Which Stats Best Help You Cash In With Wide Receiver Props
Since the NFL tweaked rules to be more friendly towards passing games, bettors have also adjusted. There has been a sharp increase in the interest and action in passing props. Of course, quarterbacks are at the center of those but the wide receiver market offers more options and often more value. Teams now employ three, four and five wide receiver sets with multiple tight ends. If you’re doing your homework on a weekly basis, you’ll probably find good value with some of these under-the-radar wide receiver props.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the pass-catchers and examine the best stats to research for wide receiver props.
Receptions & Yards
The most widely recognized metrics for tracking a wide receiver’s productivity are receptions and receiving yards. Most major websites like ESPN, NFL.com will rank wide receivers based on where they are in these two categories. Even a lot of Pro Bowl selections are made based around these to numbers.
Generally speaking, you want to consider these two numbers as the macro perspective on a wide receiver’s production. Of course, it’s great to rank well in these categories but when you’re betting the week-to-week wide receiver props, you want to delve a little deeper to dissect a few things.
One thing you’ll want to examine is where a wideout ranks in receptions versus yards. For example, a player might have 120 receptions on the season with 1200 receiving yards. Another wideout might have 80 receptions for 1450 yards. Do you see the difference? One is more of a volume target, who is picking up tons of catches. The other is more of an explosive weapon that is making big plays with each catch.
Typically, the season-long futures for wide receivers only focus on things like receptions, yards and touchdowns. However, if you’re betting the week-to-week props, you need to really get into the granular details beyond just the season-long or season-to-date stats.
Building off the first section, we can now move into yards-per-route, which is going to give you a better indication of where the player is doing damage across the field. Yards and receptions give you a good macro look on what they’re doing overall. Now we’ll start to see what are they doing and in what areas on the field. For example, are they a deep threat or are they a checkdown safety valve? Getting a feel for how the wideout is utilized will get you a better indication as to what props are better bets for them.
In the 2022 NFL season, Detroit Lions standout Amon-Ra St. Brown finished 11th in the league in receiving yards with 1,161. It was pretty clear with his 11.0 yards-per-catch that he wasn’t exactly a downfield threat; the league-leaders in this category were above 17.0 yards-per-catch. Taking a look at his receptions, we can see that he had 106, so we know that he’s probably a better bet to go over receptions than maybe yards or longest reception (of course, depending on what the oddsmakers set his lines at).
On the flip side, A.J. Brown only had 88 catches on the year but finished 1,496 yards and a 17.0 yards-per-reception mark. It’s clear that he’s a deep threat. While he might not as be as consistently delivering as St. Brown in terms of a steady baseline, Brown definitely had more explosive upside. Over his last nine games in the regular season, Brown had anywhere from seven receiving yards to 181. As you can imagine, St. Brown was steadier with receptions and receiving yards, but with a higher floor and lower ceiling.
Understanding yards-per-catch will help you understand the profile of the wide receivers and how they’re being deployed.
Although receiving yards and receptions are still the preferred way to evaluate a wide receiver’s production, a new(er) stat that has come into play is targets. This originally was viewed as advanced metric and it probably still is in many circles. At any rate, this helps add some context to who that wide receiver is playing with.
Targets are simply the pass attempts thrown towards a player. This is important to track because it gives you a peak into the window of the relationship between the wideout and the quarterback they’re playing with. For example, if a player had 15 targets in a game but only three catches, it would appear that something is off. Was it simply a windy day or is the wideout playing with a bad quarterback? If you see a high number of targets and a low number of receptions, it means you have to dig a little deeper to see what’s wrong.
Separate of the quarterback-wide receiver relationship, targets give you a good idea about volume. When you take a look at the target share for a game, this statistic illustrates how the ball is being spread around. It can become pretty evident that one receiver gets the lion’s share of targets or that maybe the ball is being spread around quite a bit. You should also keep an eye on how the targets are being split up between receivers and running backs. If the offensive line is weak or a quarterback is inexperienced, there might be more love for the running backs, who are closer to the line of scrimmage. If the offensive is fluid and explosive, and the offensive line gives the quarterback time to operate, that usually leads to more targets for the wide receivers.
Lastly, keep an on the trends. Was a wideout getting 10-12 targets in the first month of the season but is now down to four per game? Are other players taking away the opportunities? Targets is one of the most important stats to track if you’re planning to bet on reception over-unders.
Who’s The Matchup?
One of the most important things to do with these wide receiver props is to evaluate the defensive matchup. In this case, you’re not looking at the stats of the wide receiver but of the opposing defense.
