NFL Monday Night Football Prop Bets: Target This Rookie WR For Vikings vs. Bears
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Darnell Mooney
- Darnell Mooney has become an important part of the Bears' offense.
- Sean Koerner details how to bet the rising rookie on Monday Night Football.
It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks for my primetime prop picks, losing four straight. But that means this is a good time to take a closer look at my process and consider how to handle these losing stretches.
My projection process begins every week by going back and comparing my player projections against the market. It doesn’t matter if I went 10-0 or 0-10, my approach will be the same — to improve my projections for the upcoming week. I can’t change the past, but I can control how to approach the future.
Here’s how I would self-evaluate my past four primetime props:
- Leonard Fournette Over 34.5 Rush Yards: He finished with zero. The Bucs were blown out 38-3 in what was arguably Tom Brady’s worst game as a pro. They set an NFL record for fewest rush attempts in a game (five). That was a laughably bad loss, but I don’t think we could have predicted such a lopsided outcome.
- Cam Newton Under 207.5 Pass Yards: He finished with 274. Similar to Fournette, it ended up being the least likely game script. The Patriots (who were 10-point favorites) ended up falling behind 10 points, forcing Newton into a pass-happy game script against the Jets. It was an unfortunate outcome, but I would make the same bet again in a heartbeat.
- Jonnu Smith Over 29.5 Rec Yards: He finished with 14. Smith saw six targets, and Ryan Tannehill just missed him on one of them that would have gone for 30-35 yards. The Titans had a chance to put up garbage time stats on their final drive but decided to bench the starters and hand it off to D’Onta Foreman six straight times to run out the clock. It was a frustrating loss, but Smith put up the underlying usage I had projected for him.
- Marquise Brown Over 42.5 Rec Yards: He finished with 14. We got a bit lucky that the Ravens trailed for much of the game, forcing them into a pass-happy game script. We just got unlucky that it didn’t pay off — if you had told me Lamar Jackson would throw for 249 yards, I would have said there was a greater than 80% chance it meant Brown cleared his yardage total.
Over the past two seasons, my player props have gone 204-120 (67.9%). I’ve gone through streaks of four losses a total of five times. The longest streak was five losses in a row (twice). On the flip side, I enjoyed streaks of four or more wins 18 different times (11-win streaks on three separate occasions).
It always sucks to be on a losing streak, but I’m going to charge ahead knowing that in the long run, I will make up for it (and then some).
That brings us to our Monday night pick.
NFL Prop Bets For Vikings vs. Bears
- The Pick: Bears WR Darnell Mooney Over 41.5 (-112)
- Bet Now: BetMGM
Mooney fits my trend of (successfully) targeting rookie wide receivers who are on the cusp of breaking out before they actually do. Mooney’s playing time and usage have risen sharply over three-week periods, leading us right into “breakout” territory:
- Weeks 1-3: 53% routes run per dropback, 3.7 targets
- Weeks 4-6: 76% rounds run per dropback, 6.3 targets
- Weeks 7-9: 91% routes run per dropback, 8.0 targets
His underlying usage puts him in a great spot to clear 41.5 yards against the Vikings.
With David Montgomery out, the Bears could roll with a more pass-happy game plan. The matchup also sets up perfectly for Mooney, who will be facing off against cornerback Chris Jones (43.2 Pro Football Focus grade), whose 4.57-speed means he won’t be able to keep up with Mooney (4.38).
The Vikings have been prone to the deep ball this season, allowing the second-most yards on pass attempts 20 or more yards or greater. Well, Mooney currently leads the Bears with 18 targets of 20 or more yards. And while only five have been catchable, that means Mooney has been leaving a ton of yards on the field. That also means we can pin most of the blame on Nick Foles, but there is some good news: Foles actually has above-average deep ball accuracy.
Over the past three seasons, 42 quarterbacks have attempted at least 35 passes of 20 or more yards. Foles ranks 11th with a 54.3% on target percentage, so we can expect Foles to give Mooney more than 28% “catchable” deep balls in the future.
That could start happening as soon as Monday night.
I would bet this over to 45.5, but it’s worth noting that Mooney has a wide range of outcome — but if the positive regression we’re projecting on deep balls thrown to him comes to fruition tonight, Mooney could end up going way over.
Here are his chances of going over or under various lines based on my 10,000 player prop simulations: