NFL Week 1 Main Slate Player Props: How to Bet Stefon Diggs, Christian Kirk, Allen Lazard, More (Sunday, Sept. 13)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Allen Lazard.
- The NFL season kicks off on Sunday with the slate lending itself to plenty of prop bets.
- Matt LaMarca explains where there's value on players like Stefon Diggs, Josh Jacobs, Allen Lazard, and Christian Kirk, among others.
- Check out LaMarca's full breakdown of Sunday's best prop bets below.
NFL player prop bets can offer some of the best betting value on the board in any given week. They typically feature smaller limits and take less action than traditional game bets, so the market can often be less efficient than NFL sides and totals.
This is where the FantasyLabs Player Prop tool comes in handy.
We leverage prop bets from across the industry against our player projections from Sean Koerner, the No. 1 in-season fantasy football ranker in three of the past five seasons. Each prop bet then receives a Bet Quality grade between 1 and 10, with 10 representing the largest betting edge.
Let’s break down five prop bets providing value for Sunday’s NFL Week 1 main slate.
Packers WR Allen Lazard
The Pick: Over 36.5 receiving yards (-112)
Lazard has a big opportunity to step up in the Packers’ passing game this season. They added no help to their receiving corps during the offseason, opting instead to draft a backup quarterback and a backup running back in the first two rounds. They did sign Devin Funchess to a cheap contract in free agency, but he ended up opting out due to COVID-19.
Lazard’s snap count rose as the season progressed in 2019, and he played at least 75% of the snaps in each of the final three weeks of the season. He stands out as the clear No. 2 option for the Packers heading into the 2020 season.
The Vikings do represent a touch matchup — they finished fifth in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA and sixth in DVOA vs. No. 2 receivers — but Lazard has the potential to hit the over on this number with just two catches.
Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr.
The Pick: Over 22.5 receiving yards (-112) & Over 2.5 catches (+110)
Smith Jr. is technically still the No. 2 TE on the Vikings depth chart, but that might not matter very much to start the season. The Vikings used two TEs on the field in approximately 45% of their offensive plays last season, which was well above league average. That number could potentially increase in 2020 after losing Stefon Diggs in free agency, and the team has also talked about using Smith Jr. split-out as a WR at times. Add it all up, and Smith projects to be on the field a ton for a backup TE.
He has an elite matchup against the Packers, who were subpar at defending the TE position in 2019. They ranked just 26th in DVOA against TEs, and TEs averaged 54.7 yards per game against the Packers last season.
The Vikings passing game is wide open behind Adam Thielen, especially with first-round pick Justin Jefferson opening the year as the No. 3 WR. Smith Jr. is someone I expect to take a big leap in 2020.
Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
The Pick: Over 78.5 rushing yards (-112)
Jacobs is coming off an incredible rookie season. He finished with the eighth-most rushing yards in the league (1150), and he also ranked tied for 10th in yards per carry (4.8). Overall, he finished with at least 79 rushing yards in nine of 13 games last season.
The only thing that was really able to stop him last season was a poor game script. He averaged just 12.75 carries in the four games where he did not rush for 79+ yards, and the Raiders lost those games by an average of 13 points. They’re favored in their matchup this week, so the game script doesn’t figure to work against Jacobs.
He has a dream matchup this week against the Panthers, who were the worst team in the league in terms of rush defense DVOA last season. They did spend all seven of their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball — including No. 7 overall pick Derrick Brown — but they also lost all-world middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to retirement. It’s hard to see them making a huge leap in that department in 2020 with Kuechly on the couch instead of on the field.
Bills WR Stefon Diggs
The Pick: Over 3.5 receptions (-137)
Diggs will be playing his first game with the Bills in Week 1, and WRs tend to struggle when they switch teams. It makes sense when you think about it: They have to learn a new system and develop chemistry with a new QB. And frankly, WRs that change teams just might not be that good. After all, if they were good, their original team wouldn’t want to let them go. There are some clear exceptions — DeAndre Hopkins is obviously a good WR — but it’s still rare for a WR to increase his production after changing teams in the offseason.
The 2020 offseason could be even more detrimental to new additions. There was no preseason and very few padded practices, so there were very few opportunities for rookies and free agents to acclimate themselves with their new teams.
That said, this line is just disrespectful for Diggs. Diggs had a down year in 2019, but he recorded 102 catches in 2018. The Bills also passed at a slightly higher rate than the Vikings did last season, so Diggs has the opportunity to earn more targets even if he hasn’t spent a ton of time with Josh Allen yet.
His matchup against the Jets is also excellent. They ranked just 20th in pass defense DVOA last season, and that number was buoyed by Jamal Adams’ ability to cover TEs and RBs. They finished just 24th in DVOA vs. WR1s and 27th in DVOA vs. WR2s. The Jets didn’t spend a ton of resources on the CB position in free agency or the draft, so expect them to struggle against WRs again in 2020.
Cardinals WR Christian Kirk
The Pick: Under 46.5 receiving yards (-112)
Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense left a lot to be desired in 2019. They have a chance to improve in his second season, particularly if Kyler Murray plays like everyone expects him to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Kirk is looking at a big season.
The Cardinals spread the ball around at a high rate in 2019. No wide receiver on the team had a target rate of greater than 20%. Larry Fitzgerald led the team with a mark of 19.7%, and Kirk was slightly behind him at 19.3%. Those numbers are a bit skewed by Kirk missing a few games, but he still saw a target market share of 23% or lower in nine of 13 games. Kirk might be able to maintain that target share even with the addition of Hopkins, but I certainly wouldn’t expect a huge spike in 2020.
Kirk also starts the year with a brutal matchup against the 49ers, who ranked second in pass defense DVOA last season. They retained their entire secondary during the offseason, so expect them to be good in that department again in 2020.