NFL Week 18 player props: Expect Austin Ekeler to torch Raiders in pivotal game

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

We head into Week 18 feeling good despite a little bit of bad luck with Michael Gallup getting hurt and falling just short of his total receiving yards prop last Sunday. Let’s build off our 2-1 record last week as we wrap up the regular season today. I’ve done all the work for you here in case you’re thinking about putting down a little cheddar on some player prop bets.

Here are some of the plays that could end your regular season on a positive note.

Record to date for the 2021 NFL season: 26-26 (-5.80 units)

Editor’s note: All betting lines are courtesy of Sports Interaction and are current as of the time of publication.

San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams 4:25 p.m. ET

Wager to watch: WR Cooper Kupp total receiving yards (Over 116.5 -130, Under 116.5 -110)

This NFC West showdown has plenty of playoff implications. The Rams have a playoff berth all locked up and can still win the division. The 49ers need to either win or have the Saints lose to secure a spot in the playoffs. San Francisco has won five straight over Los Angeles, but we want to zero in on Cooper Kupp’s total receiving yards prop here.

Kupp has been consistently awesome all season for Los Angeles. The 28-year-old receiver is on track to earn the NFL’s triple crown. Kupp leads the league in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. He’s coming off grabbing six passes for 95 yards and one touchdown on seven targets against Baltimore last Sunday. Kupp roasted the Niners in Week 10 at San Francisco. L.A.’s No. 1 receiver hauled in 11 balls for 122 yards on 13 targets.

His per game averages are flat-out ridiculous. Kupp is getting 8.63 receptions, 11.50 targets and an eye-popping 114.31 receiving yards per contest. Matthew Stafford’s favourite target is averaging an absurd 13.25 yards per reception. Kupp is also averaging 13.2 yards per catch at SoFi Stadium this season. Let’s dive into some of his advanced metrics that are well above league average. Kupp is averaging 94.9 air yards per game and is garnering 32.3 per cent of the Rams’ team targets. The 28-year-old is also getting an eye-popping 0.06 yards per route run this season.

The 49ers, meanwhile, coughed up 66 yards on seven receptions to Houston’s Brandin Cooks last week. Cooks is the only offensive threat on the Texans and still had a nice day against a Niners team that was in a must-win. San Francisco has had trouble shutting down wide receivers all season, and this hasn’t changed lately. The 49ers have allowed 682 receiving yards to WRs over their past four weeks which is 26th in the NFL in that time span. San Fran has surrendered 8.97 yards per target to WRs over the past four weeks which is 29th in the NFL.

Pick: I’m aware that taking Cooper Kupp is the square bear pick, but with Odell Beckham Jr. playing better of late, the 49ers can’t just focus on stopping Kupp. Take the NFL’s best receiver to go OVER his total of 116.5 here at -130.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Las Vegas Raiders 8:20 p.m. ET

Wager(s) to watch: RB Austin Ekeler total rushing yards (Over 55.5 -120, Under -120), RB Austin Ekeler total receiving yards (Over 31.5 -120, Under 31.5 -120)

The Raiders host the Chargers at Allegiant Stadium in the final regular season game of the NFL season with a playoff berth the prize for the winner. Las Vegas has won three straight by four points or fewer and can also sneak into the playoffs if Indianapolis and Pittsburgh both lose. Los Angeles can clinch with simply a win or a tie. Playoff scenarios are always fun, but we want to take a closer look at Austin Ekeler’s total rushing yards and receiving yards total prop for this game.

Ekeler is fresh off 17 carries for 58 yards and one touchdown to go along with three catches for 54 yards in last Sunday’s 34-13 win over Denver while dealing with an illness. He’s averaged 56.47 rushing yards per game and 4.66 yards per carry this season. He’s also averaged 2.5 yards after contact and 17.0 touches per game. Both of those metrics are above league average. The L.A. running back also torched the Raiders for 117 rushing yards on 15 carries in Week 4.

Ekeler has 612 yards receiving which is tops among running backs this season. His 65 receptions rank third for RBs in the NFL. Ekeler is averaging 7.5 yards per target on 82 targets with an average distance of 9.42 yards per reception this season. The 26-year-old running back is averaging 0.23 air yards per snap this year which is well above league average. He also had three receptions for 28 yards on five targets versus Las Vegas in that Week 4 matchup.

The Raiders, meanwhile, continue to struggle to stop the run. Las Vegas has surrendered 1528 rushing yards to running backs in 2021 which ranks 27th in the NFL. The Raiders have also given up 4.24 yards per carry to RBs which is 15th in the league. Vegas has allowed 122.9 rushing yards per game at home this season which ranks 22nd overall.

The Raiders have coughed up 349 receiving yards to running backs over the past eight weeks which is ranked 30th in the NFL in that time span. Las Vegas has surrendered 55 receptions and 5.63 yards per target to RB’s which is 30th and 20th respectively in the league over the past eight weeks.

Pick: The Raiders were gashed by Austin Ekeler in Week 4 and I believe this will continue tonight. Take his rushing total of 55.5 to go OVER at -120 and his receiving yards total of 31.5 to go Over at -120.

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