Week 18 Player Props: NFL Contract Incentives
With the regular season coming to an end this weekend, an uproar has stirred in the betting space regarding NFL contract incentives. These NFL contract incentives are easy to find, if you can find them, so can the sportsbooks you’re trying to beat. Let’s dissect a few that could be actionable from the best sports betting sites.
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Texans TE Dalton Schultz
Schultz currently has 54 receptions for 593 yards on the season. If Schultz hits 60 receptions, he’ll receive $250,000. Should he magically reach 700 receiving yards, he’ll cash in an additional $250,000.
The problem with these incentives is that winning is at the forefront of the minds for the Texans. The Texans need a win to make the postseason. Will they really go out of their way to get Schultz a payday? The answer is simple: they won’t, and it’s dangerous for novice bettors to parade around on social media suggesting they will. That said, he could naturally go over his receptions prop on Sunday.
The Colts allow 5.3 receptions per game to tight ends, which ranks 9th-most in the league. Reaching the reception bonus at least seems feasible, especially with Tank Dell on IR now. The Raiders offense just put up 299 passing yards on this defense last week, and Aidan O’Connell ranked 11th on the week in Dropback EPA! If he can have that kind of success, what’s Stroud going to do against them?
The concussion that Stroud recently dealt with could aid Schultz’s numbers in this game as well. If Texans OC Bobby Slowik doesn’t want Stroud taking many deep drops and risk getting hit, Schultz could be the beneficiary in the passing attack.
Texans RB Devin Singletary
Singletary needs 74 all-purpose yards this weekend to cash in on a $125,000 incentive.
He has a real shot at cashing this in as he’s facing a lousy Colts run defense. The Colts defense ranks 26th in run D success rate on the season. For reference, a play is considered successful if it produces at least 50% of the requisite yards on first down, 70% on second down, or 100% on third or fourth down.
Last weekend, the Colts’ defense was shredded by Raiders running back Zamir White for 106 total yards. Singletary is averaging 106.3 total scrimmage yards over his last three games. His 4.8 yards per carry in those games came against the Browns and Titans, defenses who rank in the league’s top half against the run. Should we expect the Colts’ defense to slow down the veteran back now? Perhaps they will since this is a must-win game for them, but I wouldn’t bank on it. The Raiders offense, led by Aidan O’Connell, just gashed them for 370 total yards. The Texans’ offense should be able to move the ball with relative ease here, making Singletary’s rushing yards over appealing regardless of the contract incentive aspect.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler
This is a difficult bonus to untangle since it’s tied to their yards gained per rushing play. As long as the Chargers don’t rank in the bottom five in YPC, Ekeler can cash in Sunday. If Ekeler reaches 1,125 total scrimmage yards (currently at 1,015), he’ll receive $100,000 in contract incentives. The problem here is twofold. The Chargers sit at 3.8 yards per carry, which ranks fifth worst in the league, and he needs 110 scrimmage yards to reach this bonus.
An additional issue with this incentive is that from a motivational standpoint, Ekeler has very little. The 5-foot-10 running back is set to turn 29 in May and will be a free agent. This next contract will likely be his last big payday as a pro, so why risk injury for a $100,000 contract incentive when guaranteed money in free agency is looming? Dalvin Cook was just waived by the Jets and is going to struggle once again to find work this summer. Cook is also three months younger than Ekeler. Any guaranteed money the Chargers running back can get next year far outweighs the risks that come with a $100,000 contract incentive.
Instead of playing an Ekeler prop, there may be some value in the anytime touchdown market with Joshua Kelley. Kelley is second on the team in redzone rushes with 27%, making him the next man up if Ekeler isn’t up to the task. The last time the Chargers had nothing to play for in the final week of the regular season was in 2020 when Ekeler only notched seven of the 29 rushing attempts by Chargers’ running backs. I certainly wouldn’t be betting on any alternate Ekeler overs here.
Titans WR DeAndre Hopkins
This is one of the NFL contract incentives I can see a player cashing in on. The veteran receiver needs 39 receiving yards to cash in a $1 million bonus and seven catches to receive an additional $500,000. For the final bonus, if he reels in two touchdown catches, he’ll receive $750,000.
The Jaguars’ defense, although struggling lately, has been a pass-funnel defense this season. They rank fourth in rush D success rate and allow the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game at 98.6. If that run defense is stout, Hopkins could naturally go over his receiving yards prop. The Jaguars defense allows 71.9 yards per game to WR1s, which further helps Hopkins’ case. The main culprit for this in recent weeks has been cornerback Tyson Campbell. The former Georgia Bulldog has allowed 22 receptions in coverage over his last three games, along with 252 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Should Hopkins align with Campbell on him, he could feast and just naturally hit his over.
THE REALISTIC SHOTS TO EARN PAYDAYS
Ultimately, I think Hopkins and Singletary are the players who have a realistic shot at making some serious dough this weekend (Hopkins if he plays the entire game of course). He’s 31, so he’s no spring chicken. He could easily wind up resting here in a Week 18 game that means very little to an eliminated football team.
Best of luck betting player props in Week 18, and tread with caution when it comes to NFL contract incentives and players chasing records! Be aware of the possibility of players being rested, and remember, players get hurt every week. You take the risk of that happening when you bet player props.
Player props are a fun nitch for new sports bettors; they make every catch and every yard a thrilling experience up until the clock hits 0. That fun is being sucked out, though, because a random babbling buffoon on x (formerly Twitter) tells bettors that Tyreek Hill is going to try and break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record, and thus, betting his over-receiving yards prop is a good bet even though reaching the record is very unlikely.
People like this leave out tiny details, such as Tyreek Hill riving in pain after an incompletion on 3rd-and-10 in the second quarter against the Ravens. He ended up missing the Dolphins next offensive series. But sure, let’s bet his over-receiving yards number because he’s 248 yards away from Johnson’s record. It’s not like Hill could’ve reinjured his ankle against the Ravens, which would limit his explosive ability against the Bills.
Dig deep into the matchups and back up your bets with solid reasoning and analysis instead of just blindly betting them because of NFL contract incentives or possible records being broken.
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