Week 17 ended up being my worst of the season with Kenny Golladay not even suiting up, Ryan Griffin seeing no time despite the coach’s suggestions, and both Stefon Diggs and Travis Kelce just falling short of their marks. On the bright side, our Season-long player prop bets finally cashed and my picks went 4-2. It could have been even better if Ezekiel Elliott had scored just two rushing or receiving touchdowns in his final three games, but it wasn’t meant to be. Onto Wildcard Weekend.
Chris Carson Over 19 carries
I’m not entirely sure how sportsbooks set player props, but they certainly don’t put enough weight into trending performances. Chris Carson has been the centerpiece of the Seahawks offense for the past four weeks and has received 19 > 27 > 22 >22 carries.
With the Seahawks traveling to Dallas as one-point underdogs, this game should stay relatively close either way, allowing both teams to execute their run-heavy, ball-control game plan. Nineteen carries has been his floor the past few weeks, and he has the upside to approach 30.
Andrew Luck Over 292 passing yards
We were on this prop a couple of weeks ago and I’m not afraid to bet it for the second time. Luck’s passing totals against Houston’s are 399 and 464 in the previous two meetings.
For me, it comes down to Houston’s passing defense being somewhat fraudulent. As I pointed out in the last article, they have played against the easiest schedule of opposing passing offenses. Despite playing against a super easy schedule, they only rank 12th in pass defense efficiency. Compare this to Houston’s No. 1 rank in rushing success rate allowed and we can understand it’s much better to attack the Texans through the air. Frank Reich and the Colts seem to know that as well with Luck attempting 41 and 62 passes in their two games against the Texans. Breaking it down by percentages, the Colts passed 73 percent of the time when the game was within one-score which is eight percent higher than their season average.
With a pass-heavy approach against an overrated defense, Luck should easily eclipse 300 yards once again.
Ezekiel Elliott OVER 125 Rushing and Receiving Yards
After resting in Week 17, a report stated that Ezekiel Elliott is ready for his “heaviest workload” of the season. At first glance, it sounds like a stereotypical comment from an egotistical star player, but it makes a lot of sense given the expected game state. The Cowboys are narrow home favorites against the Seahawks who play very similarly to Dallas. Even if the Cowboys somehow fall behind, Elliot will be able to make up ground through the air.
Elliott should be able to take advantage of a big workload on the ground and be targeted frequently against the Seahawks who allowed the sixth most receptions to running backs this season and in the 12th percentile of receiving yards per game allowed to running backs (56.62) . Seattle also ranks just a middling 19th in rushing success rate allowed, 24th in explosive rush rate allowed, and in the seventh percentile of yards per carry allowed (4.95).
Philip Rivers Under 257 Passing Yards
The more I look at this game, the more I don’t see the Chargers winning or even playing well. Their last meeting, in LA, ended up in a 22-10 defeat where Rivers only threw for 181 yards and two interceptions on 37 attempts.
I expect more of the same this time around in windy Baltimore. The Baltimore defense has been one of the best all season, allowing a 93rd percentile yards per attempt and ranking No. 1 overall in passing success rate allowed at just 36 percent. To make all this more impressive, the Ravens were able to do this against the eighth-hardest strength of schedule in terms of passing efficiency.
The Ravens’ opponents average 10 fewer plays per game than their average due to the Ravens ability to bleed the game by rushing so successfully. A tough matchup with less volume strikes me as a great time to fade Philip Rivers.
Connor Allen utilizes analytics and his knowledge of Football to leverage sportsbooks, fantasy leagues, and DFS. He is a Chicago native and you can find more of his work over at http://Rotoworld.com or on twitter @ConnorAllenNFL.