panthers texans player props picks
PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG DUDEK

The 1-1 Houston Texans host the 2-0 Carolina Panthers in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football with Houston’s rookie Davis Mills getting the start at quarterback for the injured Tyrod Taylor. The Carolina Panthers are currently eight point road favorites with the total sitting at 43. While this may not be the most compelling prime time matchup, there are plenty of opportunities for value with some player prop picks.

Let’s jump into this Thursday Night Football showdown with a look at the best Panthers vs. Texans player props picks and best bets.

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Panthers vs. Texans Player Props

Davis Mills Under 210.5 Passing Yards (DraftKings Sportsbook -115)

The rookie quarterback out of Stanford, Davis Mills, surely didn’t see himself in this position when he was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Yet, here he is, making his first NFL start in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football against the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Mills relieved the injured Tyrod Taylor last week in a 31-21 loss to Cleveland in which the two combined to throw for just 227 total yards. Mills accounted for 108 of those yards on 8-for-18 passing, playing the entire second half.

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On a short prep week, it’s hard to imagine Houston being too creative with the offensive play-calling for the rookie. A young Panthers’ defense which currently leads the league in total yards allowed (190.0 ypg), passing yards allowed (143.5 ypg), rushing yards allowed (46.5 ypg), and points allowed (10.5 ppg), should make short work of the inevitable vanilla schemes and help its team to a comfortable second half lead.

The Panthers’ pass defense did not allow this prop’s yardage number in either game thus far and it’s hard to imagine a rookie cresting this number, even if provided several garbage time drives, as this hungry defense will be teeing off at that point to pad stats and continue to make a name for itself.

Christian McCaffrey Over 134.5 Combined Rush and Receiving Yards (DraftKings Sportsbook -115)

Obviously, we see this buzzing defense as a terrible matchup for the rookie Mills and we could see several three-and-out drives for Houston in this one. As such, this Carolina offense will want to protect the football and keep the Texans’ defense on the field as much as possible, wearing them down.The key to that approach will center around running back Christian McCaffrey, as reliable a player as you can find in the league.

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McCaffrey flies in under the radar a bit here, as he only rushed for 170 total yards through the first two games of the season. However, the young star did rush the ball 45 times in those two wins and, more importantly, is an integral part of the passing game for the Panthers. McCaffrey has already been targeted 15 times by Sam Darnold, catching 14 of those passes for 154 total yards. That puts his total yardage at 324 thus far in 2021, good for 162 yards per game, which is plenty to cover this prop’s number.

Worth mentioning, McCaffrey topped this prop’s total in each of the two games thus far, putting up 137 total yards in Week 1 and 187 more last week. He also averaged 155.8 total yards per game in his last full season (2019), even posting 122.8 total yards per game in 2018.

With this game projected to potentially be a comfortable Carolina victory, expect McCaffrey to get plenty of late rushes and safe dump-offs to keep the clock running and help ice the victory. There’s little reason to believe a guy who has lost just one fumble in 538 touches since the start of 2019 would see any less than 30 touches here to help ensure his Panthers move to 3-0 after going just 5-11 each of the last two seasons.

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Robby Anderson Longest Reception Over 18.5 Yards (DraftKings Sportsbook -125)

Robby Anderson may often be the third option in the passing game behind D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey, but the Panthers wide receiver has extensive history with Sam Darnold and we should see their connection flourish, especially with the deep ball, like it did in New York. This season Anderson has just four catches, but he caught one for 57 yards in Week 1 and another for 18 yards in Week 2, giving you a sense of his downfield abilities.

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Last season, Anderson was 15th in the NFL in both targets (136) and catches (95) and averaged 11.5 yards per catch. He had catches of 18 yards or longer in 13 of his 16 games in 2020, in fact. Going back to his days as a Jet, Anderson averaged 15.0 yards per catch in both 2018 and 2019, as well as 14.9 yards per catch in 2017 and 14.0 in 2016. He has had one catch or more of at least 17 yards in over half of the games throughout his career.

The Best Panthers-Texans Props
Davis Mills Under 210.5 Passing Yards (DraftKings Sportsbook -115)
Christian McCaffrey Over 134.5 Combined Rush and Receiving Yards (DraftKings Sportsbook -115)
Robby Anderson Longest Reception Over 18.5 Yards (DraftKings Sportsbook -125)

With Carolina expected to win this one rather handily, we could see points in the game where the Texans’ defense needs to load the box to try to slow down McCaffrey, freeing Anderson up for some shots downfield. Against a Houston defense that has already allowed nine catches of 18 or more yards this season, it’s not a huge reach to believe the Carolina receiver will be able to pull at least one catch in long enough to cash this prop.

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