With SI Sportsbook opening soon paired with my season-long and weekly NFL stat projections, my natural progression is to find flaws and opportunities in the betting lines to beat the books on futures and player props.
The goal is to set a fair outlook on each team’s offense and each player’s injury risk and upside. By doing over four months of research, I hope to find betting opportunities on player props.
RB Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons
There are two excellent betting opportunities posted at the sportsbooks with Davis. My last set of projections have him rushing for 649 yards on 180 carries with six rushing touchdowns. His over/under in rushing yards is 800.5. I don’t view Davis as a season-long answer at running back. Over his six years in the league, he averaged only 3.7 yards per rush while also lacking explosiveness in the passing game (6.4 yards per catch).
The Falcons’ running backs gained 3.7 and 3.8 yards per rush in 2019 (325/1,217/9) and 2020 (378/1,444/12), showcasing the tiny holes created in their offensive line. In addition, Atlanta lost their starting center to free agency in the offseason.
Based on his career path and his new team, Davis would need more than 215 rushes (12.6 per week over 17 games) to reach 801 yards. I don’t expect him to keep the starting job all season based on his age (28) and his journeyman career path. The bets here are on the under on 800.5 yards and under 7.5 rushing touchdowns. Davis has 11 career rushing touchdowns over 62 career games. His success last year with Carolina (165/642/6 – 3.9 yards per rush) was the best of his career. The Falcons have a pair of big backs on their roster, which invites a rotation over 17 games at the goal line.
Both plays on Davis should be easy wins.
Bet: UNDER 800.5 rushing yards
Bet: UNDER 7.5 rushing touchdowns
RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
Over the past three seasons, Mostert gained an impressive 5.7 yards per rush despite only having seven career runs for 36 yards from 2015 and 2017. His best season came in 2019 (137/772/8) while flashing as well in 2020 (104/521/2) over eight contests.
His over/under in rushing yards (700.5) sits in a fair area, and he could reach this number with 141 carries if he gained 5.0 yards per carry.
My play on the under comes from his injury risk, and Mostert has never had over 137 rushes in his career at age 29. The 49ers have one of the better rushing offenses in the league, giving their starter plenty of chances to have success.
In 2020, Mostert missed time on three different occasions while also battling a knee issue in June and July.
Bet: UNDER 700.5 rushing yards
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
In late August, the prop betting lines for Smith-Schuster in receiving yards (790.5) and touchdowns (6) point to an opportunity on the over. He has been in the NFL for four seasons, with the past three coming as a starter.
After a dominating 2018 as the Steelers’ WR2 (111/1,426/7), he battled injuries the following year (42/552/3) over 12 games. Pittsburgh gave him 128 targets, which was the 15th-best wide receiver opportunity in the league. Despite his chances, he ranked 36th in receiving yards (831) due to the lowest output in yards per catch (8.6). In essence, Smith-Schuster finished with a good running back value in the length of his catches. He gained 13.7 yards per reception over his first 42 games, and the league average for wide receivers in 2020 came in at 12.6 yards.
Pittsburgh has three talented wide receivers plus two viable pass-catching tight ends. They also added a top-tier power runner who will be a factor in the passing game. However, their major question is their offensive line.
Pittsburgh will throw the ball 600 times, and their wideouts will be active (270/3,257/22). In my latest projections, I have Smith-Schuster on track for 87 catches for 924 yards and seven touchdowns while gaining 10.7 yards per catch. Based on this, he would need 74 catches to win on the over in receiving yards or a 23.8 percent drop from his catch total in 2020.
As for touchdowns, I don’t view it as strong of a play, but Smith-Schuster scored over six times in three seasons (7, 7, and 9) while averaging a touchdown in 44.8 percent of his games (7.6 scores projected over 17 weeks).
Bet: OVER 790.5 receiving yards
Bet: OVER 6 receiving touchdowns
WR Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
The writing is on the wall for Davis to emerge as the WR2 for the Bills. In his rookie season, he caught 35 of his 62 targets for 599 yards and seven touchdowns. Buffalo had him on the field for 73.3 percent of their plays, confirming his WR2 status by snaps (797). The training camp news has been positive, and he continues to be a layup in drafts (ADP – 143). The sportsbooks set his betting line at 650.5 yards and 5.5 touchdowns. In my latest projection update, I have Davis catching 61 passes for 920 yards and eight touchdowns. The play here is over in his receiving yards.
Bet: OVER 650.5 receiving yards
Bet: OVER 5.5 receiving touchdowns
RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
Swift comes into Week 1 with concerns about his playing time due to an August groin issue. In his rookie season, he caught 46 passes for 357 yards and two scores over 13 games. His betting line on catches (52.5) and yards (375.5) looks low when adding in the Lions’ new head coach and offensive coordinator featured the running back in the passing game for the Saints (113/987/6) and the Chargers (128/890/4) in 2020. Last season, Detroit completed 89 passes for 712 yards and three touchdowns to their running backs.
The Lions brought in Jamaal Williams to split time at running back. Over his previous four seasons with the Packers, he averaged 30.5 catches for 240 yards and two scores. Swift is the better pass-catching, and I have him projected for 80 catches for 582 yards and three touchdowns (Williams – 28/185/1). Even if he missed a couple of games, he would still have a favorable opportunity to hit the over on catches and receiving yards.
Bet: OVER 52.5 receptions
Bet: OVER 375.5 receiving yards
More from SI Betting:
• Passing Yards Player Prop Betting Projections
• Rushing Yards Player Prop Betting Projections
• 2021 Highest-Scoring NFL Team by the Odds: Top-Five Best Bets
• 2022 College Football Playoff Championship Futures Breakdown & Odds
Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical break downs for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. An inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!