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Betting NFL Props Using Math: Week 1

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The goal of this article is, of course, to provide winning picks. However, it’s also to provide a blueprint on how to cleverly bet props with math. Perhaps the most important point is then to show how math can sometimes be dangerous.

Suppose a receiver averages 65 yards per game, has a neutral matchup, and is projected for 65 yards, but is -100 for over 50 yards. Is this sufficient to say the over is a good bet? Not necessarily – the reason comes down to mean vs median. It may be the case that this receiver’s explosive games are so good that his median projection is under 50 yards even if his mean projection is 65 yards. With this in mind, let’s see if we can find some props with +EV by looking at a player’s past and future from a probabilistic point of view.

(Join this FREE contest at DraftKings Sportsbook to earn your share of $20,000.)

Julio Jones longest reception > 23.5 yards

(FanDuel Sportsbook, -110)

I talked at length about what we can learn from AJ Brown and Corey Davis as it pertains to Julio Jones’ fit with Tennessee in my correlated leverage and stacks article. Let’s use this application to investigate this prop:

Last year, Corey Davis’ longest reception was over 23.5 yards in 50% of his games. For AJ Brown, that percentage was 53.3%, and for Julio it was 55%. Already, we see promise for this prop, but the matchup makes it even better.

Arizona allowed the 7th most yards after the catch last season and their secondary screams explosive plays for opponents. Perhaps most important for this prop is the pace of this game. Faster pace = more plays = more opportunities to hit a long (enough) one. 

For what it’s worth, AJ Brown has the same line and odds for his longest reception, which I’m also betting.

Dalvin Cook > 96.5 rush yards 

(DraftKings Sportsbook, -115)

Cook went over this number in 64% of his games last season (often by a lot), and Cincinnati was dead last in gash rate allowed. In games where Minnesota was favored, Cook averaged an extra 1.4 rush attempts and 9.4 rush yards.

-115 is a gift.

Miles Sanders > 67.5 rush yards 

(MGM, +105)

Sanders went over this number in 50% of games last season and averages more rushing yards with Hurts despite stronger opponents. Atlanta was 11th worst in gash rate, but it’s Philly’s offensive line that really has me on this bet. In 2020, they were 17th in run block grade, after finishing 2nd, 5th, and 1st in the three years prior. Fully healthy to begin the year, I expect this rushing game to be consistent and explosive.

Travis Kelce > 7.5 receptions

(MGM, +110)

This line is egregious! Kelce went over this number in 67% of games last year, but that’s just the beginning. Cleveland was 8th in pace and their opponents ran the tenth most plays. Furthermore, in games with a 50+ total, Kelce averages an extra 1.5 receptions (another hat tip to the Splits Tool). 

This is a 2 unit bet for me.

For the rest of my bets, as well as all of the bets from our star-studded group, you know where to go!

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