The NFL season may be in its infancy, yet we are already getting a sense that certain teams and players are poised for a breakout season. Below we take a look at five players who have impressed early on and are worth keeping an eye on for potential prop bets as they seem to be outperforming expectations. You can find the best spread betting odds on the NFL here.
Tua Tagovailoa – QB Miami Dolphins
Two weeks into the season, the Dolphins are 2-0 and look to have taken the necessary steps to become a playoff team this year. Due to the speed of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill there will be plenty of opportunities for coverage busts this season placing an immense amount of pressure on corners and rotating safeties, which will pay huge dividends for Tua and the Dolphins offense.
There have been many questions about Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa going into this season, a real prove you can handle it season. A performance like he showcased against the Baltimore Ravens for the comeback win showed what he can do – 469 passing yards and six touchdowns. It was the first 21-point fourth quarter comeback since 2010. Should this breakout performance indicate a level of comfort within new head coach Mike McDaniels offense, we could well see a turning point for Tua as he cements his status as one of the top quarterbacks in the AFC.
Micah Parsons – LB Dallas Cowboys
Coming off a year where he secured Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, Micah Parsons will be looking to build upon his fearsome reputation. He posted 13 total sacks as a rookie, and looks even better in week 2. Parsons already has four sacks in the young season, posting two sacks in each game this season. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he is tied for first in the league with QB hits (7), tackles for loss (4) and pressures (13). While in college, Parsons flashed the ability to be a successful pass rusher but was often used in an off-ball role, so he is still learning his craft. Which is terrifying, for opposing teams.
At this early stage in the season, Parsons has become the favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. No. 11 for the Cowboys just seems to affect every single play as you never know where he’s going to line up and that is a huge advantage for the Cowboys. Having the best player on the field always gives you a chance, and Parsons has put himself in that discussion.
Saquon Barkley – RB New York Giants
It may be early on in the season but Barkley is displaying speed and the ability to change direction in ways that are reminiscent of his 2018 season where he rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns winning him the Rookie of the Year Award. Barkley said he felt refreshed heading into the off-season, his first in which he did not have to rehabilitate an injury. His confidence in his body
When he is on the field with his type of explosion, he is elite. Barkley, 25, enters the last year of his rookie contract at a time when NFL teams have hesitated to give running backs massive deals. After compiling 194 total yards in Tennessee on week 1 he was held to 88, in a close contest with the Panthers. Should his high usage continue and Barkley stays healthy, bank on him showing up pretty well in Brian Daboll’s new offensive schemes.
Darius Slay – CB Philadelphia Eagles
When the top cornerbacks are mentioned in NFL lists, Slay’s name is typically omitted from lists or right on the bubble. Perhaps it’s because Slay is 31-years old and at an age when most top cornerbacks are on the downswing of their career.
The stats however, suggest a different story. Coming off the highest PFF graded season (2021-2022) of his career working in the off-zone more than previously as a member of the Detroit Lions he seems to be shining. Rarely caught out of position and with elite coverage ability, in two seasons with the Eagles he’s recorded four interceptions, 15 passes defended and 93 total tackles. He’s also produced two fumble recoveries both of which he has returned for touchdowns.
During his recent matchup against Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota Vikings, Slay turned in an All-Pro performance against the receiver he claims is the second-best in the NFL and who torched the Green Bay Packers during Week 1 of the regular season. Slay allowed Jefferson two catches for 19 yards and finished with two red zone interceptions off Kirk Cousins in the Eagles 24-7 victory over the Vikings. Cousins indeed had a 0.0 passer rating targeting Slay.
With a good cornerback partner alongside him in James Bradberry, the stage is set for Slay to have one of his best seasons as the Eagles turn heads as one of the better teams in the NFC.
Stefon Diggs – WR Buffalo Bills
The Bills have started the 2022-23 season in a hurry: dismantling last year’s champions LA Rams and last year’s AFC top-seed Tennessee Titans. We could highlight any component of the Bills (they have dominated all aspects so far) but the relationship between quarterback and wide-receiver deserves special praise. Stefon Diggs has been unstoppable to begin the year, running routes with purpose, maximizing his separation in man coverage and uncovering himself against the zone.
In week 1 against the Rams, Diggs ran 26 routes with the Bills targeting him in 34.6% of those passes. In week 2 against the Titans, he was on the field a little more, running a total of 35 routes with Josh Allen and the Bills targeting him 14 times for a 40% rate. He was unguardable, posting 12 catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns. The growth in connection between QB Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs is there for all to see. Diggs sits as one of the top five wide receivers in the game playing for one of the top offenses in the NFL. Allen and Diggs are making it look easy and we must wait to see if a weakness can be uncovered with their passing attack.