Proposition bets, widely known as props, are wagers on aspects of sporting events beyond the traditional full-game moneyline, point spread, and total. The exploding popularity of props and the multitude of betting options available across many different sports cannot be ignored.
Online sportsbooks across the United States offer dozens of prop betting options for every single NFL, MLB, NBA, and NFL game on the schedule. No longer are bettors limited to wagering on the eventual outcome of the game, as props allow you to delve into so many different areas of a game and also have the potential to be lucrative.
This page will serve as a complete guide on how to effectively bet on various kinds of these bets complete with prop betting strategies and tips to keep in mind.
Eight Prop Betting Tips To Know Before You Wager
1. Know How Prop Lines Are Set
A number of factors go into how prop lines are set by oddsmakers each week, and it’s not too dissimilar to how conventional game lines are set. Oddsmakers are able to use a melting pot of algorithms and data as a resource to help establish the baseline for a particular prop.
The factors include offense vs. defense matchups, injuries, expected game outcome, and recent performance. Other consierations might include home field advantage, weather, and pace of play. For example, a quarterback going against a below-average pass defense will lead to the line on the passing yardage prop being set higher than it would against an elite defensive unit.
2. How Do Prop Betting Odds Work?
Prop bets are commonly displayed as over/under bets. Similar to point spreads, oddsmakers set prop betting lines with hopes of seeing equal action on both sides. This leads to many props having similar -110 lines, at least to start. DraftKings Sportsbook may set Aaron Rodgers’ passing yards at 295.5 yards (-110), allowing bettors to select over or under that mark.
For negative odds, the line represents the amount a bettor must risk to win $100 in profit. So in this case, betting Over 295.5 passing yards (-110) means risking $110 to win $100 for a total return of $210.
It should be noted that not all props have juice attached to them as spreads and totals do. There are plenty of options with longer odds and larger payouts, it just depends on the market you choose.
For example, picking a touchdown scorer comes with plus-odds in many cases. This means the line represents the amount you can win with a $100 wager. So if you take Derrick Henry to score a touchdown at +200, bettors can risk $100 to win $200 in profit for a total payout of $300.
It’s also worth mentioning that some props are also offered as futures bets before the season starts. Betting on season-long props usually means fruitful payouts. For example, Aaron Rodgers’ Week 1 passing line could offer a -110 price, but betting Rodgers to lead the NFL in passing touchdowns could pay +800. While the payouts for futures are much larger, they are also riskier bets.
3. Player Props vs. Game Props vs. Team Props
Knowing which kind of prop bet you want to target is a major step in being successful. Maybe you’re certain the Buccaneers’ receiving corps will have a huge day, but you’re unsure about whether it’ll be Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, or someone else.
Maybe you have a good feeling about how the game will play out, but you want to hedge your bet in case the team you bet on doesn’t pull their weight. That’s why it’s good to know the difference between player, game, and team props. We’ll use NFL odds are the example since football props are the most popular.
NFL Player Props
Player props are the most popular type of prop bet, especially during NFL season. In short, these are wagers on player performance. Because of that, they’re perfect for fantasy players. Depending on the sportsbook, bettors can also choose to bet props for a full game or just a half or quarter. When it comes to the NFL, here are some of the popular options to expect:
- Touchdown Scorer (First/Last Of Game, Anytime, 1st Half, 2nd Half)
- Passing/Rushing/Receiving Yards
- Pass Attempts/Completions
- QB Longest Completion & WR Longest Reception
- Rushing Attempts
- Total Receptions
Simple over/under props for player stats tend to have modest lines similar to spreads (around -110), but selecting a touchdown scorer could come with a much larger payout. For example, a single-game bet on Chris Godwin Over 5.5 receptions could pay out at -110, but picking Godwin to score a touchdown may come with +400 odds.
NFL Team Props
Team props are similar to player props, except the variable of the player is removed. Rather than focusing on one specific player or the combined performance of both teams, these bets cover one specific club. Some well-known team props include:
- Team Totals (Quarters, Halves, Full Game)
- First Team To X Points (10, 15, 20, 25, etc.)
- Halftime/Full Time Result
Betting on a specific team’s total amount of points is a popular bet with a standard payout, but other team props are more lucrative and very unique. Betting on a race to a specific amount of points is offered as a three-way moneyline with a tie included if you feel neither team will reach a certain number. Halftime/Full Time Result is perfect for those who want improved odds on a large favorite.
