Player props are rolling in for the 2023 NFL season and I’ve been comparing them – as well as team win totals – to my projections in order to find the best values on the board.
The below plays are my favorites from the AFC East and NFC South divisions.
All lines are via Caesars Sportsbook
Josh Allen UNDER 4,300.5 pass yards
Allen cleared this mark in both 2020 and 2021, but didn’t miss a single game. Had he missed even one (and using his weekly average as a benchmark), he would’ve fallen short of 4,301 pass yards. In 2022, Allen did miss one game (postponed vs. Cincinnati) and fell short of this line. Obviously Allen has been durable and the one missed game wasn’t on him, but if you make this bet, you’re essentially assuming a 17-game season. That’s a hard bet to recommend considering only eight QBs played 17 games in 2022 and 11 did in 2021. Props are often about playing the odds and the odds certainly favor the under here.
Tua Tagovailoa OVER 3,800.5 pass yards
Projection: 3,878 (15 games)
Tagovailoa’s concussion issues are a concern, so I understand if you want to stay away from this one. However, check this out: if we look at Tagovailoa’s 12 full games last season, his 17-game pace was 4,870 yards. That’s over 1,000 yards above this prop! Not enough of a sample? Fair. During his 11 full games in 2021, his 17-game pace was 3,836 yards, which is also above this line. Tagovailoa finished third in average depth of throw, second in QBR and first in yards per pass attempt last season. Even with a 15-game projection and worse efficiency, Tagovailoa projects above this prop line.
Dolphins OVER 9.5 wins
Speaking of Tagovailoa’s terrific efficiency, if he’s healthy this season, Miami shouldn’t have much trouble clearing 9.5 wins. In fact, the Dolphins started 8-0 in games Tua played in full last season, only falling off late in the year during a tough stretch that included road games at the 49ers, Charger and Bills. Miami’s offense looks solid, but what really makes this ‘over’ appealing is a defense that is among the league’s best on paper. Jalen Ramsey and David Long Jr. were key offseason additions to an ascending group led by Christian Wilkins, Jaelan Phillips, Jerome Baker, Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland. Oh, and some fellow named Bradley Chubb is entering his first full season with the team. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has the personnel needed for an elite unit. Even in what may be a tough division, I’m liking the over.
Bryce Young UNDER 22.5 pass TDs
This may be my favorite play on the books. Young – the first overall pick in April’s draft – actually opened with a 24.5 line, so this one is already on the descent. And yet it’s still too high considering that, in league history, only seven rookie QBs have reached 23 pass TDs (Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Daniel Jones, Dak Prescott and Andrew Luck). The league has expanded to 17 games since those performances, but check this out: only 13 QBs reached 23 pass TDs each of the last two seasons, most which were delivered by QBs on playoff teams. Even in a light division, Carolina (a team that has reached 23 pass TDs in one of the last seven seasons), is not a favorite for a trip to the postseason. As if that’s not enough, Young’s supporting cast remains a work in progress, with Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Hayden Hurst and rookie Jonathan Mingo his top targets.
Falcons UNDER 8.5 wins
Projection: 7.2 (even with second easiest schedule)
With no clear standout team, the NFC South is as close as you’ll get to a wide open division, but 8.5 is still too high a win total for Atlanta. In fact, my projection of 7.2 factors in what I project as the league’s second-easiest schedule. The Falcons haven’t even won eight games since 2017 and, while the roster was improved during the offseason, major holes remain, including at wide receiver, edge rusher, cornerback, linebacker and, most notably, quarterback. Second-year QB Desmond Ridder has attempted 115 passes in his career and his only two TDs in 2022 came against Tampa Bay backups in Week 18. Could he make a Year 2 leap? Sure, but third-round QBs don’t have a very good track record. Russell Wilson is a rare success story from the past decade or so, with the likes of Matt Schaub, Nick Foles, Mike Glennon and Jacoby Brissett the best case scenario otherwise.
Chris Olave OVER 4.5 receiving TDs
Olave was held to four TDs as a rookie, but his usage near the goal line figures to increase with a better QB in his second season. He appears to be the real deal, having handled a massive 27% target share as a rookie and having posted a 2.5 YPRR (seventh best among all WRs). Six receiving TDs isn’t a high bar, especially for a No. 1 wide receiver, as 45 players hit the mark in 2022. With Derek Carr now under center, Olave should be able to push for a half dozen scores.
Miles Sanders UNDER 6.5 rush TDs
Sanders ran for 11 touchdowns last season, but his first three NFL seasons saw him score three, seven and zero rushing TDs. And that was behind an elite Eagles offensive line, not a Carolina unit that looks, at best, like a league average unit entering 2023. Sanders has not generally been much of a factor near the goal line, as 2022 marked his first season finishing inside the top 30 at running back in carries inside the opponent’s 5 yard line. He’s also headed to an inferior offense, as the 2022 Eagles scored 57 offensive TDs (second most), whereas Carolina scored 32 and the NFL median for offensive TDs is in the 37-to-38 range.
Seven prop bets to like – AFC East, NFC South edition