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Top Plays for Week 14 Underdog Pick Ems

By Matt Schauf 11:15am EST 12/7/22


Oh, man … did I feel good about last week’s lines on Nick Chubb, Rhamondre Stevenson and Trevor Lawrence.

A little TOO good, as it turned out.

If you – like I did – rode those guys in multiple Week 12 Pick Ems, then you probably felt some pain. But wallowing won’t help us. Looking back critically to understand why those guys missed, however, will help.

Chubb was in a great spot against Houston, but several unpredictable aspects helped interfere:

  • Kareem Hunt garnered his most carries since Week 8 (and it started early)
  • Jerome Ford replaced Chubb during the final drive for 4 carries (1 negated by penalty)
  • 2 defensive scores and a punt-return TD cut into Cleveland’s time of possession

It’s easy to say the Browns should have run Chubb more. But if all else stays the same and any of those 3 factors changes, Chubb has a good shot at the other 12 yards needed to hit his over.

Stevenson dominated backfield playing time in last Thursday’s loss to the Bills, staying on the field for 98% of the snaps. He ran efficiently (5.4 yards per carry) against a Buffalo defense that has probably been friendlier to RBs than the matchup numbers would lead you to believe.

But he fell 9.5 yards short of his Underdog line, primarily because he only got 10 carries. It was Stevenson’s 2nd-smallest carry total since Week 2, trailing the Thanksgiving night loss to Minnesota – which included RB Damien Harris splitting work. New England logged its fewest RB carries of any game all season. That included a 4th quarter entirely made up of Mac Jones dropbacks after the Bills took a 24-7 lead.

If either Chubb or Stevenson headed into this week with exactly the same setups, I still believe I’d take both overs.

Lawrence’s line is a little trickier. For one thing, he tied Josh Allen for most passes dropped on the week, according to Pro Football Focus. Lawrence ranked 23rd in completion rate for the week but a much stronger 12th in PFF’s adjusted completion rate, which accounts for drops and deliberate throwaways.

That said, 4 more completions at his 5.8 yards per attempt for the game wouldn’t have hit our over. Jacksonville struggled to keep the ball, losing time of possession 36:50 to 23:10. And Lawrence’s efficiency dipped. Even though Lawrence was coming off a 3-game upswing, we have to consider those risks with an offense that has been middling (or worse) most of the year.

One other factor I didn’t even realize ahead of that game: Detroit’s defense has been playing better lately. Over the team’s current 4-1 run, the Lions rank 3rd-best in the league in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA.

Does that make the Lions suddenly a defense to avoid? I wouldn’t go that far. But it is a new risk factor to consider as you, for example, decide what to do with Kirk Cousins this week. (I won’t be betting his over.)

Now, I led with the negative. But even those 3 stingers couldn’t keep us from another week over .500. The 18 highlighted lines from last week’s article went 11-7 – 11-6 if you remove Jimmy Garoppolo (left early with injury).

Here’s the running weekly tally:

Week 1: 16-8
Week 2: 16-8
Week 3: 11-5
Week 4: 8-9
Week 5: 10-8
Week 6: 13-12
Week 7: 18-6
Week 8: 9-7
Week 9: 13-7
Week 10: 17-14
Week 11: 10-8
Week 12: 18-13
Week 13: 11-6
Overall: 170-111

This week brings us a few more early targets than Week 13. It would feature even 1 more, but I removed Lawrence because HC Doug Pederson said Wednesday morning that the foot injury he suffered at Detroit leaves the QB’s status uncertain for Sunday against the Titans.

If Lawrence is ready, the numbers in our Week 14 fantasy football rankings like him to go over the early passing-yardage line. I wouldn’t lock him in this early in the week, though.

You can take advantage of the remaining 19 targets, though. And if you haven’t played Underdog Pick Ems before, hit the graphic to get your 1st deposit matched …


Passing

Geno Smith, Seahawks
Draft Sharks projection: 273.1 yards
Underdog: 253.5
Difference: 19.6

Ryan Tannehill, Titans
DS: 218.5
Underdog: 200.5
Difference: 18

Jared Goff, Lions
DS: 262.4
Underdog: 251.5
Difference: 10.9

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
DS: 272.3
Underdog: 285.5
Difference: -13.2

Mike White, Jets
DS: 233.2
Underdog: 253.5
Difference: -20.3

Kirk Cousins, Vikings
DS: 258.1
Underdog: 279.5
Difference: -21.4

Even if you don’t want to bet on the Lions’ defense now being good, Cousins is averaging just 244.4 yards per game for the season, fell short of 180 in 2 of his past 3 games and threw for just 260 in this year’s 1st Detroit meeting.

White looks uncomfortable as an under after topping 300 yards in each of his 1st 2 starts this season. Just keep in mind that he faced the Bears and Vikings, who currently sit 31st and 25th in FO’s pass-defense DVOA, respectively. The Bills rank 7th.

Tannehill might be a tough over after throwing for a measly 141 yards in the loss at Philly. But he threw for 255+ in 3 straight outings before that. Derrick Henry’s recent struggles might force a bit more of a pass lean than Tennessee would prefer.


QB Total Yards

Kenny Pickett, Steelers
Draft Sharks projection: 229.5
Underdog: 245.5
Difference: -16

Josh Allen, Bills
DS: 296
Underdog: 325.5
Difference: -29.5

Deshaun Watson, Browns
DS: 235.5
Underdog: 266.5
Difference: -31

Even with 86 on the ground, Allen totaled just 291 yards in the 1st meeting with the Jets. His 4 outings since:

  • 414 vs. Minnesota (in OT)
  • 204 vs. Cleveland
  • 331 at Detroit
  • 243 at New England

He has fallen short of this week’s total-yardage line in 4 of his past 6 appearances.


Receiving

CeeDee Lamb, WR Cowboys
Draft Sharks projection: 79.9 yards
Underdog: 69.5
Difference: 10.4

Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals
DS: 77.2
Underdog: 67.5
Difference: 9.7

Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys
DS: 48.2
Underdog: 40.5
Difference: 7.7

Amari Cooper, WR, Browns
DS: 59.8
Underdog: 67.5
Difference: -7.7

Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings
DS: 45.8
Underdog: 53.5
Difference: -7.7

Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers
DS: 43.8
Underdog: 52.5
Difference: -8.7

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals
DS: 68.8
Underdog: 79.5
Difference: -10.7

Lamb reached 71 yards on 5 catches Monday night, even while QB Dak Prescott threw for just 171 overall. Lamb has gone over 69.5 in 8 of his 12 contests for the year.


Rushing

Cam Akers, Rams
Draft Sharks projection: 58.4 yards
Underdog: 44.5
Difference: 13.9


RB Total Yards

Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots
Draft Sharks projection: 111.9 yards
Underdog: 94.5
Difference: 17.4

Austin Ekeler, Chargers
DS: 84.9
Underdog: 102.5
Difference: -17.6

This Stevenson projection assumes Damien Harris isn’t playing. Harris didn’t practice Tuesday. We’ll see how his week progresses.

The market looks too high on Ekeler, who hasn’t reached 102 total yards in a game since Week 7.

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