NFL Game Props
Game props focus on specific in-game occurrences rather than individual players and teams. The options can vary greatly depending on the sportsbook and can include everything from a specific margin of victory to the total number of first downs in the game. Some of the more popular options include but are not limited to:
- Quarters & Halves Moneyline, Spread, & Total
- Winning Margin
- Longest Made FG/Longest TD Scored (Yards O/U)
- Total Made Field Goals/Touchdowns Scored (Halves, Full Game)
Unlike team and player props, there are many game props which involve the ultimate result of the game. In fact, a bet on a specific winning margin is a higher-paying version of a moneyline or spread bet. Other game props include alternate moneylines, spreads, and totals for varying aspects of the game.
4. Sign Up For Multiple Sportsbooks
When placing any kind of bet, the best piece of advice you can receive is to shop around. Betting lines are not universal across all sportsbooks, which means there could be more advantageous odds at one site over another. Just because FanDuel offers Christian McCaffery to win Comeback Player of the Year at +700 doesn’t mean every sportsbook will.
It’s possible that DraftKings offers the same prop at +800. A successful $100 bet at FanDuel earns a player $700 in winnings, which is great. However, that same bet at DraftKings earns a player $800 in winnings. Wouldn’t you want the choice of getting the better line? Of course you would. Signing up for multiple sportsbooks and using a Player Props Search Tool ensures you’re getting the best price.
Multiple accounts also benefit bettors in that you have eyes on many different promotions. Sportsbooks offer a plethora of promotions each week that can reap serious rewards, especially during NFL season.
5. Bet Props During Standalone Games
On any given NFL Sunday, there’s between 12 and 16 matchups. Unless your job is to break down games (or you can leave that up to us!), chances are you’ll miss something. Betting standalone games such as Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football can help narrow your focus on props.
With only one game on the schedule, so much of the betting public is on the moneyline, spread, and total. Most prop markets aren’t being poured over by every casual and sharp bettor in the space, and many of these lines can present much more value. There are also so many choices that bettors are nearly guaranteed to find a market to be excited about.
It also allows you to dive further into the depth chart to find opportunity. For example, the Cowboys are thin in the defensive secondary and lack a strong dime corner (CB3). The Buccaneers field at least four explosive deep threat receivers like Antonio Brown and Scotty Miller (and even Tyler Johnson if we’re getting into the weeds). Therefore, Tampa Bay has a clear advantage at that one position and there may be value betting down the depth chart.
6. Focus On Specific Markets
Not everyone is an expert at everything. That’s why figuring out what works for you and betting on those specific markets can be extremely rewarding. Have you hit on late-round fantasy draft picks of Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen in the past three seasons? Then identifying quarterbacks is your thing.
Focus on season-long props for quarterbacks where you see vulnerabilities in the market. For example, Mecole Hardman has a season-long receiving yardage prop of 725.5 yards (prorated to 41.6 yards per game over 17 games). In his career, Hardman hasn’t eclipsed 35 yards per game and has recorded more than four receptions in a game once. By focusing on this niche, you’ll be more successful more often.
Other niche markets worth diving into that may not have as large a pool of bettors include projected Week 1 starting quarterbacks and fastest offensive players.
The less popular a market, the more “neglected” the prices may be from oddsmakers, opening up serious potential for sharp bettors.
7. Consider All Factors Before Betting
The number of factors that go into betting props, specifically player props, is seemingly infinite and can vary based on the sport and league. With a sea of conflicting stats, it’s hard to know which ones to really focus one. Here’s the short list of some stats that hold water when it comes to NFL betting:
- Expected Points Added (EPA) per play (rushing, passing, total)
- Offensive/Defensive efficiency (DVOA)
- Pressure Rate
- Yards Per Carry (YPC)
- Yards Per Attempt (YPA)
- Snaps Per Game
- Target Share
- Red zone/10-zone/5-zone targets and carries
This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but they’re all worth noting. Sites like Sports Reference offer helpful breakdowns of how teams perform against certain positions. They even dive into the gritty categories like quarterback rushing yards and running back receptions.Non-statistical factors that should be taken into consideration include:
- Weather: Rain, wind, and snow tend to affect warm-weather teams and offensive totals
- Home/Away Splits: Some players just perform better at home.
