Betting the Spread Week 17 – A Winning Week

by Shervon Fakhimi · Betting & Props

It’s Championship Week! Oh boy. This is what we do this for, right? Hopefully, you aren’t like me and played against Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Eliott, and Dalton Schultz in your Championship matchups. Hopefully, you’ve done a better job betting against the spread than I have too. A 9-5-1 week last week is awesome, but our 101-113-7 record isn’t. We still have time to get above .500 with two strong weeks though. Let’s hope we get there and win some championships along the way this weekend! This is Betting the Spread Week 17!

Arizona Cardinals (+3) vs Atlanta Falcons

Over/Under: 42

Pick ATS: Arizona Cardinals

Damn you, Kliff Kingsbury. Do you see what happens when you put Greg Dortch on the field? Good things happen! Unfortunately, Kingsbury’s spotty usage of Dortch makes Dortch an iffy flex option on Championship Sunday, but he’s good enough to warrant being started in lineups. Here are Dortch’s (rounded up) numbers in the five games he’s played at least 70-percent of Arizona’s snaps extrapolated over a 17-game season: 150 targets, 133 receptions, 1,357 yards, and three touchdowns. He’s averaged 17.48 half-PPR points per game in those five games. Yes, small sample size, but only Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, and Tyreek Hill have averaged more this season.

Greg Dortch Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

If you want a more robust sample and include the three other games he’s played at least a quarter of Arizona’s snaps, he averages 12.22 half-PPR points per game. This is tied with Tee Higgins for No. 14 among qualified wide receivers. Dortch ranks No. 37 in yards per target among wide receivers (8.4), but that’s skewed by the games he doesn’t play as much. He’s simply good at the game. We don’t know how much Dortch will play, which makes him hard to trust. But if you’re feeling lucky, I don’t hate shooting for the moon with a guy who has balled out every chance he gets this year. He is absolutely a must-add in dynasty leagues in hopes either he or Kingsbury leaves Arizona this spring.

Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions (-6)

Over/Under: 52

Pick ATS: Detroit Lions

Justin Fields let fantasy managers down last week. He only put up 119 yards and a touchdown through the air, but more importantly, only had 11 rushing yards. Things are looking up this week if you were lucky to survive last week’s dud. Though Detroit’s run defense has perked up as of late, they just got gashed by the mighty Carolina Panthers last week. ​​

D’Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, and Raheem Blackshear combined for 36 carries, 293(!) yards, and two touchdowns. Sam Darnold added 19 yards and a touchdown on the ground too. Justin Fields went off for 147 yards and two touchdowns rushing against the Lions back in Week 10. Their run defense has improved since then, but they still rank No. 29 in pass defense DVOA. Fields had a bad matchup against the Bills last week but should put together a much better game this time around.

Denver Broncos (+12.5) vs Kansas City Chiefs

Over/Under: 45

Pick ATS: Denver Broncos

There was debate about who should be the highest-ranked Broncos receiver drafted this season. I was on team Courtland Sutton, but the right answer was Jerry Jeudy. Sutton and Jeudy have played the same amount of games (13 – though Jeudy has two games playing under 15-percent of Denver’s snaps before getting injured) and have nearly an identical number of targets (86 for Jeudy, 96 for Sutton), receptions (55 for Jeudy, 57 for Sutton), and yards (780 for Jeudy, 752 for Sutton).

The difference is that Jeudy has six touchdowns to Sutton’s one and has been more efficient. Jeudy’s averaging 2.17 yards per route run (No. 22 among wide receivers) this season and 9.1 yards per target (No. 26) according to Sutton averages 1.71 yards per route run (No. 46) and 7.8 yards per target (No. 58). And yet, Denver’s offense hasn’t made either particularly fantasy viable. Jeudy ranks No. 26 among receivers in half PPR points per game. Sutton ranks No. 45. This could be a good spot for either if you’re still alive or want to play DFS. The Chiefs rank No. 22 in pass defense DVOA on the season according to Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric. Jeudy delivered a 9-8-73-3 game against the Chiefs in Week 14. But looking ahead to 2023, Jeudy has earned the WR1 mantle from Sutton in Denver.

Miami Dolphins (+3) vs New England Patriots

Over/Under: 41.5

Pick ATS: Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa suffered his third concussion (that we know of) this season alone last week. I’d be surprised if he returns this season. Please, don’t rush back Tua, Miami. But at least they have Teddy Bridgewater as their backup. Teddy is the textbook definition of solid. Don’t worry about Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. In the two games Bridgewater has been asked to relieve the starter this season, Hill has gone for 160 and 177 yards.

Waddle went for 39 and 129 yards in those games too. And as we noted last week before Ja’Marr Chase (11-8-79) and Tee Higgins (9-8-128-1) roasted the Patriots, their secondary hasn’t been the fearsome unit we’ve been accustomed to over the years. Start Hill and Waddle with all the confidence.

Indianapolis Colts vs New York Giants (-6)

Over/Under: 39

Pick ATS: New York Giants

When we prioritize players in offenses we know or have a strong feeling will be great before the season, this Michael Pittman Jr. season is why. Pittman has been great. He leads wide receivers in route wins with 206 and is No. 6 in route win rate (54.2-percent). He is No. 8 among receivers in targets (128) and No. 15 in target share (26.2-percent). If I told you those would be Pittman’s numbers in August, where would you think he’d rank among receivers in fantasy? Top 5? Top 10? Try WR24 for size in half-PPR leagues. He’s averaging the same half-PPR points per game as Mike Evans, Jakobi Meyers, Gabe Davis, and Mecole Hardman. Meyers should actually be ahead of that crew because he left a game early due to an injury. Ouch.

How is this possible? Well, two touchdowns on the year for Pittman don’t help his cause. Neither does a 6.7-yard average depth of target, which is a mark that ranks No. 96 at the position. For comparison’s sake, Hunter Renfrow averages a 7.4-yard average depth of target. Oof. Pittman has only four deep targets and 10 red zone targets. Those rank No. 107 and No. 43 at the position. These stinky numbers are all because the Colts’ environment is terrible.

Their offensive line is an abomination, and a motley crew of Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, and Sam Ehlinger don’t help matters. Ugh. Pittman is a great player and one worth starting this week if you’ve made it this far despite him. Just know this isn’t his fault. Or that unless the Colts sign Tom Brady, Derek Carr, or Jacoby Brissett or trade for Aaron Rodgers, next season will likely bring pain again for Pittman’s fantasy managers, unfortunately.

New Orleans Saints vs Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)

Over/Under: 42

Pick ATS: Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Olave has been awesome this season. PlayerProfiler’s own Aaron Stewart highlighted some numbers that show how good Olave has been as a rookie.

And yet, Olave hasn’t been super useful for fantasy lately, similar to Michael Pittman. Olave scored over double-digit half-PPR points in four straight games from Week 3 to Week 7 (he didn’t play Week 6 and would’ve hit double-digits in Week 2 if it weren’t for a fumble). But he’s hit double-digits twice in that span, and it took a 53-yard touchdown to get him there.

You can blame the Saints’ offense for not getting the best of Olave this season. Andy Dalton actually hasn’t been terrible. He’s No. 9 among quarterbacks in adjusted yards per attempt (7.1) and No. 11 in true completion percentage (71.6-percent). But he’s thrown more than 33 times in a game once since taking over in Week 4, averages 7.7 air yards per attempt (No. 22), and is No. 32 in deep ball completion percentage (29.4-percent).

And now he gets to face off with Darius Slay and/or James Bradberry this week. The Eagles are one of the worst at defending the slot, and Olave lines up there roughly a quarter of the time, so maybe he can slip by for a big play. But if Olave even plays, I’ll pass. I want all of Olave for 2023 though. On that note, I’ll leave you with this from JJ Zachariason’s 2022 Late Round Draft Guide that should apply to Olave next year:

“In our sample, we’ve had 12 second-year wide receivers get selected as their team’s WR1. Their average difference between expected points per game and actual points per game was 1.93. Meaning these second-year wideouts, on average, exceeded expectation by nearly two PPR points per game.”

Carolina Panthers (+3) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Over/Under: 40

Pick ATS: Carolina Panthers

Tampa hasn’t been all that good except for running no huddle late in games. They’ve covered +3 only four times this season and twice since Week 3. The Carolina Panthers have been pretty damn good lately though. They rank No. 2 in EPA per play since turning to Sam Darnold. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, then believe Ben Solak of The Ringer.

