Welcome back to Educated Bets! We look to build momentum after a solid Week 6 where picks went 4-2 for a humble little profit. Ryan Tannehill threw us a nice little pick before exiting the game in London while Kyle Pitts, Darnell Mooney and TJ Hockenson each came through with some solid receiving stats to help us build the bankroll. Week 7 presents a tough slate with a number of teams on the bye and a handful of interesting matchups to handicap. Brett Ford (@FadeThatMan) lists his favorite player props for the weekend’s games in this week’s edition of Educated Bets.
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.
Christian Watson over 50.5 receiving yards (-115)
- There may not be a player in all of the NFL who benefitted from their bye week more than Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson. Watson played in the Packers’ two previous contests after opening the season with an injury but should be back to full health for Sunday’s game against a very exploitable Denver Broncos defense.
- Watson saw an increase in targets from his first game (4) to his second game (7) but has caught just five balls so far this season. With an extra two weeks to get up to speed and synchronize his timing with quarterback Jordan Love, Watson should ascend to Green Bay’s top receiving option once again.
- Alpha receivers have done the Broncos dirty so far this season, including last week when Travis Kelce brought in nine catches for 124 yards. In addition to Kelce, DJ Moore and Tyreek Hill each torched this secondary as well. Patrick Surtain II has been very good so far this season, ranked second among cornerbacks in PFF grade, while Damarri Mathis has not. And so far this year, Surtain has not shadowed receivers in the Broncos defensive scheme.
- Watson could reach the 50-yard receiving threshold in just two or three receptions. His average depth of target (aDOT) ranks third in the NFL at 19.8 yards while his 37.5% air yards share in the two games he has played ranks 15th in the league.
- With the Vegas spread set favoring the Packers by just one point, this projects as a close game throughout. The game script doesn’t indicate anything concerning as far as lessening Watson’s workload. Saddle up and ride this young receiver to the window this week before his totals start to rise!
Craig Reynolds under rushing yards (Still waiting for lines)
- Reynolds might step into a more prominent role in the Detroit Lions backfield this week with David Montgomery missing the game with an injury. However, this isn’t just a one-for-one swap with Montgomery as the bell cow or early-down guy. In Week 3, when Montgomery missed, instead of deploying Reynolds as the early down guy and Gibbs reprising his pass-catching/change-of-pace role, the Lions put Gibbs in as the featured runner while Reynolds was the third-down back.
- Reynolds toted the ball just four times in the Week 3 win over the Falcons despite a positive game script. He received less than half the snaps that Gibbs was on the field for, with Gibbs carrying 17 times.
- The Ravens’ defense has been stingy against the run all season, ranking third in the NFL in rush defense DVOA while owning the lowest yards per carry mark in the league.
- The Lions have shown a penchant so far this season to keep the ball in the hands of their best playmakers with a very narrow distribution of opportunities in both the passing game and the run game. Assuming that Reynolds will have a similar role to his Week 3 performance, he should be on the outside looking in at his teammates getting most of the opportunities.
- Though this line is not available as of Friday night (potentially due to the fact that Reynolds is battling minor toe and hamstring injuries), it’s definitely one that I’m targeting once it is released.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba over 34.5 receiving yards (-105)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba anytime TD (+215)
- It’s time for Jaxon Smith-Njigba to have a breakout game. The Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver has been kept out of the end zone in his first handful of games but saw an uptick in usage coming out of the bye week.
- JSN was on the field for a season-high 72 percent of offensive snaps and had an 81 percent route participation rate in the Seahawks’ Week 6 loss to the Bengals. Meanwhile, his average depth of target increased to a season-high 7.4 yards as well.
- Seattle’s top receiver DK Metcalf is rumored to be hampered by an injury heading into this game. He may miss it entirely, but even if he suits up it may be more of a decoy situation than anything else.
- The Arizona Cardinals’ pass defense has not been impressive this season, ranking 31st in the NFL in pass defense DVOA and ranking 21st in yards per pass. The Cardinals will also be missing two projected starters in the secondary this week.
- Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase, and Brandon Aiyuk have each gone off against this Cardinals squad in consecutive weeks, each recording at least 140 receiving yards in their games. Obviously, JSN isn’t on the level of any of those receivers (yet), but he certainly doesn’t need to be in their stratosphere in order to post a modest-or-better yardage total and potentially find the end zone.
Rashee Rice over 38.5 receiving yards (-115)
- This is a game that fantasy managers and sports bettors should have circled at the beginning of the season. Patrick Mahomes and the prolific Kansas City Chiefs passing offense go up against the Los Angeles Chargers, one of the league’s most exploitable passing defenses.
- The Chiefs’ receiving corps outside of Travis Kelce has been a hot mess so far this season, but Rice has been the most consistent with 21 targets across his last four games. Rice has topped 40 yards in just two games so far this season, but his role in the offense has consistently grown.
- Justin Watson is injured and will likely miss Sunday’s contest against the Chargers, allowing Rice to further expand his role. With Watson banged up and the Chargers likely keying on Kelce, Rice should be on the field and open enough times to get a solid amount of targets. It also helps that the Chiefs are coming off of a Thursday night game, giving them a little extra time to prepare and integrate Rice further into the offense.
- The Chargers’ pass defense has been downright dreadful when Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa aren’t getting pressure on the quarterback. Los Angeles has been torched by a handful of elite wide receivers this season. Not to say that Rice is in that sort of echelon, but he’s the most efficient receiver the Chiefs have that isn’t dating Taylor Swift.
Brandon Aiyuk over 67.5 receiving yards (-115)
- Don’t stop targeting this Minnesota Vikings pass defense just because they posted one good week against the Chicago Bears.
- Aiyuk has topped this total in three of five contests so far this season and the San Francisco 49ers could be without Deebo Samuel and maybe even Christian McCaffrey in their Monday night matchup against the Vikings.
- In the past month, Aiyuk has ranked fifth among all NFL wide receivers in PFF grade, with a 90.2 score. He’s also generated a 62 percent share of the 49ers’ air yards in the past month as well.
- Though the Vikings’ defense has tightened a bit since allowing more than 200 yards to Keenan Allen in Week 3, Minnesota is still vulnerable to alpha wide receivers. With a chance at an increased opportunity share and going against a secondary that has been exposed earlier this season, Aiyuk could reach this total rather easily and may even be worth exploring alternate receiving yard lines, including 100 or more yards at +280 odds.
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.
Do you or a loved one have a problem with gambling? Call 1-800-426-2537 for confidential help and support.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter/X)