Player Props: Panthers at Texans

A new set of player props for this week's Thursday Night Football matchup.

All season, the staff at QB List are going to be picking out some of their favorite player prop bets for each game of the NFL season. Check in each week before games start to see our picks and (hopefully) see some solid advice! We’ll be keeping score as the season goes to check the accuracy of our bets. 

Adam’s Betting Record: 9-10

Well, it appears I’ve cooled off quite a bit since my 3-0 start to the season. I’m just gonna chalk last week up to being way too ambitious about Andy Dalton and the Saints’ defense. I won’t make that same mistake again. This week is a new slate and a new chance to chalk up some W’s. Tonight’s matchup is going to be intriguing.

The Texans had a strong initial showing against Jacksonville, manhandling Trevor Lawrence and Co. Then, they played the Browns much better than I expected them to, in part because Texans QB Tyrod Taylor was 10/11 for 125 yards and a TD. Then, Taylor was injured at the end of the first half, so rookie QB Davis Mills will be the man under center for the Texans against the Panthers.

The Panthers are a bit of a different story, having won back-to-back games heading into this matchup. They took care of the Jets and then, in quite a surprise (to me, anyway), blasted the Saints, 26-7. QB Sam Darnold has been a solid-ish option under center. RB Christian McCaffrey has been Christian McCaffrey. And, the defense has held up fairly well thus far. However, remember that the defense has now had the pleasure of facing QB Zach Wilson in his rookie debut and the highly variable QB Jameis Winston, in what was undoubtedly a ‘down’ performance. So, temper your expectations for this Panthers squad until they produce results against solid, proven teams.

Luckily, they won’t play against a solid, proven QB this week, which means the defense has the opportunity to feast on Davis Mills and a mediocre Texans offensive line.

Here are my picks for this Thursday Night Football matchup:

 

Sam Darnold OVER 265.5 Passing Yards (DK, -115)

 

On Fanduel: Sam Darnold OVER 258.5 Passing Yards (

QB Sam Darnold should pass for more than 265.5 yards because the Panthers should be able to move the ball up and down the field against a subpar Texans defense, meaning that Darnold will have plenty of easy opportunities to complete passes and pick up yardage.

The Texans have the 5th-best DVOA against the pass this season, but I think that’s misleading because, in Week 1, the Texans were blessed enough to defend QB Trevor Lawrence (39th among 44 QBs in the NFL, according to PFF rating) in his rookie debut. Lawrence completed 28/51 passes and threw for 3 INTs against the Texans. When the Texans faced QB Baker Mayfield in Week 2, he completed 19/21 passes for a TD and an INT. So, I’m not sold on the Texans defense as a particularly good unit.

The Texans will also be without highly-regarded S Justin Reid and solid LB Kamu Grugier-Hill. Reid was among the highest-rated Texans players in coverage defense, according to PFF (and has been since 2018). Grugier-Hill was one of the top-rated pass rushers in Houston’s game against the Browns and was a highly-rated pass rusher last season for Miami. Missing those two players, plus another starting CB, Terrance Mitchell (well-rated against the pass by PFF), should hurt the Texans’ defense, especially against Darnold.

Plus, Darnold has passed for over 265.5 yards in both games this season. Against the Jets, Darnold whipped the ball around for 279 yards, while he threw for 305 yards against the Saints, although those are two very different defenses and according to two very different game scripts. Even with the game script potentially against him (even though the Texans have been surprisingly decent, this one looks like the Panthers’ game to lose), Darnold should have enough opportunities to throw and reach the 265-yard mark.

Also consider: Sam Darnold OVER 1.5 Passing TDs (DK, -160)

 

Mark Ingram OVER 36.5 Rushing Yards (DK, -115)

 

On Fanduel: Mark Ingram OVER 35.5 Rushing Yards (-113)

RB Mark Ingram might be one of the least exciting RB1s in the NFL at this stage of his career. But, you can’t really argue that Ingram is going to have opportunities to run the ball against the Panthers, especially with a rookie QB under center for the Texans. The Texans have said all the right things from a fantasy perspective about “establishing the run” or wanting to support Davis Mills in his first start by handing the ball off. Mills certainly needs the help after completing 8/18 passes for 102 yards, a TD, and an INT in the second half of last week’s game against the Browns.

So, I think Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and David Johnson should see a fair amount of handoffs, but the Texans appear to be committed to Ingram as the leader of their backfield for the time being. Take a look at the carry distribution from the first two weeks of the season:

Texans RB Carry/Yardage Distribution, Weeks 1 and 2

Besides an incredibly ugly yard per carry metric, the main point of this chart is to show that Ingram is the RB1 for the time being. And, he should see double-digit carries this week, even with an unfavorable game script for the Texans.

So, with the Texans looking to support QB Davis Mills in his debut, look for Ingram and the rest of the over-the-hill, non-explosive Texans RBs to get the ball early and often, even if they will undoubtedly struggle to find much running room behind a mediocre offensive line. The opportunities should be adequate enough to compensate for the subpar matchup.

Also consider: Mark Ingram OVER 43.5 Rushing + Receiving Yards (DK, -120)

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