Welcome to the Week 12 edition of Panthers Picks & Props, where our friend Cort Smith will run down his favorite Panthers-related bets and fantasy plays each week. Cort is a lead writer at RotoViz and the founder of Bet the Prop, a site specializing in the emergent player prop betting market. As of July 26, sports gambling is legal at sportsbooks in Cherokee, North Carolina – even though the sportsbook isn’t technically open up there, that’s not to mention the myriad of online options emerging – we’re not here to judge, we’re here to make you some money.
The 5-5 Panthers waltz into New Orleans as 10-point underdogs to the 8-2 Saints. This game actually opened with a 7-point spread in favor of the home team, but bettors don’t like Carolina’s chances of staying competitive, and they’ve steamed the line by three whole three points. That sets up another game script featuring way too much passing for Ron Rivera’s liking. Kyle Allen threw the ball a career-high 43 and 50 times in comeback mode over the last few weeks.
So naturally, we want to focus our attention on Carolina’s most prolific receiver, DJ Moore. This week, I’d like to mix things up a little bit by expanding on Moore and just how spectacular he’s been in his young career. Panther’s fans may realize what they have in the emerging stud, but I don’t think the general public does.
And based on the prop betting lines we’re about to look at for Moore, I’m certain the betting public doesn’t realize how good he is either. Let’s examine some notable historical trends for the prodigious WR before wrapping up with a look at his DFS slant for this week.
We had an easy 2-0 sweep on our props last week and our record in this space stands at a solid 11-7 (61.1%), so let’s stay hot.
Over 67.5 Receiving Yards (-112 @ DraftKings)
Over 5.5 Receptions (-125 @ DraftKings)
We’ll get into the reasoning behind these particular props picks in a moment, but first, let’s just bask in the glory of D.J. Moore’s first 26 NFL games for a moment, shall we?
It’s objectively one of the greatest starts to a career for any WR ever – that’s right.
There are exactly 50 WRs in the history of football who have played at least 20 NFL games before their 23rd birthday (age matters; we’ll expand on that shortly). Moore is one of them.
Here’s how he ranks among this group of prodigies through their first 26 games:
- 11th in receiving yards (1,556), more than DeAndre Hopkins had through his first 26.
- 11th in receptions (117), three more than Josh Gordon.
- 12th in targets (176), more than Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, and Stefon Diggs.
- Eighth in catch rate (66.5%), better than Keenan Allen.
- 15th in yards per target (8.9), better than Amari Cooper.
He stands in the company of perennial Pro Bowlers and future Hall of Famers — basically the cream of the WR crop over the last two decades. Here’s the list sorted by receiving yards:
Before the season started, I wrote that the Panthers had something very special in Moore, and his tender age was a huge reason for my confidence. Very few WRs can walk into the NFL at 21 years old and produce. And those who do tend to go on to have exceptional careers.
The fact that Moore is building on his productive rookie season at such a young age puts him on a rare trajectory. The future is bright, but let’s now look at it in the context of this season, as he continues to be underpriced by both DFS and the prop betting markets.
The volume is elite — Moore ranks sixth in targets and receptions among all WRs in 2019. In four games since the Panthers’ Week 7 bye, he ranks:
- First in targets with 45, more than Michael Thomas (though Thomas has played one less game in that stretch)
- Fourth in receptions (29)
- Fourth in yards (354)
He’s also commanded 30% of his team’s targets in that time, tied with Thomas for the third-most in the league.
It’s added up to 7.3 receptions and 88.5 yards per game since the bye, making these betting lines of 5.5 receptions and 67.5 yards for Sunday’s matchup appear well within reach, especially against a Saints team expected to be without top cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
Last year, Moore was bottled up for 20 yards on two receptions versus Lattimore in the first matchup, but when Lattimore missed half of their second game, Moore took advantage with 84 yards on four receptions. New Orleans is also the third-biggest pass-funnel defense in the league allowing 37 pass attempts to just 21 rush attempts per game.
($6,400 on DraftKings)
Moore remains modestly priced in DFS at $6,400, the 15th-highest priced WR on the week. Despite all that volume, his lone TD on the season ranks 72nd among WRs. We’ve been harping on it for a few weeks now, but that kind of scoring luck is rare and unsustainable.
Over the last decade, only two WRs have been targeted more while scoring one TD or less — Brandon Marshall (one TD on 100 targets) and Cecil Shorts (one TD on 96 targets).
And no WR in that stretch has scored more PPR fantasy points on one TD or less than Moore’s 148.9. Julio Jones came the closest when he scored 138.6 points on one TD through the first 10 games of 2017. Julio would go on to score 13 TDs in his next 24 games.
The scores will come for Moore – combined with his mammoth volume, he’s a must-play in both cash and GPP formats at such a low price.