We’ve finally seen enough football to give NFL bettors the chance to leverage information from the first couple of games and make educated bets! Brett Ford (@FadeThatMan) was all over Nico Collins’ smash game last week while Tyler Gentile (@808Paperboi) cashed in on an Anthony Richardson rushing touchdown (two of them, actually) for a nice pay day. Using expert analysis and diligent research, Brett and Tyler have compiled a list of the best places to leverage player performance for profit this week.
Please note: Listed lines and odds are subject to change from sportsbook to sportsbook, and may have moved since the article was written and posted.
Adam Thielen over 3.5 receptions (+100)
- Veteran route technician Adam Thielen reminded the entire NFL last week why he was so successful in Minnesota for so long, running excellent routes to create separation and showing elite hands to pull in and secure the football. Last week against the Saints, Thielen recorded seven receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. Those are hardly gaudy numberts, but they dwarfed the production of any other wide receiver on the roster.
- Thielen caught most of his balls at or around the line of scrimmage. With an average depth of target of 6.2 yards through two games this season, he has been the short-to-intermediate target for Bryce Young so far this season. Enter veteran Andy Dalton, who will likely be distributing the ball to short and intermediate areas of the field against the Seahawks on Sunday. In 2022 with the Saints, Dalton averaged only 7.6 yards per throw. He’s not looking for the deep ball.
- With Matt Ryan under center last year, Frank Reich kept his veteran quarterback limited in his route distribution. Ryan averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt, proving that Reich wanted his quarterback looking in the short-to-intermediate areas for his receivers. That’s where Thielen will be on Sunday.
- In the first two weeks of the season, the Seahawks pass defense has allowed Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff to absolutely dice them up through the air. Andy Dalton can’t be much worse than both of those quarterbacks, right?
- Thielen had four catches in the first quarter last week against a Saints’ defense that pressured Bryce Young quite a bit. With the idea that the Panthers’ offensive line may similarly struggle to protect Dalton on Sunday against Seattle, the offensive gameplan may be relatively similar.
Stefon Diggs over 70.5 rushing + receiving yards (-115)
- Okay, so your first question is clearly “Why are we including the rushing yards here?” Well, the sportsbook I used had Diggs listed at over 69.5 receiving yards with -130 odds. By adding one yard to the total, I was able to find a better line at -115. The point: SHOP AROUND for your prop totals and odds. Some sportsbooks will have better odds than others, specifically in the player prop markets, so be sure to look at each one to find where you can get the best totals at the best prices.
- Last season, Diggs topped this number in 11 out of 17 regular season games, and he crushed it in Week 1, when he topped 100 yards receiving. He was well on his way to exceeding this total again in Week 2, but the Bills called just four pass plays in the fourth quarter after building a massive lead over the Raiders.
- Commanders’ free safety Percy Butler has struggled in his first two weeks, receiving the lowest PFF grades on the entire Washington defense in each of the first two weeks of the season. Meanwhile, cornerback Emmanuel Forbes earned a poor PFF grade last week, snatching an interception but also taking a bad beat on a long touchdown.
- In Week 2 against Washington, the Broncos picked apart the Commanders secondary as Russell Wilson threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Marvin Mims topped 100 yards while Brandon Johnson and Courtland Sutton each reached 66 yards receiving. Wait until this defense lines up against a household name.
- Diggs has commanded a 27.0% target share in the Buffalo offense, accumulating 33.8% of Buffalo’s air yards so far this season. Unless this game reaches blow out proportions early, Diggs should easily surpass the 70-yard threshold for receiving yards.
AJ Dillon under 45.5 rushing yards (-110)
Edit: Aaron Jones has been ruled out. Most lines have Dillon up to 62.5 rushing yards or thereabouts. Though I still lean under, I’m not as confident as I was before the Jones news.
- In a two-week sample size, Dillon has been largely unimpressive so far this year. As the Packers’ lead back against the Falcons, Dillon managed just 55 rushing yards on 15 carries, averaging 3.7 yards per carry which isn’t terrible against a Falcons’ run defense that seems to be playing better than last year. His Week 1 performance was horrific, however: he recorded just 19 yards on 13 carries against a Bears defense that was gashed by his teammate Aaron Jones (and subsequently, Rachaad White in Week 2).
- In Week 3, Dillon faces a Saints defense that has been stout against the run, allowing just 59 rushing yards to running backs a week ago against the Panthers and capping Derrick Henry and the Titans’ running backs at just 90 rushing yards in Week 1.
- It appears that Dillon will face competition for carries in the Packers’ backfield once again as Aaron Jones was back at practice on Thursday and Friday. With the way the Saints have defended the run, especially between the tackles, combined with the split workload, it puts Dillon in a tough spot for yardage on Sunday.
Taysom Hill anytime touchdown (+210)
- Jamaal Williams is out on Sunday after tweaking a hamstring his last time out. Although Tony Jones received most of the Saints’ goal line carries on Monday night against the Panthers, Hill did get three red zone opportunities, rushing twice from inside the 10-yard line and throwing one pass.
- The Green Bay Packers’ defense has already seen a pair of mobile athletes under center, facing Justin Fields and Desmond Ridder in the first two weeks. They weren’t impressive against either in the run game with Fields rushing for 59 yards and Ridder gaining 39 yards on the ground.
- Hill ranks fourth on the Saints in target share (8%), and has been on the field for just 28% of offensive snaps so far this season. However, he ranks second among Saints skill position players in utility share, the percentage of snaps that the player touched the ball or was targeted, ranking only behind Jamaal Williams, who we’ve already established will miss Sunday’s game.
- Sometimes, you just feel a Taysom Hill touchdown coming. This feels like a Taysom Hill touchdown game.
Ryan Tannehill under 197.5 passing yards (-115)
- Tannehill has topped this total in each of his first two games, throwing for 198 yards against the Saints in Week 1 and then tossing a season-best 246 yards against the porous Los Angeles Chargers’ defense in Week 2. He has not faced a pass defense anywhere near the caliber of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have allowed just 133.5 passing yards per game.
- On Monday night against Pittsburgh, the Cleveland pass defense allowed Kenny Pickett to throw for 222 passing yards. Nearly a third of that production came on one big play, a 71-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown by George Pickens. It took a terribly busted coverage for Pickett to break the 200-yard threshold. Without the one broken play, the Browns would have held their opponent to nearly 150 passing yards after holding Joe Burrow and the explosive Bengals’ offense to under 100 pass yards in Week 1.
- Against elite pass defenses, Tannehill has thrown for more than 200 yards just once in the past two seasons. In four games against top-seven pass defenses in the NFL a year ago, Tannehill topped 197.5 passing yards just once.
- Left guard Peter Skoronski will miss Week 3, weakening the Tennessee offensive line that has already allowed eight sacks in two games. Myles Garrett and the Browns front four should have Tannehill on the move quite a bit, shortening his time in the pocket and making it difficult for him to remain accurate.
- Cleveland ranks third in the NFL in opponent plays per game, meaning that the Browns slow the pace of play for the opposing offense giving them less opportunity to make plays and gain yards.
Josh Jacobs over 71.5 rushing yards (-125)
- Jacobs has rushed for just 46 yards in two games, averaging just 1.6 yards per carry in his first two contests of the season. He’s been dreadful, yet his rushing yards prop for Sunday night is all the way up to 71.5 rushing yards.
- Jacobs topped 71.5 rushing yards in nine of his 17 games last season, recording at least 20 carries in each of those games. In Week 1 at Denver, the Raiders showed the commitment to the run that they had most of last season, running with Jacobs 19 times. They abandoned the run quickly last week, with Jacobs receiving just nine carries for negative yardage. In a game that the Raiders are projected to win (-2.5 favorites), they should be handing the ball off to Jacobs quite a bit.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled against the run so far this season, allowing nearly 200 rushing yards against Cleveland on Monday Night Football and giving up 188 rushing yards against the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener. They’ve faced two of the best rushing attacks so far this season, but they’ve been gashed by both. The Raiders haven’t been great on the ground this season, but it makes sense for them to establish the run game at home on Sunday night against the Steelers.
- The Steelers allowed Nick Chubb to rush for 64 yards before his gruesome injury on Monday night, and then gave up over 100 yards to his backup, Jerome Ford. Christian McCaffrey ran for more than 150 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 1. The Steelers have given up 6.7 yards per carry to primary running backs this season. Is that a cherry-picking stat? Maybe…but Vegas doesn’t seem to think so.
- Pittsburgh is on a short week, having just battled a division rival and earned a very gutsy victory. Now they have to travel three time zones west to take on the Raiders on Sunday night. Fatigue enters the equation for the Steelers, and that could come into play with a 223-lb battering ram slamming into their defense all night with a football in hand.
Zay Flowers over 4.5 receptions (+105)
- Flowers might be my favorite wide receiver on the entire slate for Sunday’s action. His matchup, circumstance and usage so far this season all add up to a potentially massive game against the Colts.
