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Trust the Propcess: NFL Player Props for Week 3

Player props are an ever-changing and evolving market. Look no further than what happened Friday afternoon as proof. I put my phone down for a couple of hours (silly me) and when I checked it I realized I had missed the news about Josh Jacobs not traveling with the Las Vegas Raiders. I had also missed a message imploring me to jump on a Zamir White anytime TD prop in light of said news. Before the news broke, you could have gotten +950 for a White touchdown. By the time I saw it, it was +145. The 24/7 news cycle giveth and taketh away at times.

Sometimes I chuckle thinking about my dad placing bets in the ‘80s and those who came before him. No internet or actionable television coverage. Newspapers printed injury reports on Friday morning. And of course, usually having to wait until after the game to find out who won or lost. If you wanted player stats, you had to wait until the next day. Maybe if you caught a sports recap show instead of the local news, you would see what the quarterback or star running back had done that day.

Anyway, I will not be including a Zamir White touchdown in my Week 3 player prop recommendations. He should be heavily rostered in DFS where he is dirt cheap. And fantasy managers can add him for this week’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans. But most books have removed Raiders rushing props entirely, so I will be looking elsewhere. Here are a few player props that I like for Week 3 that are readily available.

Week 3 NFL Player Props

Curtis Samuel OVER 4.5 Receptions (-114, FanDuel)

I mentioned in this week’s Flex rankings column that I would continue to start Curtis Samuel until further notice. Therefore, it should be no surprise then that I am all about his reception prop. Samuel enters Week 3 tied for fifth in the NFL with 15 receptions. He has been an integral part of Washington’s new-look offense in the early going. The books are not quite buying in yet. Among players with at least 15 receptions so far, Samuel is the only one whose Week 3 prop is below 5.5 receptions. That feels like a buying opportunity to me given his role and matchup.

I will not suddenly pretend I believe that Carson Wentz is a franchise quarterback. But that does not matter for our purposes. What does matter is volume, and Washington has let Wentz sling it so far. Wentz has thrown the ball 87 times through two weeks, the fourth-highest total in the NFL. And while some of that has been due to negative game script, we cannot rule that repeating itself this week. Washington comes into this game as 6.5-point underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles. With Antonio Gibson serving as the team’s only real rushing threat, the Commanders may once again be forced to throw the ball more often. This should benefit Samuel, especially when considering the Washington wideouts’ matchups.

We will likely see Philadelphia continue to use Darius Slay to cover Terry McLaurin. In recent seasons, Slay has gotten the better of this head-to-head battle. Over the last two years, McLaurin has yet to clear 61 yards in a single game against the Eagles. And McLaurin has been targeted a total of just nine times in those four games when Slay was in man coverage. Anyone who watched Monday night’s game saw Slay perform at an elite level. He enters Week 3 as PFF’s top-graded cornerback. On the other side, James Bradberry should be able to keep rookie Jahan Dotson in check. Bradberry has allowed just 0.33 yards per route covered thus far in 2022. That is the fourth-lowest number among cornerbacks who have covered at least 50 routes this season.

Slot corner Avonte Maddox is no slouch in his own right. Pro Football Focus ranks Maddox as their 10th-best cover corner through two weeks. However, he has allowed 10 receptions on 12 targets in his coverage. Samuel is operating almost exclusively near the line of scrimmage in Washington’s revamped offense. His aDOT (average depth of target) is just 3.3 yards downfield. The Commanders are giving Samuel designed touches out of the backfield and on screen passes. I expect them to continue to feed Samuel, especially with the difficulties their other wideouts figure to face on Sunday. I’m not in line with Samuel’s yardage props, but I expect him to be heavily involved in the form of targets and receptions.  

Khalil Herbert OVER 24.5 Rushing Yards (-110, Bet365)

I considered going elsewhere with this recommendation, mainly because I can only stomach so much Bears offensive football. Through two games, Justin Fields is 33rd in the NFL in pass attempts. Upon last count, there are 32 NFL teams. Trust me, I strongly considered taking the under on a couple of different Fields props. Ultimately what prevented me from doing so is Houston’s propensity to give up big plays in the passing game. They have already allowed seven different pass catchers to haul in a 20-plus yard reception this season. I’m still not entirely convinced the Bears will throw enough to get there, but it gives me enough cause to pivot over to Khalil Herbert for this prop. Besides, what’s more fun than sweating out a backup running back’s yardage total?

Much was made about Herbert being more involved in Chicago’s ground game heading into this season. Some even posit that Herbert is a better fit for the Bears’ new offensive scheme than incumbent David Montgomery. So far, Montgomery has been able to hold Herbert at arm’s length. The Bears have let Montgomery carry the football 32 times, compared to just 13 for Herbert. However, Herbert has a solid 6.4 yards per clip and has had at least 38 rushing yards in both games. Given those numbers, his 24.5 total seems a bit low, especially considering Houston’s deficiencies in run defense.

