Finding Value With NFL Touchdown Props
If you’re at a sports bar on a football Sunday, you’ve experienced the range of emotions when someone scores a touchdown. Someone that has the team that just scored in a parlay is high-fiving, someone else that has a ticket with the opponent on the spread is disappointed, and someone who cashed in on a touchdown player prop is bragging about their prediction.
Touchdown props are one of the most popular options on the board for football but some are better betting options than others. If you’ve been trying to figure these out and see which ones are worth it, allow us to elaborate. There’s an art to betting player props. We’re going to dive into the best way to play these and talk about the strategy to win with these touchdown props.
First Touchdown Scorer
If you’re on Twitter these days, you’ll often see people bragging about their ‘First’ prop picks. Whether it’s first basket or first inning or first touchdown prop, there’s always someone who’s flashing a winning ticket.
The truth of the matter is that the Anytime Touchdown prop is probably the safest of the three touchdown props but you can handicap the first touchdown prop enough to make a reasonable guess. And with the payouts being quite generous on these – since it’s a longshot to hit it – you might find value from time to time.
To get these right, you want to know a few things right off the bat:
- Does the team you’re betting on want to receive the ball or defer if they win the coin flip?
- What type of team and defense are you up against?
- Who is the most likely player to score the first touchdown – if your team has the first opportunity?
The challenge with the First Touchdown scorer prop is that you really need the stars to align to get this right. You’re mostly handicapping the game thinking about who’ll score a touchdown at any point, and then trying to gauge whether your team or your player will be the one. In the NFL, though, there’s so much that can happen in the realm of the unexpected that it makes it really hard to get this prop right. Is Travis Kelce a good bet to score a touchdown at some point? Probably. Is he a good bet to score the first touchdown of the game? Maybe but it’s hard to know if he’ll be first.
Remember that there are a lot of variables in play. What if the Kansas City Chiefs don’t get the ball first? What if the Chiefs get the ball but return the opening kick for a touchdown? What if the opposing quarterback throws a pick six on the first series of the game? If you have Kelce to score a touchdown at any point, your bet still has legs as he can cash in at any point. If you’re betting him to only score the first touchdown, a lot more can go wrong. That’s why it’s usually best not to play this prop.
Last Touchdown Scorer
Last touchdown scorer tends to be a bet that you want to avoid overall. The main reason is that it’s fairly hard to handicap this to the point where you really can gauge your chances of winning. There are some things that you can look at like:
- Do teams perform better in the second half/fourth quarter?
- Which defenses fade as the game progresses?
- Do teams have any tendencies when they’re trying to put games away?
Even if you do find some trends in these scenarios, it’s tough to gauge who’ll be someone worth betting on as the last scorer of the game. It’s really hard to know how the game flow at that point and what each team will be trying to accomplish and in which way.
Going back to the Kansas City Chiefs example, if it’s a back-and-forth game and you have Kelce to score the last touchdown, maybe it works out. Maybe he scores the game winning as the Chiefs come back with less than two minutes to go. But what if it’s a low-scoring game and the last touchdown is scored in the second or third quarter? What if the Chiefs are up double-digits after kicking five field goals and now just want to run the ball to milk the clock? What if the Chiefs blow out their opponent and Kelce does his damage early, then gets rested late in the game? What if the opponent scores a garbage time touchdown?
Predicting who’ll score the last touchdown of the game is just merely a dart throw. With so many different props on the board, this might be one that you want to avoid – even if the payouts look juicy.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer
Of the three aforementioned touchdown scorer props, this is arguably the best one to go for. The main reason for it is it gives you a bigger window of opportunity rather than just being the first or last scorer. You might have a good feel that Kelce will have an opportunity to score throughout the game but who knows if it’ll be first, last or somewhere in between. That’s why this is the most recommended of the three touchdown props as it will feel like your handicapping can actually point you in the right direction. With the others, it’ll feel like you need luck to really be on your side.
