Week 1 Player Props

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If fretting wagering on NFL spreads and totals (historically the sharpest lines available at any book), props can be an intriguing and outright fun way to have an invested incentive in a player’s performance each and every Sunday. This new series will be a weekly feature outlining my favorite player props for the upcoming week, beginning with the eight detailed below. All props and odds have been sourced from Pinnacle.

Chris Carson OVER 83.5 Rushing Yards (-113)

Only Ezekiel Elliott (20.9) averaged more carries per game than Carson (19.5) from Week 3 on last season, and that was before the latter out-performed second-year runner Rashaad Penny by all accounts in August. Despite finishing 26th-overall in Football Outsiders’ Rush Defense DVOA metric in ‘18, Cincinnati’s big-ticket defensive adds merely include re-signing Preston ‘Average Joe’ Brown and promising perennial backup CB B.W. Webb a starting gig. The Bengals’ o-line woes (assuming 32-year-old swinging gate Andre Smith starts) should lead to Cincy gifting the ball back to Seattle often, putting Carson in position to run wild as a 9.5-point home favorite.

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Miles Sanders OVER 30.5 Rushing Yards (-134)

A day didn’t pass this offseason that didn’t involve rave reviews for Mark Andrews, Curtis Samuel, or No. 53 overall pick Sanders from beat writers across the nation. The Eagles will reportedly use a backfield committee, but talent will win out early, inevitably putting Sanders in position to close out this matchup against the Redskins as a second-half hammer. Darren Sproles’ foreseeable usage on third downs isn’t a concern if betting a shallow rushing prop. Note that Washington finished No. 28 in Rush Defense DVOA last year and lost all-around backers Preston Smith and Pernell McPhee in free agency.

John Brown OVER 0.5 TD Receptions (+329)

As discussed in our Matchups podcast earlier this week, Brown’s lack of production down the stretch last year wasn’t of his own volition. Once the Ravens (rightfully) inserted Lamar Jackson under center and led the league in run play rate (64%) over their last seven games, Brown’s top-three mark in air yards (1,160) and WR22 ranking plummeted on a mere 1.1 targets per game from the rookie signal-caller. Josh Allen should have no issues returning Brown to prominence (usage-wise, at least) as it’s the former who led the league in percentage of pass attempts thrown 20-plus yards downfield (19.7%) in his first year in the fire. Trumaine Johnson’s lingering hamstring injury (and a thin Jets corners room) are pluses.

Mark Andrews UNDER 34.5 Receiving Yards (-113)

Andrews bucked a lowly 34.8 percent snap rate last season in buoying efficiency to finish as fantasy’s TE16 in Lamar Jackson’s seven starts. Although that proven production and rapport should have planted the second-year tight end as the Raven’s tried-and-true starter from day one, he quietly logged just 12 first-string snaps behind Nick Boyle (26) and Hayden Hurst (14) this preseason, per Establish the Run’s Adam Levitan. Notching this Over with a single catch is certainly in Edwards’ range of outcomes, but it isn’t probable on his presumed 30-35 percent involvement.

DeSean Jackson OVER 51.5 Receiving Yards (-113)

Currently implied with the third-highest team total (28) of the weekend, Philadelphia’s offense only got better this offseason in subbing Mike Wallace’s and Golden Tate’s inefficient downfield usage for DeSean Jackson’s 4.35 40-speed as a proven over-the-top threat. Fabian Moreau’s (ankle) expected absence pits either seventh-rounder Jimmy Moreland (5’10/179, 4.51 40-time) or Greg Stroman, who PFF charged with a 120.3 passer rating allowed in coverage last year, against Jackson on occasion along the sidelines.

Leonard Fournette OVER 69.5 Rushing Yards (-117)

There may be a reason to doubt Fournette in the coming weeks, but it certainly isn’t a matchup against the Chiefs’ league-low Rush Defense DVOA from ’18 with starting C Brandon Linder and LG Andrew Norwell back healthy. Jacksonville’s final cuts (and moving Alfred Blue to injured reserve) only ensure the former No. 4 overall pick enter the year as an every-down back with fifth-rounder Ryquell Armstead and UDFA Devine Ozigbo laying eggs in the team’s final box score. Fournette’s usage on 18-of-19 first-team snaps with Nick Foles on the field in Jacksonville’s third preseason game is assurance he’s good to go (at least for Week 1).

Rashard Higgins OVER 2.5 Receptions (-109)

Arguably the No. 1 pickup on season-long waiver wires to start the year, Higgins has a legitimate shot of lining up as Cleveland’s Z receiver across from Odell Beckham (and ahead of Jarvis Landry) in two-wide sets at kick-off. Beckham’s lingering hip injury only heightens Higgins’ floor as a confident FLEX option as the former Colorado State Biletnikoff Award finalist already averaged 3.0 catches per game from Baker Mayfield on the rookie quarterback’s 486 attempts last season. He’ll exceed that previous average with expected surplus deployment.

Tyler Higbee UNDER 18.5 Receiving Yards (-116)

Higbee’s only eclipsed the elusive 18-yards receiving mark in 12-of-48 (25%) games with the Rams, including 11-of-32 (34.3%) the past two years under coach Sean McVay. Any hype for Gerald Everett, reportedly the Rams’ offseason star, is a negative for Higbee in the passing game despite the latter’s recent four-year extension.