Player props have officially entered the mainstream because they are the easiest way for new bettors to profit in sports betting. Over 800 player props are currently loaded into PFF’s prop tool, which doesn’t even model every single player prop offering currently available at all sportsbooks. Being able to quickly sift through the best and worst bets in an automated way is one of the easiest ways to cultivate sports betting success.
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Due to the sheer volume of listings, player props are often the easiest bets to beat consistently. Books have a difficult time keeping up with late-breaking news and digesting how the latest information impacts every player expected to be on the field.
This article's Week 17 bets went 3-1, and a plus-priced prop helped us finish in the black at +2.75 units. After a 2020 season that went 92-68 for +17.1 units, we are now 31-34 for -2.7 units in 2021 — a 123-102 record across the two seasons for +14.4 units.
Using the PFF prop tool as a guide, let’s continue stringing winning weeks together and find the best values on the board for Sunday’s Week 18 main slate of NFL action.
WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams over 9.5 receptions (-130)
Kupp’s Week 17 reception prop was the first time any player hit 9.5 receptions as a prop line in our dataset. However, failing to eclipse that number didn’t force bookmakers to adjust back down to 8.5, and for good reason, as Kupp has fallen short of 9.5 receptions in just four games this season and is 171 yards short of a historic 2,000-yard receiving season. Even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he only needs 12 receptions to break the single-season reception record.
Kupp didn't receive double-digit targets in Week 17 for the first time since Week 8, as he never leaves the field and runs a route on basically 100% of the Rams' dropbacks. Even Davante Adams should be jealous of Kupp’s usage, as Kupp is one of only two receivers with over a 30% team target share, targets per route run and air yards share in 2021. This is one of the few incentive-based prop options that is worth buying into on Sunday, as Kupp should easily eclipse his reception prop while chasing a historic receiving mark.
RB Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers under 68.5 rushing yards (-110)
Mitchell’s return from injury was a rousing success from a boxscore standpoint, as he eclipsed his rushing yardage prop by 44 yards in Week 17. Things won’t be as easy in Week 18, as Houston ranks second to last in PFF’s opponent-adjusted run defense grade while the Rams are second in the NFL in the same metric. Aaron Donald’s presence is one of the most unwelcome sights for an opposing team’s rushing unit. A limited Jimmy Garoppolo also doesn’t open up the run game in the same way as a healthy Trey Lance, as it allows the defense to key on the running back in the backfield.
Mitchell’s usage also wasn’t as noteworthy as his box score stats. He only played 56.3% of San Francisco's offensive snaps and handled 58.3% of the team rush attempts last week. He would need a significant uptick in both areas in order to come close to this rushing yardage total again given the matchup considerations. If the 49ers fall behind early and are forced to throw themselves back into the game, then Mitchell’s production will come through the air, leaving his rushing yardage total at a painfully low number. Everything is pointing in one direction in this matchup; therefore, this under is one of the best prop values on the board.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts over 21.5 carries (-105)
Taylor has garnered 20 or more carries in all but one game since Week 10 and needs 266 rushing yards in Week 18 to get to 2,000 rushing yards. The Colts, who are 15.5-point favorites, need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and I can say this much — they are not leaning on Carson Wentz to get them there.
The PFF player props tool believes Taylor has a good chance of finishing with more than 21.5 carries, seeing 8.2% value at -105 pricing. Taylor’s finished over his carry prop's opening number in 12 of 15 games this season and cleared this prop number in four of the past five games. Buy into volume for Taylor.
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WR Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders over 6.5 receptions (+111)
In one of the few games where both teams have the same thing to play for, the motivations will be clear for Renfrow against the Los Angeles Chargers. After just eight targets and six total catches in Weeks 15 and 16, Renfrow pulled in seven catches in a win against the Colts in Week 17, making it his seventh such game with seven or more catches since Week 7.
Darren Waller’s return from injury could impact Renfrow’s target volume, but the Chargers haven’t been stout in coverage all season. They struggle the most with inside receivers (surrendering six catches for 92 yards to Noah Fant in Week 17), so both Renfrow and Waller should lead the Raiders in target opportunity on Sunday night. Most believe the Raiders will play from behind, which means Renfrow's end-game heroics is the most likely outcome for the second straight week.