While I noted their struggles in allowing big plays through the air, the Texans’ defense hasn’t exactly been stout on the ground either. They have allowed 1.53 yards before contact per rushing attempt. That number is the fourth-highest in the NFL. Houston has also surrendered 4.86 yards per carry to opposing running backs so far this year. For as much as the Bears have had issues protecting Fields in the passing game, their run blocking has been above par. Chicago has generated 1.48 yards before contact on their designed runs. That is the seventh-highest number in the league. They should be able to control the action in the trenches, which should allow their running game to flourish. You are probably wondering why I am favoring Herbert over Montgomery. There are a couple of reasons.

First, there is the math regarding their individual rushing props. The lowest prop I found for Montgomery is 68.5. Meanwhile, Herbert’s prop here is 24.5. Montgomery has already handled just over 70 percent of running back carries so far. For Montgomery to eclipse his prop while Herbert falls short of his, we would have to assume an increase in Montgomery’s role. I just do not see that happening. If anything, I believe Herbert has done enough in his limited reps to earn more opportunities going forward. Herbert has graded out much more favorably as a runner (72.2-55.4 per PFF) to Montgomery this year. If Herbert gets even one or two more carries than his normal workload, he should clear his prop with relative ease.

It is also worth noting that in Week 1, Herbert handled a slight majority of the fourth quarter work with Chicago holding a lead. This could be another avenue for Herbert to garner more chances to run the football. Vegas has installed Chicago as three-point favorites, so perhaps we get our answer on Sunday. None of this is to say that I would go out of my way to fade Montgomery this week. He should be a solid DFS and fantasy play, and he could very well exceed his rushing prop number as well. However, I think it is more likely that both Bears’ backs surpass their lines than Montgomery does so on his own. Last week, Javonte Williams had 75 rushing yards while Melvin Gordon chipped in 47 against the Texans’ defense. I expect a very similar split between Chicago’s running back tandem in Week 3.

Tua Tagovailoa OVER 24.5 Pass Completions (+100, PointsBet)

It is not often that a player throws for six touchdowns and over 450 yards in an NFL game. Last week, Tua Tagovailoa became the ninth quarterback in NFL history to achieve that feat. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at his player props this week. Sure, last week’s performance is not something we should expect Tagovailoa to repeat. But I do think that he can have another productive game this week against the Buffalo Bills. I like the over on several of Tua’s individual props this week, including passing yards (250.5 on PointsBet) and attempts (36.5 at -105 on PointsBet). There are a couple of reasons I am going to focus on completions, though I have no issue if you want to attack the other numbers instead. First, let’s discuss this from a schematic standpoint.

The highlights from last week included Tagovailoa hitting Tyreek Hill on a couple of deep touchdown throws. Preventing a repeat will be easier said than done for Buffalo, particularly with the current state of their secondary. The Bills have already been without cornerback Tre’Davious White and will also be without Dane Jackson this week. They have ruled out one of their All-Pro safeties in Micah Hyde, while the other, Jordan Poyer is currently questionable. The duo is an integral part of what Buffalo likes to do defensively. Without one and possibly both, their ability to disguise coverages at the snap will likely be compromised. On top of that, Buffalo is likely to have a pair of rookie cornerbacks (Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford) responsible for covering Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Welcome to the league, rooks.

Because of this, I expect Buffalo to play a more vanilla coverage scheme than normal. They will likely have safety help over the top on Hill, which should open things up underneath. Even with the long touchdowns last week, both Hill and Waddle both have aDOTs of just under 10 yards. That means that both are catching plenty of passes near the line of scrimmage. I expect that to continue, especially given Buffalo’s pass rush. The Bills have recorded nine sacks on 72 opponent dropbacks, excluding quarterback scrambles. Tagovailoa will have to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid taking too many hits. Quick throws should lead to a healthy number of completions. Despite Buffalo’s prowess, they allowed Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill to complete 65.6 percent of their pass attempts. Tua has completed 71.1 percent of his throws in the young season.

I also like this prop from a strategy and game flow standpoint. While we cannot expect Tua to do what he did last week, Miami will have to put up points to keep up with Buffalo’s potent offense. The Bills lead the NFL with 72 points scored through two weeks. The Dolphins will look to keep Josh Allen and company off the field. That strategy would be greatly enhanced if Miami had a reliable ground game. However, that has not been the case. Through two games, Miami has mustered just 151 rushing yards on 3.7 yards per carry. I expect Miami to use the short passing game to act as an extension of their running game. Though Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert have struggled on the ground, both are adept at catching passes out of the backfield. They have combined to catch 9-of-11 targets so far this year.

Given how prolific Buffalo’s offense has been to this point, there is also a scenario in which they get out to an early lead. This would also increase the likelihood that Miami will need to throw the football. We saw that scenario play out last week against Baltimore, and it resulted in Tagovailoa putting up video game-like numbers. While we cannot expect that level of production out of Miami’s passing game, I do think there is value here in Tagovailoa’s player props. As I mentioned earlier, I am fine with playing his yardage and attempts props. But I lean slightly towards his completions if I am forced to choose just one. This game has the highest implied total on this week’s slate and should feature plenty of fireworks.

Also check out our Week 3 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | Flex Rankings

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