NFL Player Prop Future Bets
The preseason has finally begun and the NFL is nearly back, but before opening night, let’s dive into the futures market and find some more winners. This is the second and final installment of 2021 NFL futures; make sure you don’t miss the first installment – 12 NFL Team Future Bets.
I’ve broken my wagers up into two categories: player totals and longshots. So, no matter what type of futures you prefer, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re new to sports betting, remember to shop around for the best sportsbook or fantasy sports site such as Monkey Knife Fight. Search for the best bonus as some sites allow and 10X bonuses and remember to always bet responsibly within your means.
Without further delay, here are my 12 favorite player prop futures.
Najee Harris Over 990.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
This is my favorite prop future on the board. Najee Harris is an absolute stud, and the Steelers didn’t take him in the first round to ease him into action. He’s going to be a workhorse for them, especially with an aging Ben Roethlisberger under center.
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 13, 2021
Last year, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the only rookie selected in the first round, and he ran for 803 yards in just 13 games. That’s a 988-yard pace had he suited up for all 16 games, and Harris has the luxury of a 17th game. Excluding Rashaad Penny who didn’t start a single game as a rookie, first-round running backs since 2015 are averaging 1004.9 rushing yards in their rookie season. Harris should have more opportunities than most, if not all of them.
J.K. Dobbins Over 1050.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
It’s J.K. Dobbins time in Baltimore. We’re getting a great number on the lead back in a run-first offense for two reasons. First and most obviously: Lamar Jackson. Most bettors and fantasy players are scared off of Dobbins because they feel Lamar Jackson is the primary option on the ground. The Ravens know they can’t rely on Jackson long-term if they keep putting him in harm’s way. Jackson is still going to get his rushing opportunities, but they’ll be scaled back and Dobbins will be the beneficiary.
Secondly, Baltimore just locked up Gus Edwards, but Edwards is their red zone, short yardage, touchdown-vulture back. He’s not their lead back, he’s a compliment. Don’t be scared off by his presence or his contract.
Dobbins ran for 805 yards last year and he started one single game. He really burst onto the scene in Week 7 and refused to let go of his stranglehold on lead-back duties. He went from averaging 25.7 yards per game in the first six weeks to 72.3 yards per game in weeks 7-17. If he can maintain that average, he’ll be on pace for a 1,200-plus yard year, blowing past this total with weeks to spare.
Aaron Jones Over 1050.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
This bet is sort of a combination of Harris and Dobbins. Pittsburgh didn’t spend a first-rounder on Harris not to use him, just like the Packers didn’t give Jones $48 million to not use him. And just like many are scared off of Dobbins because of other options in the offense, we’re getting a great number on Aaron Jones because AJ Dillon is going to command touches, and Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams is one of the best combinations in football.
Don’t let either of those factors scare you off of this bet. Jones has topped this number in each of the last two seasons, including last season when he missed two games. Jones averages 5.2 yards per carry for his career, meaning he needs 203 carries to hit this over – or 12 per game. Over the last two years, Jones is averaging 14.6 rushes per game. This total is too low, take the over.
Derrick Henry Over 13.5 Touchdowns (-110)
I must be missing something here. Over the last two seasons, Henry has 16 and 17 rushing touchdowns, respectively. And now he’s got an extra game to reach just 14? Sounds too good to be true.
Henry has missed just one single game in his five-year career, and handing the ball to him is Tennessee’s top preference in the red zone. Last year, Henry had 59 red zone carries (2nd in the NFL) and handled 67.0% of the Titans’ red zone rushes (2nd). From inside the 10, he led the league with 35 carries, and from inside the five, Henry handled 70.8% of Tennessee’s carries. The opportunities will be there, and there will be plenty of them in this lethal Titans offense.
Brandon Aiyuk Over 875.5 Receiving Yards (-120)
As you’ll learn in the later section of this article, I’m high on the San Francisco offense with Trey Lance at the helm under Kyle Shanahan; and I think Lance will be the starter over Jimmy Garoppolo. Brandon Aiyuk may not be the number one option in the pass game – that title goes to George Kittle – but he’s a vital part of the offense, and the false perception that he’s third in line for targets behind Deebo Samuel and Kittle has this total about 100 yards too low.
