The Professor’s 2021 NFL Week 5 Prop Bets


This article will highlight prop bets on quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends that The Professor likes in four Week 5 NFL games based on the output of his projection model and game circumstances. The numbers and prices available are from DraftKings.

Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN: 2.5 Passing TD

Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN: 83.5 Receiving Yards, Touchdown Scorer

Adam Thielen, WR, MIN: 62 Receiving Yards, Touchdown Scorer

The Minnesota Vikings sit at 1-3, but this team has talent at quarterback and the skill positions on offense, and the Detroit Lions do not have Browns defensive end Myles Garrett to destroy Vikings left tackle Rashod Hill. Detroit lost their best defensive player, Romeo Okwara, to a season-ending injury last week and Trey Flowers is once again questionable after missing the last two games. Detroit lacks the talent at cornerback to match up with Minnesota’s receivers, who will be looking to have a “get-right” game after losses to the 3-1 Bengals (by 3 in OT), the 4-0 Cardinals (by 1 on missed FG), and the 3-1 Browns (by 7).

Running back Dalvin Cook could also have a productive day, but Minnesota may prefer to limit his workload on an injured ankle if they can take advantage of Detroit’s defense through the air. I’m placing several bets on overs for the Minnesota passing game, including two with longer odds: the over on quarterback Kirk Cousins’ 2.5 passing touchdowns at +145 and receiver Adam Thielen as a touchdown scorer at +115. Thielen and fellow receiver Justin Jefferson have caught seven of Cousins’ nine touchdown passes during this NFL season and that trend should continue against a Detroit secondary that will be overwhelmed by the receiving duo’s talent. The model’s projections for Jefferson and Thielen’s receiving yards are right in line with the DraftKings over-under, but those are mean projections, and I expect Minnesota’s pass game will end up on the plus side of those projections this week.

PlayerStatModel NumberDraftKings NumberBet
Kirk CousinsPass TD2.72.5Over at +145
Justin JeffersonRec Yds80.183.5Over at -115
Justin JeffersonTD Scorer0.80.5Over at -105
Adam ThielenRec Yds61.362Over at -115
Adam ThielenTD Scorer0.70.5Over at +115

Justin Herbert, QB, LAC: 1.5 Passing TDs and 12.5 Rushing Yds

Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC: 39.5 Receiving Yds

Keenan Allen, WR, LAC: 75.5 Receiving Yds

Mike Williams, WR, LAC: 64.5 Receiving Yds

Quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers face a difficult challenge against Cleveland’s defense. The Browns’ defense is headlined by Myles Garrett, who is arguably the most dominant pass rusher in the NFL, and they have a deep group of cover players behind him, but Herbert is one of the game’s elite quarterbacks and few defenses seem to have an answer for that in the modern NFL.

Herbert and the Chargers offense should be able to move the ball against Cleveland; these bets bank on receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams getting back in the mix after Allen had some uncharacteristic drops and Herbert missed Williams on a deep vertical during last Monday Night’s contest. Cleveland’s pass rush will likely force Herbert to get rid of the ball quickly, but he has targeted running back Austin Ekeler and both Allen and Williams in the short passing game this season, so that group could be productive despite the rush. A bet on the over on Herbert’s rushing yards is included because while the model’s projection is the same as the DraftKings number, this profiles as a game where Herbert is particularly likely to have to use his legs to escape pressure.

Cleveland’s defense could disrupt this narrative, but the Chargers have had excellent plans on offense each week and have posted big point totals when they do not turn the ball over in the red zone. I’ll take the over on these numbers for their core players in this critical showdown, which will likely impact seeding on the AFC side in the NFL playoffs.

PlayerStatModel NumberDraftKings NumberBet
Justin HerbertPass TD2.11.5Over at -215
Justin HerbertRushing Yds12.512.5Over at -115
Austin EkelerReceiving Yds48.839.5Over at -115
Keenan AllenReceiving Yds82.275.5Over at -115
Mike WilliamsReceiving Yds61.464.5Over at -115
Mike WilliamsTD Scorer0.60.5Over at 150

Derek Carr, QB, LVR: 281.5 Passing Yards

Hunter Renfrow, WR, LVR: 48.5 Receiving Yards

Darren Waller, TE, LVR: 5.5 Receptions, 69.5 Receiving Yards

The Raiders were slowed down by a Chargers defense that has become one of the best in the NFL under new head coach Brandon Staley, but Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw for 435, 382, and 386 yards in his first three games, so the passing game seems likely to rebound. Las Vegas has issues on the offensive line, but that was true the first three weeks, and Carr was still able to do damage with his cast of receivers. Chicago is not particularly strong at slot corner with Duke Shelley, so Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow is set up for a big day, and head coach Jon Gruden is likely to feature tight end Darren Waller in a pivotal game for a Raiders team trying to establish themselves as a legitimate playoff contender.

Running back Josh Jacobs is back in the mix, but it’s going to be difficult for the Raiders to rely as heavily on him as in past years because of their lack of talent on the offensive line. That will put the game in Carr’s hands; as long as left tackle Kolton Miller can hold up one-on-one in his presumptive matchup with Chicago pass rusher Robert Quinn, Las Vegas should be able to give their starting right tackle enough help for Carr to operate whether the right tackle is Alex Leatherwood or Brandon Parker. I’ll take the over on passing and receiving props for Carr, Renfrow, and Waller.

PlayerStatModel NumberDraftKings NumberBet
Derek CarrPassing Yds301.8281.5Over at -115
Hunter RenfrowReceiving Yds52.548.5Over at -115
Darren WallerReceptions6.45.5Over at -150
Darren WallerReceiving Yds77.069.5Over at -115

Davis Mills, QB, HOU: 189.5 Passing Yards

Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU: 5.5 Receptions, 64.5 Receiving Yards

Damien Harris, RB, NE: Touchdown Scorer

Houston is coming off a pitiful performance against the Buffalo Bills and things are unlikely to get easier for rookie quarterback Davis Mills this week, as he has the unenviable task of facing New England coach Bill Belichick as a first-year starter.

Belichick’s track record of overwhelming young quarterbacks with disguised looks and pressures is well-documented, and between Mills’ personal limitations and the lack of talent around him, the Texans’ offense appears particularly ill-suited to buck the trend against Belichick. Expect the Patriots to come up in a lot of “show blitz” looks with six or seven players up at the line of scrimmage and man coverage behind it. Cornerback J.C. Jackson will likely match up with receiver Brandin Cooks and given New England’s typical focus on taking away an opponent’s best weapon, Cooks may also receive extra attention from the safety. Given the circumstances, I’ll take the under on Mills’ passing yards and Cooks’ receptions and receiving yards.

New England should win this game comfortably and will probably look to revive a ground game that has been missing in action over the past two weeks. It’s critical for their offense that lead back Damien Harris reestablishes himself as a physical presence, so I expect him to see opportunities near the goal line and am taking Harris as a TD scorer at the price of -110 on DraftKings.

PlayerStatModel NumberDraftKings NumberBet
Davis MillsPassing Yds157.9189.5Under at -115
Brandin CooksReceptions4.35.5Under at -140
Brandin CooksReceiving Yds53.864.5Under at -115
Damien HarrisTD Scorer0.60.5Over at -110


This article discussed several potential prop bets for the upcoming week. To get full access to the output of The Professor’s machine learning model, check out this week’s BeerLife Sports article featuring the Professor’s Fantasy Value Predictions, where you can also see his highlighted bets for other positions.

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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.