College Football Betting Guides

Betting College Football Tight End Player Props

The college football season involves an endless amount of fascinating dramas. Will low-ranked teams pull upsets against the juggernauts? Will unexpected conference champions emerge? Will the top coaches lose their fastball, such as what we’re seeing with Dabo Swinney at Clemson right now? What about specific players such as the tight end – how many receiving yards do they get each game, and how should you look at betting props attached to them? Let’s consider this position within the larger workings of college football and, more specifically, college football offenses.

The Strategy Of Betting College Football Tight End Player Props
The Strategy Of Betting College Football Tight End Player Props

Use Of Tight Ends Within An Offensive Scheme

The amount of receiving yards a tight end might get in a college football game has a lot to do with how specifically the tight end is used within that team’s offensive framework, more than anything else. There are a few really good examples here of tight ends specifically getting a large share of a team’s receiving yards, and they both merit attention.

Used Like A Wide Receiver?

Some tight ends play the game and are used like wide receivers. The best recent example of this kind of player in college football is Kyle Pitts of Florida. He was technically listed as a tight end, but he essentially played like a wide receiver. What does this mean? A traditional tight end will receive a very large amount of blocking responsibilities in both the run game and the pass game.

A normal tight end is expected to be taller, bigger, and stronger than a typical wide receiver (also called a flanker or wideout), and someone who is therefore in a better position to block for his teammates. You might see a tight end brought in to block on 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1 to help the five regular offensive linemen – center, two guards, two tackles – plow a hole for the running back or fullback.

Pitts was not that kind of tight end. He was basically another wide receiver, but he was listed as a tight end on the 2020 Florida roster. He helped the Gators win the SEC East championship over and against Georgia and Kirby Smart that year. He helped Florida score 46 points against Alabama and Nick Saban in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. He helped the Gators reach a New Year’s Six bowl game, the Cotton Bowl, before they lost to Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners. Pitts was a downfield receiver who made big, explosive plays in the passing game. He was a prolific, productive downfield receiver, much as – to use an NFL example – Mark Andrews is for Lamar Jackson in the Baltimore Ravens’ passing attack.

This is not, in other words, a tight end who mostly blocks and catches very short passes. This is basically an added receiver on the field at all times, in an offense that seeks to score in bunches and score quickly. This is the type of player you want to target for passing props.

Used In A Traditional Role?

The other notable example is a tight end who might perform more traditional roles but is still a central target as a pass catcher. A good example of this kind of player is former Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, who is – like Pitts – now in the NFL. Mayer did a lot more of the traditional blocking assignments belonging to a proper tight end, but the thing about Mayer on the 2022 Notre Dame roster is that the Fighting Irish did not have very good wide receivers.

Mayer might have been more of a traditional tight end in a lot of ways and on a lot of levels, but he was actually the best pass catcher and route runner Notre Dame had, given the poor quality of its wide receivers. Every team situation is unique, and 2020 Florida and 2022 Notre Dame had team situations in which their tight ends were in very good position to accumulate large statistical footprints and become giant producers at their position. For them, the number of receiving yards per game was much higher than for “normal” tight ends.

These are the kinds of internal team details – and scheme-based realities – you have to look at when you consider the amount of receiving yards tight ends rack up each game in college football.

Team Tactics In The Red Zone

The raw number of yards a tight end might gain each game was discussed above, but another main betting prop is how many touchdowns a tight end might score. For this, you have to consider how often and how well a particular college football team is able to use its tight end in situations where the downfield pass is not a consideration. This refers to short-yardage situations and red-zone situations.

One program which doesn’t rely a lot on the passing game, but which does rely a lot on tight end play, is the University of Iowa under coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa has not produced very good wide receivers over the years, but the program has produced a lot of NFL-caliber tight ends, such as TJ Hockenson, Noah Fant, and George Kittle. Iowa would go to these guys in red-zone situations. When Iowa faced 3rd and goal at the 2, the Hawkeyes would use play action and count on the defense biting on a run fake with the tight end appearing to be a blocker at the start of the play, but then leaking out into the flat for a short pass. Iowa would score a lot of short-pass touchdowns with the tight ends, not the receivers or running backs, catching the ball. Tight ends were big weapons near the goal line and in situations where the defense was expecting a running play.

This is how and why team tactics near the goal line really matter when considering the betting propositions attached to the number of touchdowns tight ends will score in a college football game.

Overall Receiver Depth

The degree of depth a team has at wide receive will often shape how much a tight end is able to do himself as a pass catcher. One really good example of this is USC under Lincoln Riley. The team has one of those “wide receiver at tight end” examples mentioned above, with Duce Robinson – a freshman – being recruited as a tight end but then being used essentially as a wide receiver. You might see situations in which a player has a tight end’s body but is listed as a receiver. Robinson is in fact listed as a receiver right now. It is something to watch for at USC: Will Robinson be reclassified as a tight end in any game later this season? You might get surprisingly good value if that happens (but you will need to pay close attention to how the football program lists him each week on the depth chart).

USC is also instructive in this way: There is so much depth at wide receiver that the tight end can go overlooked by opposing defenses. USC does not give its tight ends a large number of pass-catching opportunities each game because there are so many receivers who need and want the ball. Last year, Jordan Addison and Mario Williams were joined by Tahj Washington, Brenden Rice (the son of NFL legend Jerry Rice), and a number of other good receivers who all wanted to catch passes from Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

Even so, because of all that receiver depth, there would be two or three plays per game in which the USC tight ends – Josh Falo and Lake McRee – would go completely unnoticed by a defense and could slip out into the flat on a play-action pass and gain 30 yards on a completion. If there was a betting prop on McRee or Falo getting something like 25 yards per game, that prop was worth considering precisely because there would be one or two chances per game for them to get a 30-yard play due to defensive ignorance.

That was made possible by the defense paying so much attention to all of USC’s really good wide receivers that the tight ends went totally unaccounted for on a given play. If the yardage number was low enough, USC’s tight ends last year would go over the total at times. McRee caught a short pass and turned it into a gain of nearly 30 yards in the USC-Notre Dame game last year. Falo caught a touchdown pass against Utah and cashed a nice plus-money ticket for any bettor who bet on him scoring a touchdown on October 15 versus the Utes.

These things really show up when you consider how coaches such as Lincoln Riley use tight ends within their offense.

Winning With College Football Tight End Props

Running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers are the more popular options for college football player props. However, there is more value with college football tight end props because of that. They fly under the radar. The more you know about this position, the more you’ll handicap and win with the props.

Outlier Team
December 10, 2023
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