Featured in this article:
  • Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on NFL scheduling
  • The Titans-Bills game will be played Tuesday night
  • Fowler shares advanced metrics you can use to evaluate NFL player prop odds

pandemic profits, 100 dollar bill benjamin franklin with face mask on

Without a bubble atmosphere all bets are off as to whether or not the NFL can navigate their way through the full 16-game regular season and postseason. The last couple weeks have not only created ulcer-inducing scheduling conflicts, online sportsbooks have been unable to release odds for games in a timely manner. Last week, it was Patriots-Chiefs moved to Monday, while the Titans and Steelers were both forced to take a Week 4 BYE. While they’ll make it up later this season, Week 5 was more of the same from Tennessee as their game against the Bills got pushed to Tuesday and, due to another COVID case in their locker-room, the Patriots won’t play the Broncos until Monday at 5 p.m.

But wait! There’s more!

Reports surfaced Friday morning that the New York Jets sent the team home after a player tested positive for coronavirus. We’re in wait and see mode how that impacts “Gang Green’s” matchup with the Cardinals this Sunday.

The good news is most of Week 5’s NFL slate remains untouched and we can turn our attention to our weekly NFL player prop bet top picks. Rather than just list a handful of players I like this week, I felt it more informative to share some of the advanced metrics I lean on when evaluating prop bet candidates, but also handicapping NFL games. To date, I’m 38-24 (61.3%) against the spread picking every NFL game each week. Here are the four areas I concentrate on that can help you find value on the player prop bet board at sportsbooks like Bovada and BetOnline.

Data via TeamRankings.com

Yards Allowed Per Play

The saying goes, “defense wins championships,” but when a “Legion of Boom” turns “Legion of Gloom,” savvy bettors can look to defensive yards allowed per play (YAPP) when evaluating which offensive skill players to target on the players prop board.

Four teams allow 6.5 yards-or-more per game: the Dolphins, Titans, Falcons and Seahawks.

Miami is at San Francisco Sunday and Jimmy Garoppolo has practiced back-to-back days as he works his way back from an ankle injury. This opens the player prop board for not only George Kittle, but a Kendrick Bourne. The receiver caught five touchdowns last season and the Dolphins secondary is understaffed due to injuries.

Opponent’s 3rd Down Conversion Rate

kirk cousins vikings nfl

It might just be me, but it seems like NFL offenses are converting on third down as an historic rate. ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio might be onto a big reason why. He recently shared a stat that offensive holding calls are way down year-over-year. Offensive holding, especially on third downs, are drive killers. With those occurring less often, offenses have kept the chains moving and, thus, scoring is up across the league, too.

So, be sure to review the worst defenses on third downs to truly evaluate the offensive skill position players you’re considering backing via prop bet.

The Giants, Panthers, Seahawks and Raiders defenses are all allowing opposing offenses to convert more than 50 percent of their third downs. The G-Men rank dead last at 53.5% opp. third down conversion rate. New York plays at Dallas this week, which could very easily become another 400-plus-yard performance for Dak Prescott. The trickle down value to his receiving corps is obvious. So, perhaps you take a look at Kirk Cousins’ top targets at Seattle, knowing the Vikings offense will have to air it out to keep pace with Russell Wilson.

Opponent Red Zone Attempts Per Game

Red Zone attempts allowed per game paired with opponent red zone touchdown conversion rate is a strong metric to use what evaluating “First Touchdown of the Game” and/or “Anytime Touchdown” player props.

The Jaguars, Cardinals, Falcons and Texans defenses all allow a league-high 4.5 red zone trips per game, while the Saints, Titans, Dolphins and Falcons possess the highest opponent RZ touchdown conversion rates.

What I like to do is find common denominators among all four advanced metrics and start connecting the dots.

For example, the Falcons defense is terrible and Teddy Bridgewater’s Panthers offense is a work-in-progress. Chances are you can find better player prop value among Carolina’s offense against the Falcons than you would by targeting Cowboys against the Giants.

Fantasy Points Allowed to Opposing Tight Ends (via ESPN)

The Washington Football Team are one of just a few teams to have allowed more than one touchdown per game to opposing tight ends. Through four games, tight ends have averaged five receptions and nearly 60 receiving yards against Washington. Like T.J. Hockenson of the Lions (who scored our anytime TD last week), I like the Rams’ Tyler Higbee to find the end zone Sunday afternoon.

Ryan Fowler

Ryan has covered sports on every media platform over the past 17+ years. The first seven years of his professional career were spent as a sports anchor and reporter at various local television stations, while he picked up side gigs as a freelance sports columnist and recurring radio guest before he decided to jump to the web. As content manager of sports simulation website WhatIfSports.com and senior editor of FOXSports.com's fantasy baseball and football coverage for the better part of this decade, Ryan embraces advanced metrics, trends, and outside-the-box angles to find his edge. You can follow him on Twitter @FreelanceFowler.

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