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Best running back props with fantasy implications

We take a look at four prop bets for Week 3 of the NFL season.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

One of the crossovers between betting and fantasy is player props. As fantasy players we’re trying to predict an individual player’s statistics for a specific matchup. While doing this we can kill two birds with one stone by comparing our expectations to the prop wagers (we do not endorse chucking rocks at any birds).

For this installment, I’ll look at running back rushing yards for Week 3 of the NFL season. We can see how they matchup with their prop numbers and in turn check in on their fantasy value for Week 3. Can you believe we are already to Week 3!

James Conner, Over 68.5 rushing yards vs. Texans

Conner got off to an awful start to the season when he hurt his ankle and Benny Snell looked good in relief, topping 100 yards. Thankfully for Conner, he returned the following week and topped 100 yards rushing against an above-average Broncos run defense as the no-doubt lead back. He now faces a Texans defense that has been weak against the run, allowing 6.28 yards per rushing attempt to running backs. With Conner as the lead back, he’s assured 15+ rushing attempts and in this matchup that is easily on track for 69 yards with the Steelers defense keeping the game close.

He makes for a strong fantasy play in a better matchup than he had last week when he totaled 121 yards and a touchdown on 18 touches. This matchup pushes Conner to the edge of RB1 in most fantasy leagues this week.

Antonio Gibson, Under 50.5 rushing yards vs. Browns

Antonio Gibson can beat this prop with one rushing attempt and he’s trending upward in touches. His ability and increasing workload had me coming into this prop wanting to bet the over, but I’ve been turned around by the Browns defensive line. Myles Garrett and company have played well so far, giving up just 112 rushing yards on 39 running back carries from Joe Mixon, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins for a 2.97 yards per carry rate. Football Outsiders has the Brown’s run defense as fourth-best in DVOA and Washington’s offensive line is weak.

Gibson’s fantasy prospects are a little better than his rushing prop prospects though. We know he is a competent receiver, but only has three receptions so far. The hope is he starts getting more targets as the season progresses and this would be a good week against a tough run defense. He’s not a must start in this matchup, but his skill level always makes him a good upside start.

Kenyan Drake, Over 77.5 rushing yards vs. Lions

With no Snacks Harrison on the defensive line, the Lions have been awful against the run. So far they’ve allowed the second-most rushing yards and the highest yards per carry to running backs. David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones all had above average efficiency on the ground. This matchup is great, but the reason we can feel good about the over is Drake’s usage so far, as he has been the clear lead back in Arizona. With 16 and 20 rushing attempts in his first two games and the Cardinals favored by 5.5-points, he’s set up for another 20 rushing attempts game. Last week he took on a much tougher Washington run defense and hit 86 rushing yards. The number is high, but the matchup and usage look great.

In fantasy, Drake is entrenched in the Top 10 fantasy backs this week and can be played above top notch players like Nick Chubb, Chris Carson, and the like.

David Johnson, Under 50.5 rushing yards vs. Steelers

David Johnson has 11 rushing attempts in his each of his games this season. He put up 77 rushing yards against the Chiefs and 34 against the Ravens. That makes a lot of since when you look at the two team’s rushing defenses. The Chiefs rank 26th in DVOA against the run while the Ravens rank second in run DVOA. Then there are the Steelers, who rank first in run defense DVOA and have allowed six rushing yards on 15 carries to Saquon Barkley and 70 rushing yards on 19 attempts to Melvin Gordon for 3.7 yards per carry. The Texans also look like they’ll get Duke Johnson back this week to possibly take away some work from his counterpart.

Johnson is the lead back and will receive some receiving work, but this matchup is awful and the Texans offensive line is a weak link. He’s likely worth a flex play in most leagues, but I could see sitting him if you have better upside options.

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