When it comes to our gambling and DFS content this year, I’m going to stay in my lane because I play only certain types of DFS games, and I don’t approach gambling from an ideal perspective simply because I’m not particularly obsessed with wagering.
However, I do enjoy winning, and I love being right, and these two activities give me a chance to satisfy both urges.
I’ll get into my DFS specialty heading into Week 1 when I post my first DFS article, so stay tuned for that. As for gambling, I’ve made game and O/U picks on the radio the last two years, and my results have been pretty good, but they aren’t my specialty. As someone who has built and managed player projections for over 20 years, player props are right in my wheelhouse for obvious reasons. Last year, for example, staff member Paul Kelly checked my projections each week and pulled out 20-25 props that were significantly off my actual totals. Often times, my numbers are extremely close to the prop, which is annoying, but there are always exceptions. Early in the 2019 season, through the first 5-6 weeks, Paul claimed that the picks he got from my projections by isolating the major discrepancies were winning at a 75% clip. Things did settle down after that and it was harder once the books caught up to the performance on the field, but I was over 60% for the season, which is obviously solid.
So for my first article in our gambling section, I’m staying in that player prop world and see if the process Paul has implemented will work for the entire season and some choice props. I didn’t have time to go through all the books, but I was able to focus on DraftKings and pull out my favorite picks. I will say, though, that it appears as if DK has built in some protection for potential games missed, so many of the props are on the lower side, especially for the QBs. It’s a little scary to primarily go with Overs, since injuries are always a concern, but I feel confident that the picks I’ve made below are sound, so I’ll let the chips fall where they may.
Note: It goes without saying, but I’ll still say it: these bets are all assuming the NFL plays all 16 games.
QB Passing Yards Props
Note: Picks listed in order of the biggest discrepancies between the prop and my projection.
Jimmy Garoppolo OVER 3700.5 passing yards - This one is a little scary due to their WR injuries, but Dante Pettis has re-emerged, and there’s optimism Debo Samuel can play early in the season. Plus Trent Taylor has looked great again in camp, and he and Jimmy G have chemistry. Garoppolo is usually very efficient, so when I plugged in and looked at the numbers to do his projections, he came out with 4200 yards passing.
My projection vs. the prop: +499.5 yards
Ryan Tannehill OVER 3450 passing yards - I’m sure members of Tannehill’s family expect regression from him this year, at least in terms of his efficiency, like his completion percentage, yards per attempt, etc. That’s fair, but I don’t think 2019 was a fluke, and I expect them to open things up just a little more this year and expand their passing game. I have Tannehill with 3925 yards passing.
My projection vs. the prop: +475 yards
Josh Allen OVER 3300.5 passing yards - The Bills will still be a run-heavy offense, but Allen is hoping to run less, and it would likely boost his passing totals if he did. I fully expect him to take off and run plenty, but they’d like for him to check the ball down to his RBs more this year, which in theory will take away from his running. But what some people don’t realize is that his passing improved in the intermediate area last year. Additionally, his deep accuracy looks improved this year in camp. Stefon Diggs has been very good so far and has worked privately with Allen, and he will really help with his YAC yardage, so I feel good about this wager. I have him with 3675 passing yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +374.5 yards
Russell Wilson OVER 3900.5 passing yards - I doubt they will throw much more, but they may throw more early in games to grab a lead, which will probably help his yardage totals. They’ve already signed Josh Gordon, and they already brought back Paul Richardson. Wilson is an easy guy to project usually, in terms of the final numbers at the end of the season. I have him with 4275 passing yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +374.5 yards
Baker Mayfield OVER 3750.5 passing yards - I’ve been in on the Browns all year, and I love how we have not heard much from Baker this summer, which is a good thing. I know it will be a run-heavy offense, but I just think Baker will have noticeably more success when he does throw it. It starts with their revamped OL, and Baker will now have a reliable target in the middle of the field in TE Austin Hooper. I have him conservatively with 4115 passing yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +364.5 yards
Joe Burrow OVER 3700.5 passing yards - Oh, this is so happening. Burrow will perform well this year, despite the unusual challenges for a rookie because the 24-year old is no ordinary rookie. Very quietly, they have assembled one of the best WR corps in the league, and their top two RBs can do a lot in the passing game. The only thing missing is an athletic TE, but C.J. Uzoma will have to do this year. I have him with 4045, which isn’t a huge discrepancy, but keep in mind I’m purposefully conservative with his projection due to the lack of an off-season. My projection vs. the prop: +344.5 yards
Dak Prescott OVER 4275.5 passing yards - This one’s a little surprising, since he threw for 4902 last year - and they added CeeDee Lamb, who has flashed all summer. I also expect their defense to take a step back, at least on the back end, with top corner Byron Jones gone. I have the durable Prescott with 4585 passing yards, which is conservative.