In many cases, bettors and fantasy football players will rely on or avoid wideouts based on who they’re facing. If a defense excels at stopping the pass and has one of the best cornerbacks in the game, then you might want to think twice about some of your over bets. At the same time, if the defense is weak and the offense you’re betting on looks like they’ll be moving the ball a lot, that’s good news for your over prop bets.
Some stats to consider include passing yards per game, passing yards per attempt, sacks per game, opposing quarterback rating, third down conversion percentage allowed and points allowed. That should give you an idea of whether your wideouts will be facing lots of resistance or if they’ll have an easier time racking up the yards.
We’ve gone from macro with receptions and receiving yards, and have slowly worked our way to the micro levels of production and performance for a wide receiver. Snaps might be at the end of the spectrum.
Before a player can earn receptions and targets, they have to get on the field for snaps. This is a good metric to track if you’re handicapping wide receiver props because it can demonstrate opportunity – especially for young wideouts who are trying to make a name for themselves.
When you’re looking at wide receiver props, remember that you need to outperform what the market is saying. If you’re betting on A.J. Brown props, the market already knows that he’s an explosive deep threat and his over-unders will reflect that. Where you’ll find more value is with wide receivers who are either under the radar or on the rise.
Let’s say a team uses a first-round pick on a wide receiver but he’s not getting much done in the preseason and his snap count is low for the first few weeks. In this case, you might want to look at unders as the coaching staff simply doesn’t trust him right now. On the other hand, if you see his snaps slowly start to creep up by the week along with targets, then you know that the receptions are not far behind. You might be able to get a jump on the oddsmakers with some of his overs. That’s how you want to look at snaps vis-à-vis betting wide receiver props.
Touchdowns are probably the ultimate ego stat: both for wideouts themselves and bettors. Everyone loves to cash in with an anytime touchdown scorer prop or even first touchdown scorer.
For the most part, predicting whether a player will score a touchdown is much harder than a lot of the other over-under props like receptions and receiving yards. However, the payday is there if you’re right as you’ll make a lot more on these types of bets.
When looking for a player who could be a good bet, you obviously want to see a history of touchdowns. If you’re betting on someone that doesn’t get into the end zone frequently, you want to have good reason to do so otherwise.
One of things to do with touchdown props is look at game logs to see a pattern. Beyond that, you also want to get into the nitty gritty of the local team reports to see how teams are talking about their red zone offense. If the offense is working, who are the go-to’s in that area? If the offense is stalling inside the 20’s, who are the coaches talking about giving more opportunities to? Following the beat reports and the fantasy websites should point you in the right direction.
Average Depth Of Target
Another advanced metric that bettors tend to rely on for wide receiver props is Average Depth Of Target (aDOT). It’s helpful for handicapping receiving yards over-unders.
aDOT tells you where a wide receiver is being targeted on average. If they run 20 yards down the field and get a pass their way, their aDOT is now 20.0. Like yards-per-reception, this gives you an idea of where a wideout is being targeted on average. The differentiation between this and yards-per-catch is the yards after the catch. If a wide receiver is has an aDOT of 5.0 but is averaging 15.0 yards-per-catch, you know that they’re doing a lot of work after the catch to get those yards. Meanwhile, someone who has an aDOT of 15.0 and is averaging 17.0 yards-per-catch is more likely to be a bigger target that goes up to get jump balls and gets tackled shortly after.
This statistic can help you find some hidden gems in the market. Players with a high aDOT but are lacking the yards might be undervalued as the hard-and-fast receiving yards aren’t there yet. But you know that if they’re getting targets and their aDOT is good, it’s only a matter of time before they start making it happen.
Red Zone Targets
Just checking previous game logs for touchdowns is a probably a shortcut for betting touchdown wide receiver props. The proper homework likely involves checking red zone targets.
Diving into these numbers will often uncover some of the things you already know. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs loved targeting tight end Travis Kelce in the red zone. That’s a big reason why he finished with 11 touchdowns last season. At the same time, there are usually some hidden gems in the numbers. Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler finished third in the NFL in red zone targets, which is surprising on a team that has big wideouts like Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones each had over 20 red zone targets and both finished in the top nine in the category.
Many bettors are simply going to look at touchdowns scored and then make their decision for the Anytime Touchdown Scorer prop. Looking at something like red zone targets is how you scratch beneath the surface to find out who is getting the opportunities and is likely to deliver in the future.
There Are Stats Aplenty
While we’ve covered the main statistics that we look at for evaluating certain wide receiver props, there are many more available to bettors. And beyond just the metrics, make sure you look at the matchups, team reports and injury news. Once you put it all together, you’ll start to get a clear indication of where the value lies with some of these wide receiver props.