Koerner’s Packers vs. 49ers Prop Picks for the NFC Championship Game
Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Graham
- Sean Koerner, our director of predictive analytics, uses his projections to identify the best player props and picks for the NFC Championship Game.
- Find out how he's betting Jimmy Graham's receiving yards for the Packers vs. 49ers showdown on Sunday evening.
- He also built a spreadsheet calculator you can use to identify edges on props he might not have bet.
There’s tons of value to be had betting NFL props. And in honor of the playoffs, I’m peeling the curtain back on my full prop betting process.
Below is a guide to the player props I’m betting for Sunday’s conference championships featuring the Titans at Chiefs and Packers at 49ers. I’ve also created a downloadable spreadsheet calculator, which you can use to plug in the lines at your books and automatically calculate the exact edge on 13 different props (including ones I haven’t made picks on yet).
Note that I typically wouldn’t bet a prop unless the line offers a 58% edge according to my calculations, so every pick I’ve outlined in the following analysis reaches at least that threshold.
Now let’s dig into the slate.
AFC & NFC Championship Props & Picks: Titans-Chiefs & Packers-49ers
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Chiefs RB Damien Williams
Williams is a very interesting back to forecast.
Because the Chiefs fell behind to the Texans early in the Divisional Round, Kansas City was forced into an extreme pass-heavy game plan. Williams finished with 12 carries, but it’s safe to assume he would have seen more had the Chiefs not trailed by more than three scores to start the game. Therefore I’m projecting him for 13.5 carries against the Titans.
FanDuel is offering Over 12.5 Rush Attempts (-102), and as you’ll be able to calculate in my prop tool below, I have him going over that total 59% of the time. As a result, it may be surprising that I have him going under his rushing prop of 57.5 yards 60.2% of the time, but it just goes to show the complex nature of player props and how they’re much easier to exploit than other markets.
The market may be too high on his rushing yards because it would imply 4.6 yards per carry. Sure, his yards per carry on the season is 4.5. However, this has been inflated a ton by his two longest runs of the year (91 and 84 yards). If we were to remove his two longest runs — and for the sake of fairness, his two shortest runs — his yards per carry would be 3.1.
It’s not that he isn’t capable of popping off a 90-yard run, but those outliers typically happen over 100 or more touches. And given that we’ll likely see only a 11- to 15-carry sample here, that’s much less likely to feature an outlier carry. This is what gives the under its inherent value.
You could try to middle the market by taking Over 12.5 rush attempts and Under 57.5 rushing yards. If you bet to win $100 on each prop, you would average $33 of profit over a 10,000-game sample.
- Both Lose: 10%
- One Wins, One Loses: 63%
- Both Win: 27%
PICK: Under 57.5 Rushing Yards (-112)
*If you want to be aggressive, you can also play Over 12.5 Rush Attempts (-102)
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
Most of the value on yardage props tends to be on the under due to a couple of factors:
- The public tends to bet on the over more often, which leads books to inflate their lines. No one really wants to bet on a player to suck — I don’t think of it that way, and as I have shown over the past couple weeks, while I can like a player’s upside in a stat, props aren’t necessarily about a player’s upside.
- Most people don’t realize that a player’s median projection is lower than what their average may be. I discuss that quite a bit when attacking certain props.
When it comes to the most-yardage markets, this entire process is nearly flipped. We absolutely want to target a player’s upside as we aren’t concerned about their median outcomes — all we’re shooting for is their ceiling, and trying to gauge whether they’ll hit it is what makes their price +EV.
Hill is the perfect player for this market as his playmaking ability is second to none in the NFL.
I have him finishing with the most receiving yards on Championship Sunday 20.3% of the time (which clears the 17.5% we need to be +EV), which means there’s enough value to warrant a small wager on Hill.
PICK: Most Receiving Yards on Championship Sunday (+470)
Titans WR A.J. Brown
Brown has been shut down in the playoffs so far, putting up lines of 1/4/0 and 1/9/0. Yes, he’s faced two elite pass defenses in the Patriots and Ravens, but the poor performances are mostly due to the Titans’ running their offense through Derrick Henry.
Ryan Tannehill has attempted only 29 passes in both games combined, so there really wasn’t much opportunity for Brown to begin with. But this week could be different as 7.5-point road dogs against a Chiefs team that could put up points early and force the Titans to throw more. However, we may not see that until the second half.
Brown has massive upside in this spot, but as always, we should focus only on his median outcome. I have him averaging 62 receiving yards when I simulate this game 10,000 times, but with a median of only 54.5 yards, therefore there’s a 60.2% chance of this going under.
PICK: Under 62.5 Receiving Yards (-112)
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce
Kelce is playing at less than 100% with what appears to be IT band tightness in his knee. Surely he’s a lock to play through it in a game as important as the conference championship, but there’s a chance he could be limited like last week when he ran a route on only 79% of the dropbacks while backup Blake Bell saw his rate spike up to 38% while Kelce sat out stretches of the game.
While it didn’t stop Kelce from posting a massive 10/134/3 game, the Chiefs could lean on Hill and Sammy Watkins more in the passing game — enough that the current line of 79.5 receiving yards seems a tad high for Kelce. I’m showing a 58.3% chance he goes under that number.
PICK: Under 79.5 Receiving Yards (-112)
Packers WR Allen Lazard
Lazard has been a pleasant surprise for the Packers this season as their No. 2 WR in receiving yards. Last week he suffered an ankle injury that forced him to leave the game for periods at a time. Ultimately he finished with zero targets and ran a route on only 30% of dropbacks.
This week he’s been left off the injury report, which means the ankle issue shouldn’t pose too much of an issue. However, this is a brutal matchup for all Packers receivers as the 49ers rank second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the pass.
DraftKings is offering his prop at 35.5 receiving yards, for which I have Lazard going under 64.8% of the time. I have his median at 25.5, which is why this prop is showing incredible value.
Of course you can use the player prop tool below to plug in what numbers your book is offering, but it looks like he’ll be offering value across all books.
PICK: Under 35.5 Receiving Yards (-109)
Packers TE Jimmy Graham
The Packers ran a lot of two-tight end sets last week, which saw Graham run routes on 53% of dropbacks, Marcedes Lewis on 37%, Robert Tonyan on 33% and Jace Sternberger on 23%. Graham managed to put up a 3/49/0 line, but my underlying metrics expect him to regress to more of a 2/20/0 type of game this week.
Jaquiski Tartt is exceptional at covering tight ends, and I’m sure he’ll have no problem keeping up with the 33-year-old Graham. I have Graham going under his prop of 23.5 receiving yards at FanDuel 61.9% of the time, but be sure to use my prop tool if your book is offering different odds as every yard is extremely valuable for a prop like this one.
PICK: Under 23.5 Receiving Yards (-112)
Conference Championships Player Props Calculator
Click this link to download the spreadsheet with my calculator for 13 different conference championship props, including ones I didn’t outline picks for above.
Simply use the dropdown menu for each prop to adjust the lines accordingly, plug the right vig in for your Book’s over and under, then my calculated edges will auto-populate under “Sean %.”
Here’s a preview of what the spreadsheet looks like: