Three 2020 NFL Player Props Worth Betting
With the NFL schedule heading our way, the draft finished and real money fantasy football drafts getting underway, the time has come to examine the NFL player props market in earnest.
The lines for this article came from the Fanduel Sportsbook, though PointsBets and the DraftKings Sportbook also have a variety of 2020 NFL props listed as well. Throughout the course of the preseason, as I work through our projections here on SportsGrid, we will have even more updated +EV wagers on season-long NFL player props.
Daniel Jones OVER 3,799.5 Passing Yards -112
One of the consistently most exploitable lines in season-long NFL player props is going to be “bad” quarterbacks passing yardage. Jones is not perceived as a good NFL quarterback and to be frank, he probably isn’t. However, he exists in an offense that is basically perfectly set up for him to smash the over on this wager. Last season, with Evan Engram injured and starting games that featured Jon Hilliman, Elijah Penny and Kaden Smith, Jones was able to throw for a hair over 3,000 yards in 12 starts and 13 appearances.
Another general statement that is important to make with season-long NFL wagers is that the UNDER’s are almost always the more +EV bet. So many things can go wrong for football players over 16 games. Injuries are the largest reason, as missing three or four games basically ends any possibility of an over but smaller things like in-season coaching changes or breakout performances from other players can impact over/under bets as well. Essentially, if you are betting an over for season-long NFL props, you have to feel that the line is off by several magnitudes.
Our projections right now have Daniel Jones with 3877.69 passing yards as his median projection while not really projecting much improvement from him as a player. The Giants defense is terrible, they play in a division with two other great offenses (Dallas + Philly) and are likely to be trailing in almost every game. Jones is our first over prop bet of the 2020 NFL season.
Christian McCaffrey UNDER 2,099.5 Rush + Receiving Yards -112
Look, it isn’t that I believe that CMC can’t get over 2,100 rushing and receiving yards. In fact, the Panthers probably want McCaffrey to see over 2,099.5 total yards. They extended his contract and really use him as their star player in the absence of a real star. The facts should be pretty simple though: it is basically impossible to get over 2,000 scrimmage yards as a running back and it is even harder to do it twice!
Here are all the 2,000+ scrimmage yard seasons since 2010 by running backs in the NFL
Probably the first thing you will notice about that list is….no repeats. Adrian Peterson only did it once this decade, Gurley wasn’t able to repeat it, not even the legend Arian Foster did it. This should be a pretty simple lesson: however confident we feel that we are in these outcomes, we should usually be WAY less confident. McCaffrey should project for a lot of yards and touchdowns but having 2,099.5 yards as his MEDIAN is just too high.
This bet will not be a fun sweat, at all, but you should feel confident that you are getting your money in good.
Julio Jones UNDER 1,349.5 Receiving Yards -112
2019 was the first season that the UNDER on 1,350 yards felt like it was possible during Julio Jones’ career. From 2014 until 2019, Jones beat this mark every time and has lead the league in receiving twice while leading in yards per game three times. Why on Earth would we start to try and short that amazing accomplishment?
Well, we hate to break it to you but Julio Jones is now 31 years old and finally playing with another young and dynamic wide receiver. Calvin Ridley racked up 866 receiving yards last season and is entering his prime age 26 season. What we have is basically a classic passing-the-baton scenario. 2019 saw an actual decline in Julio Jones target share because of the presence of Ridley and the now-departed Austin Hooper.
What we should be focusing on is that age-31 tends to be the time when we see a physical decline at the wide receiver position. This player prop is pricing Jones at his five-year baseline in terms of target share and physical dominance over his peers at cornerback but with every passing year it becomes less and less reasonable to expect Jones to just go out and play like the prime version of himself.
Accounting for injury, performance decline from both Jones and Matt Ryan, an increased role for Calvin Ridley (and perhaps Todd Gurley), the under for Julio Jones is a wager that we can back from a mathematical perspective.