Last Updated: 2018-01-08
Astute handicappers know how to look for edges in the betting market. When it comes to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia, we’re looking at the tightest line of the season. It may be fun to have a bet on the side and total to follow along with, but the edges on those types of bets are very thin at this stage of the game.
Much like the Super Bowl, the National Championship Game comes with a variety of prop betting options. We’ve already surveyed the market to find some worthwhile game prop bets and now we’ll turn our focus to looking at the player prop bets. Inherently, betting lines like this are less efficient than sides and totals, because they are predicated on what players have done on a game-by-game this season. Sometimes they are influenced by the total, which has been dropping for this game. Unsung heroes and surprising play calls can be the nature of the game when it comes to spotlight matchups like this. Throughout the season, teams will rely on their best players, but in a one-game sample, teams are simply looking to gain an edge. If that is a matchup that features the best player, then that is something that they will look to exploit. But, you don’t get to this point with large weaknesses.
That is why teams have to change it up a little bit. If you can correctly predict who will play a prominent role and how the game will be played, you can really do well with player props. That is the hope here with this write-up.
Before we look at some individual examples, let’s look at why these bets carry value. As mentioned, it is an inefficient market. However, there are other practical reasons. Let’s say you like Alabama -3.5. For Georgia to win, you anticipate that Jake Fromm will have to shine. You can bet Jake Fromm over 189.5 passing yards as a hedge on your Alabama bet, but also have the chance to win both if Alabama prevails anyway. If you like the under, you can bet Damien Harris over 70.5 rushing yards, in case you think Alabama is just running out the clock with a lead. Or, if it becomes a shootout, Harris will likely be involved in a large capacity, so he could have a big day.
There are a lot of reasons to bet player props and we’re excited to take a look at some here for the big game on January 8 with odds from BetOnline and 5Dimes:
Javon Wims receptions over 3.5 -140 (5Dimes)
A big focus for the Rose Bowl was the relationship between true freshman QB Jake Fromm and senior WR Javon Wims. When the Bulldogs needed a play, Wims was the guy that Fromm targeted. Even though Alabama will be paying extra attention to the senior, he’s going to get targeted a lot. At 5Dimes, you can take over 3.5 at -140. At BetOnline, the line is 4.5 with the over at +160. The under at -185 means that we don’t really have an arbitrage opportunity to middle with 4, but that is something that you can look for by shopping around.
Either way, Wims had six of Georgia’s 20 receptions in the Rose Bowl. Also, if you think Alabama will win and lead throughout the game, there’s some equity in taking Wims over in the event that Georgia has to throw a lot in an attempt to play catch up.
Sony Michel pass receptions over 1.5 -110 (5Dimes)
In my mind, the way for Georgia to beat Alabama is to spread out the linebackers and safeties. To do that, Jim Chaney should use some two-back sets with both Sony Michel and Nick Chubb in the backfield. He can throw from that formation as well, as Michel would likely be covered by a linebacker or a defensive end in the flat. Michel had four catches in the Rose Bowl, but he only had nine on the season, so the line reflects his lack of targets and grabs.
This is Alabama. Georgia can’t just run it 45 times and expect to have success. Chaney has to change it up. That’s what the Bulldogs did against Oklahoma and it worked out well. Michel should get some chances to catch some passes in this game and this line looks very favorable.
Bo Scarbrough under 52.5 rushing + receiving yards -110 (BetOnline)
This line is 57.5 at 5Dimes with the under at -140. Is five yards worth 30 cents of juice? I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think Bo Scarbrough gets all that close to this number. Georgia’s defense is too fast. He’s hard to bring down, but he doesn’t have an extra gear like Jalen Hurts or Damien Harris. Scarbrough only had 136 touches in 13 games, so about 10.4 per game. Do you expect him to get five yards per touch when only 16 of those touches were receptions? He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and about nine attempts per game. That is 43.2 yards rushing per contest. He wasn’t much of a factor against Clemson and I doubt he’ll be much of one here.
Henry Ruggs III under 24.5 receiving yards -110 (BetOnline)
Henry Ruggs III looks to be a dynamic player in the future for Alabama, but Brian Daboll and Nick Saban aren’t going to do anything over the top and out of the ordinary in this game. Ruggs III had two catches against Clemson for 25 yards. It was the first time in a game this season that Ruggs III had more than one catch. He has nine catches on the season. Because of some long plays later in the season, he had 22.2 yards per catch. He had zero catches in the hard-fought road win at Mississippi State and zero catches in the loss to Auburn. It’s hard to see the freshman playing a big role in this game, outside of returning kicks.
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