Bally Sports’ resident truffle pig, Brad Evans, constantly scours legal sports in a search of market inefficiencies he’s willing to slap some action on. Each week, crack open a cold one with him as he sorts through his favorite six-pack of player props. Fade or follow? That, of course, is up to you. (Note: All bets are worth 1 unit plus the juice. Example: -115 = 1.15 units wagered.)
1. Trey Lance OVER 38.5 rushing yards at Bears (-115, BetMGM)
Featured in this week’s Fantasy Flames, the sophomore passer is ready to take a massive step. Efficient in limited doses this preseason, he’s well ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart despite fervent individuals who ridiculously claim Jimmy G won’t be a backup for long. Against Chicago, expect Lance to flash his stellar duality. The rebuilding Bears are striving to return to their Monster of the Midway persona under Matt Eberflus, especially on defense, but the 49ers’ fleet-footed passer (4.69 in the 40) will dash backers to dollars. On roughly 7-9 attempts, Lance should top the 40-yard rushing mark rather effortlessly. Recall last year in three heavily featured games, he averaged 53.7 rushing yards.
2. Nick Chubb anytime TD vs. Panthers (+110, FanDuel)
Rub-a-dub-dub, the Chubb Club is very much open for business. Without Deshaun Watson for 11 games, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is sure to rev the engine on his favorite muscle car. At a minimum, the power back (4.24 YAC/attempt in 2021) should register 17-20 carries in Week 1. After all, Jacoby Brissett is a classic game manager. Most promising is the matchup against Carolina. Baker Mayfield drama aside, Carolina’s defensive line is a unit riddled with question marks. Similar to last year, the Panthers could easily allow close to 100 rushing yards per game to RBs. Lining up behind one of the league’s most formidable offensive lines, Chubb, who averaged 3.0 red-zone carries per game last season, has great odds of crossing the chalk.
3. Justin Jefferson OVER 81.5 receiving yards vs. Packers (-105, DraftKings)
On pace to become the Vikings’ next Randy Moss or Cris Carter, the third-year wideout is the subject of rampant man crushes throughout the gaming community. Outward salacious feelings are warranted. Last season, Jefferson ranked WR3 in overall target share (28.5%) and WR8 in total red-zone targets (23). Slated to square off most often against Packers CB Eric Stokes, who conceded four touchdowns to his assignments in 2021, he could ignite in Kevin O’Connell’s high-octane vertical attack. Similar to last year, Jefferson, No. 10 in route win rate, could again tee off against Minnesota’s biggest archrival at home.
4. Travis Etienne OVER 21.5 receiving yards at Commanders (-115, DraftKings)
Maybe it was my compromised and deconstructed body that overreacted to this line upon first appearance, but even now several days removed from its opening, the prop still seems like an extraordinary value. Sure, James Robinson, off a nasty Achilles setback, has improbably reanimated much earlier than anticipated, but he’s most likely to participate sparingly. Etienne, as he showcased with Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, is a sensational pass catcher equipped with the shimmy and shake to elude would-be tacklers. On 3-4 receptions against a Commanders defense that allowed 84 receptions to RBs in 2021, he should cruise close to 30 aerial yards in the opener.
5. David Montgomery UNDER 72.5 rushing/receiving yards vs. 49ers (-115, BetMGM)
Someone contact a doctor immediately. It’s clear this Monty-infatuated scribe is feeling off-kilter. Ill words about #MandatoryMontgomery may be a tell tale sign, but fading the Bears starting RB isn’t a perspective conceived during a peyote-induced haze. With Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, the Niners should again flirt with top-five numbers defending the run. Last season, they surrendered only 109.1 total yards per game to RBs. Overall, seven RBs eclipsed the above total. Montgomery, who is expected to cede roughly 30% of the workload to Khalil Herbert, likely won’t be the first to reach 73 combined yards this year. The Bears’ suspect offensive line and offense in general paint a bleak picture.
6. Antonio Gibson OVER 58.5 rushing yards vs. Jaguars (+106, Caesars)
On Wednesday, a motivated Gibson said to the local media, “I still feel I’m one of the best running backs in the league and I got something to prove.” After relegated to RBBC and special teams duties in the preseason, the rusher’s words probably didn’t resonate with disbelievers. However, with rookie Brian Robinson sidelined, Gibson is undoubtedly the primary early down back to begin the season. This is his opportunity, in his mind, to set the record straight. Yes, he underwhelmed in a number of surface and analytical categories last year, particularly missed tackle rate (15.1%), but facing a likely bottom-third Jags run defense and surrendering touches only to J.D. McKissic on passing downs, Gibson is a solid wager. Working behind what should be a top-half offensive line, he’s a likely 60-plus-yard contributor straight away.