NFL Regular Season Props: Bet on Week 1 Position Battles

NFL Regular Season Props: Bet on Week 1 Position Battles article feature image

Dec 10, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs away from New York Giants strong safety Landon Collins (21) in the second half during a NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Oddsmakers are offering various special props for the 2018 regular season.
  • Bet the mortgage on Mason Cole starting over A.Q. Shipley (IR, torn ACL) in Arizona.
  • Cole Beasley presents value in an unproven and crowded Cowboys receiving room.

Preseason football is in full swing, but oddsmakers have posted numerous Week 1-related props that also deserve our attention. There are currently 21 special props available, most of which relate to predicting a team’s Week 1 depth chart.

Week 1 Quarterback

Bills quarterback

  • Josh Allen -150
  • A.J. McCarron +250
  • Nathan Peterman +250

Jets quarterback

  • Sam Darnold +125
  • Teddy Bridgewater +175
  • Josh McCown +174

Raiders backup quarterback

  • EJ Manuel -150
  • Connor Cook +150
  • Colin Kaepernick +500

McCarron and Peterman split first-team reps over Josh Allen in their Thursday night matchup against the Panthers. The Jets reportedly want Darnold to win the job by Week 1. Fourteen of the last 17 quarterbacks selected with top-10 picks have started at least 10 games as rookies, but Week 1 might be a tad too early for either rookie signal-caller. The value seems to be with Cook, who is presently listed as the No. 2 on the Raiders depth chart and has earned rave reviews in training camp.

Week 1 Wide Receiver

Dolphins No. 1 wide receiver

  • DeVante Parker +150
  • Albert Wilson +250
  • Danny Amendola +250
  • Kenny Stills +400

Cowboys No. 1 wide receiver

  • Allen Hurns +125
  • Tavon Austin +200
  • Cole Beasley +300
  • Deonte Thompson +400
  • Michael Gallup +600
  • Terrance Williams +600

“No. 1 receiver” is a vague term, but we’ll assume it means whichever player is expected to lead their team in targets and receptions. The departures of Jarvis Landry, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten leave the pecking order in both Miami and Dallas a bit of a mystery, but Beasley seems like a nice value play considering he finished first on the Cowboys in both targets and receptions as recently as 2016. Dak Prescott was also recently asked about his go-to receiver and responded…

“It’s Cole Beasley … He can stretch the defense, so it’s about moving him around, making the defense respect that he can beat you over the top. Once we open that up, he’s hard to cover underneath. That’s his game.”

Week 1 Offensive Line

Patriots left tackle

  • Trent Brown -120
  • Isaiah Wynn -120

Texans left tackle

  • Julien Davenport +125
  • Seantrel Henderson +175
  • Martinas Rankin +175

Chiefs left guard

  • Cam Erving -120
  • Parker Ehinger -120

Bears left guard

  • Eric Kush -140
  • James Daniels +100

Falcons right guard

  • Brandon Fusco +125
  • Wes Schweitzer +175
  • Ben Garland +175

Bengals right guard

  • Alex Redmond +125
  • Christian Westerman +175
  • Trey Hopkins +175

Cardinals center

  • A.Q. Shipley -160
  • Mason Cole +120

Most of the above odds are seemingly lined up with each respective team’s early depth chart.

That said, Hopkins has opened up as the Bengals’ starting right guard. Redmond could still win the job, but he’s a second-year undrafted free agent who played in just five games a season ago; Hopkins started 12 games for the Bengals last season and was PFF’s 15th-highest graded guard in pass protection.

I’m all for a good underdog story, but Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley suffered a torn ACL on August 6 and would quite literally need a miracle to beat out third-round pick Mason Cole, who has already been dubbed the team’s new starter by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Week 1 Defense/Special Teams

Ravens weakside linebacker

  • Patrick Onwuasor -150
  • Kenny Young +110

Steelers inside linebacker

  • Tyler Matakevich -160
  • Jon Bostic +120

Titans inside linebacker

  • Will Compton -160
  • Rashaan Evans +120

Giants free safety

  • Darian Thompson +150
  • Curtis Riley +250
  • Andrew Adams +250
  • Michael Thomas +400

Chargers kicker

  • Caleb Sturgis -160
  • Roberto Aguayo +120

Each of the above position battles appear fairly even, with each of the favorites presently holding the lead based on their respective team’s unofficial depth charts. The #KickerBattle in Los Angeles between Aguayo and Sturgis appears to be close at this point, but predicting anything involving Chargers kickers has been a futile task in the past.

First Head Coach Fired

  • No Coach Fired +300
  • Hue Jackson +300
  • Dirk Koetter +450
  • Vance Joseph +500
  • Field +600
  • Adam Gase +750
  • Marvin Lewis +1100
  • Todd Bowles +1300
  • Jay Gruden +1300
  • John Harbaugh +1800
  • Jason Garrett +1800
  • Pete Carroll +2100
  • Bill O’Brien +2200
  • Ron Rivera +2500

One book offered odds on which NFL coach would be fired first back in early May. The coaches who have gained value are O’Brien (opened +1729, now +2200), Bowles (+925 to +1300), and Gruden (+1104 to +1300). The coaches with declining value include Garrett (+2572 to +1800) and Rivera (+4500 to +2500).


Khalil Mack traded before end of season

  • Yes +300
  • No -500

Earl Thomas traded before end of season

  • Yes +100
  • No -140

Will the Patriots sign Dez Bryant for the start of the season?

  • Yes +300
  • No -500

There’s certainly a chance neither Mack nor Thomas get traded. Still, Thomas has made his wishes clear this offseason, and both Cowboys and Seahawks reporters Brady Henderson and Todd Archer predicted Thomas would wind up with a star on his helmet at some point this season.

Bryant’s current odds don’t offer any value compared to what we’ve seen elsewhere in the industry. New England opened at +600 to sign Bryant back in April before moving to +1400 as recently as August 1.

My Bets

  • Connor Cook +150 probably shouldn’t be an underdog behind E.J. Manuel.
  • Cole Beasley +300 has the most historical success with Prescott, yet has only the third-best odds.
  • Trey Hopkins +175 is a bargain considering he’s currently projected to start.
  • Mason Cole +120 is a steal with his competition presently on IR.
  • Earl Thomas traded +100. The Seahawks have already gutted their defense and have shown no interest in a long-term deal with Thomas.

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