My projection vs. the prop: +309.5 yards
QB Passing TD Props
Dak Prescott OVER 27.5 TD passes - I also feel very good about this one in large part because of the addition of CeeDee Lamb and due to Dak’s durability. Dak hasn’t missed a game in four seasons, so I have him with 33 TD passes in this loaded offense.
My projection vs. the prop: +5.5 TD passes
Jared Goff OVER 23.5 TD passes - I’m expecting a nice bounceback from the Ram offense this year, led by Goff. His TD percentages in 2017 and 2018 were 5.9% and 5.7%, respectively, but that number was way down to 3.5% last year. Ram RBs scored 17 TDs on the ground last year and the departed Todd Gurley scored 12 of them, so this one looks like a lock if Goff stays healthy. I have him with 29
My projection vs. the prop: +5.5 TD passes
Ben Roethlisberger OVER 25.5 TD passes - I can’t say I love Big Ben this year, but I’m definitely warming up to him because he’s throwing the ball well this summer and his receiving corps looks insanely deep with rookie Chase Claypool looking like a player who will make an impact. They may not have to throw it much, so I’m not touching his yardage prop, but I’m all over this one here. I have him with 29.5 TD passes and I can make the case for 32+
My projection vs. the prop: +4 TD passes
Patrick Mahomes OVER 34.5 TD passes - I lost a wager for a steak dinner last year betting on over 40 TDs, and I made the bet knowing Mahomes would likely suffer some regression. I just felt he was a transcendent talent who could avoid major regression--which he really is--but his lack of health for half the season hurt. I’m right back on him, though, with this very doable number. I have him with 39 TD passes.
My projection vs. the prop: +4.5 TD passes
Ryan Tannehill OVER 22.5 TD passes - Again, I’m convinced that what we saw from Tannehill last year was real. I’m a Tannehill truther, but everything I’ve said about him and his potential in the right spot was on display last year in Tennessee, who wisely locked Tannehill up with a new contract this off-season. They want to be a little more diverse in their passing game this year, and Derrick Henry can’t score every damn offensive TD. He had 22 last year in only 10 games, so 23 or more should be very doable for the durable QB. In fact, I have him with 27.
My projection vs. the prop: + 4.5 TD passes
Baker Mayfield OVER 24.5 TD passes - He tossed 27 TD passes in only 13 starts his rookie year in 2018, and even last year he was only 3 TD passes away from hitting this number, so I feel good about this one. I have Baker throwing 28 and the Browns bouncing back nicely.
My projection vs. the prop: +3.5 TD passes
RB Rushing Yards Props
Jonathan Taylor OVER 700.5 yards - Ok, this one is the G.O.A.T. of all 2020 season NFL player props. I conservatively have him with 1105. I know they continue to call Marlon Mack the “starter,” but that means very little for an RB (unlike WR). If healthy, if Taylor doesn’t hit this, then his rookie season will be a flop, and it’s not going to be a flop given his talent and that great OL. Book it.
My projection vs. the prop: +404.4 rushing yards
Derrick Henry OVER 1325.5 rushing yards - The Titans want to expand their passing game this year, but they’re not going to throw it much more, so the offense still clearly goes through Henry. That said, assuming #1 pick Isaiah Wilson hits at RT (and veteran Dennis Kelly can hold down the fort if he doesn’t this year), everything is in place for the durable Henry to eclipse this number. I have him projected with 1465.
My projection vs. the prop: 139.5
Clyde Edwards-Helaire OVER 850.5 - I know the Chiefs use the pass to set up the run, and that’s a big reason why they drafted CEH, who is an elite receiver when it comes to rookie RBs. But Edwards-Helaire is also a very good runner. As profiled in Greg Cosell’s Draft Guide here on the site, “CEH is a sudden explosive runner with outstanding lateral quickness, change of direction, and short-area burst to clear the second and third levels of the defense. He’s also a tough, competitive runner with an innate feel for both setting up and reacting to defensive movement, and his quick-cut explosive change of direction makes him effective in both confined space and in the open field.” I have him with 980 rushing yards and would bet on him clearing this 850.5 total.
My projection vs. the prop: +129.5 rushing yards
Mark Ingram OVER 750.5 rushing yards - This one is tricky given how great JK Dobbins has been this summer, but considering Gus Edwards ran for 711 yards on only 133 carries, Ingram should be good here as long as he’s healthy - and Dobbins playing a lot can help keep him fresh. As much as I love Dobbins here long-term, I can’t see him usurping the veteran Ingram, who quickly emerged as a major team leader last year. Even if Ingram’s YPC drops to a 5-year low of 4.6, he only needs 163 carries to hit this projection. Even if Ingram misses two games, he’d need only 11.6 carries a game at 4.6 YPC to hit this prop. I have him with 880 rushing yards on 195 carries (4.5 YPC).
My projection vs. the prop: 129.5 rushing yards
Alvin Kamara OVER 850 rushing yards - Hopefully, the Joe Mixon contract has a domino effect on Kamara, who I only have for 965 yards rushing, but whose prospects are great now that he’s healthy and again running behind a top OL. But check on that contract situation before rolling with this one. If it’s still iffy and it looks like he could miss time, just let this one go.
My projection vs. the prop: +115 rushing yards
Chris Carson UNDER 1050 rushing yards - The was the only Under I actually felt good about, believe it or not. I have him with 945, and between his lingering injury concerns, due in large part to his aggressive running style, and the presence of Carlos Hyde and later in the season Rashad Penny (who things started to really click for late last season), I seriously doubt Carson will hit this number.
My projection vs. the prop: -105 rushing yards
RB Rushing TD Props
Ezekiel Elliott OVER 9.5 rushing TDs - Zeke’s been a little up-and-down with the rushing TDs, scoring 15, 7, 6, and 12 in his four seasons, but one of those seasons he played only 10 games. It’s a slight concern that he led the NFL in carries and rushing yards but scored only 6 rushing TDs, but Dallas in 2018 had a dreadful receiving corps until they traded for Amari Cooper. He scored 12 times last year with a full season of Cooper, and now they have an embarrassment of riches at receiver in CeeDee Lamb, so a healthy Zeke should be a lock for double-digit TDs, as they consistently move the ball and score points. I have him with 13 rushing TDs.
My projection vs. the prop: +3.5 rushing TDs
Derrick Henry OVER 11.5 rushing TDs - Rushing TDs can be fluky, but not nearly as much for Henry because he’s so damn unstoppable and reliable in the red area. Henry has a rushing TD for every 18 carries the last two years, and he averaged 20.2 carries per game last year, so he should hit this prop if he plays 12 or more games, something his track record suggests he will. I have him with 14 rushing scores.
My projection vs. the prop: +2.5
WR/TE Receiving Yards Props
DK Metcalf OVER 850 receiving yards - I like focusing on young, breakout receivers for these props, I view it as a buying opportunity, and Metcalf is another great example. The guy looks like Julio Jones out there this summer, and they didn’t add much to their receiving corps, so Metcalf is locked into a large role. Metcalf beat this 2020 number last year in his first season, and as his game expands so will the fear he strikes in opposing defenses. I have him with 1035 receiving yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +185 receiving yards
Diontae Johnson OVER 775.5 receiving yards - There’s a lot of hype right now with receivers Chase Claypool and James Washington, plus Eric Ebron has them optimistic as well. That’s a concern because there’s only one ball. But Johnson missed this mark by only 105 yards last year, and in his final four games he averaged a solid 64.2 yards per game, which, when extrapolated, is 1028 yards in 16 games. And did I mention he did that with some dude named Duck Hodges playing in eight games? And that HOFer Ben Roethlisberger is back and looking good? There are a lot of mouths to feed, but Johnson is a baller who consistently creates separation to get open, so I’m sure Big Ben will toss it to him plenty. I have him with 955 receiving yards. The Steelers have the WR algorithm for the draft and they’re not sharing it with anyone else.
My projection vs. the prop: +179.5 receiving yards
Breshad Perriman OVER 700.5 receiving yards - I’d wait on this one until we get more information on his knee, as Perriman as of 9/1 was still out of practice and dealing with swelling. I don’t like listing a banged up guy here, but his injury may not be that serious and it may be something he can manage all year. If his story takes another negative turn, like if he doesn’t practice at all the week of 8/31, pull him off. If he does work this week, then he only has to average 50 yards a game to hit this number, and that’s only in 14 games, which should be close to a lock considering how excellent he looked in camp before this setback. They have next to nothing outside of Jamison Crowder, so targets won’t be a problem for Perriman. I have him with 870 receiving yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +169.5 receiving yards
Marquise Brown OVER 800.5 receiving yards - All of us here at the site have been “all in” on Brown all off-season, so it’s no surprise that I like this one. The Ravens are actually still pretty thin at WR, and a bulked up Brown should be able to handle more volume. The running game, including Lamar Jackson, sets up so many passing opportunities downfield that it would be a major upset if Brown didn’t hit this number if he plays 14-16 games. I have him with 955 receiving yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +154.5 receiving yards
Odell Beckham OVER 1050 receiving yards - I’m in on OBJ this year. I really hope I don’t regret it, but with good vibes and massive talent, I can’t pass on an opportunity to back a potential league-winner. The Browns still don’t have a viable #3 WR, and David Njoku can’t be counted on for anything, so I like Beckham’s chances playing with a QB who I still believe in. I have him with 1195 receiving yards.
