Jameis Winston: Under 29.5 Pass Attempts
Result: Win (21 Pass Attempts)
This game was paced up a bit from what we expected, with the New Orleans Saints running 62 plays this week, a big step up from their likely league wide weekly low total of 39 last week. Jamies was in on 95% of these snaps, with Taysom Hill accounting for 6 carries in limited action. At this point, Sean Payton has made it clear that they do not intend to let Jameis Winston air the ball out 30+ times a game as we saw during his up and down Tampa Bay tenure and with the Saints opening the season with a 2-1 record, we can expect much of the same moving forward. Alvin Kamara rushed 24 times in Week 3, his second 20+ carry performance over the season’s first three weeks after surpassing that milestone only one time in the 2020 regular season. Look for these trends to continue this week versus the New York Giants in a game the Saints are favored by more than a touchdown in an expected slow paced environment.
Jared Goff: Over 38.5 Pass Attempts
Result: Loss (30 Pass Attempts)
The Detroit Lions showed a commitment to the run versus the Baltimore Ravens this week in a game they kept competitive throughout. Surprisingly, the Lions were in line to win this game until the final seconds and a NFL record 66 yard field goal off the foot of Justin Tucker. The Lions ran 60 plays this week, a far cry from their Week 1 total of 84 in comeback mode, and it appears this team may not play all that fast unless forced. The Lions opted to use their running back duo of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams more in this one, rushing 26 times for a lowly 89 yards (3.4 yards per carry), in order to keep Lamar Jackson off the field. This team wants to play smash mouth football in any game script it allows, and I’ll be avoiding the middling arm talent of Goff going forward as Week 1 continues to look more like the exception than the rule as the Lions coaching staff begins to talk up the ultra-talented Swift. Look for a slow paced game this week versus the Chicago Bears with the Lions having the opportunity to make good on their comments to increase Swift’s workload.
Trevor Lawrence: Over 38.5 Pass Attempts
Result: Loss (34 Pass Attempts)
Trevor Lawrence has not lived up to the pre-draft expectations as the Jacksonville Jaguars savior through three weeks, on the verge of losing as many games in the NFL as he had in his high school and college career combined. Lawrence was responsible for four total turnovers in Week 3 (two interceptions, two lost fumbles) while taking three sacks, ending multiple drives, and stalling even more. If not for an NFL record-tying 109 yard kick-6 that gave the Jaguars the lead going into halftime, Lawrence still may have managed to beat this prop playing as poorly as he did. The game environment was as good as expected, with the Jaguars running 66 plays and the Arizona Cardinals running 64 (130 combined, matching the Jaguars season average). However, the Jaguars were able to rush the ball effectively on 29 attempts, 13 more than their Week 1 and 2 totals of 16 each.
Week 1: +10.0U
Week 2: -1.2U
Week 3: 0.0U (No bets placed, family weekend)
Book: Draft Kings (-120), Bet MGM (-117)
Date Available: September 30th
“That said, the Bills have run 85 (!!!), 63, and 71 offensive plays during the first three weeks, meaning chances are high we see another 70+ play game here. That would lead to a likeliest scenario of 40-42 pass attempts from quarterback Josh Allen.”
“Furthermore, the likeliest way for Buffalo to establish a lead is through the passing game, meaning the very unique scenario where the defense provides an outlier performance and two of the three first touchdowns come from the Buffalo run game is the only way this passing game fails here.”
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record but the Buffalo Bills STILL do not want to run the ball. They showed last week that they will throw continuously with a lead, as Josh Allen completing short passes to keep the chains and clock moving is more successful than whichever of the Bills running backs they have available to kill the clock. There is a risk of a repeat of Week 2 versus the Miami Dolphins (35-0) if Houston can not scheme Brandin Cooks looks versus a tough individual matchup but, as outlined by Hilow in The Edge, the paths for failure for this passing offense occurs in outlier scenarios where the running game breaks a few big touchdown runs or we get a defensive touchdown or two to limit the total plays run below the 70 mark. The Bills are rolling right now and I expect them to keep Allen involved throughout the game to keep the momentum going.