- Player Matchups: Is Xavien Howard or Jalen Ramsey on the other side of the ball? Does your wide receiver just have the other guy’s number? Is there a clear size or speed advantage one way or another?
- Scheduling/Rest: Is one team coming off a bye week? Is that team coming off a bye week coached by Andy Reid, who doesn’t lose coming off the bye? That’s worth knowing.
- Coaching: A first-year coach going against Bill Belichick is a real disadvantage. See: Super Bowl LIII.
- Injuries: Not just to the player you’re betting on, but their teammates around them. An injury to a quarterback might seem like a boost to a running back, but that’s not always the case. See what happened to Ezekiel Elliott without Dak Prescott. However, an injury to a receiver can boost another receiver or even running back. Also be sure to check on injuries to the offensive line and opposition.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Swing For The Fences
Looking at a prop price can be a scary thing, but don’t let it deter you from taking a chance once in a while. The safest bets are of course the “50-50” over/under bets with a line around the standard -110, and those can prove to be a steady win for bettors.
However, say you catch a tendency you like and a prop bet you really like? Bet it. For example, Nick Chubb was once priced at +600 to score the first touchdown for Cleveland against the Bengals in 2020. For being a workhorse back and the Browns being a run-heavy team, especially early in games, that bet can have huge value. Sure enough, Chubb scored the first touchdown and paid out six times more than what was put down.
NBA Prop Betting
Outside of the NFL, NBA betting is the next most popular amongst the public. So it comes as no surprise that online sportsbooks respond to the huge amount of public interest by offering a massive number of NBA prop betting options. Similar to the NFL, there are a seemingly endless number of choices for bettors to choose from, whether it’s game, team, or player props.
NBA Player Props
Considering the popularity of fantasy basketball, player props are almost as popular among NBA bettors as they are with those who wager on NFL. On plenty of occasions, these two groups are one in the same. Among the NBA player prop bets you can choose from are the following:
- First Basket Scorer
- Player Points, Rebounds, Assists
- Player Made Three-Point Field Goals
- Player Performance Doubles
- Player vs. Player Stats
When betting on player props, many of the lines mirror what you see with conventional point spreads. The markets which pay a bit more include picking the first basket scorer and combining player performance with the result of the game.
NBA Team & Game Props
You didn’t think sportsbooks would forget about game and player props, did you? Ever single NBA game has a wide variety of both, including but not limited to the following:
- Alternate Spreads/Totals
- Quarters & Halves Moneyline, Spreads, and Totals
- Winning Margin
- First Team To X Points (10, 15, 20, 25, etc.)
- Moneyline or Spread/Total Points Parlays
Depending on the market, team and game props can be more lucrative than most player props. Betting on winning margins and combining a side with the total can result in a decent payday compared to a standard full-game wager. Alternate spreads and totals can be employed in multiple ways, whether you want to generate higher payouts or modify your bet to make it easier to win.
MLB Prop Betting
Props are a popular option among the baseball betting public as well. There can be an absence of value on pregame MLB betting lines, which makes props popular and in many cases, profitable. The available options across many of the big name sportsbooks include but are not limited to:
- Team Total Runs
- Individual Innings Moneylines, Spread, & Totals
- Player Total Hits/Runs/RBIs
- Player To Hit HR (Yes/No)
- Player vs. Player Stats
- Pitcher Total Strikeouts
- Alternate Run Lines/Totals
One way to build a lucrative bet is to pick a player to hit a home run in an MLB game. It’s not an easy thing to do, but these payouts are consistently attractive. Another option is to select an alternate line. Whether it’s a run line, a team total, or based on a specific player stat, choosing an alternate line other than what the oddsmakers post is a popular way to generate higher odds.
NHL Prop Betting
Even though betting on hockey isn’t quite as popular as some other sports, betting sites still offer dozens of NHL betting options for every single game that include props. Here’s what you can expect to find:
- Team Totals
- Alternate Puck Lines/Totals
- 1st/2nd/3rd Period Moneylines, Spreads, & Totals
- Player Shots On Goal
- Player Goals/Assists/Points
- Goaltender Saves Total
Alternate puck lines and totals are one quick way to the larger payouts, although picking a goal scorer will also accomplish that goal. The fact that NHL lines get less attention also means there is value to be found without sharps, the public, and oddsmakers pouring over the odds the way they would with a moneyline or a puck line.