Raider Bets: 2021 Player Predictions

This week for Raiders Bets we’ll be tackling player props, hitting them as hard as Nate Hobbs hits a tunnel screen.

But, first, let’s quickly discuss player props. For the unfamiliar, these props are a bet on a player’s stat line, such as how many touchdowns a running back will score or yards a quarterback will throw for. Generally speaking, this market has inefficiencies, meaning there’s money to be made. For a longer read on why they’re profitable, ETR’s Jack Miller has a great breakdown.

With that preamble out of the way, let’s take a look at the available season-long player props:

The key to making a profit on this market is homing in on the inefficient bets. The Waller, Jacobs and defensive ones are pretty accurate. And, unfortunately, no book has posted Bryan Edwards props. But there are three that are attractive. Let’s dig in.

Derek Carr Over 4050.5 Passing Yards | -115 | DraftKings

To eclipse this number, Derek Carr would need to average 239 yards passing per game. A quick glance at Carr’s yards-per-game average under Jon Gruden will tell you this line is too low:

  • 2018: 253.1
  • 2019: 253.4
  • 2020: 256.4

For Carr to go under 239 yards passing per game, he’d need to be injured, benched or attempt fewer passes. Carr has only missed two regular-season games in his entire career, so the first two are unlikely. As for the third, Ryan McCrystal points out that the Raiders are “an underdog of a field goal or more in nine contests” which implies Carr and the Raiders will be passing a lot. In fact, PFF projects him to attempt 576 passes, which would be a career high.

And, speaking of projections, each of the below sites expect Carr to comfortably clear 4050.5 passing yards:

History, projections and game script indicate Carr will go over. Who am I to argue with that?

Wager: +1 Unit

Henry Ruggs Over 699.5 Yards Receiving | -120 | PointsBet

It’s no secret Henry Ruggs struggled last season. He finished 9th among rookies in receiving yards. And, of the first-year receivers who logged at least 40 targets, Ruggs finished 13th of 14 in PFF grade. But there’s reason for optimism, in general, and for hitting this over, specifically.

That optimism begins and ends with usage. It was bad last year. Simply put, the offense didn’t play to his strengths. His average depth of target of 18.2 led the NFL, which sounds good, but was 7.1 yards higher than it was at Alabama, where he thrived. In college, he was adept at the slant route, yet only ran 22 slants for the Raiders. I believe we can expect that usage to change for the better in 2021.

And the reason why is a cosmic gumbo of Jon Gruden and stubbornness.

The Athletic’s Vic Tafur is the best in the business and he continues to harp on one point: Gruden wants Ruggs to succeed and will gameplan to make that happen. Most recently replying “Gruden wants to show people that Ruggs was a good pick over Jeudy and Lamb” when asked which Raider receiver would have the most productive year.

A top-notch playcaller determined to highlight – or forcefeed – a player is a great sign for the over. An even better one is when the projections all lean toward the over, which is the case here:

To summarize, Ruggs is a first-round talent, with a playcaller determined to get him the ball and is projected to surpass 750 yards by three reliable outlets. That’s good enough for me.

Wager: +1 Unit

John Brown Under 600.5 yards receiving | -130 | BetRivers

I wrote about this one two weeks ago, so I’ll spare you a long essay.

Suffice to say in the time since I called it the best Raider prop bet, John Brown’s stock has continued to fall. Gruden has rested his top-three receivers all preseason, yet Brown has not flashed. Instead, Zay Jones has outplayed him, with a PFF grade of 83 to Brown’s 38. At this point, the most likely path for the over is if Brown changed teams. But that would come with $3.2M in dead money, making it unlikely.

As discussed earlier, the key to prop betting is exploiting inefficient markets and this is the most inefficient Raider one. It’s surprising the books haven’t lowered it further or taken it off the board completely. Therefore, let’s double-dip and put another unit on it.

Wager: +1 Unit

Next Up: Awards

Twitter: @TravisGilkeson