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. Michael Pittman OVER 65.5 receiving yards vs. Chiefs (-115, BetMGM)
Ignoramuses promptly jumped on this near equal buffoon on social media when I issued a tweet highlighting Pittman’s opening suppressed total. They contended backing off a WR with a quad injury against a quality opponent was an exercise in futility. Here’s why that’s a naive perspective. For starters, he’s practiced all week. Limited or not, the matchup is also quite alluring. Despite allowing 6.26 yards per attempt to the Cardinals and Chargers, Kansas City’s secondary appears average. Pittman’s projected assignment, Rashad Fenton, has given up seven receptions, 110 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Add in Matt Ryan’s motivations after an embarrassing Week 2, and Pittman, presumably on double-digit targets, is a strong OVER lean.
2. Leonard Fournette OVER 72.5 rushing yards vs. Packers (-110, BetMGM)
No Mike Evans. No Chris Godwin. Possibly no supportive Gisele. For Tom Brady, times right now are unusually tough. To alleviate the stress, bank on multiple handoffs to his bruising rusher. So far, Fournette, at least under the surface, hasn’t exactly raised excitement levels. His 2.62 YAC per attempt and 13.3 missed tackle rate leave much to be desired. But what can’t be understated is his massive volume. Through two games he’s totaled 45 rushing attempts. Green Bay’s vulnerability in the trenches will elevate the RB, assuming his tender hamstring isn’t a limitation. So far, the Packers front has conceded 6.09 yards per carry and 143.0 rushing yards per game to RBs. On presumably another 20-plus carries, Fournette smashes and dashes his way close to 100 yards. Parlaying him with an anytime TD on a two-leg SGP at plus odds is also attractive.
3. Joe Burrow OVER 261.5 passing yards at Jets (-120, BetMGM)
Early on, the Bengals, once a league-wide heartthrob, are getting the Adam Levine treatment. At 0-2 and coming off a puzzling loss to the Dak-less Cowboys, the sneers are understandable. However, as Burrow stated publicly this week, “We’re gonna be fine.” Week 3 presents a ripe opportunity for the Bengals to realign. Given the QB’s 6.3 air yards per attempt (QB23), Zac Taylor needs to call more attacking plays downfield. The offensive line, an eyesore last season, has protected Burrow adequately. The Jets, who’ve given up 6.27 passing yards per attempt, have shown improvement on defense, but in a game with some sneaky shootout appeal, Burrow connects often with nuclear targets Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins and coasts past the above number.
4. Tua Tagovailoa to throw an interception vs. Bills (-115, BetMGM)
Similar to a tasty original Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach, Tua packed quite a numbers-laden buzz last week against an emaciated Baltimore secondary. Despite the godlike surface numbers, he still showed he’s not mistake-free as evidenced by his two interceptions. The Bills are a juggernaut in every facet. Their pass defense is no exception. So far, they’ve snagged five interceptions from opposing QBs. With Buffalo applying copious pressure on the pocket (No. 1 in sack rate at 12.16%), expect Tua to attempt to thread a needle he’ll soon sorely regret. Just imagine how stout the Bills secondary will be when Tre’Davious White returns.
5. Christian McCaffrey OVER 56.5 rushing yards vs. Saints (-114, FanDuel)
Placing fantasy investors in the passenger seat on the Screamin’ Eagle, McCaffrey has been a rollercoaster ride out of the gate. His underlying data, however, squashes the cause for alarm. Against the Browns and Giants, he tallied a sensational 4.46 yards after contact per attempt and a ridiculous 40.0 missed tackle rate. By all indications, he’s back, healthy (kinda) and highly reliable. The Saints have shown some cracks in the damn up front defensively. Yes, they’ve surrendered a mere 3.75 yards per carry to RBs, but Cordarrelle Patterson bolted to 120 ground yards in Week 1. Operating behind Carolina’s No. 7 ranked run-blocking line, McCaffrey is a tasty McNugget at under 60 yards, even with the ankle stiffness.
6. Mark Andrews UNDER 57.5 receiving yards at Patriots (-115, DraftKings)
Turning an opponent’s top weapon into a lovable and huggable plush friend is what Bill Belichick is notorious for, especially if that individual is an upper-class tight end. Over the last 19 games, only one plus-sized target, Dalton Schultz, has crossed the 58-yard mark against the Pats. Last week, they limited targets hog Pat Freiermuth to 22 yards on seven looks. Andrews has, as expected, posted banner numbers through two weeks. His 2.89 yards per route run ranks No. 1 at the position. Even off a 100-yard game, expect a finish closer to his Week 1 (4-52-0). In other words, the usually unemotional Belichick gets the last laugh.