How to Bet Player Props
Player proposition bets, or “player props” as they are commonly known, allow a sports bettor to place bets on the performance of individual athletes. A typical player prop bet will allow the bettor to bet on the athlete performing either “over” or “under” the posted line. With the rise of daily fantasy sports and sports books competing to offer a wider variety of wager types, player prop markets are becoming increasingly popular and are a great place for the casual bettor to start. This article will cover why player props can be profitable bets, how to bet on player props, and specific insights into player props for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL.
Why Player Props Can be Profitable Bets and Provide Positive Expected Value (+EV) Betting Opportunities
There are a few main reasons that player props are a good place for sports bettors to start and look to make a profit.
The Betting Limits and Volume is Low. This sounds counter-intuitive, but player prop markets typically have low betting limits for individual bets and can be capped as low as $100 or $500 per wager (or even lower on very small markets). Comparing these limits to sides and totals markets which may take bets larger than $10,000 and you can see why the overall volume of prop betting is lower than the other betting markets. While a low limit may be a nuisance for a high stakes gambler, for the casual bettor most people aren’t wagering this much to begin with, the low limits and low volume provide benefits.
Professional Bettors Don’t Bet Player Props Frequently. The first major benefit is a lot of professional bettors will ignore these markets except for unique cases like the Super Bowl. Because the professional, or “sharp” bettors, ignore these markets, the sportsbooks don’t have as much smart money which they can adjust the lines to. With less money directing sportsbooks to which line is the sharp side, it is more likely that sports bettors can identify inefficiencies in the market and make profitable bets.
Player Prop Lines are Slow to Move. If a star quarterback like Patrick Mahomes were to be injured in practice and listed as a game-time decision or out for the game this would be national news and sportsbooks would immediately adjust their lines or pull them down before hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets poured in. NFL sides and totals are high volume markets that react very fast, not just to news but to money being bet. Props and totals don’t move nearly as fast but can be heavily impacted by minor news. In 2018-19, it was far from national news if Rex Burkhead was ruled inactive for the New England Patriots and it would have zero impact on the NFL sides and totals markets but that has an immediate impact on player props for that game, as Burkhead’s inactive status would further secure the role of Sony Michel as the primary running back and James White as the primary pass-catching back. Less competition for playing time carries, and targets would increase the expected yardage and catches of Michel and White and with the sportsbooks paying closer attention to sides and totals its reasonable that an edge could linger in the prop markets long enough to bet.
How to Bet Player Props
One of the best ways to find player prop bets to make is to find a trusted source of individual performance projections to compare against prop lines. With the rise of fantasy sports, there are dozens of sites that are projecting individual statistics for every player, in every game, of every sport. At Sportsgrid, we have teamed up with the DFS professionals at DailyRoto to leverage their individual performance projections and compare those to prop betting lines at popular sportsbooks. The projections at DailyRoto have powered millions of dollars in fantasy sports winnings, and we have turned them loose on the prop betting markets to help our customers find player prop bets to make. We offer prop betting tools for the NFL and NBA.
How to Bet NFL Player Props
NFL player props are the most popular player prop betting market and typically sportsbooks will offer dozens of prop betting options for almost every single game on the schedule that day. Prop bets are typically posted a few hours before the start of the game and are even occasionally offered for in-game live betting. NFL player props can be found on many different statistical categories but the most common props are done at a positional level.
For quarterbacks, the most common NFL Player Props will include total pass attempts, total completions, total passing yards, total rushing yards, total passing touchdowns, and total rushing touchdowns. These props may also include “YES / NO” props such as “Will Tom Brady Throw an Interception” and have “juice” built in so this particular prop may be YES (+250) or NO (-350).
For running backs and wide receivers the most common NFL Player Props will include total rush attempts, total catches, total rushing yards, total receiving yards, total yards (rushing + receiving), touchdowns and “YES / NO” props such as “Will Adrian Peterson Fumble?”
At Sportsgrid, we use the individual statistic projections provided by DailyRoto to compare against the lines posted for NFL player props, but if you are looking to build your own model a few things to consider would be the opponent and pace of the game, and the skill position player’s matchup and competition for playing time. Fast-paced games against closely matched opponents may make it more likely that a quarterback runs more plays, has more pass attempts, and more passing yards, while slow paced games when one team is a heavy favorite could lead to a more run-heavy game plan. Similarly, while individual competitions for the 3rd WR spot rarely matter for NFL betting, they matter immensely for prop betting and understanding who may start at slot WR can have a heavy impact. There is a lot to stay up to tune on which is why we lean on DailyRoto.
