AFC Championship Game Player Props: Expert Picks for Joe Mixon, Isiah Pacheco, More

AFC Championship Game Player Props: Expert Picks for Joe Mixon, Isiah Pacheco, More article feature image

Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Mixon.

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NFL Player Props

49ers Odds
-110o / -110u
Eagles Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

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Jauan Jennings
Longest Reception Under 14.5 (-110; BetMGM)

Jennings has lined up in the slot at the highest rate (53%) of all the 49ers pass catchers. There is a chance Kyle Shanahan uses Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk in the slot more to keep them away from Eagles cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry on the outside. That would likely kick Jennings on the outside to face either Slay/Bradberry, which would severely lower his expected target rate.

I've projected Jennings to draw about three targets, and most of those will likely come when he is lined up in the slot, which comes with a lower Average Depth of Target (aDot).

With that, I think the market we need to target is his longest reception to stay under 14.5 yards (-125 at BetMGM). Jennings only cleared this number in seven of 17 games, but he has topped it in both of the 49ers' playoffs games. That means they're inflating his number.

I’m projecting Jennings to stay under this about 60% of the time and would bet this down to -130.

Note: Since making this bet on Wednesday, the line has dropped to 13.5, which is -110 at BetMGM. Monitor the market to see if the number ticks back up to 14.5 at some point.

Miles Sanders
Under 1.5 Receptions (-186; BetRivers)

I initially gave out Miles Sanders Under 15.5 rush attempts (-130) early in the week and now the line is down to 13.5 everywhere. I’m less interested in under 13.5 rush attempts because most of the value is gone.

To illustrate just how valuable a rush attempt is worth in this range, here is what I’m projecting for Sanders:

  • Over 13.5 (53.6%); Under 13.5 (46.4%)
  • Over 14.5 (43%); Under 14.5 (57%)
  • Over 15.5 (33.1%); Under 15.5 (66.9%)

As you can see, I have Sanders finishing with 15 rush attempts (exactly) around 10% of the time. I would stay away from betting this at 14.5, but keep an eye if it goes back up to 15.5.

I’m currently showing value on Sanders under 1.5 receptions at -165 at BetMGM (as of Thursday afternoon). Sanders has been held under this number in six straight games and the underlying data suggests this trend should continue.

Over the last four games, Sanders has only averaged a 26% routes run rate while Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott continue to eat into his receiving usage. Sanders typically isn’t in on third downs or when the Eagles run their two-minute offense, which are the ideal times for a back to pick up targets.

Plus, Hurts is more likely to scramble than check down to his running back, so there are a ton of factors going against Sanders in this market.

I’m projecting him closer to 1.1 receptions and a 70% chance to stay under 1.5. We are getting quite a bit of value here considering his fair price should be closer to -230. I would bet this down to -180.

DeVonta Smith
Most Receiving Yards in Game (+270; FanDuel)

I simulated this game 10,000 times to pull odds of “most receiving yards in the game” and here is what it spit out:

  • A.J. Brown: 28.8%
  • DeVonta Smith: 28.2%
  • Deebo Samuel: 11.5%
  • Dallas Goedert: 11.0%
  • George Kittle: 8.5%
  • Brandon Aiyuk: 6.5%
  • Christian McCaffrey: 3.0%
  • Quez Watkins: 1.5%
  • Jauan Jennings: 1%

Based on these, I’m getting a fair price of +250 for Smith to lead the game in receiving yards, but I think there are several factors that make him even more valuable in this market.

Brown is dealing with a hip injury, so he may not be 100% and could be used as more of a decoy. He also fares much better against man coverage, so he's less likely to thrive against a zone-heavy team like the 49ers.

Dallas Goedert may see Fred Warner in coverage at times, and Warner is playing at an elite level right now. He even prevented CeeDee Lamb from catching a couple of passes in the Divisional Round.

Smith will likely be Jalen Hurts' top target in what should be a more pass-heavy game script we typically see from the Eagles, who are also likely going to face more third-down situations. Smith has been Hurts’ top target on third downs this year.

