It’s Sunday morning, and some NFL Week 1 player props are starting to be posted. Here are some that catch my eye and my general thoughts on them.
This article will be updated regularly throughout the morning.
Matt Ryan: Pass Completions
Over 24.5 Pass Completions, -115
Under 24.5 Pass Completions, -115
Matt Ryan: Passing Yards
Over 275.5 Passing Yards, -115
Under 275.5 Passing Yards, -115
Matt Ryan: Passing Touchdowns
Over 2.5 Touchdowns, +120
Under 2.5 Touchdowns, -150
Right now we have Ryan projected for exactly 24.5 completions. Last year the Falcons were fourth in the NFL in neutral pace with 29.10 seconds per play (Football Outsiders), but because they played with a lead so often they were 23rd overall (28.29 sec/play) and 30th in the second half (29.38). They’re currently favored by 6.5 points (per our Vegas Dashboard). For what it’s worth, 82 percent of the spread bets have been on the Falcons but the line has still moved from -7 to -6.5: There’s some sharp money on the Bears to cover. If this game stays close, I’d expect Ryan to throw more than if the Falcons are running out the clock. That said, last year Ryan played in six games with spreads of -3.5 to -9.5. He completed 23.33 passes in those games.
Ryan is an underappreciated accumulator of yardage. Over the last half-decade, Ryan has played in every game and averaged 293.3 yards — which is more than Brady (284.3) and Rodgers (266.6) can say for themselves. Last year in games that were -3.5 to -9.5, he averaged 291.8 yards. Over the last two years, 294.3 yards. Five years, 296.3.
On an unsustainable touchdown rate of 7.1 percent, Ryan in 2016 had exactly 2.5 touchdowns per game in contests with spreads of -3.5 to -9.5. Over the last two years, that mark is a more reasonable 1.92. In the Julio Jones era (since 2011), that mark is 1.87.
LeSean McCoy: Rushing Yards
Over 75.5 Rushing Yards, -125
Under 72.5 Rushing Yards, -105
LeSean McCoy: Pass Receptions
Over 3.5 Pass Receptions, +100
Under 3.5 Pass Receptions, -130
LeSean McCoy: Receiving Yards
Over 20.5 Receiving Yards, -115
Under 20.5 Receiving Yards, -115
In his two years with the Bills, LeSean McCoy has had 15 carries in 21 games. In those contests, he’s averaged 97.0 yards. The Bills are 7.5-point home favorites, and McCoy gets to face a Jets defense that just traded away Sheldon Richardson, a top-two interior run defender (per Pro Football Focus). He should get the volume he needs to get his yardage.
The Bills are without Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. Jordan Matthews is new to the team and has missed significant practice due to injury, and Zay Jones is a rookie. McCoy is one of the best all-around backs in the league. Over the last two years he’s averaged 3.04 receptions per game, and new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison funneled 3.53 receptions per game to Arian Foster in his three Pro-Bowl seasons with the Texans (2010-13).
Over the last two years, McCoy has averaged 24.0 receiving yards per game. In his three Pro-Bowl years with Dennison, Foster averaged 32.0 yards receiving per game.
Josh McCown: Pass Completions
Over 18.5 Pass Completions, -115
Under 18.5 Pass Completions, -115
Josh McCown: Passing Yards
Over 210.5 Passing Yards, -115
Under 210.5 Passing Yards, -115
The Jets are on the road as 7.5-point underdogs. They’ll need to throw the ball. Over the last two years with Cleveland, McCown played in 13 games, starting 11 (with a 1-10 record). In his appearances, he averaged 21.2 completions and 247.9 yards passing.
Julio Jones: Pass Receptions
Over 6 Pass Receptions, -130
Under 6 Pass Receptions, +100
Julio Jones: Receiving Yards
Over 95.5 Receiving Yards, -125
Under 95.5 Receiving Yards, -105
Right now we’re projecting just over on the receptions and significantly less on the yardage. That said, over the last two years in contests with spreads of -3.5 to -9.5 Julio Jones has averaged 7.75 receptions for 111.2 yards receiving. For his entire career, Julio has averaged 6.79 receptions and 103.4 yards receiving in such games.
Devonta Freeman: Rushing Yards
Over 70.5 Rushing Yards, -120
Under 70.5 Rushing Yards, -110
Last year Devonta Freeman played in five games with Tevin Coleman that had spreads of -3.5 to -9.5. In those games he averaged 55.2 yards.
