Best NFL Week 9 RB Props: Bet Michael Carter, Leonard Fournette, more

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) runs with the ball against the New York Jets running back Michael Carter (32) during the second half at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen/Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK

Bet Jets RB Michael Carter u30.5 rush yards vs Bills: He's currently dead last among qualifying backs in carries that go for negative rushing yards over expected (RYOE).

• Buffalo's run ‘D' permitting only 4.1 yards per carry — tied for fifth in the NFL; Carter facing a likely unfavorable game script with his Jets double-digit dogs.

Bet Bucs RB Leonard Fournette u47.5 rush yards vs Rams: Fournette has the second-worst EPA per rush, as well as second-worst RYOE per carry this season; Rams ‘D' allowing second-lowest EPA per rush in the NFL.

In the past five weeks, playing rushing prop bets based on Rushing Yards Over Expected (RYOE) has been very successful, going 14-4 (+8.5 units). This is because 12-of-18 bets given out have been rushing yard unders, which our own Ben Brown has shown cash more frequently than overs this season.

In this article, 2 unders and 1 over will be given out to maximize profits, but the over should be placed with more caution than the unders.

Bet: Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette — Under 47.5 Rushing Yards (-115) vs Los Angeles Rams 

Bet Gameplan: Playable to 46.5

Leonard Fournette Has Struggled This Year: After being a league average rusher last year, no running back has had more negative rushing yards over expected this season than Leonard Fournette. The market hasn’t fully corrected to his poor performances this season, as he’s had the 2nd-worst Expected Points Added (EPA) per rush and 2nd-worst RYOE per carry.

Rams Run Defense is Solid: Los Angeles is the 2nd-best run defense this year according to EPA per rush and has only allowed 4.3 yards per carry. 

Bet: Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne — Over 77.5 Rushing Yards (-110) vs Las Vegas Raiders

Bet Gameplan: Playable to 79.5

Etienne has Been Very Explosive: The quickest way to go over a rushing-yardage prop is explosive run plays (when the rushing yards over expected on a play exceeds 5). Conversely, the quickest way to lose a rushing-yardage prop is bad run plays (when the rushing yards over expected on a play is less than -5). Travis Etienne has the 3rd-highest explosive run rate in the league, while also avoiding bad runs at an above-average rate.

Market Hasn’t Corrected to Increased Workload: In Weeks 1-7 — when James Robinson was still on the Jaguars roster — Etienne had only 39.7% of the backfield share. In Week 8 (sans Robinson), Etienne had 83.8% of the backfield share and took advantage of it, rushing for 156 yards. We can expect a similar share to continue before the market corrects to it.

Bet: New York Jets RB Michael Carter — Under 30.5 Rushing Yards (-115) vs Buffalo Bills

Bet Gameplan: Playable to 28.5

Carter Relied Too Much on Explosives: Michael Carter is currently dead last among qualifying rushers in the amount of rushes that go for a positive rushing yards over expected. He relied too much on explosives early in the season and hasn’t been getting that recently, leading to poor performances.

Bills Run Defense is Stout: Not only will the Jets likely be in a negative game script for most of Sunday as 12.5- point underdogs, they are facing a Bills defense that gives up the 6th-fewest yards per carry (4.1), making it even tougher for Carter to be productive with his touches.

Rushing yards over expected was created using an extreme gradient boosting model (XGBoost). The most important factor in determining expected rushing yards is the number of graded and negatively graded blocks on a play. The importance is followed by yards from the end zone, number of box defenders, defensive strength, seconds left in the half and score differential.

This model can predict 22% of the variance in actual rushing yards and has a year-to-year correlation of 0.21. A shiny app to explore RYOE for each player can be found here.


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