If not for the Browns committing 18 penalties, the most for the franchise since 1951, and watching the Tennessee Titans blow them out 43-13 in the season opener, then my prop picks might have been the most embarrassing effort of Week 1. However, like Baker Mayfield said, we throw that one in the trash, bounce back and silence the critics.
Here are my Week 2 top prop bets to target via Sportsbook.
Austin Ekeler Receptions 5+ (-141)
With tight end Hunter Henry placed on injured reserve and wide receiver Mike Williams nursing a sore knee, the Chargers are once again snake-bitten by injury. The loss of two of their top offensive weapons and Melvin Gordon’s continued contract holdout opens the door wider for Austin Ekeler. The dynamic running back posted six receptions on seven targets for 96 yards in Week 1 against the Colts. Odds are he’ll receive a similar workload this week against a Lions defense that was just carved up by rookie Kyler Murray. Playing indoors on the fast Ford Field track will only improve Ekeler’s chances of hitting this OVER early in the second quarter. I’m flirting with the notion that he’ll finish with six or more again to hit plus-money (+102).
John Brown Receiving Yards 68+ (+110)
Pro Football Focus believes the Bills receiver boasts the second-best matchup of Week 2 up against Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins. After PFF deemed Julio Jones vs Xavier Rhodes the most favorable wide receiver vs cornerback matchup of Week 1 and Jones finished with six receptions for just 31 yards, I’m a little hesitant. However, like any handicapper, we know PFF needs the most recent data and sample size to accurately analyze WR/CB matchups.
Brown racked up seven receptions for 123 yards on 10 Josh Allen targets. The Giants secondary was Swiss-cheese city at Dallas last week as Dak Prescott torched ‘em for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Allen may not be an elite NFL quarterback yet (ever?), but if he can get the ball to Brown seven times against the Jets, he can exploit the weaknesses in the Giants secondary, too.
Gardner Minshew Passing Yards 256+ (+106)
After relieving an injured Nick Foles, Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs secondary. Houston’s defensive effort in the secondary was so bad against New Orleans, they cut defensive back Aaron Colvin the next day and still owe him millions of dollars. There isn’t a lot of tape on Minshew and the Texans are coming off a short week after playing Monday night. With less time to prepare for the rookie quarterback, this is an ideal situation for Minshew to exploit the Texans secondary as a relative unknown commodity.
If anything, with the Texans -8.5, the home team leads late in the second half and Minshew’s garbage time yardage boosts him above the 256 threshold.
James White Receiving Yards 57+ (+120)
Coming off a win in which Tom Brady completed 24 of 36 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns and knowing the Patriots are 19-point road favorites, this Miami matchup has all the makings of a James White game. What do I mean?
Just when you think you have Bill Belichick figured out, he zags while you’re zigging. With Antonio Brown likely to make his Patriots debut (pending) alongside Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett, it should be an air show, right? I mean, Lamar Jackson just destroyed this secondary via the pass. So, Brady should have no issues.
Not so fast.
Watch for a lot of play-action dump-offs to White early in the game. The attention will be on the receiving corps and Dolphins linebackers will cheat back to cut off throwing lanes, allowing White to have more room to roam. I’ve seen it before. It’ll happen again. White had seven regular-season games last season in which he finished with 57 or more receiving yards.
Matt Ryan Sacked O/U 2.5 (N/A)
While I’m not quite sure which Falcons offense will show up in their home opener, I do know their offensive line is weak. Pro Football Focus ranked Atlanta’s O-line outside the top 20 to start the season and they’ve now lost rookie starter Chris Lindstrom to a foot injury. Matt Ryan was sacked four times at Minnesota last weekend and I expect a heavy pass rush from the Eagles on Sunday night. If and when an O/U 2.5 Ryan sack prop bet hits the board, I like the OVER.