How to Bet NBA Player Props
NBA player props are another popular sports betting market and allow you to place bets on an athlete performing either over or under individual statistical projections. The most popular NBA player props include total points, total rebounds, total assists, total steals, total blocks or a combination of those statistical categories. Additionally, NBA player props may allow you wager “YES / NO” bets on whether or not a player achieves a triple-double.
NBA player props can be particularly challenging because of last-minute injury news and the inconsistent pregame reporting. Unlike the NFL which has standard injury reporting, the NBA news is often reported just minutes before the tip of a game and is often done by local beat writers versus official league reports. The news can be frustrating and time-consuming to follow, but this also opens up lots of opportunities for bettors that are paying close attention, as the starting point guard being ruled out or playing on a minute restriction can have a huge impact on the expected minutes (and production) of the rest of the rotation.
At Sportsgrid, we have teamed up with the DFS professionals at DailyRoto to produce and maintain projections which feed into our NBA Prop Betting Tools. DailyRoto’s staff is monitoring news in real-time and making updates to the projections right up until tipoff of the games, and the speed to update the projections helps make our prop betting tools powerful for potential bettors. In addition to projecting minutes and rotations, these individual player prop projections account for the opponent’s defensive performance versus the position, expected pace of the game, implied vegas odds and team totals helping to create some of the most accurate NBA player projections available.
How to Bet MLB Player Props
MLB player props are not as popular as the NFL and NBA player prop markets but still add a lot of value for potential sports bettors as there are lines available on a handful of player props across more than 2,500 games during the six month season and playoffs.
The most popular MLB player prop for pitchers is how many total individual strikeouts a pitcher will have in a matchup. This bet will allow you to wager over or under on that number. Sports bettors who are looking to bet on MLB strikeout props should consider the strikeout rate (k%) not just of the starting pitcher, but also of the opposing lineup and how they fair against different splits (vs RHP and LHP), but outright and compared to league averages. The most basic level of understanding would be understanding how many times a team strikes out per game against LHP and RHP, but sports bettors looking to learn how to bet MLB player props more profitably should be sure to pay attention to the starting lineup for the opposing team. Each individual will have an expected k% vs LHP and RHP and it is possible that a starting lineup for a day may have a higher k% than the initial prop line expected, creating a potential edge.
The most popular MLB player props for hitters include individual statistics such as hits, runs, and RBIs, or a combination of those statistics. Sportsbooks also offer “YES / NO” bets on whether certain players will hit a home run in a given matchup. Much like the pitching matchups, MLB player prop bettors should consider how an individual fairs against the handedness (LHP or RHP) of the opposing pitcher, and may also consider factors such as the weather, park, and if the opposing pitcher is a ground ball or fly-ball oriented pitcher.
How to Bet NHL Player Props
NHL player props allow a sports bettor to bet on individual statistical categories of both the goaltenders and skaters for a given matchup. For goalies, the most popular player prop will be the total saves for that goalie in the given matchup. Sports bettors looking to bet on NHL player props for goalies should consider factors both for the goalie’s team and the opposition to first project how many shot attempts a goalie is expected to face. The most basic stats to use for this would be the total shots per 60 minutes (SF/60) and total shots against per 60 minutes (SA/60), but bettors may also want to consider more advanced analytics such as Corsi which includes total shots on goal, missed shots on goal, and blocked shot attempts. Once a bettor has determined how many shot attempts they expect a goalie to face, they can layer in the expected save percentage for that goalie, which should account not just for the goalie’s skill but the opposition’s shooting skill, to come up with an expected volume of saves.
For individual skaters, the most popular NHL player props including over/under on a player’s shots on goal as well as total goals, assists, or points. Bettors looking to bet on individual player props for shots or goals should consider the individual’s shot rate per 60 minutes as well as the volume of shots the opposition allows. Additionally, more sophisticated NHL player prop bettors should include the home and away state and expected defensive matchup. NHL teams typically allow more shots against when they are on the road and fewer shots against when they are at home. For example, the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues allowed a rate of 51.35 CA/60 at home and 54 CA/60 on the road at 5v5. When an NHL team is at home, they also get to dictate the matchup. The Blues top center Ryan O’Reilly allowed a CA/60 of 48.9 at home and 55.9 on the road. If you were looking to bet on a player prop for shots by Alexander Ovechkin, it would be important to understand not just how he may fair versus the Blues, but whether or not his line would be matched up versus Ryan O’Reilly in St. Louis.
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