3 Negative Regression Candidates In NFL Season-Long Player Props
Training camp and fantasy draft season is always a time for optimism, but over the past six years, the Under on season-long NFL player props have hit more than 60% of the time. We’ve also seen rushing leads to more missed games than receiving. That’s why I’m targeting Jalen Hurts, Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry among NFL rushing props as three players to suffer from some negative regression this season, coming off monster 2022 campaigns.
Derrick Henry Rushing Yards: Over/under /
Derrick Henry has been a heavy usage running back his entire career, and the affects of that are starting to show. Henry played only nine games in 2021. He only missed one game last year, but more importantly, his per-carry effectiveness is dropping. In his last four seasons, Henry’s yards per carry has gone from 5.1 to 5.4 to 4.3 to 4.4. It’s not a shock that with the mileage on his body, that he’s starting to slow down.
If you want to blame Henry’s decline on the offensive line, then most scouting and grading services project Tennessee to have one of the worst offensive lines again in 2023.
If Ryan Tannehill is healthy for a greater share of 2023 than he was in 2022, then the Titans should also be even less run heavy. Firing Todd Downey, who called the second-most first down runs in the NFL last year, will also reduce the amount Henry gets the ball.
Throw in King Henry’s age at 29, and more passing weapons in second-year TE Chigoziem Okonkwo and WR DeAndre Hopkins, and all the signs are pointing to much more passing in Music City. Henry might be more efficient on a per-carry basis if the passing game reduces the number of stacked boxes he faces, but his volume is going to decline sharply.
Given the Titans are expected to be down in most games, sitting at 7.5 in NFL win totals, game script will also work against Derrick Henry. If he plays 17 games this prop might go over, but if he misses any time, then this number is an easy under. Plus, missing time is a clear and credible risk for any running back at this point in his career.
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Jalen Hurts Rushing Yards: Over/Under /
Hurts is obviously a highly-prolific runner, but it’s possible that his rushing numbers will dip this season. With the Eagles having invested heavily in him this offseason, there may be a desire to see him run less often. The fact he was injured last season on a running play will likely help the case for lessening his workload.
Hurts is a dynamic runner who will certainly use his legs, but he got 760 yards last year in part because of four games where he ran for more than 75 yards, including a 157-yard game against Green Bay. He was, at times, used as a pure runner, which won’t continue with the strides his passing took over the course of the season.
If the Eagles are even slightly less efficient or if there is any downside in the number of games played, then Hurts is a likely under. The Eagles didn’t give Hurts $179 million in guaranteed dollars to elevate injury risk with more rushing volume. The first priority will be keeping Hurts healthy for one of this season’s Super Bowl favorites, and that’ll mean downward pressure on his rushing yards.
Hurts will still likely run when necessary, but at times – like the Green Bay game last year – Hurts was a rush-first QB. With the Eagles looking to protect him, that’s unlikely to be repeated this year, which means he likely doesn’t have the same upside.
Christian McCaffrey Rushing Yards: Over/Under /
Don’t take McCaffrey’s place on this list as a sign he won’t be used in San Francisco this year. He will be. The 49ers didn’t trade away all those mid-round picks to not use him. It’s just unlikely it’ll be as heavily used in the running game as he’s been. The Niners love spreading carries around, and this reduces McCaffrey’s overall rushing upside.
The reason McCaffrey went over this number last year was Elijah Mitchell’s injuries. Between Weeks 10-12, Mitchell actually got more carries (34) than McCaffrey (32), and McCaffrey only averaged 36 rushing yards per game in that stretch. When McCaffrey’s rushing attempts and yards spiked was when Mitchell got hurt again.
In the likely scenario either Mitchell or Jordan Mason is healthy and taking snaps from McCaffrey, the Niners will likely increase CMC’s pass catching role. He was actually Brock Purdy’s second-favorite target, ahead of Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle in games Deebo Samuel was healthy.
Throw in the fact that Samuel will continue to take gadget rushes, and there’s a lot of mouths to feed for rushing yards. If the Niners take a step back, there could be less rushes to go around if they’re playing from behind more, as well. Oh, and McCaffrey played only 10 games in the two seasons prior to 2022. Any injury that costs him a couple weeks, and he could go under this number by default.
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