Mike ClayESPN writer5 minutes of reading
Player props are rolling in for the 2023 NFL season, and I’ve compared them—as well as team win totals—to my projections to find the best values on the board.
The games below are my favorites from the AFC East and NFC South divisions.
All lines are via Caesars Sportsbook
Josh Allen UNDER 4,300.5 passing yards
Allen accomplished this mark in both 2020 and 2021, but did not miss a single game. Had he missed a single one (using his weekly average as a benchmark), he would have fallen short of 4,301 passing yards. In 2022, Allen missed one game (suspended vs. Cincinnati) and fell short on this line. Obviously, Allen has been durable, and the one lost game wasn’t on him, but if you make this bet, you’re essentially assuming a 17-game season. It’s a tough bet to recommend considering only eight QBs played 17 games in 2022 and 11 did in 2021. Props are often about playing the odds, and the odds certainly favor the under here.
Tua Tagovailoa OVER 3,800.5 pass yards
Projection: 3,878 (15 games)
Tagovailoa’s concussion issues are a concern, so I understand if you want to stay away from this one. But check this out: If we look at Tagovailoa’s 12 full games last season, his 17-game pace was 4,870 yards. That’s over 1,000 yards over this prop! Not enough of a sample? Fair. Through his 11 full games in 2021, his 17-game pace was 3,836 yards, which is also above that line. Tagovailoa finished third in average throwing depth, second in QBR and first in yards per carry. pass attempts last season. Even with a 15-game projection and worse efficiency, Tagovailoa projects above this prop line.
Dolphins OVER 9.5 wins
Speaking of Tagovailoa’s amazing efficiency, if he’s healthy this season, Miami shouldn’t have much trouble managing 9.5 wins. In fact, the Dolphins started 8-0 in the games Tua played in full last season and fell off late in the year during a tough stretch that included road games at the 49ers, Chargers and Bills. Miami’s offense looks solid, but what really makes this ‘over’ appealing is a defense that is among the league’s best on paper. Jalen Ramsey and David Long Jr. were key offseason additions to a rising group led by Christian Wilkins, Jaelan Phillips, Jerome Baker, Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland. Oh, and someone else named Bradley Chubb is entering his first full season with the team. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has the necessary personnel for an elite unit. Even in what can be a tough division, I like the overflow.
Bryce Young UNDER 22.5 passing TDs
This might be my favorite game in the books. Young — the first overall pick in April’s draft — actually opened with a 24.5 line, so this one is already on the way down. And yet, that’s still too high considering that in league history only seven rookie QBs have reached 23 pass TDs (Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Daniel Jones, Dak Prescott and Andrew Luck) . The league has expanded 17 games since those accomplishments, but check this out: only 13 QBs reached 23 pass TDs each of the last two seasons, the most by QBs on playoff teams. Even in an easy division, Carolina (a team that has reached 23 pass TDs in one of the last seven seasons) is not a favorite for a trip to the postseason. As if that’s not enough, Young’s supporting cast is still a work in progress with Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Hayden Hurst and rookie Jonathan Mingo as his top targets.
Falcons UNDER 8.5 to win
Projection: 7.2 (even with second-easiest schedule)
With no clear standout team, the NFC South is as close to a wide open division as you can get, but 8.5 is still too high a win total for Atlanta. In fact, my projection of 7.2 factors in what I project as the league’s second-easiest schedule. The Falcons haven’t even won eight games since 2017, and while the roster improved during the offseason, there are still major holes, including at wide receiver, edge rusher, cornerback, linebacker and most notably quarterback. Second-year QB Desmond Ridder has attempted 115 career passes, and his only two TDs in 2022 came against Tampa Bay backups in Week 18. Could he make a Year 2 leap? Sure, but third round QBs don’t have a very good track record. Russell Wilson is a rare success story of the last decade or so, with the likes of Matt Schaub, Nick Foles, Mike Glennon and Jacoby Brissett the best case scenario otherwise.
Chris Olave OVER 4.5 receiving TDs
Olave was held to four TDs as a rookie, but his usage near the goal line increases with a better QB in his second season. He appears to be the real deal after handling a massive 27% share as a rookie and posting a 2.5 YPRR (seventh best among all WRs). Six receiving TDs isn’t a high bar, especially for a No. 1 wide receiver, as 45 players hit the mark in 2022. With Derek Carr now under center, Olave should be able to push for half a dozen scores.
Miles Sanders UNDER 6.5 rush TDs
Sanders ran for 11 touchdowns last season, but his first three NFL seasons saw him score three, seven and zero rushing TDs. And that was behind an elite Eagles offensive line, not a Carolina unit that looks like a league-average unit at best going into 2023. Sanders generally hasn’t been much of a factor near the goal line since 2022 marked his first season to finish inside. the top 30 by running backs into carries inside the opponent’s 5 yard line. He’s also on track for an inferior offense, as in 2022 the Eagles scored 57 offensive TDs (second most), while Carolina scored 32 and the NFL median for offensive TDs is in the 37-to-38 range.