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Week One is in the books and we’re now very much aware of defensive schemes, offensive blueprints and even some adjustments to the surreal environs the players find themselves in.
This leads us nicely into Week Two, where oddsmakers generally do as we do – and overreact to the trends set on opening day.
This provides us with a great incentive to properly attack some prop bets, and there are surely opportunities to be had in the listings for rushing yards in this round of games.
Without further ado, here are three rushing totals that the sharper bettors out there may well want to take advantage of.
Saquon Barkley – RB New York Giants. Over 70.5 Yards
Saquon Barkley had a torrid time of it on Monday night, and while you can absolutely point to the front five as being considerably better pass protectors than run blockers, the Steelers’ defense on early downs made it tough for the Giants to really get into any rhythm.
This week, expect Jason Garrett to revert to three-receiver sets and have Saquon run against more friendly packages like nickel and dime – and free up the Penn State alum to rush to the second level.
Going up against a Bears D that is far more impressive in the secondary than in early down situations, even Detroit – notorious for their poor rushing – managed over 130 yards on the ground on opening week.
You might have some frustrated fantasy owners cursing Barkley for his shortcomings, but they weren’t really his to begin with, and there’s every chance he’ll show you that this weekend.
Kenyan Drake – RB Arizona Cardinals. Over 65.5 Yards
Zero Margin Bet: Washington Football Team (+7 2.00) @ Arizona Cardinals (-7 2.00)
When Drake’s on the field, the initial worry is for him to pass a catch out of the backfield, or to be part of a read-option with the equally athletic Kyler Murray.
Now, with that in mind, as well as the ferocity of this front four in Washington as a pass-rushing unit, you can almost guarantee that Drake is going to be utilised more on inside runs and draws to eliminate that rush.
Drake was held to just 60 yards last week, with an average of only 3.8 yards per carry. That should be well and truly eclipsed come Week Two, as Arizona simply can’t afford to run that empty backfield look, nor too much run-heavy personnel against a fairly deep defensive line rotation in the capital.
Drake is the primary back here, and that’s because he’s the best of the bunch. His value will sky-rocket when he’s utilised properly, and I suspect Kliff and co made this realisation midweek.
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Alvin Kamara – RB New Orleans Saints. Take the Under*
Monday Night Football: New Orleans Saints (-5.5 1.92) @ Las Vegas Raiders (+5.5 1.85)
The strength of this Raiders defense is its run-stuffing. That may well sound strange given they allowed Christian McCaffrey 98 yards last weekend, but the headline should actually be: Raiders limit McCaffrey to under 100 yards on the ground.
That’s just how good McCaffrey truly is.
Now, what will the Saints do to bypass that? Will they run the ball more because of the lack of Michael Thomas? No, they’ll pass more out of run sets because this is where the Raiders lack depth.
At linebacker, Las Vegas were all but certain they addressed big needs in free agency, but it hasn’t gone according to plan - and if your linebacking corps is your weakness, you can expect Kamara to catch the ball far more than he carries it. Both he and Jared Cook are the keys to this matchup for the Saints.
*Specials markets for the Monday night game are not yet available at the time of writing; all odds quoted are subject to change.
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