The Panthers have done this despite going all in on #establishingit. Only the Falcons have a lower pass rate over expectation over the last five weeks and four games.

And yet, this has actually helped D.J. Moore. Sam Darnold can actually get him the ball and is looking to Moore early and often. Moore has a 27-percent target share since Darnold has taken over. He has three touchdowns in that span. He had three in the other 12 games this season combined. Moore leads wide receivers in air yards share (45.8-percent) too. Though the Panthers haven’t exceeded 25 pass attempts since Darnold took over, Moore is good enough and owning such a large portion of this pass game pie that he’s still worth starting despite a fine-but-not-great matchup. So are D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard who are the beneficiaries of Carolina’s rush-heavy attack. 

Cleveland Browns (+2) vs Washington Commanders

Over/Under: 40.5

Pick ATS: Cleveland Browns

As a Packers fan, it hurts my soul that I have to root for Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns this week. Helping Green Bay’s playoff hopes is the Commanders switching back to Carson Wentz at quarterback. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help Terry McLaurin.

Terry McLaurin had a 15.6-percent target share in Weeks 1-4 with Carson Wentz. Surging rookie Jahan Dotson had a 12.7-percent target share and only five fewer targets (22) than McLaurin (27). Curtis Samuel led the way with 37 targets and a 21.5-percent target share. With McLaurin likely to see the Denzel Ward treatment, he isn’t a must-play in Championship Week. The Browns’ Greg Newsome is one of the best slot corners in the NFL, which is bad news for Curtis Samuel. This looks like another Jahan Dotson week, but I suspect you have better options. It probably would be best to avoid the Commanders outside of Brian Robinson. Antonio Gibson is out, and the Browns rank No. 30 in rush defense DVOA. This is a smash spot for Robinson.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) vs Houston Texans

Over/Under: 43.5

Pick ATS: Jacksonville Jaguars

The only question with this game is are the Jaguars’ starters playing. They are still alive for the Wild Card in case they don’t win their division in next week’s AFC South championship game against Tennessee, though that is by far their least arduous path to making the postseason in terms of needing help from other teams. As of now, it seems like the Jaguars’ starters are going to play.

I’m in a Championship game with both Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. I’m starting Etienne no matter what. The Texans rank No. 24 in rush defense DVOA and allow the most rushing yards per game (168.6). Etienne had 114 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches in Week 5 against Houston.

Even if the Jags pull their starters at some point, he could have a big game before they do so. Lawrence is a tougher one to gauge. He has been incredible all year but especially after Jacksonville’s bye. He also has been dealing with a toe issue. If this game gets out of hand early, I could see Doug Pederson pulling the plug early on Lawrence. This situation seems like a one-off. I might play Aaron Rodgers over Lawrence. I’m not sure what to really do with him. Lawrence got me here, but you have to be prepared to sit him on the chance he doesn’t play a full game.

San Francisco 49ers (-10) vs Las Vegas Raiders

Over/Under: 42.5

Pick ATS: San Francisco 49ers

Do you know who else has gotten me to the Championship game? George Kittle baby. He’s been great with Brock Purdy under center. He has a 19.8-percent target share in Purdy’s four games played. That number has jumped to 27-percent in the two games San Francisco has been without Deebo Samuel.

Kittle has 93 and 120 yards and two touchdowns apiece in those two games. He exceeded 90 yards only once all season before these last two weeks and had only four touchdowns all year until doubling it in the last two games. And now he gets the Raiders who have proven to be a great matchup for tight ends and the worst pass defense in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric. George Kittle has played like a league winner the last two weeks. With Deebo Samuel out again this week, he might literally live up to that mantra.

New York Jets (-2) vs Seattle Seahawks

Over/Under: 42.5

Pick ATS: New York Jets

Mike White aka White Mike aka Walter Ehrmantraut aka Miguel Blanco is finally back. Thank God! I hate to bag on Zach Wilson, but man he’s been bad, and his tenure in New York looks over already. White has played well in his three starts and has buoyed the players around him. Garrett Wilson averaged 18.3 half-PPR points per game in White’s three starts this season and has averaged 16.18 half-PPR points in non-Wilson starts. That number has dipped to 6.7 in nine starts by Zach Wilson. Zonovan Knight averaged 119 yards from scrimmage in three Mike White starts compared to 18 in two Zach Wilson starts. That seems impossible.

