NFL Player Prop Bets: Wild Card Saturday (2021)

Once again, I’m using DraftKings Sportsbook for props because of the volume they have to choose from. Still, I suggest that you do some line shopping for more favorable player totals across multiple sportsbooks if you have time. For instance, finding a lower yardage number for a player prop you like enhances your odds of cashing the over. Conversely, if you want an under and find a higher yardage total, the same idea applies.

Let’s take a look at a few player props for Wild Card Saturday that caught my attention.

View the best player prop bets for this week’s slate with our NFL Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>

Tyler Boyd Over 3.5 Receptions (-170)

Tyler Boyd has slipped to the clear-cut No. 3 receiver for the Bengals. However, that’s not a slight to Boyd. Instead, it speaks to the excellence of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Nevertheless, according to Pro-Football-Reference, the veteran slot receiver averaged 4.2 receptions per game.

In addition, Boyd went over 3.5 receptions in 11 of 16 games played, including four of his last five games. When the Bengals faced the Raiders in Week 11, Boyd led the Bengals with eight targets. But, obviously, that’s only a one-game sample.

Still, the matchup is theoretically good for him. According to Sharp Football Stats, the Raiders allowed the sixth-lowest average explosive pass rate (seven percent). As a result, Boyd is tailor-made to be peppered with targets against them in the rematch. According to Pro Football Focus, Boyd had an average target depth (aDot) of 8.0 yards downfield, much shorter than Higgins’ 12.2 aDot and Chase’s 13.6 aDot. Unfortunately, there’s significant juice on the over, but you don’t pay the juice if you cash. I like the over.

Mac Jones Under 205.5 Passing Yards (-115)

Mac Jones had stark home and road splits in his rookie season. He averaged 249.1 passing yards per game at home and only 194.9 yards on the road. However, his eight road games also included the crazy windy game in Buffalo in Week 13. Giving him a pass for his three-pass effort in that game, he still averaged only 220 passing yards on the road.

Sure, his road passing yardage over is north of 205.5 passing yards. Still, the Bills aren’t a run-of-the-mill pass defense. According to Football Outsiders, the Bills are first in pass defense Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). In traditional measures, they also put the clamps on passing attacks, allowing the fewest passing yards per game (163.0).

Finally, Buffalo flexed their pass defense muscles against Jones in the rematch in New England, holding the rookie signal-caller to 145 passing yards on 32 attempts. As a result, there’s a good chance Jones is overwhelmed by Buffalo’s pass defense in the rubber match. So, I’ll take the under on 205.5 passing yards.

Isaiah McKenzie Anytime Touchdown/Buffalo to Win (+800)

First, I caution against making a large wager on this longshot bet. However, this is precisely the type of play I like to sprinkle a little something on for a nifty payout.

Isaiah McKenzie was the surprise star in the second matchup against the Patriots. He was pressed into a meaningful role in the offense, with Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The shifty slot wideout clowned the Patriots, securing 11 of 12 targets for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Since then, he’s caught only two passes and rushed the ball twice. Nonetheless, there are a few reasons I’m intrigued by the potential for him reaching pay dirt. First, veteran film analyst Greg Cosell discussed on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast how McKenzie’s speed is a better stylistic fit for beating man coverage than Beasley’s skill-set. So, the Bills might go back to the well with McKenzie more this week after he torched the Patriots the first go-round.

Second, McKenzie has been used some in the red zone since his Week 16 outburst, toting the rock once and netting two targets in the two subsequent games. Third, McKenzie’s red-zone usage was a regular wrinkle in Buffalo’s high-octane 2020 offense. He passed for one touchdown, ran three times, and reeled in five of seven targets for three touchdowns in the red zone last year.

Finally, McKenzie has moonlighted as a return man (punts and kickoffs) for the Bills this year, giving him another longshot avenue to reaching pay dirt. Addressing the other part of the equation, the Bills are modest 4.0-point favorites. Thus, they’re not shoo-ins to beat their division rival. Regardless, I’m optimistic about their chances of winning after drilling the Patriots in the rematch.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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