Jordan Howard: Pass Receptions
Over 2.5 Pass Receptions, -150
Under 2.5 Pass Receptions, +120
Last year Jordan Howard had 50 targets. This isn’t last year. Howard dropped seven of his targets and had a woeful catch rate of only 58.0 percent. Benny Cunningham was signed in the offseason to serve as a passing-down back, and Tarik Cohen could also steal some targets.
Kevin White: Pass Receptions
Over 4 Pass Receptions, -130
Under 4 Pass Receptions, +100
Kevin White has limited competition for targets. Last year in his four active games he had to split targets with the since-departed Alshon Jeffery. He averaged nine targets per game for 4.75 receptions, hitting/surpassing the four-catch mark in three of four games.
Lamar Miller: Rushing Yards
Over 70.5 Rushing Yards, +105
Under 70.5 Rushing Yards, -135
The Texans are five-point favorites and likely to be without their No. 2 back in Alfred Blue. Miller was fourth last year with 19.1 carries per game and could roll as the Texans open the season with a #HoustonStrong home game. As a home favorite last season he averaged 22.5 carries per game for 89.8 yards
DeAndre Hopkins: Pass Receptions
Over 5.5 Pass Receptions, +100
Under 5.5 Pass Receptions, -130
DeAndre Hopkins: Receiving Yards
Over 67.5 Receiving Yards, +115
Under 67.5 Receiving Yards, -145
We’re projecting under for both props. That said, in his 13 games with head coach Bill O’Brien with spreads of -2 to -8, DeAndre Hopkins has averaged 9.92 receptions per game for 83.8 yards receiving. It remains to be seen if last year is a deviation from Nuk’s longer-term production or in fact the beginning of a new trend.
Zach Ertz: Pass Receptions
Over 3.5 Pass Receptions, -195
Under 3.5 Pass Receptions, +160
Zach Ertz: Receiving Yards
Over 40.5 Receiving Yards, -170
Under 40.5 Receiving Yards, +140
Ertz is basically a big slot receiver — he ran 52.8 percent of his snaps there last year (PFF) — and with wide receiver Jordan Matthews now in Buffalo it’s likely that Ertz will function as the team’s primary option in the middle of the field. The Eagles are implied for only 24.5 points, but Ertz individually has a great matchup against a Washington defense that last year allowed a league-high 114 receptions and 1,178 yards to opposing tight ends.
Kirk Cousins: Pass Completions
Over 24.5 Pass Completions, +105
Under 24.5 Pass Completions, -135
Kirk Cousins: Passing Yards
Over 272.5 Passing Yards, -115
Under 272.5 Passing Yards, -115
We’re projecting the over for both props. The Redskins are one-point underdogs facing an Eagles team whose defense was top-two against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. The Eagles don’t offer an easy matchup, but Cousins will need to throw. In his two years as a starter he’s averaged 284.3 yards per game.
Larry Fitzgerald: Pass Receptions
Over 6 Pass Receptions, -130
Under 6 Pass Receptions, +100
Larry Fitzgerald: Receiving Yards
Over 67.5 Receiving Yards, -105
Under 67.5 Receiving Yards, -125
We’re projecting Fitz for the over on both props, but not by much. That said, we might be too low on Fitz. The Cardinals are facing the Lions, who last year were 32nd in pass DVOA. Even worse (for them), they were 32nd in pass DVOA against slot receivers, allowing 6.4 targets per game to them for 60.4 yards. The Lions were also 32nd in pass DVOA on passes of no more than 15 yards through air. A time fighter, Fitz has been at his best over the last two years in the first half of the campaigns. Over the last two years he’s averaged seven receptions per game for 79 yards across 16 games in Weeks 1-9.
Rishard Matthews: Pass Receptions
Over 3.5 Pass Receptions, -115
Under 3.5 Pass Receptions, +115
Rishard Matthews: Receiving Yards
Over 50.5 Receiving Yards, -115
Under 50.5 Receiving Yards, -115
We’re significantly on the over. After he emerged as the No. 1 receiver last year in Tennessee, he averaged 4.7 receptions per game for 69.5 yards. Even with the additions of Eric Decker and Corey Davis, Matthews has a good chance to get his targets against a Raiders defense that last year was 25th in pass DVOA.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not making recommendations. I’m providing my thoughts. You should do your own research, because around here we’re basically donkeys.
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