Each year we see online sports books offering more and more options for NFL player props. If books are offering more of them then there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of – they are very profitable. The more profitable a type of bet is for the sports books, the less attractive it generally is for sharp bettors. Still, there are some situations where NFL player props can actually make sense. Here are three situations where smart sports bettors might want to look at these various bets, and three times when you’ll only want to bet them if you are a sucker who hates money:
When they are closely related to another outcome, but at a better price – Sometimes betting on football props can be a better way of getting a price you like on a one-sided game. Let’s say for example, that you think that the Colts are going to beat the Broncos in Indy. You probably aren’t going to get a very good price on the Colts – you’ll either face a big point spread, or you’ll pay a big price on the moneyline. If the Colts are going to beat the Broncos, though, then there is also a pretty good chance that Peyton Manning is going to pass for more yards than Kyle Orton. Orton has been passing very well this year, so the price on Manning isn’t going to be particularly lopsided, and it’s likely to be better than the moneyline price. The passing prop, then, could be a good way to act on your opinion in a more attractive way. Of course, you need to be reasonably confident that the outcome of the prop is closely related to the outcome of the game. Manning would outpass a QB like Vince Young regardless of the outcome of the football game, so that comparison wouldn’t likely be nearly as attractive.
When two players are compared and one has a clear edge – When oddsmakers are setting props they will typically compare comparable players – the two starting running backs, for example. Sometimes, though, the circumstances of the game make that comparison more one-sided than it would appear to be – and therefore attractive. Let’s say that two players have amassed similar yardage and scoring totals through three games, but one has done it against generally strong run defenses, while the other has done it against weaker opponents. If the run defenses in this game are similar then the running back who has faced tougher opposition could be a more attractive bet than he would seem at first glance, and he could represent value for the smart sports bettor.
When injury or other circumstances significantly increases a player’s importance – Oddsmakers typically have to set odds for these props based on the expectations the betting public will have. Sometimes, though, subtle changes in a lineup may not register with the public but could have a big impact on the performance of the player in question. For example, key injuries to an important offense line player could make it harder for a running back to run effectively, or it could force the quarterback to make shorter decisions and could impact the effectiveness of his long passing game. It doesn’t have to be an injury, either. If an opponent’s offense is largely no huddle and fast acting then an offense could get more opportunities to perform, and a running back could have more opportunities to pile up yards.
When they involve high profile players – The public loves big name NFL players. The sports books know that. It’s possible that a big name player will have an attractive price – especially if it is a head-to-head prop with another big name player – but for the most part it is safe to assume that the prices set by the bookmakers for the big name are worse than they would ideally be. You need to be very sure of your edge before you consider making a bet on such a player.
When they are just a guess – Some props can be carefully decoded and analyzed so that you can feel confident that they will turn out as you expect. Others, though, are essentially a guess. On some football teams, for example, you might have to guess which receiver is going to be featured on a given day. As a NFL handicapper, it’s important to remember that the more guessing that is involved, the less attractive a bet is.
When they are too expensive – Sometimes a bet can make sense on the surface – you are confident that one player has an edge over another, or that one player will have a big day. The books are aware when a bet has a clear preference, though, and they will set up the prices accordingly. In those cases you might have to pay too much to take your particular side, and what seems like a very attractive bet on the surface could actually have a negative long term expectation. Choose your NFL player props for value and wager accordingly.