The first NFL Sunday is upon us. Fans are excited to watch their teams, bettors are curnching the numbers, and fantasy rosters are being finalized – it’s one of the more anticiapted days on the sports calendar. And with that, I’m excited to bring you my favorite player props, with an emphasis on the early (1:00 PM EST) slate. But, before I get to my picks, make sure you check out our experts picks for game sides and totals, as we’ll be updating this space regularly.
Player prop lines are notoriously sensitive, especially when it comes to football. The need to shop around for the best price and pounce on lines early is paramount. On Twitter, I’ve already posted two plays for Sunday, revolving around the aerial attack (Calvin Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins). Now, I turn my attention to the ground game, with two second year players looking to come out of the gates fast (literally).
Jalen Hurts (PHI) over 44.5 rushing yards (-110)
Line available at time of publishing. Playable to over 46.5 receiving yards.
When assessing quarterback rushing props, I find it best to hone in on the dual-threats, despite the higher totals. Fully entrenched as the week 1 starter, Hurts fits the bill. Last season, we got a taste of what he can do as a QB1; in Hurts’ four full starts, he ran for 267 yards on 46 carries. He cleared this line easily in 3 of those games, and was well on his way in the fourth until the Eagles benched him in a tank-worthy move.
In those starts, Hurts’ yardage was evenly split between scrambles (136 yards) and designed rushes (131 yards). The former second round pick scrambled on 13% of his dropbacks, averaging 7.2 yards per rush. Coupling that with the 4.7 yards per carry on designed runs, and the path to hit this over is clear. Even with a new coaching regime in town, the Eagles will be looking to Hurts to use his legs to make things happen. At least 4 designed rushes and 4 scrambles (on a projected 31 drop backs) should be the floor for the mobile quarterback.
And the Eagles opponent on Sunday, the Falcons, should serve as a plus opponent for Hurts’ run game. Atlanta’s strength against the run last season came up the middle, but they struggled at times on the edge. 84% of Hurts’ designed runs last season came on the outside, utilizing the strength of the Eagles stellar offensive tackles.
With limited preseason reps for the passing offense, Hurts might be more inclined to run the ball himself, in an effort to keep the offense moving. I have the second-year quarterback’s ruhsing yards projected in the low 50s for Sunday.
Antonio Gibson (WFT) over 13.5 rushing attempts (-120)
Line available at time of publishing.
Any attempt-based prop relies more on gameplan than execution. Essentially, what is a team looking to do or not do offensively, and how will gamescript influence said plan. In this case, I’m banking on Washington to stay true to what they’ve been talking about doing, and that’s feeding Antonio Gibson the ball.
Towards the end of his rookie campaign, Gibson was fully entrenched as the Football Team’s lead back. In his last full five games (including the playoffs, and excluding games he was limited with an injury), Gibson was fed an average of 16.4 carries per game. And as a team, Washington averaged 21.8 carries per game by their running backs. I fully expect Gibson to take on a larger workload in his second season.
Traveling across the country, the Chargers take on WFT on Sunday. While Los Angeles did possess a better than average run defense last season, the spread for this game is 3 points (with Washington favored). With that, my expectation is that this battle remains close, allowing the run game to factor in for Washington deep into the 2nd half. My conservative projection has Gibson closer to 17 carries in this one, making over 13.5 a strong play.
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