Week 5 CFB Player Props Primer
It has been a profitable first two weeks of the CFB Player Props season, as this column is producing winners at an 80 percent clip in the early going. However that's the past and we have a new slate of games to parse through in search of profit. Here are my favorite plays from the early prop releases:
Jarrett Guarantano - Tennessee - O/U 250.5 Passing Yards
Last week in a down-to-the-wire 31-27 victory over South Carolina, Guarantano completed 19-of-31 passes for 259 yards and a 1-0 ratio. In 2019 under Tennessee OC Jim Chaney, the Volunteers averaged 221 passing yards per game with Guarantano while crossing the 250 yard threshold only twice. The first was in Tennessee’s infamous 38-30 opening game loss to Georgia State where he threw for 311 yards in a frantic attempt to avoid the humiliating loss. The second came in a 24-20 victory over Mizzou where he threw for a career high 415 yards and effectively ended former-HC Barry Odom’s tenure at Missouri.
Tennessee averaged 66 plays per game on offense last season, accounting for one of the slowest paces in the league. Missouri brings in former Appalachian State HC Eli Drinkwitz to straighten things out for the Tigers. They won’t be facing a deflated team with a lame-duck HC in Odom that already had one foot out the door. Alabama only put up 414 yards of total offense on Missouri last week, with only 111 rushing yards for a 3.1 YPC. This Missouri front is a solid group and more than capable of disrupting a lower-echelon SEC QB like Guarantano who could barely hold onto his starting job last season.
It’s never bad business to fade lower-echelon quarterbacks coming off of performances above their talent level. The law of averages takes over here as Guarantano hit the Over 250.5 mark only twice last season. I love this play and will defend the methodology to the death on this Under 250.5 bet.
Kyle Trask - Florida - O/U 345.5 Passing Yards
Week 1 of the abbreviated SEC season was about two things:
- Mike Leach defeating the National Champion LSU Tigers 44-34 in his SEC debut
- Kyle Trask throwing for 416 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-35 evisceration of new HC Lane Kiffin’s defense.
Recency bias is always a factor in gambling and it appears the odds-makers have over-corrected this line. The 42 attempts Trask put up last week were more than he threw in any contest last year, though he did have games where he threw 41, 39 and 37 passes. In relation to the 345.5 mark, The Florida signal-caller only threw for more than that number one time in 2019.
Mississippi is a team in transition from the Joe Moorehead era to Lane Kiffin. Two completely different styles in a year-zero situation for the Lane Train as he rebuilds the team in his visage. This is South Carolina HC Will Muschamp’s fifth season in Columbia, SC. There is continuity among a defense that allowed 235 passing yards per game last season. In fact SoCar’s defense held Trask to 21-of-33 passing for 200 yards in Florida’s 38-27 victory.
It’s very possible this year’s showdown is a mirror image, with Florida running for another 5.1 YPC and Trask managing the game to a comfortable division win. Under 345.5 Passing Yards for Trask is screaming to be taken here. Play of the Week.
Kyle Pitts - Florida - O/U 87.5 Receiving Yards
This is a piggy-back play to the Trask Under. Pitts had a season debut for the ages last week, catching a 71-yard touchdown and torching the beleaguered Ole Miss secondary for 8 receptions, 170 yards and four touchdowns. Pitts solidified himself as the top TE in the country with the performance, but it’s important to keep average TE production in perspective when analyzing this prop.
In 2019, Pitts caught 54 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games for an average of 49.9 YPG. The leading receiving right end in the country last season, Harrison Bryant, had 1,004 yards receiving, for an average of 77 YPG. That’s the absolute high-bar for yardage from a dominant CUSA tight end who was the focal point of the entire offense. Though Pitts is extremely talented, 87.5 yards for a tight end is a Wild overreaction to last week’s offensive explosion. Pitts’ high receiving yardage mark last season was 108 yards in a 42-28 loss to LSU where Florida was playing catch-up to the 2019 LSU juggernaut. His next highest yardage total was 78 yards on four receptions in a 24-17 loss to Georgia. Again Pitts goes for big yardage when Florida is playing from behind. His third-highest yardage total was 65 yards against Auburn, showing what a reasonably productive baseline for Pitts looks like in a given week.
A regression to the mean is inevitable. Pitts went over 87.5 yards only ONE TIME all last season. Pair the Trask and Pitts Under's in a set of parlays and see if you can hit big with another one of these recommendations for short money.
Isaiah Spiller - Texas A&M - O/U 70.5 Rushing Yards
Isaiah Spiller had a standout freshman season for the Aggies, rushing 174 times for 946 yards, a 5.4 YPC and 10 touchdowns while also hauling in 29 passes for 203 yards in the air. Heading into fall camp, Texas A&M returns eight offensive starters overall along with four offensive line starters who recorded a staggering 107 line starts among them. Throw in a soft schedule that ranked 66th in the country, drawing Vanderbilt and South Carolina from the SEC East, along with third year HC Jimbo Fisher finally going to battle with his own recruits and you had the pre-season recipe for a big 2020 for A&M.
However once Covid hit and the schedule had to be remade to account for the shortened season, the SEC schedule-makers dealt a swift blow to HC Fisher’s hopes of a 10-win season. On their new schedule A&M dropped Vandy and South Carolina in favor of Florida and Tennessee from the SEC East. Their charmin-soft off conference slate of Abilene Christian/North Texas/Colorado/Fresno State was wiped away. Leaving only an SEC West gauntlet ahead of them.
It’s important to remember that last year Spiller was a product of big games against soft opponents and quiet games against the more stout SEC defenses. For instance, last year Spiller went over 80 yards five times. In those games he played - Texas State/Lamar/UTSA/South Carolina and Mississippi State. In Texas A&M’s five losses, Spiller rushed for a max of 66 yards, with the second-highest total amounting to 27 yards. Last week in a competitive 17-12 victory over Vanderbilt, Spiller was out-touched 12-8 by all-purpose weapon Ainias Smith who looked like the perfect aerial compliment to Spiller’s between the tackles work.
I simply cannot envision a game-script where Texas gets up on Alabama and gets to feed Spiller 15+ times to wind down the clock. I see a lot more of Ainias Smith than Spiller in this tilt, so i’m pounding this soft Under 70.5 play before someone smartens up and drops this line.
Myles Brennan - LSU - O/U 255.5 Passing Yards
In the previously mentioned 44-34 loss to Mississippi State, first-time starter Myles Brennan threw a robust 46 passes, completing 27 for 345 yards and a 3-2 ratio in the upset. Of course that’s a pittance in comparison to Costello’s 60 passes and 623 yards, but Costello’s O/U this week against Arkansas skyrocketed from 269.5 last week to 450.5 this week. Brennan did not see a similar rise in his passing yardage total, as his Over/Under is still a very reasonable 255.5 passing yards.
LSU faces a Vanderbilt team that held accuracy-challenged Kellen Mond to 17-of-28 passing for 189 yards and a 1-0 ratio. I watched every snap of this game, so I can say with confidence that Mond blew at least four throws that could have resulted in 20+ yard gains or touchdowns that most SEC caliber quarterbacks would have completed. It’s also worth noting that LSU threw for over 255.5 yards every single game last season and their offensive game plan appears to involve a heavy dose of passing once again.
Vandy plays slow and returns 11 starters on defense, but their running game is in shambles and they will struggle to move the ball in the air when Darryl Stingley Jr. returns for LSU this week. The Over 255.5 passing yards for Brennan provides a nice value proposition.