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) July 16, 2023
In terms of the anytime touchdown scorer, what you want to look at is:
- What’s the matchup looking like?
- Is the gameplan to get your player the ball in the red zone?
- What’s the coaching staff talking about in terms of red zone game plan?
When you’re looking at picking a game to bet on an anytime touchdown scorer, you would ideally start by looking at what are the worst defenses in the NFL. Once you’ve sifted through the rankings and see who is in the basement in yards, points allowed and red zone defense, now you where to go. You can look at their opponent and see what player from that roster makes sense.
The next thing you’ll want to look at is who does that team go to in the red zone? You can look at a number of good stats like red zone offense, red zone targets and red zone target percentage.
With the red zone offense, this will give you a good idea of how your team performs in the red zone and what their game plan is. For example, the Dallas Cowboys led the NFL in red zone offense last season at 71.4% while the New England Patriots were last at 42.2%. That’s a big difference.
Next you want to see how teams attack in the red zone. Are they going to be running the ball or working through the air? Obviously, there’s less space in the red zone. Running routes and fitting passes into those tight windows is much harder. Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams led the NFL with red zone carries last season with 57. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns too with 17.
If you’re looking at wide receivers, you want to look at something like red zone targets. Typically, teams run specific offenses inside the 20’s and quarterbacks look to their favorites. Kelce led the NFL in red zone targets last season while Justin Jefferson was second. It’s not that surprising that both were in the Top 11 for receiving touchdowns last season.
Remember there isn’t always a correlation between red zone targets and touchdowns. Davante Adams led the NFL in touchdowns last season with 14 only four of them came in the red zone. That’s yet another factor you have to consider with the anytime touchdown scorer prop. The scores can come from anywhere. However, those are harder to predict but by evaluating red zone performance, you can try to improve your chances.
What’s The Defensive Matchup?
Regardless of which of the touchdown props you plan to bet on, your research should always include a review of the defense that your offensive players will be facing.
Thinking of betting on Davante Adams to score a touchdown this week? Sure, he might lead the NFL in the category but what if he’s going up against one of the top cornerbacks in the league this week? Or what if the defense is known for having an airtight secondary? Or what if the front seven leads the league in sacks and Adams’ quarterback might not have time to operate? These are the types of things you want to consider before locking in your bets. It doesn’t mean Adams can’t score a touchdown this week but again, you’re simply playing the odds.
If you track fantasy football and the weekly previews they do of who to start and sit, they tend to do similar research. The fantasy decisions are also based on player performance and you have to upgrade or downgrade players based on the matchup. The same goes for the touchdown prop here.
Always take a look at how teams perform against the run, against the pass, whether they play better at home or on the road, what the red zone defense looks like and what’s the injury report saying. Once you take those things into account, you can get a better read for which matchups are worth targeting and which situations are better to avoid.
Check The Over-Under For The Game
The total for the game itself can’t definitively predict whether one of your players will score the first, last or anytime. What it can do, though, is give you a better idea of how much scoring the oddsmakers think there will be. That can give you a good clue as to whether you should be betting any of these players or avoiding altogether.
The logic is clear: if you’re thinking about betting an anytime touchdown scorer and the game total sits at 61, it might make more sense to have a go. That’s because the oddsmakers are expecting a ton of offense and a ton of points scored. More offense means more opportunities means more chances for your player to cash in. On the other hand, let’s say it’s a really windy day in November and the oddsmakers have set a line of 35.5. That means they’re expecting this game to be among the lower-scoring games of the day. In this case, you might want to avoid betting the touchdown scorer props because you might be staring down the barrel of a field goal kicking affair.
Always note the total before locking in your bets with this prop. You’re betting on players to score touchdowns, so you might as well make your picks from the games where the oddsmakers are envisioning lots of points and touchdowns.
Touchdown Props Can Pay Off
There are a number of types of touchdown props but they vary from investable to avoidable. Make sure you study up on which are worth your time and which are worth passing on. Done right, there’s some money to be made so that you celebrate too when they hit paydirt.