Just a couple of weeks ago, we would’ve thought that this game between the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons would involve a completely different quarterback matchup- it’ll be Taylor Heinicke vs. Jaren Hall. This really changes the game, including other players’ individual outputs, so let’s get into some Vikings vs. Falcons player props for stars like Bijan Robinson, Jordan Addison and Harrison Smith.
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Both teams will reimagine their offensive approach to tailor the gameplan to their new passers, so let’s check in on how that could affect some of their respective teammates’ performances.
Jordan Addison Anytime Touchdown (+280) and Over 44.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
The sportsbooks expect Addison to struggle to produce as Hall takes the reins from Kirk Cousins, who had been playing well, but it’s hard to imagine him falling off to this degree. The Vikings aren’t going to completely abandon the passing game with Hall at the helm. They don’t have a strong enough running game to take that approach, and while Hall isn’t likely to throw for 400 yards, he’s going to have to throw to someone.
Normally, he would lean on superstar wideout Justin Jefferson, but he’s on the IR and won’t be an option. Instead, rookie sensation Addison will step in and grab the lion’s share of the targets. He’s reeled in seven catches in each of the last two games with Jefferson out, for totals of 82 and a career high 123 yards in those two contests. He’s also scored three touchdowns across those two games, and a touchdown each in the previous two contests.
Going up against a pass defense for Atlanta that ranks 24th by EPA per play and 28th by DVOA, Addison should have plenty of opportunities to find space and make things easier for Hall as he continues to adjust to the NFL. It’s not going to be a banner day by Addison’s standards, but it doesn’t have to be- 44.5 is a low number, which he’s cleared in every game but two in an outstanding start to his rookie campaign.
As for the touchdown, unless you see the Vikings being kept out of the end zone, Addison is a great bet at +280. He’s the clear-cut top receiver, and the red zone rushing attack is so anemic that the team just scored its first ground touchdown of the season last week, so even with Hall throwing the passes, expect the Vikings to skew that way when it comes to finishing drives.
Jaren Hall Over 192.5 Yards (-110)
Rookies absolutely do struggle early on in their career, but extremely early, as in their very first full game of action, they sometimes have an advantage, as do most backups. There’s a noted effect where surprise starters come out and perform well since not as much tape, if any, exists of them running the offense. Football is a game that is highly predicated on preparation, and trotting out a quarterback who has never played before really stunts a team’s ability to scheme their defense and prepare for him.
Hall was no slouch in college; there’s a reason he was drafted out of BYU, a relatively rare feat, Zach Wilson aside. Over his last two years of college, he tossed 51 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions, including a sparkling ratio of 31 to six his final season, showing an ability to drive the offense without making too many mistakes. We’ve already discussed the weakness of the Falcons air defense and the greatness of Addison, both of which will really help Hall settle into his starting debut. He’ll also have the services of tight end TJ Hockenson, who is in a groove with over 85 yards in each of his last two games.
It’s also worth noting that the Falcons run defense grades very well, tops in the league in rush EPA, and should swallow up the Falcons’ struggling ground game. Hall will be throwing out of necessity, and he should have the tools to succeed, at least enough to break this modest number.
Bijan Robinson over 82.5 Rushing and Receiving Yards (-115)
Like the Vikings, the Falcons will be breaking in a new starter, and while he’s not a rookie, Taylor Heinicke will still need a moment to adjust to his new settings after making a name for himself in Washington. For the Falcons, that means leaning on Bijan Robinson, one of the most talented, versatile and dynamic backs in the league.
Robinson will be able to attack a Vikings rushing defense that ranks 25th in success, and he could be a major factor in the air game as Arthur Smith looks to scheme some confidence-building quick hitters for Heinicke. This ability to contribute in multiple facets of the offense is why we’re grabbing this combo prop; it’s hard to know exactly how, but Robinson will be very involved this Sunday.
Harrison Smith Over 5.5 Tackles and Assists (+110)
In a game where I expect the Falcons to have a lot of success moving the ball with an upgrade at quarterback, we’re going to invest in the Vikings’ safety to have a prolific day. He’s cracked this number in four of his past five games, and in the fifth he had exactly five tackles and assists, so it’s not like he was too far off in that one either.
In addition to making stops on receivers like Addison and Hockenson, Smith is a capable run defender who could be unusually involved in that facet of the game this Sunday. The Atlanta rushing offense is 28th in the league in success rate, but 15th in DVOA. That means that when a play does go well for them, they’re getting a lot of value out of it, so Robinson and Tyler Allgeier are ripping off big runs that make it to the second level, another type of play where Smith could record a stop.