What a year in college football it's poised to be. We are at a historic place for running backs - there is more depth here than we have seen in a long, long time. There are a whole lot of really strong receivers, too - as so many of them are young enough that this won't be the last year we'll see them before they go pro. We are going to see some things on offense that we won't quickly forget. Hopefully, those things can be profitable as well as memorable. Here are seven interesting RB and WR prop bets from Bovada:
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Christian Kirk, Texas A&M "over/under" 6.5 TD catches (over -150, under +110): As a true freshman last year Kirk had seven touchdowns. Only two of those seven came in the SEC, though - and both were against Arkansas. I don't love the QB situation with the Aggies right now and don't expect a lot of forward progress there. Kirk will benefit from a very soft nonconference schedule, though, and is likely to face a reasonably weak opponent in a bowl game, too. I was looking for a reason to go under, but I can't find it,. The over is the play - but it is far from attractive at this price.
Calvin Ridley, Alabama o/u 8.5 TD catches (over -110, under -130): Ridley had seven touchdowns as a freshman last year, and they were more evenly distributed than Kirk's - the only game with more than one was the semifinal against Michigan State, and he scored in three SEC games. It's a little tough to handicap this player because we don't know for sure what Alabama will have at QB. They have a very advantageous nonconference schedule, though, and two or three pretty soft SEC games, too. The talent here is massive, so I see value in the over.
Artavis Scott, Clemson o/u 5.5 TD catches (over -110, under -130): Scott has the Heisman favorite tossing passes to him, so the reflex would be to go over. The under is favored for two reasons, though. First, after having eight touchdowns in his first season he dropped to six last year. Second, he is part of a very deep receiver corps, including Mike Williams, who is back after missing the season to injury last year. There are only so many passes to go around. Still, at this level the correct play is the over - even if the margin for error is slight.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford total rushing and receiving yards o/u 2125.5 (over -120, under -120): Last year he wound up with a total of 2,664 yards here. He's an incredible freak. There are a couple of reasons to be cautious with expectations this year, though. For one thing, the team has to break in a new QB, so that should take some variety out of the offense and put more pressure on McCaffrey. Defenses will know that he is going to be carrying the load, and they can react accordingly. There are also real questions about where the offensive line will be at, and that will impact McCaffery and the QB play. This number is a total coin flip, and of course we wouldn't bet a coin flip at this price.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State o/u 16.5 rushing TDs (over -130, under -110): We won't spend much time on this one - we don't need to. Cook went from eight TDs as a freshman to 19 last year. He's breaking in his third QB in his three seasons. He's exceptionally talented and has good talent to run behind. He plays in the ACC, too, so there are plenty of soft games for him to feast on. He's going over as long as he stays healthy.
Leonard Fournette, LSU o/u 19.5 rushing TDs (over -130, under -110): Fournette has 22 touchdowns last year, and that was despite missing perhaps his easiest running game - the opener against McNeese State was cancelled due to weather and was not rescheduled. He might go over this number in his three weak nonconference games alone. I don't love the number, but the over is the clearly correct side here.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma o/u 15.5 rushing TDs (over -120, under -120): This is a ridiculously deep class of running backs - one of the best we have ever seen. Perine may be the best of them - I love everything about how this guy plays. That being said, I can't justify the over here. He's obviously capable - he had 21 touchdowns as a freshman and 16 last year. There are two reasons I am not as positive as I would like to be. First, QB Baker Mayfield is poised for a huge year, and that could take the focus off the running game more than some other programs. More significantly, this schedule is insane. Two of his nonconference games are against Houston and Ohio State - both elite teams. He opens conference play at TCU. Texas is next and won't be easy, either. There are some softer games - Texas Tech, Kansas, and Iowa State in consecutive games, for example - but he has too few games he can be counted on to perform big for us to play the over. He's a pass, sadly.
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