The 49ers have been vulnerable to downfield targets. They’ve allowed the fifth-highest yards per attempt on pass attempts of 20 or more yards down the field.

The 49ers have a ton of weapons in the passing game, which means Purdy will likely spread the ball around, which lowers the ceiling of each pass-catcher. Plus, the Eagles rank first in pass DVOA and 21st against the run. The 49ers will likely lean on their run game.

I like the value we are getting on Smith to lead the game in receiving yards at +270 and would bet it down to +240.

Pick: DeVonta Smith — Most Receiving Yards in Game 

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Bengals Odds
-110o / -110u
Chiefs Odds
-110o / -110u

Joe Mixon
Under 3.5 Receptions (-130; FanDuel)

The only prop I'm seeing value on for the Bengals is Mixon's receptions under.

He's been held under 3.5 catches in two straight games, and Perine has been much more active in the passing game. Perine has a 49% routes run rate over the Bengals' last two games, while Mixon is at 31%.

You have to wonder whether Cincinnati will continue to use Perine heavily given the injuries along the offensive line. He's the better pass blocker (72 Pro Football Focus grade) and hasn't allowed a sack, while Mixon (30) has been credited with allowing three.

Also, Perine has been getting all of the snaps in the Bengals' two-minute offense, which is when running backs really rack up the catches.

I'm projecting Mixon for closer to three receptions, staying under 3.5 at 62% of the time. I'd bet this down to about -135.

Pick: Joe Mixon Under 3.5 Receptions 

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Isiah Pacheco
LEAN: Under 1.5 Receptions (-190; BetMGM)

The Chiefs will likely lean on their run game a bit more with Patrick Mahomes playing at less than 100%.

The Bengals rank 14th in DVOA against the run, but that rank is a bit misleading considering they were without run stuffer D.J. Reader for six games. Cincinnati has allowed a 3.6 yards per rush with him on the field this year compared to a 4.6 with him off the field.

I showed value on Pacheco's receptions under at 1.5 (-165, BetMGM), but that number has ballooned to -190 as of Saturday afternoon. Pacheco has only caught 2+ passes in four games this season, and it’s hard to see how he clears this based on his underlying data. He’s only averaging a 29% routes run rate over the last six games.

This is a spot where the Chiefs will likely use Jerick McKinnon even more to help pass block for Mahomes. There is also a chance that Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be able to return to action this week, which will only lower my routes run projection for Pacheco.

I’m projecting Pacheco closer to 1.0 receptions and a 70% chance to stay under this number. I would bet this down to -185, so be sure to monitor the market to see if we get back down to that number at some point.

Kadarius Toney
Under 35.5 Receiving Yards (-120; PointsBet)

The only Chiefs WR prop I’m showing value on is Kadarius Toney under 35.5 receiving yards.

This may seem counterintuitive since I think the Chiefs are more likely to utilize Toney in their quick, short-passing attack. However, his usage is likely already maxed out as he will likely only run a route on about 30% of Patrick Mahomes' dropbacks. I expect them to use a lot more two- or three-tight end sets to ensure Mahomes is getting max protection.

Toney has also seen a target on 33% of his routes run over the past five games. That sort of target rate is unsustainable, and I think the Bengals will assume he’s getting the ball when he is on the field.

Toney is only averaging an aDOT of 1.4 over the last five games, and he will likely need a ton of volume to clear this number — he needed five catches to get to 36 yards last week.

The Chiefs have been using Toney more in the running game over the past two games, and I can see that trend continuing. There is also a chance that Mecole Hardman returns to action, which could lead to a couple less snaps for Toney.

I’m projecting Toney's median closer to 28.5 and would bet this down to 32.5.

Noah Gray
LEAN: Over 1.5 Receptions (+125; PointsBet)

I the Chiefs to use two and three tight ends at a higher rate in order to protect Patrick Mahomes in the pocket, so Gray should run a route on 45-50% of dropbacks.

Therefore, I’m showing some slight value on Gray over 1.5 receptions. However, he has only been targeted on 6% of his routes run the last four games, so I’m not comfortable locking in this bet.

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