- We just watched Nico Collins and the Houston Texans offense go for a record day against this Colts’ secondary. Collins popped off for a career-high 146 receiving yards while Robert Woods and Tank Dell each went for more than 70 yards as well. Granted, the Ravens won’t likely throw the ball 47 times like the Texans did, but Flowers won’t need that many attempts to reach this number.
- The Ravens will be without starting offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and Tyler Linderbaum, likely reducing the amount of time that Lamar Jackson will have in the pocket and forcing him to get rid of the ball earlier. There’s no receiver in the Ravens’ offense better suited for short-to-intermediate routes than Flowers. His shiftiness and elusiveness in space makes him ideal for short slants, screens and quick-hitting routes that the Ravens may utilize with a tattered offensive line.
- Baltimore will also be without Odell Beckham Jr., freeing up a lot of targets in the Ravens’ passing game and forcing them to rely upon the rookie even more.
BONUS: Any player to record 200+ receiving yards on Sunday: YES (+900)
- With the Chargers, Vikings, Chiefs, Ravens and Browns all in plus matchups for pass production, it’s very possible that one or more superstars reaches 200 yards on Sunday afternoon (or evening).
- A player has reached 200 yards receiving in three of the last seven weeks of regular season football, dating back to last season. In Week 1 of this year, Tyreek Hill reached the milestone. Mike Evans topped 200 yards in Week 17 of last season while Justin Jefferson went for 223 yards in Week 14.
Calvin Ridley over 66.5 receiving yards (-115)
- This Jaguars offense is frustrated after last week’s nine-point output against Kansas City. They should rebound nicely in this spot facing a beat-up Texans secondary.
- Only one starter will be available in their secondary, and Jacksonville loves to throw. They are 3rd in pass rate over expectation so far this season.
- Ridley converted only two of his eight targets last week for 32 yards. As the alpha of the wide-receiver group, he and Lawrence will want to get their chemistry flowing back to the way it went down in Week 1 when he finished with 101 yards on eight receptions.
Roschon Johnson over 39.5 rushing+receiving yards (-115)
- Dan Graziano recently reported that it wouldn’t be surprising to see Roschon Johnson take over as the lead back soon.
- Khalil Herbert hasn’t really done anything to run away with the job, and might be suited better as a change of pace back, the way he was featured last season.
- The Bears 4th Round rookie has flashed his potential in the touches he has received so far this season. Last week he had a 4-32 line on the ground, 2-10 through the air, and in Week 1 had a 6-35 line via the passing game, and 5-20 on the ground with a touchdown.
- Considering they are taking on the Chiefs, the Bears will undoubtedly be playing from behind as +12.5 underdogs. That will likely lead to more passing and Roshon has been the one to benefit the most in the passing game so far.
- The Chiefs have routinely given up a lot of receiving production to running backs over the last few seasons with Patrick Mahomes around. Teams are forced to play in catch-up mode and last season the Chiefs allowed the most receptions to opposing running backs.
- A similar outcome to the Bears drubbing against Green Bay looks to be in the cards here. In that game, Roschon finished with 55 combined yards on 11 touches.
Josh Jacobs over 71.5 rushing yards (-115)
- The 2022 rushing leader has not gotten off to the best start to his season, to put it kindly. The Raiders had to abandon the run last week, playing in catch-up mode to Buffalo. In Week 1, Josh Jacobs only had 48 yards on the ground through 19 carries.
- With this sluggish start to the season for their workhorse back, the Raiders will want to get their stud running back rolling especially given the matchup on hand.
- Pittsburgh has been a run-funnel through the first two weeks of the season and is clearly seeing the effects of not having their run-stuffing lineman Cameron Hayward.
- They allowed 152 yards to Christian McCaffrey on 22 carries in Week 1, and Jerome Ford finished with 106 yards on 16 attempts, filling in for Nick Chubb after his injury. Chubb had 64 yards through 10 carries before being carted off early in the 2nd quarter.
- Despite his lackluster start, Jacobs is still the bell cow on this offense and has received 28 of the 33 rushing attempts on the team. Look for him to finally break out in this fantastic matchup.
Puka Nacua o62.5 receiving yards (-115)
- Even once Cooper Kupp returns, Puka Nacua is here to stay. Matthew Stafford is force-feeding him the ball and Nacua has 35 targets in the first two weeks of the season. That has resulted in a 10-119 receiving line in Week 1, and 15-147 in Week 2.
- Stafford has always been a receiver-friendly quarterback over the years. For evidence, see Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate, Robert Woods, and obviously Cooper Kupp and Calvin Johnson as well.
- Additionally, the Rams are a pass-heavy team. They rank sixth in pass rate over expectation so far this season. The Bengals secondary is nothing to be too concerned about, either; they rank 20th in dropback EPA/play so far in the early part of the season.
- There is some concern about whether or not Joe Burrow will suit up or not, but I lean toward the belief that he will play, and the Rams defense is 24th in EPA/play so far this season. There should be enough scoring in this contest to prevent the Rams from settling into a run-heavy approach early on.
- More than anything, this play is about the sheer volume Nacua is getting. It’s simply too strong to ignore and this line doesn’t appear to have caught up to the usage he is getting.
Bijan Robinson o70.5 rushing yards (-115)
- Yeah, this guy is the real deal. He led all running backs with 126 rush yards on 19 carries last week and all this Atlanta team wants to do is pound the rock.
- They are dead last in pass rate over expectation by a wide margin, similar to last season. They stuck to the running game down 12 going into the 4th quarter against Green Bay last week.
- The Lions haven’t really been tested on the ground just yet after facing Kansas City (1st in PROE) and Seattle (4th) so far this year. Last year, they were 27th in rush EPA/play.
Justin Jefferson anytime TD (+105)
- This game is set up for shootout potential. The game total is the highest of the week at 53.5.
- So, how is Justin Jefferson, whose receiving line is set at 100.5, +105 to score a touchdown?
- The Chargers have been the worst passing defense so far this year and are dead last in dropback EPA/play.
- Jefferson somehow has yet to score this season. He’s due. As a matter of fact, the line for 2+ touchdowns is +650 at DraftKings. Hmm…
Mike Williams over 59.5 receiving yards (-115)
- It only feels right to add someone else to this offensive showdown, so let’s target Mike Williams for a second consecutive week.
- He finished with eight grabs for 83 yards last week and once again gets a favorable matchup against this Vikings secondary that feels bound to regress closer to last year’s numbers. They allowed the most passing yards to wide receivers in 2022.
- The Chargers will once again be without Austin Ekeler, which could open up more opportunities for Williams in the passing game. He has been a target monster in this new offense led by Kellen Moore.
- As stated in the Jefferson touchdown wager, this game is bound to be a back-and-forth scoring affair with plenty of offensive production to go along to multiple weapons. I’m also going to play Jordan Addison over 50.5 receiving yards,
Jahmyr Gibbs over 24.5 receiving yards (-115)
- The Lions will be without David Montgomery for the foreseeable future, which should open up plenty of additional playing time for Gibbs, who has played second fiddle to Montgomery so far in terms of total touches.
- When Monty left the game, Gibbs split carries with Craig Reynolds. Small sample size, but each had three apiece.
- With that being said, Gibbs saw plenty of more usage in the passing game last week. The 12th overall pick in this season’s NFL Draft saw nine targets, finishing with seven receptions and 39 yards.
- He has been lining up on the perimeter and in the slot regularly, and there’s no reason to think that will change.
- Jared Goff always has a low aDOT (average depth of target) and his favorite targets have typically come out of the slot. Amon-Ra St. Brown, assuming he plays through injury, will get his, but we’re only asking for 25 yards through the air from Gibbs here. If last week was an indicator of anything, it’s that Gibbs will be a factor in the passing game.
Rachaad White under 46.5 rushing yards (-120)
- No offense has any business running the ball on this elite Philadelphia Eagles front seven. They have the 3rd best rush EPA/play, stifled Rhamondre Stevenson to the tune of 25 yards on 12 carries, and held Alexander Mattison to 28 yards on 8 attempts.
- Don’t let last week’s game against that pathetic Chicago defense fool you. White is not a good running back, and the Tampa Bay offensive line isn’t special, either. In fact, PFF has them ranked as the worst run-blocking unit in the NFL.
- The way to beat the Eagles is through the air. Look at how well Cousins performed against them: 31/44, 364 yards, and 4 TDs. Even Mac Jones looked decent and threw for 314 yards against the Eagles.
As bettors, we must remember to maintain discipline throughout the course of the season. There are 18 weeks of football in the regular season alone, not to mention the playoffs. There’s no need to wager the entire bankroll in one week. However, as you accumulate winnings, don’t be afraid to incrementally increase unit size. Create a plan and stick to it. There’s no reason to go crazy on just one football Sunday.
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Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Dustin Bradford / Icon Sportswire