NFL

You Should Hammer the Under on Miles Sanders’ Touchdown Prop

One of the big winners this offseason has been Miles Sanders.

Not only did Jordan Howard move to the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles didn't bring in any real backfield competition in free agency or the draft. It looks like Sanders is headed for a workhorse role in 2020, with Boston Scott his chief competitor for touches.

As such, Sanders' outlook is very bright, with FanDuel Sportsbook setting his total touchdown prop at 9.5 scores (-112 on both the under and over).

You should smash the under on that.

Here's why.

Run and Hyde

Reports surfaced yesterday that maybe Philly will end up bringing in another running back after all, with the team linked to veteran Carlos Hyde.

Is Hyde still good? I don't know. But it really doesn't matter too much. Any halfway competent running back signing would be bad news for Sanders' chances of getting workhorse volume this season, and if the signing is a bigger back like Hyde, the new guy could leapfrog Sanders for goal-line work.

All we have to do is look back to 2019 for evidence of this exact thing happening.

In the nine games in which Howard and Sanders both played, it was Howard who led the team in carries, notching 119 rushing attempts to Sanders' 76. And it's not like Howard is all that great, so Philly showed us during that span that they didn't view Sanders as a three-down guy.

And Howard was clearly the Eagles' go-to back when they got near the end zone. He finished with seven total scores (one receiving) in those nine games and had 22 red-zone carries (10 inside the five) -- compared to only 11 such rushing attempts for Sanders, only two of which came inside the five.

It wasn't until Howard went down with an injury that Sanders started getting heavy volume. With Howard in the fold, Sanders' had a single-game high of 13 carries. Sans Howard, Sanders recorded at least 15 carries in all four games from Week 13 through Week 16.

As far as touchdowns go, which is our main concern, Sanders had a mere two total tuddies -- one rushing and one receiving -- in the nine games in which Howard played. In the seven games without Howard, Sanders totaled four touchdowns (two apiece).

Is there a chance Sanders' play down the stretch last season convinced the Eagles' coaching staff he can be a true workhorse? Possibly. But there's also a very real chance a signing like Hyde would eat into Sanders' volume enough -- particularly at the goal-line -- to make the under a winner on this bet.

Red-Zone Woes

Overall, Sanders just wasn't very good with his goal-line chances as a rookie.

Yes, the sample size is super small, but Sanders finished 2019 with six carries inside the five for -1 yards.

And it seems like the Eagles figured out quickly that Sanders' forte wasn't goal-line duties. As we said above, he had just two carries inside the five when Howard was healthy, and both of those carries came in Week 1. They resulted in -2 yards and no gain, and then Sanders didn't see another rushing attempt inside the five until Week 14. Sanders did wind up with a pair of rushing scores from the one-yard line, but would he have gotten those chances if Howard was available? I'm leaning no.

The signing of Hyde or a back similar to Hyde could lead to Sanders giving way to another runner at the goal-line again in 2020. Obviously, that would be a huge negative for his odds of totaling 10 touchdowns.

In Short

To me, 9.5 total touchdowns is a touch high even if Philly doesn't bring in another running back. If they do sign someone else, then this line will disappear -- likely falling by a touchdown or two, I'd assume.

Our Brandon Gdula ran his projections as if the Eagles added Hyde, and his numbers had Sanders for 7.7 scores in that scenario (5.8 rushing and 1.9 receiving).

Even if it's not Hyde, the Eagles signing any decent running back competition would be a blow for Sanders' outlook, and the new guy would have a real chance of taking over goal-line duties, making the under awfully appealing on Sanders touchdown prop.