My projection vs. the prop: 145 receiving yards
Darius Slayton OVER 725.5 receiving yards - If you talk to those who’ve been to Giant practices this year (and last year), and I do, then most would tell you that Slayton is probably Daniel Jones’ favorite target, which makes sense because they both worked with the backups early last year. Slayton beat this number last year, despite missing, essentially, three full games. They do have some tough matchups, but Slayton is a big play waiting to happen, and he and Jones have been connecting on a lot of bombs in camp. If healthy he should easily hit the 45 yards per game he needs to hit it. Even if he misses three more games, we’re talking 55.7 yards per game. Their defense will likely force them to throw a lot, so I like this bet a lot.
My projection vs. the prop: +119.5 receiving yards
DJ Chark OVER 975 receiving yards - I had this one flagged even before the release of Leonard Fournette, which could help. Targets will not be a problem for Chark, who can make big plays to boost his stats and whose chemistry with Gardner Minshew should improve in Year 2. Their defense will likely be terrible, so that’s another positive angle. I have him with 1080, so it’s pretty close, but I’m still making this play.
My projection vs. the prop: +105 receiving yards
Chris Herndon OVER 575.5 receiving yards - Here’s another guy who’s banged up, and as of 9/1 I don’t know his status exactly, so pull him off the list if there’s more negative news. But if not, he’s a good bet to exceed this yardage total due to his talent, great showing this summer, their need at receiver, his chemistry with fellow 2018 draft alumni Sam Darnold, and his TE-friendly offense. I have him with 680.
My projection vs. the prop: +104.5 receiving yards
WR Receiving TD Props
Adam Thielen OVER 6.5 TDs - When Kirk Cousins came to town in 2018, all Thielen did was open the season with eight straight games of over 100 yards, and he scored in six of those eight games. If this were 2018, Thielen would have won this bet by Week 9. Granted, they had to throw it a ton that year, but the Vikings are probably going to throw it more this year than people think. Not a ton more or else Mike Zimmer will fire someone, but a little more. That’s what I’ve gathered from talking to a couple of Vikings beat guys this summer. Oh, and Stefon Diggs is gone and rookie Justin Jefferson looks like he’ll need some time before he’s a key contributor. There’s no doubt that Cousins will be locking in on Thielen in the red zone, so this looks like a slam-dunk barring an injury to disrupt things. I have Thielen with 10 receiving TDs this year.
My projection vs. the prop: +3.5 receiving TDs
Davante Adams OVER 7.5 TDs - Previously, Mr. TD, Adams’ availability was an issue, since he has played all 16 games only twice in six seasons. But he also scored 12, 10, and 13 TDs 2016-2018, so last year’s 5 TDs in 12 games, while due in large part to injury, does look like a fluke. And of course, the Packers did next to nothing to help his boy Aaron Rodgers in the passing game. Adams will be overloaded with targets, and he’s strong and savvy enough to excel despite being a marked man. Injuries are a concern, but I have him with 10 TDs, and I feel that’s conservative.
My projection vs. the prop: +2.5 receiving TDs
Kareem Hunt OVER 850.5 yards - This one may look sketchy, but not when you realize how high the Browns are on Hunt. Honestly, I’m mostly worried about another off-field incident, which might prompt the team to cut him. But with a larger role expected in the running game compared to last year, and the fact that he’s kind of their de facto #3 WR, Hunt should clear this number with relative ease if he’s healthy and not getting himself into trouble. I have him with 995 total yards.
My projection vs. the prop: +144.5 yards
Rush + Receiving Props
Clyde Edwards-Helaire OVER 1250 rush+rec yards - Obviously, we’re huge believers in CEH, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him in camp this summer. The Chiefs use the pass to set up the run, which is fine for Edwards-Helaire, since he’s a great receiver. He’s also a very, very skilled runner, so when they do run it more in the second half of their games while holding a lead, he’s a good bet to pop off some long runs against defenses weary from trying to defend this potent offense. I have him with 1460 total, and I feel that’s conservative, so this is a good bet.
My projection vs. the prop: +210 rush + receiving yards