Welcome to the Week 16 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 Kyle Allen ride was fun while it lasted. OK, maybe not so much in real life, but those 40 pass attempts per game? They were money in the bank when it came to prop betting and DFS. Happy trails, Mr. Allen, the next round is on me.
The Will Grier Era begins Sunday against the Colts – to be honest, I have no idea what to expect. My lean is that the Panthers try to shorten the game and make life easy on their third-round pick in this year’s draft with more running than they’ve been doing of late.
That said, Grier is known to have a bit of a live arm and reportedly looked good in practice this week.
That’s enough to instill some confidence in at least one Carolina pass-catcher on Sunday, and that’s where we start with our only prop play of the week, before diving into a number of DFS notes for this matchup with looks at Grier, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel.
After a perfect 2-0 card last week, our prop picks in this space are now 17-9 (65.4%) on the year, and we’re looking to build on that in Week 16.
Over 54.5 Receiving Yards (-117 @ Pinnacle)
Note: A similar line should be available at domestic bookmakers like DraftKings and FanDuel by Saturday morning.
Grier’s insertion into the lineup is cause for concerns for all Panthers pass-catchers, but it intuitively makes sense that McCaffrey’s receiving role would remain mostly intact. If I were an NFL coach looking to instill confidence in my rookie starter, I’d be dialing up a bunch of pass plays to the league’s best receiving back.
Even a slight decrease in McCaffrey’s league-leading numbers could see him eclipsing this mark of 54.5 yards with ease.
McCaffrey has been on an absolute tear in the passing game. Since Week 11:
- He leads the league in targets with 11.6/game – yes, more than Michael Thomas (11.4)
- He trails only Thomas in receptions in that stretch with 9.2/game, 1.4 more than the next-closest player.
- He’s 14th among all players in receiving yards in that stretch as well, more than Darren Waller, Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, and Stefon Diggs.
All four of those aforementioned players will have their receiving prop lines set well over 60 yards this week, so you could argue this line for McCaffrey is even a little low.
The Colts make the perfect prey for this prop.
They’re a team that’s tough on the ground, allowing the sixth-fewest rushing yards, but vulnerable against receiving RBs. Indy has allowed the fourth-most receptions to RBs (6.1/game), and while they’ve actually been quite efficient, allowing just the 17th-most receiving yards to the position, that matters not to McCaffrey, who’s proven to be among the most matchup-proof players in the game.
I expect him to be the centerpiece of the offense and lead the team in targets again this week.
Panthers DFS Notes
- We’re suddenly in an awkward position with D.J. Moore. As the seventh-most expensive WR on DraftKings this week ($6,900), he’s finally being priced properly. However, his once-safe floor is now something of an unknown with Grier under center. While I don’t like him in cash games this week, he still has plenty of upside for GPPs.
- Curtis Samuel is a distant third to Moore and McCaffrey on the target totem pole and is the player most likely to be hurt if the Panthers scale back the crazy number of pass attempts. He’s a tough sell at $4,500. That said, the Colts have allowed 819 passing yards and 9 TDs over their last nine quarters, so throwing him into a few GPP lineups may not be a bad idea.
- Same goes for Grier, a guy no one is expecting much from but who finished fourth in Heisman voting last year while averaging an impressive 10.7 yards per attempt in his college career. Many draftniks had him ranked ahead of Drew Lock, who went 68 picks ahead of Grier in the draft. It’s entirely possible that Grier is an upgrade on Kyle Allen. He’s basically free on DK at $4,300 and warrants consideration against a Colts defense giving up the ninth-most DK points to opposing QBs.