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NFL Betting 2020: Divisional-round player props for Saturday's games

Jan 3, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) is pursued by Arizona Cardinals free safety Jalen Thompson (34) in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 18-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially the most exciting time of year for NFL fans, as the best games of the season are happening over the course of the next two weeks. Season-long fantasy football has wrapped up, but there are still numerous ways to engage in speculative opportunities on the outcome of contests.

Betting game markets are usually the starting point for new bettors, but better places exist for people with background knowledge of fantasy football.  Player props are a great way for people to get more accustomed to sports betting, with the added benefit that they are a more inefficient market than the ones typically discussed. 

Player prop unders hit at a 55% rate between the 2017 and 2019 regular seasons. However, the 2020 campaign has seen a much closer distribution to 50% than in previous years. This has also been more apparent during the latter half of the season, as books have been pricing props much better. The wild-card round had the sixth-highest percentage of unders hit of any week on the season, which is expected as numbers become more efficient toward the year's end.

The percentage of props going under now sits at 52.89% for the season. The majority of prop categories lean toward the under, but we aren’t seeing as extreme of a preference as we did during the middle of the season. At a macro level, it appears that passing attempts are down based on expectation, but a higher percentage of those attempts are completed. Passing touchdowns and interceptions are close to the correct break-even percentage, but pricing always plays a critical evaluation role.

All yardage-related props continue to go under at a higher rate than most categories, which makes them great to target this late in the season, especially rushing yardage props when usage looks to be split in a timeshare.

It also appears that books have more of an issue correctly pricing the discrete number props; things such as touchdowns, interceptions and receptions are more difficult to assign the right number and price to. Yardage props offer more wiggle room, as the tail outcomes make pricing of the discrete prop categories a wholly different challenge for books than the yardage total props.  

Prop Category Percentage of Under Wins Percentage of Over Wins
Passing Attempts 56.37% 43.63%
Passing Completions 51.32% 48.68%
Passing Interceptions 50.46% 49.54%
Passing TDs 50.55% 49.45%
Passing Yards 53.91% 46.09%
Receptions 52.32% 47.68%
Receiving Yards 52.86% 47.14%
Rushing Yards 54.86% 45.14%
All Props 52.89% 47.11%

One way to consistently find defined edges is by utilizing PFF's player props tool. The ability to adjust both number and price means you are always certain of the expected value for each prop bet. 

Super Wild Card Weekend started off slow, but we rebounded with a perfect Sunday to finish 3-2 on written plays. This brings my year-to-date written prop record to 87-55-2 for +27.8 units.

At this point, almost all usage is understood by the market. We are now looking for mispriced lines and situations that have moved too much to one side based on recency bias. There are also situations where players are returning from injuries where usage at the team level isn’t fully understood, making these valuable opportunities to target. Let’s dive into some of the best player props, according to our tool.

Cam Akers over 15.5 Receiving yards

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