A quick story if I may before I give out my official Week 15 NFL player props. Friday morning, my beloved New York Jets announced that Zach Wilson was starting this week’s game due to Mike White’s injury. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen Twitter react in unison on the same side on any subject ever before. Everyone hated the move for the Jets’ passing offense. I, on the other hand, saw (and still see) potential buying opportunities both for Wilson and some of New York’s pass catchers. And yes, I have watched every snap Wilson has taken this year and am well aware of how bad he has been. Sure enough, I was scrolling through sportsbooks before dinner on Friday night and saw that Wilson’s passing yardage prop was 180.5 yards. That seemed insanely low to me.
After dinner, my wife and I watched TV until a little after 10:00 PM. Then she went to bed while I went to finish the very article you are reading now. I wrote up all the reasons I thought the line was too low and was one step closer to submitting the piece. Then I looked at the line just after midnight and it had been bumped up to 191.5. Now, 11 yards does not seem like a ton in the grand scheme of things. And it is likely that if Wilson can clear 180.5, he will clear 191.5. However, I have lost enough bets in my day to not want to advocate for a player prop that is 11 yards higher than it was six hours prior. So I am leaving that off my “official” list for now.
The moral of the story is that if we see a line that is too low, we should jump on it before it moves. That and I probably need to start posting real-time videos instead of writing articles that require editing. Anyway, onto the picks. None of these lines have seen significant movement in recent days, and these are all spots I really like.
Week 15 NFL Player Props
Patrick Mahomes Longest Completion OVER 37.5 Yards (-114, FanDuel)
Patrick Mahomes has gone over this number in five straight and nine of 13 overall this season. His low mark for the year on this particular prop is 33 yards. So this feels a bit curious to me. At first, I thought it was simply a matter of the sportsbooks assuming a blowout. After all, the Chiefs are a 14.5-favorite against the Houston Texans. Maybe they assume that Mahomes will pack it in early. However, several books have installed Mahomes as a slight favorite to eclipse the 300-yard mark. The Chiefs also have a gargantuan 35.5-point implied Vegas total. I know Houston’s run defense is abysmal, but their pass defense is not exactly elite either.
The Texans rank 25th in the NFL in yards per attempt allowed this year. Houston is in the bottom half of the league in EPA (expected points added) per dropback and pass defense success rate. They are also Pro Football Focus’ second-lowest graded coverage unit. Now they face Mahomes, who leads a passing attack that is in a class by itself in terms of EPA per dropback.
This game is also a bit of a homecoming for Mahomes. It will be the first NFL game he plays in the state of Texas. He will have some extra friends and family in attendance, and I think he will be looking to put on a show. Overall, this feels like a game where Mahomes will sling it all over the field for as long as he has to. That may only be two or three quarters given the obvious mismatches on both sides of the ball. But I think it is enough for me to trust him to hit at least one deep ball, making this one of my favorite Week 15 player props.
Justin Herbert OVER 27.5 Completions (+100 at MGM; +100 at DraftKings; -101 at Caesar’s)
For most of the year, the top receivers for the Los Angeles Chargers were not at full strength. Keenan Allen missed seven games and parts of two others with a hamstring injury suffered back in Week 1. Meanwhile, Mike Williams essentially missed six weeks with an ankle injury. The pair each played on more than half of the team’s snaps for the first time all season long. And the results were phenomenal. The duo combined to catch 18-of-20 targets for 208 yards. Their presence led to quarterback Justin Herbert setting new season-highs in completions (39), attempts (51), and passing yards (367). I like all of Herbert’s Week 15 player props, but am specifically targeting his completions for a couple of reasons.
First, the Chargers already throw the ball a ton even though they have been without their top two wideouts for large chunks of the season. Herbert is second behind only Tom Brady in both completions and attempts on the year. The Chargers face the Tennessee Titans, who are the NFL’s top pass funnel defense. No team in the league has faced more attempts or allowed more completions than Tennessee. The Titans trail only the San Francisco 49ers in rushing yards given up to running backs, and the Chargers have proven hesitant to overwork Austin Ekeler on the ground. Los Angeles will be throwing the ball early and often. But Tennessee is just 23rd in pressure rate, while the Chargers are in the bottom half of the league in terms of pressure rate allowed. I believe that will lead to several easy completions throughout the game.
Los Angeles usually incorporates a fair amount of these throws as it is. Herbert is sixth in the NFL in completion rate but trails the likes of Zach Wilson and Davis Mills in yards per attempt. He has the second-lowest aDOT (average depth of target) among all starting quarterbacks. Allen, Josh Palmer, and DeAndre Carter all rank in the bottom 25 in aDOT among the 76 wideouts with at least 30 receptions this season. And this speaks nothing of Ekeler’s involvement in the passing game. Herbert has targeted Ekeler on 20 percent of his attempts on the season. I do not expect the Chargers to deviate much from their modus operandi, especially considering the matchup. I expect Herbert to complete a bunch of short passes in this game, which should result in him clearing his total completions prop this week.
David Montgomery OVER 2.5 Receptions (+140, FanDuel)
David Montgomery has caught at least three passes and earned at least four targets in three games in a row. That alone could be a reason to at least consider this Week 15 player prop, especially at +140 odds. However, several other factors have me playing it this week. The passing tree for the Chicago Bears is particularly thin this week. Having already lost leading receiver Darnell Mooney for the season, the Bears will also be without midseason acquisition Chase Claypool for this game. There are only two Bears who will suit up for this game and who have caught at least 20 passes for the entire season. Those players are tight end Cole Kmet and – you guessed it – David Montgomery.
In addition to being one of Justin Fields’ most trusted options this week, there are multiple fronts on which the matchup should be favorable. First and foremost, the Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFL in sacks this season with 49. Chicago wants to develop Fields over these final four weeks of the season. Having him dodge bit hits all day long in the pocket probably isn’t the best way to do that. Instead, they will want Fields to get rid of the ball quickly. That could mean dump-offs to Montgomery. Teams have taken this approach against the Eagles in recent weeks. Opposing running backs have caught 23 passes against Philadelphia over the past four weeks. That number is tied for fifth-most in the NFL. Chicago is also a 9.5-point underdog. A negative game script could mean more opportunities for Montgomery in the passing game.
The short passing game may also be a necessity due to the elements. Sunday’s game will be played in freezing temperatures with 10-15 MPH winds. The wind chill is likely to approach single digits for much of the afternoon. Chicago’s long and intermediate passing game is well below par even in ideal weather conditions. The forecast is yet another reason I expect Fields to target Montgomery quite a bit on Sunday. All told, several factors should add up to David Montgomery catching at least three passes in this game.