Burke: Look to player props, futures for value in Week 17

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

January 2, 2022 10:23 AM
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Each NFL Sunday is like a snowflake, unique in some way. This week, we’ve got 13 of the 16 games lined at -6 or higher based on the consensus lines that are out there. You’ve heard that word of caution before to “beware the trendy dog”, but there are very few trendy dogs this week. In fact, a lot of favorites have increased in size. The ones that haven’t look to be moving down based on sharp money.

This could be a really strong week for player props. I think a lot of people just look at stats and matchups when determining their player prop picks, but one of the biggest oversights is something called “game state”. What is the score of the game projected to be? How do you see the game playing out in your mind? What is the total (and the line movement of the total) telling us about how the game is supposed to go?

Take the Bucs vs. Jets game, as just one example. The line has gone all the way up to -14 (14.5 at BetMGM!) with a total of 47.5. Are bettors thinking that Tom Brady will look to pad his numbers in hopes of winning another MVP? If so, who benefits? Well, how about Antonio Brown? Curtis Patrick of Rotoviz tweeted that Brown has $1 million in incentive targets to reach the next two weeks. He needs 11 receptions, 281 yards and three touchdowns to hit all three, but gets paid on 50 catches, 800 yards and seven TDs. As Patrick went on to note, Brown had a $250,000 bonus last year on the line and caught three passes in the fourth quarter of the season-ending blowout against the Falcons.

Brown’s receiving yards prop is 77.5 at BetMGM. His season average is 86.5 per game and he’s got money on the line. Maybe this doesn’t win, and maybe his ankle injury is that bad, but the context clues in the betting market suggest the Bucs offense does whatever it wants and that it wants to hang some numbers. Brown’s incentives are reachable and very much something Brady knows about. Other players are looking for benchmarks or to hit incentives. Try to do some digging and find them.

Think about some of these things as alternate ways to get some NFL action in. Like how Femi Abebefe and I talked about Zac Taylor to win Coach of the Year in the 7/1 range if you like the Bengals over the Chiefs. Or Brian Flores at 20/1 if you like Dolphins over Titans. Spreads and totals are the most accessible, easiest form of betting, but diversifying your NFL portfolio with creative wagers or different ways of betting on the same result, but at better odds, has the potential to give you a great start to 2022.

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