• Ride the Calvin Ridley wave for his receiving yardage prop: Few receivers have received as much hype this offseason as Ridley. Still, take the over on his 57.5-yard receiving prop.
• Keep an eye on C.J. Stroud's passing yardage prop: While DraftKings has yet to release a number, we like the under for anything at or above 205 yards.
• Expect Chris Olave to reel in a deep ball: A shaky Titans secondary should allow the second-year wideout to go over his longest reception prop of 24.5 yards.
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is here, and sportsbooks across the country are slowly starting to trot out their full menu of player props. With key injuries across various rosters and a lot of uncertainty about new faces in new places, we’ve identified a few plays we see value in heading into the Week 1 slate.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley over 57.5 receiving yards (-115)
As was the case with season-long props and fantasy football ADP, we think there’s value here early in the season with Ridley props. Books and bettors alike being cautious with a player coming off an extended absence makes plenty of sense, but we’re buying into that uncertainty once more.
The last time we saw a full season of Calvin Ridley — in 2020 — he was an elite playmaker. His 2.4 yards per route run was the eighth-best mark in the NFL while he shared the field with Julio Jones. All reports out of training camp are that Ridley has been utterly dominant, and Trevor Lawrence should look his way early and often. The Jaguars were one of the fastest-paced teams in the NFL following their bye week and were consistently in the top third of the NFL in neutral-script pass rate. With another year in head coach Doug Pederson’s system, expect them to keep up the tempo, leading to a lot of snaps in this contest. In an early-season divisional matchup, the Jaguars shouldn’t let their foot off the gas until the game is well out of reach.
Furthermore, the Colts' first unofficial depth chart listed 2022 undrafted free agents Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr. as the starters on the outside. Flowers played 175 snaps in 2022, and Baker played none. If they are surpassed before kickoff, it will be by rookie second-rounder Julius Brents and/or rookie seventh-rounder Jaylon Jones. Whomever it is, Ridley should absolutely feast.
Last but not least, while the Colts should probably be throwing all game to keep up with Jacksonville regardless, they’re trotting out a committee at running back that doesn’t feature Jonathan Taylor, so they shouldn’t be expected to lean on their run game and reduce possessions/snaps in this contest.
Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud under 205+ passing yards
We still don’t have an official number here at any major sportsbooks, but we are keeping a close eye on when the passing yards prop for Stroud drops. To get it out now, we’re sharing a number we’re comfortable taking. If the posted prop exceeds this 205-yard threshold, we like a play on the under.
Since the advent of the rookie wage scale in 2011, 24 quarterbacks have started and thrown at least 10 passes in Week 1 of their rookie season. Collectively, the group averaged 222.75 passing yards, with just 10 players throwing for at least 230. If we limit the sample to just 17 first-round picks, the average still climbs to only 234 passing yards in Week 1.
The Ravens' defense may be without star cornerback Marlon Humphrey as he recovers from offseason foot surgery, but defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald will surely dial up blitzes and exotic looks against a rookie in his debut. In 2022, the Ravens ranked 13th in blitz rate (29.1%) and sixth in simulated pressure rate (23.7%). Meanwhile, Stroud’s 36.8 passing grade when pressured in 2022 ranked 100th out of 121 FBS quarterbacks with at least 50 pressured dropbacks over the season. Humphrey’s potential absence would also be more encouraging if the Texans had a receiving corps that could take advantage of an injury-depleted secondary, but they don’t.
The problems against pressure don’t stop there for Houston. The Texans will likely either be starting rookie sixth-rounder Jarrett Patterson or recent trade acquisition Kendrick Green, who did not play a snap in 2022 for the Pittsburgh Steelers, at center. At right tackle, if Tytus Howard isn’t back from injury, we’ll likely see either veteran addition George Fant or former Arizona Cardinal Josh Jones, who was also acquired via trade two weeks ago. Lastly, at left guard, 2022 first-round pick Kenyon Green landed on injured reserve, which means veteran Michael Deiter, who also did not play a snap in 2022, may get the start. Josh Jones could also be an option at left guard. In summation, get ready to run, C.J. Stroud.
The Kyle Shanahan offensive tree has thus far shown to be a slower pace of play offense. The 49ers, Dolphins and Packers all ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in pace of play in 2022, so we could expect new Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik to follow the same approach. The Baltimore Ravens were near the bottom of the league in 2022, as well. These teams may not take many total snaps in this game, limiting volume overall.
New Orleans Saints WR Chris Olave longest reception over 24.5 yards (-110)
The Tennessee Titans allowed the most passing yards in the NFL in 2022, with their .083 expected points allowed per dropback ranking fifth worst. They were particularly susceptible to the deep ball, with their 66 receptions allowed on balls thrown 15-plus yards downfield the second most in the NFL. Tennessee also owned the league’s worst expected points allowed per dropback figure on such throws.
Tennessee didn’t do much to improve its defensive unit — in particular, the secondary — this offseason, signing cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting off a solid bounce-back season to a one-year, $3.5 million deal.
On the other side of the coin, Olave’s 19 receptions on balls thrown 15-plus yards were a top-15 mark in the NFL in his rookie 2022 campaign, working largely with Andy Dalton at quarterback. While Derek Carr isn’t exactly known for uncorking the ball downfield with regularity, he’s at worst a lateral move, and Olave will only continue to thrive making downfield catches, especially with Michael Thomas back in the fold to command attention from opposing secondaries. Olave wasn’t just a deep ball threat, either. He was a model of consistency, racking up at least 40 receiving yards in every game he played in.