Expert NFL Betting Predictions: Individual WR Props Wagering
Wide receivers in the NFL are fascinating. The top ones can be at the top of the sport for years. It's like they have decoded the game and are unstoppable. But for every Brown, Jones or Fitzgerald, there are a dozen guys who flash brilliance but can't sustain it or who let their oversized egos get in the way of their performance. Trying to figure out these mercurial talents is a great handicapping challenge, which makes receiver prop bets so fun to take a stab at every August. Here are some of the more interesting ones available this year:
Michael Crabtree "over/under" 6.5: Crabtree gets a change of scenery after three up and down years with the Raiders. The Ravens completely overhauled their receiving corps, so Crabtree will get his opportunities. And Joe Flacco is said to be healthier than he has been in a long time, and he should be fired up to save his job form Lamar Jackson. Crabtree turns 31 early in the season, and he has a lot of wear on his tires, so that is a concern. But he has had at least eight touchdowns the last three years. The over is favored slightly at -120, and that feels fair.
Brandin Cooks o/u 5.5: This is a very hard guy to figure out. On one hand he is obviously very talented - he is only 24 and already has three 1,000-yard seasons to his credit. But the Saints traded him away without remorse after the second of those seasons, and the Patriots ditched him after one year even though they have a major receiver shortage right now. If two teams that good at passing don't want you to catch their passes when you are good at doing so then there are issues. Now the Rams have paid him big bucks. Will he finally be a good citizen? And how will he and Keenan Allen play together? Cooks has had nine, eight and seven touchdowns the last three years, so he is certainly capable of going over. But the under is solidly favored at -130 here. I honestly don't know what to do - which probably means that passing on him is the right move.
Josh Gordon o/u 5.5: So many questions. Is Gordon mentally ready to play a full season after all he has been through? How about physically? Does he still have the desire to play at a high level? Who will be throwing him the ball? Will he have to deal with an in-season coaching change? At his best the guy is a freakish talent. But the last time we saw his best was 2013, and a whole lot has happened since then. The over is at -150, so the public obviously believes. I am not sure I do just yet.
Larry Fitzgerald o/u 4: Fitzgerald has been a freak for so long that it's just amazing, But his team just isn't good, and his QB situation is uncertain. And then there is the question of just how hungry he is to play anymore - he certainly doesn't have anything left to prove. I have a lot of reasons to be a little uneasy, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He decided to come back, and he never misses games or puts in less than a full effort. The over isn't attractive at -135, but it is the right play.
Julio Jones o/u 1399.5 yards: This one is interesting. Jones has gone over this number each of the last four years, and Matt Ryan is back to throw him passes on what should be a pretty solid team. However, the under is solidly favored at -140. One thing that stands out is that Jones made a pretty odd play for more money this year even though he was in the middle of a solid contract. That kind of discontent can fester. Given the price on the over, I would lean towards it, but it makes me nervous to do so. Something isn't quite right in Atlanta right now.
Adam Thielen o/u 1099.5: Thielen had a serious breakout year last year and hinted that it was possible the year before. But before that there wasn't much, so the question is whether he can continue his chemistry and productivity under Kirk Cousins. Cousins isn't afraid to throw it, so if passer and receiver can get on the same page then they can make serious music together. But chemistry is tough to judge until you see it, so we need to be patient. I lean over, though.
Antonio Brown o/u 1499.5: This is an aggressive number. Despite being among the top two receivers in the league the last five years, Brown has gone over this number in only three of the last five seasons, and last year he did it by only 33.5 yards. He's a workhorse, accomplishing what he does by catching a large number of passes and taking a large amount of physical abuse as a result. That, plus the reality that Big Ben isn't getting any younger, makes me nervous about taking the over here.
Odell Beckham Jr. o/u 1200.5: Easy under for me here. Beckham is a total freak talent, but his health is a concern after last year, he is not content with his contract status or his team and is not the type of guy who will handle that gracefully, and Eli Manning is a mess at quarterback these days. I see no reason to be optimistic about him this year.
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