Irrational exuberance is alive and well in the NFL player props betting market, especially when it comes to running backs.
Bettors badly want to believe that their favorite RBs are bound for a big day and a betting over, but the reality is it’s a rare occurrence.
Unlike the volume-heavy QB props market, which is the most efficient of the positions (but still inefficient enough that we could find one bet type hitting at a 62% rate), the RB props betting market is wildly inefficient.
As we’re about to show you, blanket betting the RB unders is likely to make you a profit in the long run. But by drilling down on on the different bet types and home-road splits, we’ll identify some extreme inefficiencies in this RB betting market.
If you read our first piece in this series examining the prop results from two years worth of lines from Bovada (data courtesy propbets.football), you already know that you can print money by betting unders on props in general.
RBs are a big driver of those trends. And it’s not just because of the aforementioned optimism in the market; it’s also because they get injured at a higher rate than any other position else despite seeing a lower percentage of snaps.
I broke down the results of every RB betting line over the past two seasons, searching for some actionable results.
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- Road-home splits matter for RBs. As visitors, they underperform expectations considerably more often, going over just 40.8% of the time compared to 43% of the time at home. We’ll expand on this in a moment.
- If you’re going to bet yardage overs, do it on Rushing Yards (preferably at home) — those hit about 3% more often than Receiving Yards.
- There’s no good over bet when it comes to backs, but volume is the “best” way to play it — Receptions props hit more often than any other at 43.7%.
- The worst bet you can make? Betting the over on combined Rush + Receiving Yards, which hit at a soul-crushing 39.3%… and as we’re about to see, it only gets worse on the road.
How to Burn a Bankroll on Road RBs
RBs, along with TEs (which we’ll cover in a future piece), are the two positions most affected by home-road splits. Let’s add in those results to what prop types are most affected.
- The two prop types weighing down RB road overs the most are Receiving Yards and Combined Rush + Rec Yards, which both hit less than 40% of the time.
- As a result, we can blanket bet the unders on those two props types and expect to win at a rate of about 62.1%!
- Road Receiving Yardage props had the biggest difference between road and home results with a 4.1% gap while rushing yards accounted for the second-biggest difference at 3.8%.
- Curiously, this visitor effect appears to influence RB receiving efficiency more than volume — road Receptions props hit overs at 44.8% compared to just 37.9% for Yards.
These results make intuitive sense — road teams are generally underdogs and trail more often, leading to less overall RB opportunity. That opportunity shifts to WRs, who see an inverse result, going over more often on the road than at home.
Even though the most casual of football bettors are aware of this straightforward concept, it’s staggering just how wildly inefficient the RB market remains. Knowing it is one thing, pulling the trigger is another, it seems.
We’ll continue to bet unders, and now we have a better idea of where our bets should be focused.