Garrett Wilson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Unfortunately for Garrett Wilson, the Seahawks secondary has been airtight against wide receivers. He should see plenty of rising star Tariq Woolen. But the Seahawks rank No. 25 in rush defense DVOA and allow the No. 2-most rushing yards per game (155.5). Zonovan Knight is set up for a great game this week. I’m starting Garrett Wilson if I have him too. This also is a good spot for Tyler Conklin. The Seahawks allow the No. 2-most points to tight ends on the season and are the best matchup in adjusted fantasy points allowed. If you need a streaming option at tight end, Conklin is the best one to target.

Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers (-3.5)

Over/Under: 48.5

Pick ATS: Green Bay Packers

I’ve sounded like a broken record the last few weeks, but the Minnesota Vikings allow the most receiving yards per game this season at 296.1. They allow the most points to wide receivers on the season, the No. 2-most to perimeter receivers, and the No. 9-most to slot receivers. They’re No. 24 in pass defense DVOA. Isaiah Hodgins (12-8-89-1), Richie James (11-8-90), and Darius Slayton (6-4-79) were added to the laundry list of wide receivers who have balled out against this Vikings secondary.

I have Allen Lazard on my Championship roster, and I’m starting him with confidence regardless of whether or not Christian Watson (hip) plays. Before Watson’s breakout game in Week 10, Lazard was averaging 7.3 targets, 4.3 receptions, 61 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns per game. Since, Lazard has been down to 6.2 targets, 3.5 receptions, 43.5 yards, and 0 touchdowns per game. I don’t care. Obviously, Christian Watson is the guy to play here if he plays, but there should be room for Lazard to eat too. 

Los Angeles Rams vs Los Angeles Chargers (-8.5)

Over/Under: 40.5

Pick ATS: Los Angeles Chargers

Cam Akers. Where the hell did that come from? Including the playoffs, Akers has scored over 20 half-PPR points in a game twice in 31 career games. No Rams running back has scored over double-digit half-PPR points without the aid of a touchdown this season. Even with a touchdown, Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. managed to score at least 9.7 half-PPR points only seven times in 15 weeks before last week’s 33.7-point barrage from Akers. That was truly a Christmas miracle. And now Akers gets the Chargers and their No. 28-ranked rush defense according to rush defense DVOA. Cam Akers might actually be a league winner in 2022. What a world.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)

Over/Under: 35

Pick ATS: Baltimore Ravens

I can’t imagine there are many teams left with Mark Andrews. Even if there are, you might have to look elsewhere. How could you not? Since Tyler Huntley had to fill in for Lamar Jackson in Week 13, Andrews hasn’t scored more than double-digit points in half or full PPR formats. The Ravens haven’t thrown it more than 32 times in that span. He’s reached or eclipsed 50 yards just three times since Week 7. The Steelers rank No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.

I wouldn’t blame you if you looked elsewhere. Quite frankly, I’m not sure there’s a single player I’d want to play in this matchup. J.K. Dobbins did run for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 14 but has only two targets in three games since returning. He needs a touchdown to pay off starting him. If the Steelers can slow down Josh Jacobs (they do rank No. 6 in rush defense DVOA), they can slow Dobbins too. I’d look elsewhere.

History watch: Diontae Johnson is up to 130 targets without a touchdown. That is the most without a touchdown in a season. He has two weeks before setting this milestone in futility (that isn’t his fault).

Buffalo Bills (-1) vs Cincinnati Bengals

Over/Under: 49.5

Pick ATS: Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen. Stefon Diggs. Joe Burrow. Joe Mixon. Ja’Marr Chase. Tee Higgins. I don’t care how good these defenses are. Buffalo ranks No. 4 in defense DVOA and Cincy ranks No. 14 (that seems low). You start all these guys no matter what and enjoy what could be a Game of the Year type of game. Also, please go off, Stefon Diggs. I need this Championship damn it!

Good luck to everyone during Championship week!