Aiyuk missed four games last year and still racked up 748 yards. That’s a 17-game pace of 1,060 yards, blowing this total completely out of the water. He was also targeted 96 times in those 12 games, but his catch rate was only 62.5%. Keep in mind, he played with almost exclusively backup quarterbacks last season after Garoppolo got hurt. His catch rate should spike by 3-5% this year with a far more accurate passer, and if he stays healthy, could cash this over with weeks to spare.
Keenan Allen Over 6.5 Receiving Touchdowns (-110)
Another team I’m high on is the Los Angeles Chargers, as you probably learned from my Team Futures article from last week. Keenan Allen is one of the – if not the – most underappreciated receivers in the game. He played just nine games combined in 2015-16, and the injury-prone tag has followed him ever since, despite playing at least 14 games in every other season.
Allen had eight touchdowns last year with a rookie quarterback and a really, really bad coaching staff that had little clue how to get him the ball when it mattered. Justin Herbert took the league by storm last year, and is about ready to thrust himself into the upper-echelon quarterback conversation. For him to do that, he’s going to pepper his top target as much as possible. Of players with 100 receptions and 140 targets last year, Allen had the second-fewest TD grabs. Some positive regression is in the cards, especially in a division that plays little to no defense, and double-especially now that Hunter Henry is no longer around to vulture touchdowns in the red zone.
Justin Herbert Over 28.5 Touchdown Passes (-115)
At risk of repeating myself from my Keenan Allen handicap: Justin Herbert is ready to take the next step in this league, and 28.5 touchdowns is far too low for a player who is +2000 to win the league MVP award. Herbert played 15 games and threw 31 touchdowns as a rookie under a terrible coaching staff, so I have no clue why his total is 2.5 lower than his output from a year ago.
Sure, he lost Hunter Henry, but I expect Herbert to take a monstrous leap forward this year. As of now, he looks like the top quarterback from the 2020 draft class; the top passer from the previous draft – Kyler Murray – increased his touchdown output by 30% from his rookie to sophomore year. If Herbert can pace Murray, he’ll throw for 40 scores this year, topping this over by a wide margin. Plus, he’ll play every single home game indoors or in the gorgeous Los Angeles sunshine, depending on the roof being open at SoFi Stadium. Great weather makes for easier opportunities to throw the football.
Cooper Kupp Over 1000.5 Receiving Yards (-130)
This one requires us to lay a bit of juice, but that’s OK. Kupp is my number-one underrated fantasy wide receiver this year. I have no idea why his ADP is as low as it is, but that’s helped us get a great number on his yardage total. Don’t let the DeSean Jackson signing temper your expectations on Kupp; Jackson is going to be a deep threat for Los Angeles if he can even stay on the field. The Rams lost Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett, both of whom were way more susceptible to stealing Kupp’s underneath targets.
Kupp had 1,161 yards two years ago and still had 974 yards last year despite missing a game. Remember, those totals came with Jared Goff and John Wolford. He’s now catching passes from the far-superior Matthew Stafford, and all reports are glowing over the rapport these two have developed in camp. The Rams also lost Cam Akers for the year, so Sean McVay should be leaning on his passing game even more than we expected.
Terrace Marshall Jr. Over 550.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
The Panthers’ quarterback situation in 2020 wasn’t any better than it is in 2021. Joe Brady is an offensive genius, and Sam Darnold has a ton to prove since he got out from underneath the dark cloud that is the New York Jets. Last year, three of Carolina’s receivers went over 850 yards, and two went over 1,000. Now, Curtis Samuel is gone and Terrace Marshall Jr. was drafted to slide right into his place.
He’s absolutely lit training camp up, and Brady has experience with Marshall from their days at LSU. Brady’s offense employed three wide receiver sets on 65% of snaps last year, so there’s plenty of room for the rookie to blossom. This division is going to boom with scoring, and if the Panthers want to keep up, they’re going to have to use all three stud wideouts, including Marshall.