Book: Draft Kings (-130)
Date Available: October 1st
“Washington holds the seventh-highest situation-neutral rush rate and the ninth-fastest situation-neutral pace of play through three weeks.”
“The matchup with the Falcons yields a slightly above average 4.37 net-adjusted line yards metric and we should expect Antonio Gibson to approach 20 rush attempts in all but negative game scripts.”
This is a pace-up game, with the Washington Football Team operating at the fifth-highest situation-neutral pace meeting the Atlanta Falcons ninth-highest pace of play in neutral situations. With over four minutes of possession time unaccounted for between these two teams, we can expect the Football Team to come away with a possession or two more than they have seen through three weeks and improve on their average of 56 plays per game average so far in 2021. While Washington has had a hard time sustaining drives (29th in drive success rate), I expect improved sustainability from the offense in this plus matchup on the ground, with the WFT continuing to run the ball at a high rate in neutral game scripts (currently fifth) which can be expected with a spread currently sitting at Washington -1.5 and holding steady. Gibson has outcarried JD Mckissic 45/8 so far this season, dominating touches in positive game scripts. Expect Washington to play with urgency this week, sitting at 1-2, versus an Atlanta team that is struggling to find its identity and stride.
Book: Draft Kings (-135), Bet MGM (-125)
Date Available: October 1st
“Jonathan Taylor is very clearly the Colts’ best offensive skill player and their weapon of choice for attacking opponents. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they have only led for a combined six minutes across three games and have been unable to get their running game going so far this year.”
“Indianapolis will likely try to get Taylor rolling like he was to end the 2020 season against a Miami team that has a loaded secondary and top-10 DVOA defense against the pass.”
“The preferred method of attack for Indianapolis here should be a heavy dose of the run game.”
“As previously outlined, this is a spot that lines up for spiked volume for Taylor and he is a talented player who can provide ceiling games when given adequate opportunities.”
“If Frank Reich (who is pretty reliably adaptable) is adaptable to the matchup and personnel here (Carson Wentz could barely move in the pocket last week, and he’s unlikely to be fully healed this week), it is a good spot for Taylor to see elevated usage.”
Last week, like JM, I was on Jonathan Taylor in my Single Entry lineup looking to be early compared to the field (sub 5% owned). While that didn’t work out (RIP to my extremely low-owned game stack), it meant I spent much of Sunday flipping back and forth to watch the game in real-time. The JT eruption of late 2020 is coming and there is little reason it can’t be this week in what is a must-win for the Colts to save their season from being lost before the quarter way point. The Miami Dolphins defense has given up the most RB run points this year via The Workbook while playing the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Las Vegas Raiders. Taylor possesses more raw talent than the previous backfields, and while this game is expected to be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair, that might be just what we need for Taylor to excel if the Colts can play with a positive game script.
Book: Draft Kings (-115), Bet MGM (202.5 -118)
Date Available: October 1st
“The Saints have thrown the ball 21, 22, and 21 times through the first three weeks. Amazing!”
“The Giants offer no reason for Payton to deviate from his preferred approach. Expect the Saints to start the game featuring Kamara unless forced to go a different direction. They will continue to limit Winston’s pass attempts and another 20-25 attempt game is a real possibility.”
“Payton has limited Winston to under 23 attempts for three straight games, and there is no reason he won’t make it a fourth.”
After getting hit hard for three weeks, most books have not yet/will not post Jameis Winston pass attempt props this week as there isn’t a number within reason that the field wouldn’t hammer the under. We’ll take this a step further, and attack a yardage prop in a low point total game in a slow pace environment. Through three weeks, Winston has attempted 63 pass attempts for a total of 387 yards through the air (129 yards per game at a 6.14 yards per attempt). Even if we boost Winston’s pass attempts to the higher range of 25-27, in a game the New York Giants will be without two of their top wide receivers, we can comfortably project Winston to finish between 155 and 170 yards in the most likely pace and game scripts. Alvin Kamara has carry totals north of 20 in two of three games to start the year and Winston’s lack of effort to include him in the passing game limits the Saints big-play potential through the air. Expect the Saints to continue limiting Winston’s ability to lose the game while still allowing Kamara to do damage on the ground this week and in the future as long as they are not forced to do otherwise.