Prop Shop: Four Season-Long Props To Consider (Fantasy Football)
Fantasy football and prop betting go hand in hand. If you study the matchups, projections, and team situations closely enough then you should have a pretty easy advantage on identifying outlier prop bets. I’ve personally been placing prop bets for a long time, but like… only since it became legal, of course….
It’s one of my favorite aspects of the football season, and something that keeps me interested even when my favorite fantasy players go down with injuries. The offseason is peppered with speculative content, and this is the perfect type of content to speculate on since you only need to correctly call a single statistic, once.
These are my favorite bets currently, with lines taken from DraftKings Sportsbook:
Derrick Henry UNDER 1555.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
I know it seems crazy to bet against Henry in any way, but this is simply a historical view. Henry finished with a whopping 378 carries and over 2,000 rushing yards during his 2020 campaign, and he’s likely on tap to see a big workload again in 2021. The question is: how big?
Per a study done by the Football Perspective in 2018, players that had 350+ carries in a season have averaged just 263 carries in their next season, and have decreased efficiency. Their YPC dropped, and their rushing output fell off of a cliff. This is likely due to a number of factors, with injury being a common one. It’s a ridiculous physical task that’s nearly impossible to maintain for two full seasons while staying healthy. Henry has avoided the injury bug for the most part throughout his career, but availability regression could potentially hit in 2021. Missing just two games would make this prop incredibly difficult to achieve, and that’s fairly normal for a workhorse back. Henry has been luckier than most. History is not on his side.
Speaking of history…. He would need to make it in order to hit this prop. Amongst the players in the 2K rushing club, not a single one of them was able to follow up their historic campaign with a 1,500-yard season the next year. That means that Vegas is projecting Henry to do something in 2021 that we never saw Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Terrell Davis, O.J Simpson, Jamal Lewis, or Chris Johnson accomplish. That’s a shortlist of some of the best backs in history, but literally, none of them could do this. The one variable that comes into play is the 17th game for the Titans, but that appears to be baked in with the additional 55 yards on top of his prop total.
Tennessee also added Julio Jones to their receiving corps so we should expect a more balanced attack from them, even if Henry is still the focal point. If we expect historic output on a smaller workload, then we’d hope to see Henry’s efficiency climb in order to balance things out.
He’s 27. That’s not likely. Since 1970, amongst players that had 150+ carries in consecutive seasons, the average rushing output starts to decline for the first time after the 26 year mark and continues downward every year. Cliff, meet Derrick. Vegas knows this prop is bait. Don’t take it.
To check out all of the rushing yardage props, check out the recently published Vegas Odds: Rushing Yards Totals for 2021.
Steelers OVER 8.5 wins (-105)
This line jumped out at me when I saw it, simply because of the implied record they’re giving the Steelers. To lose this prop, the Steelers would have to finish 8-9, which is a crucial mark because it’s a losing record. Mike Tomlin is their head coach. The phrase “losing record” isn’t in his vocabulary or his coaching history. Tomlin has not finished a single season under .500 in 14 years in Pittsburgh. Similar to the Henry prop, this line is essentially saying something historic will happen in 2021. They’re giving -105 odds on something that hasn’t happened in 14 seasons. It’s a smart play, just from that angle. The on-field projections support it as well.
Big Ben may be on his last legs, but the team has a lot of great pieces elsewhere. The 2020 Steelers started the season 11-0, lost a lot of defensive talent to midseason injuries, and crumbled. Most of that talent is back, and their 2021 roster should be very similar to their 2020 roster in every way. The addition of Najee Harris and another offseason for Chase Claypool should raise the offensive ceiling, even if Ben doesn’t ride off into the sunset with a hall of fame season. The likelihood that Tomlin has his first bad year, just one year removed from an 11-0 start, with an incredibly similar roster…. Is not high. This is a probability equation, and it points to the necessity to use Thor’s hammer on the over.
For more on team win totals, check out the Vegas Overs/Unders series.
Ryan Fitzpatrick OVER 23 Passing Touchdowns (-110)
This prop is dependent on Fitz landing the starting job, but I personally believe that’s been a done deal for a month. His performance in Miami was textbook Fitzmagic, and that should continue in Washington. The primary reason that this prop is juicy is because of the mathematics behind it. His career touchdown rate sits at 4.4%, and he’s coming off a 2020 campaign that resulted in a 4.9% rate over the seven games he started. If we assume that he will remain consistent here, then projecting a 4.5% rate is perfectly reasonable.
At that clip, Fitz would need to throw 511 passes to reach the 23 TD mark. He threw 502 passes in only 13 games for Miami in 2019 and was on pace to throw 539 attempts last year if he played the full season. Washington quarterbacks had 599 passing attempts in 2020, and Fitz is one of the only true gunslingers left. Even if he misses a game or two, the 511-mark should be an easy one to reach if things stay consistent for the Team in 2021.
Did I mention there’s an extra game this year too? This prop is a Fitzmagical smash.
Joe Burrow to Lead the League in Passing (+2800)
This isn’t necessarily likely to happen, but the odds are phenomenal. Before Joe Burrow went down in week 11, the Bengals had the third-highest pass to rush ratio in the NFL. Burrow also finished in the top-8 in passing yards per game. This season he adds an additional weapon in Ja’Marr Chase, one of the best wide receiver prospects of the past decade. Burrow and Chase played together at LSU, so the chemistry shouldn’t be an issue. Draftkings is giving you 28:1 odds on this when the possibility of it happening is much higher than that. It’s worth some spare change, as the payout is massive and the investment is minimal.