We made it! Football season is finally here and so is the ability to take advantage of overreactions reflected in player prop lines. The pain of seeing players designated as out, and the anticipation of them being questionable or active on Fridays is finally here to stay for a few months. In this article series, I’ll follow up Friday practices with Saturday morning selections of my favorite player props and pick ‘ems on the DFS pages of Underdog Fantasy and Sleeper.
In each article, I’ll explain why I see value on the selected props. I will also accompany the article with at least one sample slip. Players who want to follow the picks can head over to the designated platform and join either Underdog or Sleeper using promo code UNDERWORLD for a full deposit match up to $100. Starting next week, we will review our picks from the previous week before moving on to our new picks for the new weekend.
Pick No. 1 (Sleeper): Treylon Burks (TEN) OVER 25.5 receiving yards
One of the best parts of betting is being ahead of the market on rookies. This is, of course, with no prior data in NFL games. Just as with last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase, the Arkansas product Treylon Burks was in the news during preseason for the wrong reasons. From breathing issues to being rumored to be a third or fourth option for Tennessee, the overreactions have gotten out of hand. This results in a line worth smashing.
In this year’s Breakout Finder, Burks graded very well and finished as a top five rookie of the class. His peak of 16.8 yards per reception, first round selection, and early declare means he ticks some of the most critical boxes for a wide receiver to have a breakout fantasy season in the NFL. His primary target competition is tight end Austin Hooper and 30-year-old Robert Woods. Woods is set to play his first game since a season-ending ACL tear. To cap it all off, Burks’ 6-2, 225-pound frame means he has the physical advantage over cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson. Regardless of who he faces in the weak Giants secondary, Burks’ athleticism gives him the ability to cash this over in just one or two plays.
While Burks did land with an unideal team for prolific passing, the line reflects this and has been overcorrected. He was drafted to replace A.J. Brown in Tennessee’s offense. Burks might not be the same player right away as Brown, but he is comparable. Additionally, it is noteworthy that in his rookie season with Ryan Tannehill under center, Brown cleared this line 11 times, including 100 receiving yards in Week 1.
Pick No. 2 (Sleeper): JuJu Smith-Schuster (KC) OVER 46.5 receiving yards
This is another player with a new team. So, fantasy gamers shouldn’t overthink this. This game has the highest total points Vegas projection for a reason. Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray will face off in a battle of two defensive units with massive question marks.
Despite losing elite playmaker Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs supplied their top-tier quarterback with multiple solid weapons. After losing Chandler Jones in free agency, the Cardinals did not respond with an adequate move this offseason to replace the Pro Bowler. The biggest beneficiary of the downgraded ability to disrupt Mahomes’ pace should be wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
In the 2021 fantasy season, no team allowed more fantasy points to slot wide receivers than the Arizona Cardinals. That’s where Smith-Schuster will line up. Coming into this season with a clean injury report, he is just two years removed from leading the NFL in finishing top 10 in the NFL in receptions and true catch rate and top 20 in yards after catch. In that 2019 season, he cleared this mark in five out of nine games before his injury despite his team ranking No. 23 in the NFL in pass play rate. The Andy-Reid-led Chiefs should be one of the most pass-heavy offensive systems in football once again in 2022.
Pick No. 3 (Underdog): Dameon Pierce (HOU) UNDER 61.5 Rushing + Receiving yards
We’re getting ahead of the market on another rookie, but this time we’re fading extreme hype. In 2021, the Texans used four separate starting running backs. Many times they used their chosen running back as a lead workhorse. Furthermore, Houston ranked above median in running back target share with Davis Mills at quarterback. Despite all of this, the Houston starting running back went under this number in nine of their 17 games.
Although the preseason hero Dameon Pierce has been named as the starting running back with Marlon Mack cut, there are several paths showing this line to be too high. As our Breakout Finder research from this summer pointed to, some of the most important factors pointing to running back prospects breaking out in the NFL include being an early declare, rating highly as a receiver, and being the alpha touchdown producer of your college offense. Pierce does not fit the bill in any of these departments.
📝 @CFB_Profiler Breakout Finder Research
Last 15 years ⬇️
RBs with college target info available to have a breakout season: 66
RBs with a breakout season to never crack a 5% target share in a college season: 5
Dameon Pierce's best college season: 4.8% 🤮https://t.co/dZNIOm8uDN
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) August 15, 2022
Over the last 15 years, only two non-early-declares posted a peak season target share of less than 5-percent like Pierce. While Pierce seems like an explosive prospect when he is getting snaps, the fact of the matter is that this line assumes he’ll be the alpha of the Houston backfield for four quarters, and this is unlikely. Especially in a game against the Colts where the Texans are heavy underdogs, backup Rex Burkhead could be featured heavily. Burkhead will likely be the primary pass-catching back if the Texans are playing from behind.
Pick No. 4 (Underdog): Elijah Moore (NYJ) OVER 4.5 receptions
One of my favorite breakout candidates at wide receiver in 2022, Elijah Moore shouldn’t be discounted heavily by his quarterback situation. In his rookie season, despite dealing with injuries and quarterback musical chairs, Moore averaged 48.9 receiving yards and 3.9 receptions on 7.0 targets per game.. Corey Davis is aging and declining. Jamison Crowder is gone. The rookie Garrett Wilson graded well on this year’s Breakout Finder, but Moore is still the alpha and should easily be Joe Flacco‘s No. 1 option to start the season.
In Flacco’s one start last year, Moore played 48 of the 60 offensive snaps for the Jets, ran routes of 35 of Flacco’s 43 drop-backs, and commanded a team-high 28-percent target share. In four games last year without Zach Wilson, Moore drew at least six targets in each game and cleared the over on this line of 4.5 receptions in three games. This includes a season-high eight receptions for a season-high 141 yards in Flacco’s start.
Last year, Baltimore ranked among the league’s worst defenses in production allowed to wide receivers by yards and explosive plays. This year, they have upgrades in health and personnel of their secondary. However, in a game projected by Vegas to be a chase from behind for the Jets, Moore should still get volume as Flacco’s slot receiver. This is why it’s smarter to count on volume and take his receptions than bank on deep targets and choosing the over on his receiving yards.
If you want to tail these picks verbatim, these are our recommendations. Play:
- 0.5u wager on a play with the two Sleeper picks, using all-in payout; profits 1u if both picks hit
- 0.5u wager on a play with the two Underdog picks; profits 1u if both picks hit
Your entries should look like this.
To read more about wagering player props and how to find edge, you can check out Seth Diewold’s Beginner’s Guide to Prop Betting. To get a deposit match up to $100 on either of these sites, use promo code UNDERWORLD upon entry.