Josh Allen Over 4550.5 Passing Yards (-110)
Josh Allen just got locked into an absolutely massive contract, and I believe that has huge implications on his passing total. First of all, he’s obviously and very clearly their guy. He’s the captain of the ship; the Bills will go as far as Allen takes them. Meaning the ball is going to be in his hands at a high rate. And secondly, they’re not going to put their franchise quarterback in harm’s way if they don’t have to. I anticipate fewer carries for Allen and in their place: more screens and short passes.
Buffalo’s run game isn’t anything to write home about. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are a fine combination, but nothing that should command a ton of volume to deter from Allen’s pass attempts. The Bills also added Emmanuel Sanders to lean right into my earlier prediction of more screens.
Allen missed this total by seven yards last year, but in his first three years, he’s increased his yardage output by an average of 48% per year. I’m not expecting that big of a leap – that would put him over 6,700 yards – but I am expecting him to improve yet again in 2021. The Bills have Super Bowl aspirations this year and the loaded offense to give themselves a legitimate shot. They play the ninth-easiest schedule in the NFL and return one of the best offensive coordinators in the game. With an extra game on the schedule, Allen should have the weaponry and infrastructure to get this done.
Chase Young To Win Defensive Player Of The Year (+1200)
Did you see what Chase Young did to Isaiah Wynn in the Football Team’s first preseason game? He made one of the best young left tackles in football look like a blocking sled. Young is, in my opinion, one of the most physically gifted defensive players in football, and his ability to do absolutely everything Washington needs from both a pass rushing and run defending perspective gives him a massive edge over other players who simply excel at one of the two.
Chase Young makes it look EASY pic.twitter.com/vdhhfi0H4k
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 12, 2021
Aaron Donald has dominated this award, winning three of the last four, and close finishes from Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt has caused the market to blindly bet them and ignore Young. Young plays on the best defensive line in football, and it’s going to be near impossible to double-team him with the talent surrounding him. He also gets four games against two poor offensive lines in the Giants and Eagles. Per PFF, he was the fifth-best pass rusher in the entire NFL as a rookie, and the best defensive lineman in the red zone. He’ll take a leap, and at 12-to-1 odds, this is well worth a longshot play.
Trey Lance Part 1: To Win Offensive Rookie Of The Year (+650)
Trey Lance is in the perfect situation. Kyle Shanahan is going to put him in a position to thrive, and he’s got weapons galore around him. Lance threw one single interception in 19 college games at North Dakota State. I don’t care if he played in the FBS, FCS, or local high school – that’s an insane statistic. He knows how to take care of the football not only when he throws it, but when the pressure bears down on him.
Lance can also tuck it and run, and those extra yards go a long way with the voters. In his only full season at the helm for the Bison, he ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. Shanahan isn’t going to close the book on that part of his game; instead, he’s going to use it to exploit defenses. The Offensive Rookie of the Year award isn’t exclusively a quarterback award, but they’ve won six of the last 11, and the last five of those six have had a rushing element to their game – Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Robert Griffin III, and Cam Newton.
Trey Lance Part 2: To Start Week 1 (+225)
Ok, this is a bonus 13th prop bet, sort of, but it’s just another way to profit off the brilliance of Trey Lance. This one goes hand in hand with the Rookie of the Year bet, so in my mind, they’re two bets linked at the hip. The 49ers wouldn’t have drafted Lance if they had any reason to keep Jimmy Garoppolo under center. He was a liability even in their NFC title year, and I’m a believer in where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The smoke around Lance has been apparent all training camp long; beat writers and bloggers are in awe of his arm strength, accuracy, and poise in the pocket.
I won’t spend time repeating my previous handicap on his Rookie of the Year bid, but all six of the quarterbacks I’ve mentioned who’ve won the award since 2010 started Week 1. Lance will be no different, he’s the best option under center on a team that has legitimate playoff aspirations. San Francisco gains nothing from sitting him on the bench after a lost year in 2020 due to COVID.
Mike is an avid sports bettor and fantasy football player, and has been writing since 2013. He previously worked for NBC Sports Philadelphia and Alliance Football Focus, and currently contributes to BettingPros as a featured writer. Mike is a resident of New Jersey, a graduate of Rider University, and currently works as a research analyst. When he isn’t searching for his next wager or watching the New Jersey Devils, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife, his dog and his two cats.