Which Travis Kelce prop bets are the best value? Here are 4 we like
Travis Kelce will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, tight ends of all time. But 2023 was a disappointing season from his lofty standards. The future Hall-of-Famer failed to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2015 and caught fewer than eight touchdowns for just the second time in the previous seven seasons.
However, the Kelce we know all too well has returned just in time for another postseason run. He’s hauled in five or more receptions and 71 or more receiving yards in all three playoff games and caught three touchdowns in the past two. This will be Kelce’s fourth Super Bowl, and he produced in the previous three. Kelce caught 10 passes for 133 yards in Super Bowl LV and six passes and a touchdown in both Super Bowls LIV and LVII.
Will his postseason resurgence and history of production in the big game be enough to take the over on his Super Bowl prop bets?
First Chiefs reception
The Chiefs’ passing game flows through essentially two players, Kelce and rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice. Kelce led Kansas City with a 20.2 percent target share and 93 receptions, while Rice was second in both categories with a 17.1 percent target share and 79 receptions. They were the only two Kansas City pass catchers with over 100 targets. The only player on the Chiefs with over 50 targets on the season was wide receiver Justin Watson with 53.
Just playing the odds here: While Rice came on strong towards the end of the season, Kelce is still Mahomes’ go-to guy and has had the Chiefs’ first catch in two of three games this postseason. Chances are pretty good that one of Kelce or Rice will wind up catching the first pass that quarterback Patrick Mahomes completes in Super Bowl LVIII. I lean Kelce.
Receptions and receiving yards
Kelce caught seven or more passes in just five of 15 games this season, four of which came before Week 8. He caught over seven passes in just three of 15 games this season, all before Week 8. What changed around Week 8? That’s when Rice started to establish himself as the WR1 for the Chiefs and a viable second option for Mahomes. From Weeks 1-7, Rice averaged just 3.7 receptions per game. From Week 8 on, Rice averaged 5.8 receptions per game, over two additional catches per game.
It may not seem like much, but it was just a big enough piece of the passing game pie to hold Kelce to only one regular-season game with seven or more receptions after Week 8. Even with the run Kelce is on over the past three games, he’s had over seven receptions in only one of them, catching 11 passes in the AFC Championship Game. San Francisco’s defense hasn’t been friendly to opposing tight ends either, giving up seven or more catches only twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs. As hot as he’s been, I’m taking the under on receptions for Kelce.
Despite preferring the under for receptions, I’m going with the over on receiving yards for Kelce. He’s got an uncanny ability to make defenders miss and finished the regular season with the fourth-most yards after the catch for tight ends with 469 in just 15 games. Only David Njoku, Evan Engram, and George Kittle were ahead of him, each playing in more games than Kelce. He’s hit at least 71 receiving yards in every playoff game this season, a streak I see continuing in the Super Bowl.
Yes, Kelce is tied for the team lead in touchdowns in the playoffs, with Isiah Pacheco at three. Yes, Kelce claimed a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens (one of the top defenses in the NFL) in the AFC Championship. But as I put the puzzle pieces together, Kelce’s chances of making a trip to the end zone gave me pause.
A lot of my hesitation comes from the defensive side of the ball. I discussed earlier that the 49ers are stingy when it comes to tight end receptions. That also rolls into touchdowns to the position, allowing just four this season. Despite finishing the season allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per game, San Francisco has struggled against the run since getting shredded for 234 rushing yards by the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15, allowing 137.5 yards per game from that point in the season on. I fully expect the Chiefs to exploit the struggling 49ers’ run defense and feed Pacheco early and often. Pair that with Rice having just as many red zone targets this postseason; it’s more likely than not that Kelce is held out of the end zone.
I’m staying away from his Anytime Touchdown Scorer prop.
(Photo of Travis Kelce: Dustin Satloff / Getty Images)