The regular season wraps up this weekend and what a year it has been, especially for Educated Bets and its followers! In 17 weeks of football action, Educated Bets selections have cashed at a near 50% rate (56-61) but bettors have raked in nearly 20 units of profit, meaning a bettor that placed $10 on every posted bet would be up nearly $200 over the course of the season. Not bad for a free weekly column!
Week 18 poses an interesting proposition: with so many players resting or not necessarily exerting full effort because their teams are either out of contention or have already locked up their playoff berth and seeding, some unique opportunities have been created for players that may not have been on our radar otherwise. There are also contract incentives to consider in the final week of the regular season, just to throw in another wrinkle. With two games on Saturday and the rest of the slate playing Sunday, Brett Ford (@FadeThatMan) takes us through his best NFL Week 18 player prop bets.
Dalton Schultz over 43.5 receiving yards (-120)
- Dalton Schultz enters Week 18 within reach of a couple of contract incentives, needing six catches for a $250,000 bonus and 107 receiving yards for another $250,000 incentive. Of course, the Houston Texans are one of the teams that are playing for a whole lot more than bonus money this weekend.
- Facing the Indianapolis Colts, this game is essentially a pre-Wild Card round playoff game, with the winner of the contest clinching a playoff berth (and a chance at an AFC South title if the Jacksonville Jaguars lose to the Titans). Both teams will be pulling out all of the stops offensively and getting their best players the ball.
- Schultz has excelled this season against zone defenses, which the Colts play at a heavy rate. Not only that, but wide receiver Noah Brown has already been ruled out while Robert Woods hasn’t logged a practice all week. Schultz should be the second pass-catching weapon in the Texans’ hierarchy behind only Nico Collins.
Charlie Kolar anytime touchdown (+550)
- The Baltimore Ravens have already clinched a playoff berth, an AFC North title, and the top overall seed in the AFC, so they are resting their starters for Saturday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Isaiah Likely will probably not see much field time (if he hasn’t already been ruled out by the time this is published) meaning that Charlie Kolar will be seeing the most tight end snaps for the Ravens on Saturday.
- Kolar has shown flashes of his pass-catching ability with a handful of grabs this year, including a red zone target in which he was brought down inside the three-yard line. Though the Ravens’ offense will be down to its bare bones, Tyler Huntley has shown that he can be productive under center, and there are enough weapons here to make me believe this team can still move the ball for a couple of touchdown drives against a Steelers defense that has been relatively uninspiring for most of the year.
- Regardless of personnel, the Ravens have made the tight end a focal point of their offense, highlighting both Mark Andrews and Likely throughout the season. There’s reason to believe that if Baltimore can get the ball into scoring position, Kolar will be targeted in the red zone for a scoring opportunity or two.
D.J. Moore over 4.5 receptions (-140)
- The Chicago Bears may have been eliminated from playoff contention, but Justin Fields is playing for his job, full stop. With rumors swirling that he may be traded as the Bears look toward the future with their 2024 draft capital, including at quarterback, it would heavily benefit Chicago to showcase their current franchise quarterback…and who better to feature in that effort than his number one wide receiver, D.J. Moore.
- Moore has snagged at least five receptions in 10 games this season, but was held to just two catches in the season opener against this Green Bay Packers team. However, the secondary that he’ll line up against on Sunday looks a lot different than it did in Week 1.
- The Packers rank 27th in the NFL in passing defense DVOA and have struggled against upper-echelon wide receivers, having allowed at least five receptions to the opposing top wide receiver in six of their last seven games, including four straight.
- In some places, this number has already climbed to 5.5 receptions, and I’m comfortable taking him to reach that total as well, though I would hope the odds would be better.
Kenneth Walker III over 55.5 rushing yards (-125)
- The Seattle Seahawks square off against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and need a victory (along with some help) to reach the playoffs as a Wild Card. Pete Carroll knows this and will likely try to win with the blueprint that this team has followed most of the season. Run the ball, kill the clock, play solid defense, and outlast the opponent.
- Last week, the Seahawks got away from that approach, rushing only 15 times (compared to 33 pass attempts) in a loss to the Steelers. I expect an over-correction tilting the offense back to the ground, with Kenneth Walker III as the main beneficiary.
- The Cardinals haven’t done much to inspire confidence in their rushing defense, ranking 31st in the NFL in rush defense DVOA while allowing the fourth-most yards per run on the season.
- Walker and the Seahawks have faced this Cardinals team once already this season, with Walker racking up 105 rushing yards on 26 carries. He may not get quite that heavy of a load with Zach Charbonnet more involved now than earlier in the season, but he should definitely see enough work to top this meager total.
- Food for thought: Walker is also listed at +1600 to record the most rushing yards of any player on Sunday’s 14-game slate (on DraftKings).
For those who read along for the entirety of the season, thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. It’s been extremely rewarding for me to share my picks and see people on social media and in the Discord share their winners. Just like anything else in this industry, sports betting is much more fun when you’re part of a community.
Up to this point, we’ve hopefully all been judicious and intelligent with our bet sizing and only wagering what we were willing to lose while still building a nice little bankroll throughout the season. The big weeks may not have been as big as they could have been, but the down weeks didn’t hurt as bad, either. We created a plan and stuck to it and we can walk away with some cash in our pockets after all is said and done! Thanks again for reading, and good luck this weekend!
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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter/X)