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Top Plays for Week 18 Underdog Pick Ems

By Matt Schauf 12:08pm EST 1/4/23


This is a different week.

Yeah. Thanks, guy. So was last week and the one before. That’s how weeks work.

No, I mean this week is different than the rest of them. But you already knew that, too. That’s why most fantasy football leagues and season-long contests wrap up in the penultimate week.

The differences inherent to NFL Week 18 show up in the early Underdog player props as well. You’ll find just 14 highlighted Pick Em plays below, the fewest of the season. (And at least 1 of them, I would recommend not acting on just yet.)

Blame the lack of a Thursday night game, as well as the uncertainty of teams with no playoff positioning to play for. But 14 plays is still enough to let us take advantage before these lines start moving. And more will certainly be added, so keep our Week 18 fantasy football rankings handy.

If you took advantage last week, then you probably made some money. Our 16 highlighted plays from the NFL Week 17 article went a terrific 13-3. The misses:

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown over 74.5 receiving yards
  • David Montgomery over 72.5 total yards
  • Dalvin Cook over 94.5 total yards

Game flow hurt all 3, with St. Brown’s team dominating Montgomery’s while the Bears and Vikings offenses stunk at unpredictable levels.

That brings us to a 60.5% hit rate for the season, with these weekly numbers …

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
Week 14: 7-9
Week 15: 22-14
Week 16: 15-11
Week 17: 13-3
Overall: 227-148

If you haven’t played Underdog Pick Ems yet, then this is obviously your last chance to attack a full NFL slate (though play will continue into the playoffs). Click here to get some free money to play with.


Now on to the Week 18 plays …


Passing

Geno Smith, Seahawks
Draft Sharks projection: 258.1 yards
Underdog: 239.5
Difference: 18.6


QB Total Yards

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
Draft Sharks projection: 314.1 yards
Underdog: 255.5
Difference: 58.6

Kenny Pickett, Steelers
DS: 192.7
Underdog: 212.5
Difference: -19.8

Joshua Dobbs, Titans
DS: 166.1
Underdog: 210.5
Difference: -44.4

The drastic difference between Lawrence’s market line and our projection might give you pause, especially after limited numbers from him the past 2 weeks. But he played the Jets on Thursday night in the rain in Week 16 and then left last week’s unnecessary win over the Texans before the end of the 3rd quarter.

When Lawrence visited these Titans back in Week 14, he threw for 368 yards and 3 TDs in a 14-point victory. Tennessee hits the rematch as the 4th most friendly QB matchup by our adjusted fantasy points allowed.

Lawrence looks like a terrific play from here, with either of the pass-catchers listed below. Don’t be surprised if the Jacksonville passing lines increase.

Our numbers on Dobbs might move closer to the market as the game approaches. The 6th-year vet with just 1 start in the pros now remains a near-total unknown. He might be a guy I just avoid because of that uncertainty.

Receiving

Zay Jones, Jaguars
Draft Sharks projection: 59.8 yards
Underdog: 46.5
Difference: 13.3

Christian Kirk, Jaguars
DS: 65.8
Underdog: 53.5
Difference: 12.3

Justin Jefferson, Vikings
DS: 104.5
Underdog: 95.5
Difference: 9

Keenan Allen, Chargers
DS: 73.2
Underdog: 64.5
Difference: 8.7

Jakobi Meyers, Patriots
DS: 55.7
Underdog: 47.5
Difference: 8.2

Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
DS: 52.2
Underdog: 64.5
Difference: -12.3

Kirk has reached this Underdog number just once in his past 4 games and didn’t in the 1st Tennessee meeting (5 catches, 45 yards). But he’s still averaging 63.1 yards per game for the season. Jones has come up short the past 2 weeks (in the same conditions mentioned for Lawrence) but is also averaging 7.0 yards per game above his Week 18 Underdog opening line.

Lockett’s line is one I’d leave alone for now. He played just 32% of Seattle’s snaps last week, coming off the finger fracture that required surgery. Given that and the negative WR matchup with the Jets, it’s not surprising that he caught just 2 balls for 15 yards.

So is the early Vegas number an indication that oddsmakers expect him back to a full-time role? Or are they just setting a “safe” early line (just 3 yards short of D.K. Metcalf’s) that can come down if the Seahawks indicate another limited plan – or if bettors hit the under hard? We’ll see.


RB Total Yards

Najee Harris, Steelers
Draft Sharks projection: 100.3 yards
Underdog: 74.5
Difference: 25.8

Dalvin Cook, Vikings
DS: 103.4
Underdog: 91.5
Difference: 11.9

Travis Etienne, Jaguars
DS: 81.1
Underdog: 89.5
Difference: -8.4

Austin Ekeler, Chargers
DS: 83.6
Underdog: 94.5
Difference: -10.9

Harris has run markedly better since the team’s Week 9 bye than he did before, a fact we’ve noted many times on the podcast. Since then, he has averaged 74.1 rushing yards per game – plus another 13.4 receiving. His rushing total alone has eclipsed this total-yards mark in 5 of those 8 games. And Harris topped it with total yards in 1 of the remaining 3.

He ran for just 3.7 yards per carry and totaled 61 yards in the 1st meeting with Cleveland this season. But that came back in Week 3, when Harris was not far removed from foot (preseason) and ankle (Week 1) injuries. The Browns hit this round as the 4th-best scoring matchup for RBs.

Beyond the Week 18 Pick Ems, we've also got you covered for drafting help on Underdog.

If you're drafting in the playoff tournaments, make sure you check out Kevin's article.

Jared and I will also hit the DraftSharks YouTube channel midday Friday for our 4th weekly DFS draft show. (You can see last week's episode at the bottom of this article.)

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