4,000 passing yards this season.


    Teddy Bridgewater over 3,524.5 passing yards (-110)

    Johnson: I'm extremely bullish on the 2020 Carolina Panthers offense. Before last college football season, I said that Joe Brady was the most important hire in the country. LSU snatched him up from the New Orleans Saints to implement a modern passing-game offense, and the Tigers turned it into a national championship and a Heisman Trophy for Joe Burrow. We saw how innovative Brady can be when he has athleticism surrounding an accurate quarterback. Bridgewater is a perfect fit. He was one of just three quarterbacks to finish last season ranked in the top five in adjusted completion rate from a clean pocket as well as under pressure. He gets the ball out on time and on target, which is all an athletic Brady offense needs.


    Take look at Bridgewater's weapons: McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel and Seth Roberts and all have around 4.4 40-yard dash speed. McCaffrey's ability to rush between the tackles hinders a defense's ability to use five- or six-DB sets to manage the cumulative speed at receiver. This team is going to be able to move the football, and the defense projects to be one of the worst in the league. Bridgewater and Carolina will be playing from behind often enough late in games and eating up yards through the air in fourth quarters as well.


    I currently project Bridgwater to throw for 3,702 yards and play in 14.2 games, on average. That equates to 260 yards per game. For some added perspective, Kyle Allen threw for 256 yards per game a year ago without Brady calling the shots and with Anderson playing for the Jets. This line has been moving up since Caesars opened it, and I still think there is one last window of value before it's sitting out of range later this summer.



    Saquon Barkley over 8.5 rushing touchdowns (-120)

    Johnson: I think we can attribute Barkley's "down year" in 2019 -- scoring just six touchdowns -- to a combination of missing three games with an early injury, not being 100% healthy once he returned, and Daniel Jones getting broken in under center after taking over for Eli Manning.


    As a rookie in 2018, Barkley rushed for 11 touchdowns on a similar number of carries per game. He played in 16 games, which certainly helped, but the offensive line last year was one of the worst in the NFL. New York's front posted a stuffed rate last season of 20%. One out of every five rushing attempts for the Giants resulted in no gain or a loss. They addressed this concern by selecting Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 pick in the draft a few weeks after adding former Cowboys and Patriots offensive tackle Cameron Fleming.


    Barkley is as electric as any player in the league and was hyped as the consensus No. 1 pick in 2019 fantasy drafts for a reason. Now, after a disappointing sophomore season, I think it has reversed to the point he's being undervalued entering 2020. He had only 35 red zone touches last season compared to 61 in 2018. Running backs last year who saw 59 or more red zone touches (Ezekiel Elliott, McCaffrey and Todd Gurley III) all scored 13 or 14 times. I expect Barkley's red zone touches to go up to a similar number we saw in his rookie campaign, which would put him in line with a double-digit rushing-touchdown season rather than a repeat of 2019.


    Ezekiel Elliott under 1,229.5 rushing yards (-110)

    Johnson: Dallas intrigues me as a team, but I'm not so sure that Elliott is the biggest beneficiary. To some degree this prop bet looks fairly straightforward: The seasons that Elliott has played at least 15 games, he's gone over this rushing yards total. The year that he played in only 10 games, he didn't.


    This might ultimately just be a "will Zeke play 14 or more games" bet. But one thing to consider is that while Kellen Moore remains as offensive coordinator, Mike McCarthy brings an attack and mindset that saw his Packers teams throw on first down more than any other team in the NFL. In his 13 seasons in Green Bay, the Packers had only one rusher go over Elliott's rushing total (and barely; it was Ryan Grant's 1,253 yards in 2009). Elliott is likely a better running back than anyone McCarthy used in Green Bay, but at the very least there has to be concern with Elliott even seeing 300-plus rushing attempts again. (He had at least 301 in his three seasons he played 15 or 16 games and went over this total.)


    Considering Tony Pollard fell to Dallas in the fourth round last season and had a good rookie campaign to earn more of a trusted role this time around, I have to look under on Elliott's rushing yards total.


    Philip Rivers under 3,999.5 passing yards (-110)

    Kezirian: Rivers is generating excitement in Indy, as the Colts now feel they have a QB who puts them into the championship discussion. Plus, Rivers is reuniting with Colts head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, both of whom spent time on the Chargers' staff with Rivers.


    While things may work out for Indy, I still do not envision a season in which Rivers throws for 4,000 yards. At their core, the Colts are an offense centered around the offensive line, and they also traded up to draft Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Plus, T.Y. Hilton is a solid deep threat, but he has played only 24 games over the past two seasons. And all this assumes the 38-year-old Rivers is still effective.


    Aaron Rodgers under 3,999.5 passing yards (-110)

    Kezirian: Rodgers is a stud, but the 36-year-old is showing signs of regression. Last year, he was on target on just 74.7% of his throws, which ranked 16th in the NFL behind guys like Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson. And this happened in a season where seemingly everything went right, as the Packers finished 13-3 -- but he only finished a few yards above this mark. Plus, we saw new head coach Matt LaFleur place an emphasis on running the ball, and I expect that to continue in 2020. I will take the under.


    Lamar Jackson over 935.5 rushing yards (-110)

    Marks: Jackson's rushing threat is what makes him so otherworldly and creates opportunities for the Ravens' offense. There is an expectation the Ravens pull back his rushing plays, but I still believe the production will be there for him to surpass 936 rushing yards. The Ravens' offensive line ranks in the top 10, and they face a very favorable schedule against rushing defenses. Jackson will rush for at least 1,000 yards in 2020 and set an all-time NFL record in the rushing game that more than likely no one will ever surpass.


    DJ Chark Jr. over 949.5 receiving yards (-110)

    Marks: Chark flashed on the scene last year after finding great chemistry with Gardner Minshew. Beginning in Week 9, Chark was playing 95% of the offensive snaps, and when Minshew targeted Chark, he had a 109 QB rating compared to just a double-digit mark when targeting other pass-catchers. Chark can play wide and out of the slot and will have some favorable secondary matchups this season. Along with the amount of garbage time the Jags will be playing, this is one of my favorite prop bets on the board.
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    John Harbaugh 18/1 coach of the year
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    Keeping eye on D Henry un season rushing yds. I like un.
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